Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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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 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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Secular Stockholm’s Religious Past

St. James Church, Stockholm, SwedenNearly 80 percent of Swedes describe themselves as “not religious” or “convinced atheists,” and only about 4 percent of members of the Church of Sweden attend a weekly service. Those statistics belie the country’s religious past: There are more than 3,500 churches in Sweden, dozens and dozens of which are dotted around the capital city. I was enamored by the diversity of their architecture, history, and features, and I was enchanted by all of them. Read more about the top five churches in Stockholm >


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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 >


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Have Yourself a Merry German Christmas: Day 6

Heidelberg, GermanyOf the seven cities on my itinerary, Heidelberg was the one I was anticipating the most. From the train station, I walked for about a half-hour on streets that became increasingly more engaging as I made way to the Old Town. Beguiled by its bosky hillside, mountaintop castle, gentle river and graceful bridges, and outstanding architecture, I thrilled at the thought of spending a full day here, rambling through its Christmas markets amid the most romantic setting possible. Read more >


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Have Yourself a Merry German Christmas: Day 5

Dusseldorf, GermanyAs I strolled through one of Düsseldorf’s city parks, beautified by a little river and a couple of lakes, I marked the absence of people. I had arrived on a Sunday morning, and every store was — and would stay — closed for the day. Few pedestrians or joggers utilized the path along the Rhine River. It seemed everyone in the city was staying at home on this overcast day. But all that changed when I reached the first of three increasingly interesting Christmas markets. Read more >


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Have Yourself a Merry German Christmas: Day 4

Stuttgart, GermanyDuring World War II, the Allies dropped 142,000 bombs on Stuttgart, destroying 39,125 buildings. Needless to say, with some sporadic exceptions here and there, it doesn’t have much of an Old Town anymore. I stepped off the train from Frankfurt and emerged from the very sturdy hauptbahnhof onto a newish and heavily congested pedestrian zone: Saturday Christmas shopping was in full gear. But this was just an ordinary shopping area. Once I arrived at the Christmas market, the number of people seemed to have quadrupled. Welcome to one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. Read more >


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Have Yourself a Merry German Christmas: Day 3

Freiberg, GermanyOf all the cities I was visiting, I knew the least (well, virtually nothing) about Freiburg, but I included it on my itinerary because I read that it had one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. So, with no points of reference and no notions of what the city would be like, I boarded the train to Freiburg. As it would turn out, the markets didn’t seem to exceed any of the others I had seen so far (they were just as delightful), but, oh, how I loved this city. Read more >