Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Earth, or Middle Earth? A Hike Through New Zealand’s Wonderfully Weird Landscape

Waimangu Volcanic Valley, New ZealandFrom Robertson House, my lovely bed and breakfast in the town of Rotorua, on New Zealand’s North Island, I drove for only about 20 minutes to the surreally beautiful Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Almost as soon as I began my 2½-mile hike here, I fully understood why Peter Jackson chose to film The Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand. Clearly, this was what J.R.R. Tolkien had in mind when he was creating his world of Middle Earth back in the 1940s. Read more >

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Five Fun Things to See and Do in Europe’s Emptiest Country

Skógasafn, IcelandHigh in the North Atlantic, Iceland floats just below the Arctic Circle, the perfect resting spot for travelers shuttling between North America and Europe. Here in the Land of Fire and Ice, the most sparsely populated country in Europe, you can easily see both, sometimes in spectacular and awesome displays of erupting volcanoes or calving icebergs. Not everything here is so dramatic, of course, and you can appreciate this island nation of fewer than half a million people with much more sedate activities, like soaking in a geothermal pool and spying the most adorable birds on earth. Read more about the top five things to see and do in Iceland >