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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R&R at the Best B&Bs

Barn Anew, Scottsbluff, NebraskaI tend to spend a good amount of time poring over websites when choosing accommodations for a trip. It’s a tricky (but tremendously fun) endeavor, with many factors coming into play: type, location, amenities, cost, convenience, reliable cheers and jeers, and, of course, gut instinct. One group that, as a whole, is guaranteed to offer a level of coziness, slow-paced relaxation, and personal touches you probably won’t find elsewhere is bed and breakfasts. You’ll meet more people, have finer morning meals, and remember the names of the owners long after you’ve returned home. Read about the top five bed and breakfasts >


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Unique Churches in Unique Venice

Church of St. Zachary, Venice, ItalyWhenever you cross one of Venice’s more than 400 bridges over its placid canals, you’ll catch sight of one of the city’s nearly 140 churches. They come in all shapes and sizes, from massive cathedrals to smaller parish churches. Most are Roman Catholic, but you can find a few for other denominations, such as the Greek Orthodox church with its leaning tower. And, while Saint Mark’s Basilica is the biggest draw, it’s often the less-visited churches that brandish the best surprises. Read about the top five churches in Venice, Italy >


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Busted: The World’s Best Heads

Bust of Queen VictoriaAn artist’s ability to carve a human head and have the result bear an uncanny likeness to the model never fails to impress me. Such busts may very well cause you to do a double-take, as you question yourself whether that is the real flesh-and-blood person, or their image re-created in marble, copper, stone, or whatever other material the sculptor has chosen to employ. Some, of course, rise head and shoulders above the rest. Read about the world’s top five busts >


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St. Stephen Rocks

St. Joseph Cathedral, Buffalo, New YorkAt last count, there are at least nine St. Stephens, including a Byzantine monk, an English abbot, and a Russian painter and missionary. I’m familiar with only two: Stephen I, the man who united Hungary into one nation a millennium ago and served as its first king for nearly 40 years, and my namesake, the Biblical Stephen who was stoned to death for his faith, thus becoming Christianity’s first martyr. With the latter’s feast day coming up, on December 26, it seems like an appropriate time to take a look at how this Stephen is presented in art—very often, but not always, holding the rocks that were used to kill him. Read about the top five depictions of St. Stephen >


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Bodies of Work

Jenners Department Store, Edinburgh, ScotlandIf you feel like the weight of the world is sometimes pressing down on you, imagine if an actual building were doing the same thing. Since the sixth century BC in ancient Greece, stone women have been supporting entablatures on their heads; their male counterparts came along a little later, in the Greek cities in Sicily and southern Italy. These caryatids and atlantids not only served a practical function, as a column or pillar to support the weight of a structure, but they also added impressive panache. Read about the top five atlantids and caryatids >


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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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Marking Mark’s Feast Day

St. Augustine Catholic Church, Montpelier, VermontApril 25 marks the Feast Day of St. Mark, one of the Four Evangelists who wrote one of the gospels and spread the Word of God. His life mission took him around the eastern Mediterranean, to Cyprus and northern Africa, and his death, in 68 AD, is the stuff of legend. Over the centuries, he has been portrayed as both a young and an old man in just about every form of art imaginable. Read more about the top five depictions of St. Mark >


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First Impressions That Last

Pitons, St. LuciaYour journey begins in your mind, when you ruminate about a place you’d like to visit. After you’ve made your itinerary, selected the places you want to explore, and booked your accommodations, there’s only one thing left to do: Go. And when you get there, it’s that ever-important first impression that can set the tone for your entire trip. That initial reaction all depends on how you arrive, and the mode of transportation you’ve selected can make all the difference. Read about the world’s top five arrivals >


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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 >