Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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War: What Is It Bad For? Images at War Photo Limited in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Some people may argue that we live in safer times, that the occurrence of war is less frequent than only a century ago, and that the seemingly endless stream of violence that inundates us is really the result, not of actual rising numbers of belligerent actions, but of manipulative media executives and lightning-fast technology that brings the latest flare-ups into our homes immediately. Others say the world has become alarmingly dangerous, that no safe place exists, and that today’s headlines verify it all: North Korea’s aggressive saber-rattling, an unstable and benighted U.S. president constantly vomiting warlike rhetoric, sanguinary Islamist extremists happily murdering everyone, from senior citizens to infants to themselves, without a second thought.

What does all this have to do with travel? Quite a bit: It has closed off entire countries to us, has put us at unease in even “safe” locations, and has lengthened security queue times everywhere, from airports to museums to arenas. Fortunately, many of us will never experience war firsthand. But if you want a good look at its endless ramifications, War Photo Limited, a fantastic little museum in Dubrovnik, Croatia, is one place where you can experience it — safely — through the work of talented individuals with cameras, an instinctive sense of timing, and a touch of luck. The gripping and disturbing images on display will haunt you, but they will also make you appreciate everything that you have. Read more >

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Seattle’s Art World at Its Most Brilliant

Seattle Art Museum, WashingtonAnother gray, wet day in Seattle had me searching for indoor activities. The tall, black, steel man with the hammer on a downtown street corner caught my eye, even through the rain and from under the shelter of my umbrella. Unperturbed by the tail end of the morning rush hour, he maintained a steady and soundless rhythm as he beat at the air high above the corner of University Street and 1st Avenue. He also lured me to the building behind him, which quickly ended my quest: the Seattle Art Museum. Read more >


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Get Your Motor Runnin’ at the Gilmore Car Museum

Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, MichiganEven if you could not possibly care less about cars and the automotive industry, you can’t leave Michigan without having developed, at the very least, a passing fascination with them and the urge to head out for a beautiful drive. To cultivate that seed of interest, or to fuel a passion that you already have, cruise over to the expansive Gilmore Car Museum in tiny Hickory Corners — one of the largest car museums in North America. Read more >


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Peeping Into Kitchens and Hiding From the Soviets in Tallinn’s Kiek in de Kök

Kiek in de Kok, Tallinn, EstoniaDeclared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia, survives as one of Europe’s best preserved medieval fortifications. As I emerged from my hotel, the wonderful Savoy Boutique Hotel, every day, I was completely enchanted by its beautiful churches, cobblestone streets, old merchant houses, and medieval gates around its perimeter. The city’s most distinctive feature — the defensive wall around it — incorporates a couple of dozen towers. One particular tower, Kiek in de Kök, boasts an unusually wild history. In the 16th century, soldiers joked that they could look through the windows on the top level into the kitchens of the homes beneath them, and, in the 20th century, criminals and punk rockers could flee from police during the Soviets’ crushing 50-year-hold on Estonia in the tunnels underneath the tower. Read more >


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Navigating Your Way Through the Largest Art Museum in the United States

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkIf you’ve ever visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, you know it is the leading art museum in the city, the largest in the United States, and one of the best in the world. If you’ve never been there, here’s a tip: Do not try to see it all in one day. You will fail. Its collection of every kind of art, from paintings, photographs, sculptures, and ivory carvings, to jewelry, musical instruments, Fabergé eggs, and samurai swords, is far too deep to conquer in one visit. Instead, pick a few things you’re particularly interested in and save the rest for another time—and be prepared to walk a few miles within the museum itself. Still too overwhelming? Then read about the top five things you must see and do >


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College Without the Classes: A Trio of Celebrated Sites at UBC Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, UBC, VancouverNow that I’ve been out of college for some time, going back to a campus has become a joy, a return to a pleasant environment without the stress of studying for a calculus final or writing a term paper on Thomas Hardy. Whether I’m checking out some terrific collegiate architecture in Princeton or stumbling upon ebullient commencement ceremonies at a university in Scotland or Michigan, I’m always up for a good stroll around a campus for an hour or two. But at the University of British Columbia, my campus visit became a full-day event, with three world-class attractions integral to a rewarding vacation in Vancouver. Read more >


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Unexpected Masterpieces in the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art

Croatian Museum of Naive Art, Zagreb, CroatiaI didn’t know any of their names, and I had never seen their works before. But the artists exhibited in the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art in Zagreb completely captivated me, particularly because just about all of them had never received any formal training or schooling. Despite that, these naïve artists, akin to folk or so-called primitive artists, have created a unique style with their use of striking colors and a common disregard for distance perspective. This museum is easy to miss, and its collection is fairly small, but it’s also one of the most surprisingly delightful and impressive in the capital of Croatia. Read more >