Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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A Good Laugh Is a Mighty Good Thing

Seals in a Bathtub, Portland, OregonHerman Melville said it best in Moby-Dick: “A good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing.” Published in 1851, Melville’s statement could not be more pertinent today. Let’s face it: In light of a disturbing pandemic, food and hand sanitizer shortages, insufficient health care procedures, quarantines, and a constant barrage of bad news and “Breaking News” from CNN that instantly makes you think, “What fresh hell is this?!”, we need a good laugh to relieve the tension, if only for a moment or two. Without further ado, from my travels around the world, here are the top five sights that will make you laugh >


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Taking a Break on the World’s Best Benches

Bench in Idaho Falls, IdahoThey’re the perfect spot for people watching, or dog watching, if you prefer. They’re shady respites on hot afternoons. They’re ideal for your lunchtime escape from your office. Benches invite us to relax for a bit, whether it’s to catch up on some reading, admire a renowned piece of art, enjoy a beguiling view, or spend some outdoor time with your significant other. When the benches themselves become the attraction, however, they transcend a simple place to sit. Read more about the world’s top five benches >


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Oh, Cincinnati! The Queen City’s Most Beautiful Buildings

Brotherhood Building, Cincinnati, OhioApproaching Cincinnati, Ohio, by crossing over the Ohio River on the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge — Roebling’s precursor to the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the world’s top five bridges — is a terrific way to view the city’s skyline. It’s easy to spot some of the city’s iconic structures, like the art deco Carew Tower and Paul Brown Stadium, mixed in with modern skyscrapers. But to see the city’s best structures, you need to be closer to the ground, so I parked my rental car and took a long walk around the Queen City. Read more about the top five buildings in Cincinnati, Ohio >


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Going Green Around the World

Decanter Set, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaWith spring almost at the doorstep for many of us, we begin to think of shedding extra layers of thick clothing and weatherproof boots, stowing away our rock salt and shovels, and not having to de-ice our cars every morning. Buds will soon appear, and gray will morph into green bursting all around us, bringing with it all signs of rebirth and new life. Of course, nature doesn’t hold a monopoly on green; there are plenty of nonliving objects that are green that you can see and fall in love with all year. Read about the world’s top five greens >


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Captivating Churches in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Basilica of Our Lady of Help, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaWhen Buenos Aires was the It city of the world in the 1920s and 1930s, Argentina had grown into one of the world’s wealthiest countries. Things have gotten much bumpier since then, but plenty of evidence of that golden era still exists, especially in the city’s famed architecture. Chief among them are the spectacular houses of worship — many in need of some repair yet managing to retain their exquisite grandeur, making them desirable destinations to visit. Read more about the top five churches in Buenos Aires >


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Namibia’s Diverse Attractions Promise Something for Everyone

Sunset, Swakopmund, NamibiaUpon landing in Windhoek on my very first day in Africa, I knew this would be a markedly different type of vacation. After all, it’s not every day that you spy a family of baboons along the road just outside the airport of a capital city or a couple of feral horses galloping through a punishing landscape. Over the next two weeks, surprises and indelible moments unfolded (you will never be unable to forget the frisson you feel the first time you see a 20-foot-tall giraffe pop up from behind a tree just a few feet from your car), and Namibia very quickly started to surpass all my expectations. With a broad range of sites and activities, from lolling about on lazy afternoons on a beach along the Atlantic Ocean to skydiving over the orange dunes of the Namib Desert, this country in southwestern Africa offers plenty of activities for everyone. Read about the top five things to see and do in Namibia >


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A Mountain Oasis in an Overcrowded Town

Aries Hotel, Zakopane, PolandThe mountain village of Zakopane seems to always be too full. In the winter, snow aficionados flock to the ski resorts of this southern Polish town near the Slovakia border. In fairer weather, hikers scale the trails of the impressively scenic Tatra Mountains. And all year long, everyone jams the main strip to shop, eat, and admire the unique wooden architecture that has made this a notable town. There’s no escaping the crowds — except for when you check in to ARIES Hotel & Spa, a welcome oasis that’s still in the heart of town. Read more >