Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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A Hearty Meal in an Old World Restaurant in Zakopane, Poland

I was seeking sustenance on a drizzly evening in Zakopane, nestled at the most southern fringes of Poland. Along the main strip of this mountain town of fewer than 30,000 people, I found a wide variety of restaurants, all of which seemed touristy. But Zakopane itself is touristy, jammed with international visitors drawn to skiing opportunities in the winter and hiking trails in the summer in the beautiful Tatra Mountains, and to the unique architecture all year long. The trick is to pick the best one of those restaurants. That would be Pstrag Górski. Read more about it >


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Overwhelmed With Light and Color in Seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, WashingtonI first came to experience the work of glass sculptor Dale Chihuly from a distance. From 520 feet above it, actually. Atop the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, after enjoying the expansive views of the city and its watery surroundings and mountainous background, I noticed a splash of vibrant colors in a concentrated patch of ground far below me. Intrigued by this alluring blast of a glowing spectrum, I knew I had to discover the source. And that’s when I was introduced to this artist’s creations at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Read more >


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Auckland’s Architectural Gems

Old Arts Building, Auckland, New ZealandI was returning to Auckland via ferry from breakfast and a low-key morning in Devonport. Ahead of me, the skyline of New Zealand’s largest city marched along the harborfront, dominated by modern office and residential towers. With the exception of the Sky Tower and the cheerful Ferry Terminal, this fairly generic skyline could be interchanged most anywhere — Vancouver, for example, or Miami or Honolulu. Once I looked beyond that, however, I found that the city has an impressive list of heritage buildings, more than 200 structures with significant and valued historical and cultural heritage. Read more about the top five buildings in Auckland >


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A Day in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia

If I had known better, I would have dedicated more than one day in Stanley Park. But that’s in hindsight. In the present, however, I was marveling at everything about Vancouver’s first park, created in 1888 on lands used by indigenous peoples long before the British came and created the British Columbia colony. Sweeping views, nature in the heart of one of Canada’s largest cities, plenty of attractions — you will find it all here in the biggest park in the city and one of the most beautiful urban parks in the world. Read more about it >


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Faith and Fun in Helsinki’s Finest Churches

Karuna Church, Helsinki, FinlandStrong incense emanating from censers in a Russian Orthodox cathedral. An organ concert in an iconic Lutheran cathedral. Utter silence in a modern chapel in a busy area of Helsinki. A wedding in a church built into a rock. A chorale by Finland’s most famous composer ringing from the bell tower of an Art Nouveau church. My experiences in the city’s churches continually surprised me, surpassing mere architecture, history, and religious tradition (although all of those abound in Helsinki’s houses or worship), and visiting them became one long series of unexpected delights. Read about the top five churches in Helsinki >


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Dinner on the Most Photogenic Street in Gdansk, Poland

Only three blocks long, Ulica Mariacka, or St. Mary’s Street, is arguably the most charming street in Gdansk, Poland. It’s not undiscovered — during the day, tourists fill the cobblestone lane, attracted by a plethora of shops selling everything amber, from jewelry to sailing ship models. At night, however, the crowds thin and the pace slows, and you’re guaranteed to have a remarkable dinner at Literacka while soaking in the historic atmosphere. Read more >


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The Churches of Pittsburgh: Very Diverse, All Beautiful

From the top of Mount Washington, I took in the fantastic view of the skyline of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the best urban views in the United States. Connected to the land across the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers by its iconic yellow bridges, this pie-shaped section of the city rises heavenward with its shiny skyscrapers, which (unfortunately) effectively hide one of the city’s lower-rise assets: its gorgeous houses of worship. Read about the top five churches in Pittsburgh >