Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Skeletons and Skulls That Will Keep You Up All Night

St. Peter in Chains, Rome, ItalyAs Halloween approaches, children — and more than a few adults — are deciding on their costume for this spooky holiday of ghosts, goblins, candy, and horror flicks. Skeletons have always been a staple costume, whether it’s a glow-in-the-dark bodysuit variety or a mask or makeup job largely hidden by an oversized hood on a Grim Reaper outfit. As for the other 364 days of the year, real ones have long been put on display for the devout to revere, and fake ones for Mexican communities to celebrate on the Day of the Dead. Skeletons and skulls have been depicted in art or gravestones for centuries as a symbol of our finite time on earth, fighting a guaranteed losing battle against the sand hourglass. They could be positively frightening (say, in the promotional poster for the movie Evil Dead 2) or rather amusing (as in a Scooby-Doo episode). However you react to them, they invariably promise the same denouement: The end is always near. Read more about the top five skeletons and skulls in the world >

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Horses and Beer: Touring the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri

Anheuser-Busch Brewery, St. Louis, MissouriI had already seen the mausoleum holding the remains of Adolphus Busch and his wife — an elaborate Gothic chapel in historic Bellafontaine Cemetery. Now I wanted to get a closer look at his, and his father-in-law’s, legacy: the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Fortunately, the largest brewery in the United States offers free daily tours, culminating in a couple of complimentary samples. It seemed the perfect thing to do on an oppressively humid afternoon in St. Louis, Missouri. Read more >


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Rapid City, South Dakota’s Five Best Delights

Chapel in the Hills, Rapid City, South DakotaA pleasant, easygoing vibe permeates South Dakota’s second-largest city. Compact enough to see largely by foot, it seems populated entirely by friendly people who made me feel welcome in their hometown. Often used as a base for exploring the nearby Black Hills, it’s perfectly situated to enjoy the region’s stellar outdoor activities, from trout fishing to hiking around granite peaks to exploring some of the world’s top caves and caverns. But the city itself, and some of its unique attractions, deserve a little time and attention, too. Read more about the top five things to see and do in Rapid City >


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Excellent Roman Cuisine Where Julius Caesar Was Murdered

Da Pancrazio, RomeJust a block or two from where I was staying in Rome, the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo, I spent a couple of hours developing a voracious appetite by strolling through the fantastic farmers market in the Campo de’Fiori. Endless forms of pasta, bottles of limoncello, and the freshest eggplant, tomatoes, strawberries, and olives I’ve ever seen provided visual stimulation for my salivary glands, encouraging thoughts of dinner. The aromas from the cheese stand made me want to change careers and become a fromager, and a generous free tasting of all kinds of spreads, from sage to walnuts with mushrooms to sweet red pepper, prompted me to start searching for the nearest place to dine. The restaurants all around the campo looked appealing but a little touristy, so I exited the square directly into the adjacent little Piazza del Biscione, where I stumbled upon Ristorante da Pancrazio—home of fantastic food, on the site of one of the world’s most infamous assassinations. Read more >


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The Five Best Things to Do When You’re in Reykjavik, Iceland

Sculpture, Reykjavik, IcelandReykjavik is the heart of Iceland’s cultural, economic, educational, and governmental activity. Despite that, it’s Iceland’s natural wonders, including some of the world’s top waterfalls, that really attract visitors to this island nation of fewer than half a million people — and that means leaving the city. Nevertheless, devoting a few days to the northernmost capital in the world will reward you with some unforgettable sites. Read more about the top five things to see and do in Reykjavik, Iceland >


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A City Break Within a City: San Diego’s Balboa Park

Balboa Park, San DiegoOne of the many jewels in the crown of San Diego, right up there with impeccable weather and fantastic restaurants (including the outstanding Berta’s Latin American Restaurant), Balboa Park presents an urban oasis of 1,200 acres filled with green belts, walking paths, a variety of cultural institutions, and, of course, the San Diego Zoo. If you want to escape the city without actually leaving the city, this is the place to go. Read more >


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Have Yourself a Merry German Christmas: Day 7

Cologne, GermanyOn my last day, I took an early train to Cologne, my thoughts consumed by Christmas, chocolate, and the cathedral — a trio of delights for all my senses. By the time I left the city about 12 hours later, I had seen the prettiest Christmas market of my entire trip, learned everything there is to know about chocolate (and eaten more of it than anyone should in a day), and explored one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Read more >