Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


Leave a comment

A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose, But Some Places Grow Them Better

Kilkenny Castle, IrelandGarden cultivation of roses began several millennia ago, starting way back in Babylon, ancient China, and the Roman Empire. Long admired for their color, their fragrance, and their beauty (some royalty used them as legal tender in the 17th century), the world’s most popular flower has achieved fame not only in horticultural circles, but also in song (“Yellow Rose of Texas”; “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”), war (The War of the Roses), adages (“bed of roses”; “I never promised you a rose garden”), and cinema (The Rose; The Rose Tattoo). This international symbol of love is tended to in dedicated gardens around the world, some of which have truly perfected the art. Read about the world’s top five rose gardens >


Leave a comment

Fourteen Stops Around a Christian Church

Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaOne of the religious highlights of the Lenten season is walking the Stations of the Cross. Christians can follow Jesus’ last hours on earth via 14 stations, from His condemnation to death through His march to Calvary and ultimately His body being placed in the tomb. In Christian churches around the world, these images line the walls, often with seven on one side of the church and seven on the other. Regardless of their simplicity or complexity, they are all works of art. Read about the world’s best Stations of the Cross >


Leave a comment

Going Green Around the World

Decanter Set, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaWith spring almost at the doorstep for many of us, we begin to think of shedding extra layers of thick clothing and weatherproof boots, stowing away our rock salt and shovels, and not having to de-ice our cars every morning. Buds will soon appear, and gray will morph into green bursting all around us, bringing with it all signs of rebirth and new life. Of course, nature doesn’t hold a monopoly on green; there are plenty of nonliving objects that are green that you can see and fall in love with all year. Read about the world’s top five greens >


Leave a comment

Dream Bigger: White Is Not Only for Christmas

Church of St. Charles at the Four Fountains, Rome, ItalyAs winter wonderlands start to pop up around the globe, white takes center stage in the form of unique flakes, shiny skating rinks, and Santa’s beard. But snow, ice, and St. Nick’s facial hair don’t hold a monopoly on the pure, unspoiled beauty of white. In fact, some of the world’s best occurrences of white have nothing to do with gelid winters and aren’t seasonal at all. Read more about the world’s top five whites >


Leave a comment

Coursing Through the Heart of Belfast: Donegall Square

Scottish Provident Building, Belfast, IrelandWith “the Troubles” apparently — and hopefully — relegated to the history books, a day trip to Belfast now seemed necessary during my three-week jaunt around Ireland. Just a two-hour train ride north from Dublin, the capital of Northern Ireland has settled into a peaceful, bustling center of activity. The heart of the city beats in and around Donegall Square, a concentration of fantastic buildings, monuments, and green space, and a wonderful place to wander around when the clouds part. Read more >


2 Comments

Splendors and Surprises in Ireland’s Killarney National Park

Ross Castle, Killarney National Park, IrelandSmack in the middle of the town of Killarney in western Ireland, my hotel, the fantastic Foley’s Townhouse, originally a coaching inn from 1795, provided exceptionally easy access to Killarney National Park, just a 15-minute stroll away. It was the first time I ever walked from my bedroom into a national park. That unbeatable proximity is a pleasant introduction to this outstanding park, which not only boasts the features you would expect to see in a national park, but a few surprises as well. Read more >


Leave a comment

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 >


Leave a comment

Five Things You’ll Love to Do in Dublin, Ireland

Long Hall, Trinity College, Dublin, IrelandEvery March 17, the world is invited to be Irish in honor of St. Patrick, the fifth-century missionary and bishop who brought Christianity to Ireland and reputedly rid the entire island of snakes. Whether you’re celebrating by attending a parade, slow-cooking some corned beef and cabbage, toasting this rich heritage with a shot of Jameson’s Irish whiskey, or simply donning something green, this is the day to appreciate everything the Emerald Isle has to offer. If you’re in Dublin on this holiday, you’ll be lucky to be part of the annual celebrations. But even if you miss it, this lively city offers plenty for the other 364 days of the year. Read more about my top five things to see and do in Dublin >


4 Comments

Five Doors to Admire Before You Open Them

House of the Blackhead, Tallinn, EstoniaWe pass through doors countless times every day — in our home, our workplace, the subway, elevators, barns, garages. Most are fairly unremarkable, utilitarian means of egress. But every now and then, a masterfully crafted door stands out in the crowd, arresting our attention, hinting at something remarkable behind it and enticing us to go inside and discover the treasures or surprises awaiting us on the other side. These are my top five doors in the world. Read more >


Leave a comment

Ambling Around One of the World’s Most Beautiful Gardens at Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, Ireland

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, IrelandOne of the best things about Dublin, Ireland, is the ease with which you can reach other destinations outside this hectic metropolis, whether it’s another city, like Belfast, or the famed Irish countryside. I took advantage of the abundant connections by hopping on a double-decker bus to the village of Enniskerry to see the famous gardens at Powerscourt Estate — 47 acres of spectacular grounds, including Italian and Japanese gardens, the tallest tree in Ireland, and a pet cemetery that includes a tombstone for a 17-year-old-cow named Eugenie. Read more>