Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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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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Appreciating Alabama’s Architectural Heritage

Steiner-Lobman and Teague Hardware BuildingsIn between outdriving projected tornado paths through central Alabama and enduring a fierce electrical storm that knocked out power in my hotel in Montgomery, I had ample time to explore many of the state’s highlights, from a massive battleship to a lazy cruise on the Alabama River to key civil rights sites. Through it all, I kept admiring some remarkable structures, many of historical and architectural significance that have become national landmarks over the years. Read more about the top five buildings in Alabama >


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Hidden Jewels Far From Croatia’s Coast in the City of Varaždin

Keglevic Palace, Varazdin, CroatiaWhether you’re traveling by car, bus, foot, or sailboat, the spectacular coast of Croatia, with its beaches, islands, and coastal cities and towns will etch its way into your memory as one of the most beautiful spots in Europe. But I also wanted to see the interior of the country, where the vibe is decidedly un-Mediterranean and you know you’re in Central Europe. That meant time in Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and a day trip to the lovely city of Varaždin. A two-hour train ride from the capital affords views of the countryside and the occasional pheasant wandering by. Once I arrived here, however, it was all about the flowers and parks as well as a wonderful collection of baroque and rococo architecture. Read more about the top five buildings in Varaždin >


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The Five Most Beautiful Churches in London, England

St. Lawrence Jewry, London, EnglandMy first trip to London was back in 1997, when I was covering a conference about corporate image. Wisely, I added a few days onto that business trip for myself. Of course, that wasn’t enough time to explore one of the world’s greatest cities, even if I was trying to limit myself to, say, museums or markets or the theater. Although the tube is a terrifically convenient mode of transportation to reach so many sights, London was made for walking, the best way to experience England’s biggest and best city. Even on my more recent trip to the British capital, I never knew what I’d stumble upon, from rows of bookstores to a museum of clocks. History seems to abound on every street, kept visible by the city’s fantastic architecture, in particular its churches. Read about the top five churches in London >


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Missoula Minus the Mountains: The Best Buildings to See When Smoke Erases the Views

The Babs, Missoula, MontanaWhile spending a couple of weeks in some of the most beautiful parks in the U.S. Rocky Mountains, I took a city break with a couple of days in Missoula, Montana. The smoke from forest fires hung in the air, giving the city an ashy-gray tint that obliterated the views of the mountains. Up close, however, Missoula’s most attractive buildings stand out, and when the smoke clears, you really get to see why this city and its architecture — whether in the historic districts, downtown, or on the campus of the University of Montana — are so attractive. Read more about the top five buildings in Missoula, Montana >


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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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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 >