Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Turku Castle Reigns Supreme

Turku Castle, Turku, FinlandFinland’s oldest city and its former capital, Turku is located about two hours by train from where I was staying in Helsinki, the superior Hotel Kämp. The country’s sixth-largest city has plenty to see for a full day trip, from its 700-year-old cathedral to a fantastic museum built over a 14th-century archaeological site, but Turku’s most famous landmark is the one I wanted to visit most — the largest castle in Finland. Read more >

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San Chez Bistro: Stellar Spanish Tapas in Grand Rapids, Michigan

After the terrifically bizarre blatherskite stumbled out of Divani, the pleasant bar where I was enjoying a glass of Bowen’s Harbor semi-dry Riesling, produced in Michigan, I shared a good laugh over her antics with the bartender and the woman whose ear she had been chewing for a while. During the conversation that ensued, I broached the topic of restaurant recommendations here in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. They offered several suggestions, but the one that kept popping up was San Chez Bistro, only a couple of blocks away. Heeding their advice, I popped into San Chez the following night for dinner. And I’ve been recalling it fondly ever since. Read more >


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Big Buildings in Little Rock, Arkansas

Villa Marre, Little Rock, ArkansasMy day trip from Hot Springs, Arkansas, to Little Rock centered around a visit to the state capitol, a stroll through a couple of the half dozen historic districts, and the duck march at what was then the Peabody Hotel. This sleepy capital city (indeed, the downtown felt rather abandoned, and within walking distance of it you’ll feel like you’re in the suburbs, with spacious homes along tree-lined streets) is ideal for strolling, whether it’s along the banks of the Arkansas River, through the Market Hall for some international snacks, or around the historic districts that boast some beguiling edifices, many of which rank among the city’s best. Read more about the top five buildings in Little Rock >


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Custer’s First Choice: Sage Creek Grille

The small city of Custer, South Dakota, served as my base for exploring the region’s Black Hills National Forest and the treasures within its boundaries: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, one of the world’s 10 most beautiful drives, and two of the world’s top 10 caves and caverns. Once I returned to the town at night, dinner was never more than a little walk from my hotel, and one of the best I had was at Sage Creek Grille, an unpretentious little place where you can contemplate which pieces of artwork you’d like to take home as you enjoy your evening meal. Read more >


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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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Travel Through Time at Detroit’s Inn on Ferry Street

Inn on Ferry Street, Detroit, MichiganDetroit has seen better days — we all know that. But that doesn’t mean it’s a hopeless case. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting American cities I’ve ever visited. And when I was searching for a place to stay in this Michigan city — one of the best in the United States for architecture, and by far one of the most anthropologically riveting — I decided to opt for something from its grander days rather than a shiny new glass-and-steel hotel. So I took a step back in time and, for four days, I led a semi-Victorian life at the unique Inn on Ferry Street. Read more >


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Breaking for Lunch at Bassaterre’s Ballahoo

Literally steps away from Port Zante, the terminal that attracts countless cruise ships every year to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, you would expect Ballahoo to be overrun with megaship devotees with massive appetites. But, because so many passengers never make it past Port Zante’s duty-free shops and restaurants run by Chinese and Indian immigrants and don’t venture into the island’s capital city, this terrific restaurant practically ensures that you won’t be sitting next to people from your hometown, pressed for time and anxious to get back to their ship. All of that is great for you: You’ll be able to easily select a desirable table and enjoy a laid-back, delicious local meal with a view and without a crowd. Read more >