Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Food With a Mood

Chaophraya, Glasgow, ScotlandThroughout my travels, I’ve eaten in a vast variety of settings. Some of them would hardly classify as formal, although the quality of what they served was shockingly good: the stand in Bergen, Norway, that peddled a delicious Jagtwurst, the street cart in Uppsala, Sweden, with the sweetest raspberries imaginable, the barbecue joint in Brooklyn with brown-paper placemats that served astoundingly tender pulled pork. But sometimes I crave something unique—a restaurant with atmosphere and an unmistakable sense of place and history that supplements the dining experience to such a degree that I’m still able to recall it fondly decades after I went here. Read about the top five atmospheric restaurants >


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Seeing Red

Japanese maple treeRed is an extreme color. For many, it’s all about love and passion. What would Valentine’s Day be without red roses or red heart-shaped boxes of candy, presented by the revered red-blooded American, perhaps, in some cases, to his red-hot mama? Those emotions, however, can lead to danger, another of the color’s associations—The Scarlet Letter, for instance, or stop signs and stoplights and code reds. You’ll see red if you’re angry and overheated, and if you’re a politician on the rise, you’ll need to don the requisite red power tie. But not everything red is so intense. Plenty of red things around the world have nothing to do with its common links, and they’ll make an equally strong impression on you. Read about the top five reds >


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The World’s Best Urban Parks

Watching a group of Asian senior citizens practicing the slow movements of a choreographed dance. Making friends with a red squirrel. Hearing someone rail against the evils of plutocracy. Standing under a 165’ Douglas fir. You never know what you’ll find in a city park, and that’s one of their many attractions. And the best parks that make all that possible smack in the middle of a city do it in unforgettable style. Read about the top five urban parks >


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How Great Thou Arch

Queenstown War Memorial, New ZealandThey seem simple: vertical curved structures that span an open space and may, or may not, support weight above it. Of course, arches are much more complicated than that, a complex balance of compression, stress, thrust, bracings, and transference. The Mesopotamians got the jump on them four thousand years ago, but it was the Romans who used them systematically in a wide range of structures, leading eventually to a worldwide adaptation of this most beautiful form. Read about the top five arches >


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The Most Heavenly Celestial Intermediaries, Protectors, and Guides

Angel on St. Angelo Bridge, RomeAngels are a common motif during the Christmas season (particularly noteworthy is Clarence in the classic It’s a Wonderful Life, and in the holiday markets in Düsseldorf, Germany), but they’re not restricted to December. You can find them throughout the year, in myriad locations and captured in various materials and emotional states, from joyful angels blowing horns to mournful ones grieving at gravesites. You may even have one of the guardian type of your own. Read about the top five angels >


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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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Delightful Domes That Grace City Skylines

Salta Cathedral, Salta, ArgentinaDomes. They’re one of the world’s most versatile architectural elements. Whether they’re topping iconic buildings like the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, or they’re the buildings themselves, ranging from Eskimo igloos to Central Asian yurts to the geodesic dome in Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, domes add that final splash of panache to our built environments. Found throughout the world, they seem to be appreciated by just about everyone as the perfect way to top off a building in a graceful, elegant style. Read more about the world’s top five domes >


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The Best Clocks in the World Tell More Than Time

Holy Spirit Church clock, Tallinn, EstoniaWhen you fall back this weekend, take a good look at the clock or wristwatch you’re adjusting. Is it a strictly functional device that displays the inexorable march of time? Or is it a work of art? Clocks have come a long way since sundials and do more than merely inform you that you have arrived early at an airport or overslept again. The best ones also tell great stories — or have great stories told about them. Read more about the top five clocks in the world >


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Portals to Greatness: The World’s Best Entryways

Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, OntarioFor better or worse, we often make snap decisions about books, or magazines, or people, by their cover. Sometimes we’re right, and the contents inside are as wonderful or as horrendous as we prejudged; sometimes we’re wrong, and exactly the opposite happens. When it comes to the world’s most magnificent building entrances, however, they never fail: They invariably lead to something magical inside, but they also always capture our attention, seducing us into admiring them on their own merit. Read more about the top five entryways in the world >


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Shopping at the Five Best Indoor Markets

Pike Place Market, Seattle, WashingtonDuring periods of pleasant weather, many of us flock to outdoor markets — to New York’s bountiful farmers market in Union Square, for example, or the irresistibly charming Christmas markets scattered around Germany, or the open-air Marigot Market on the French side of St. Martin. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, however, we still have the option of patronizing indoor markets to purchase our produce, our earrings, our leather-bound journals, our fancy corkscrews, our locally crafted pottery. Not only do they provide an opportunity to pick up the perfect gift, or souvenir, or components of a fine meal, they also offer the chance to mingle with locals, both the vendors and their customers. Read more about my top five indoor markets from around the world >