Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Enjoying a Really Local Dinner in Windhoek, Namibia

Food, Joe's Beerhouse, Windhoek, NamibiaMy brother, sister-in-law, and I were spending two full weeks in Namibia. We had come to this southwestern African country to see its famed ghost town, climb its spectacular orange sand dunes, stay at its unforgettable desert camps, and gape at its tremendous wildlife. So you can imagine our apprehension when some of that wildlife starting appearing on our dinner plates. Of course, restaurants here, just like anywhere else in the world, prepare foods that are local — I’ve had whale in Norway, cloudberries in Sweden, bison in Utah, boletus mushrooms in Poland, and llama in Argentina. In Namibia, that happens to mean things like eland and crocodile and ostrich — and it’s some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. One of the places that does it outrageously well is Joe’s Beerhouse in the capital city of Windhoek. Read about it >


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Staying at a Contemporary Hotel in an Old German Colonial Town in Namibia

Luderitz Nest HotelI had come to the coast of southwestern Namibia with one purpose in mind: to visit Kolmanskop, one of the world’s best ghost towns, something I had been yearning to see for a couple of decades. Not to my surprise, it immediately became one of the highlights of my two weeks in this sparsely populated and wonderfully friendly country. And, after spending a few hours roaming around this remnant of a German colonial diamond-mining town, occasionally being stung by the desert sand in this windy location, I was equally happy to head to the hotel that was serving as my accommodations for a couple of nights, Lüderitz Nest Hotel, fewer than 10 miles down the road in the small city of Lüderitz. With its waterside location, wonderful service, and terrific menu in its restaurant, it’s the ideal place to stay. Read more about it >


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The Power of Pink

Rose quartz, Rapid City, South DakotaYou may first conjure up an image of a baby blanket for your infant daughter or niece. Perhaps an Easter bunny comes to mind. Or maybe you recall the unmistakable aroma of bubble gum. No matter what your association, the color pink will make you think of something relevant, and it’s usually a positive and cheery thought. Although pink comes to the fore with the arrival of spring, in myriad blossoms and flowers, you don’t have to look very hard to find it in delightful places around the world throughout the year. Read about the top five pinks >


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Aus, Namibia: Outstanding Food in an Out-of-the-Way Locale That Translates to “Out”

On the recommendation of our travel agent at &Beyond, my brother, sister-in-law, and I broke up our drive through southern Namibia with a stop for lunch in the little town of Aus, with a population of less than 800. It seemed an odd place to find sustenance: hot and arid (but with the coldest winters ever recorded in the country), lonely and quiet. Even the name could be a deterrent: In German, aus means “out”; in the local Khoekhoe language, it means “place of the snakes.” Despite all that, we found the terrifically charming Bahnhof Hotel and its fantastic restaurant to be both welcoming and memorable. Read more >


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An Easy — and Wonderful — Introduction to Namibia at Windhoek’s Villa Vista Guesthouse

Villa Vista Guesthouse, Windhoek, NamibiaAfter spending nearly a full day traveling in economy class on airplanes, flying from New York to Windhoek, Namibia, via Johannesburg, the first thing I wanted to see after hopping in my rental car and driving a half hour into the city was a restful bed. Fortunately, I had made reservations at Villa Vista Guesthouse, where everything from large, comfortable rooms to delightful breakfasts with a view assured me of a hassle-free and amiable entry into the first African country I ever visited. Read more about this terrific accommodation >


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Namibia’s Diverse Attractions Promise Something for Everyone

Sunset, Swakopmund, NamibiaUpon landing in Windhoek on my very first day in Africa, I knew this would be a markedly different type of vacation. After all, it’s not every day that you spy a family of baboons along the road just outside the airport of a capital city or a couple of feral horses galloping through a punishing landscape. Over the next two weeks, surprises and indelible moments unfolded (you will never be unable to forget the frisson you feel the first time you see a 20-foot-tall giraffe pop up from behind a tree just a few feet from your car), and Namibia very quickly started to surpass all my expectations. With a broad range of sites and activities, from lolling about on lazy afternoons on a beach along the Atlantic Ocean to skydiving over the orange dunes of the Namib Desert, this country in southwestern Africa offers plenty of activities for everyone. Read about the top five things to see and do in Namibia >


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Oceanside Luxury in Swakopmund, Namibia

Strand Hotel, Swakopmund, NamibiaEnticingly comfortable rooms and luxurious suites, with satellite TV and Wi-Fi, proper tea service, great air conditioning, and well-designed bathrooms. Three restaurants, a lobby bar, and a beer garden. Relaxing lounges. Private parking. Superior staff and knowledgeable activities directors. Gym and full-service spa. It could be a list of requirements from guests at hotels in the world’s most-visited cities. But this is not New York, for example, or Tokyo. This is Swakopmund, Namibia, and you’ve just checked in to the Strand Hotel, a fine four-star hotel with gorgeous nightly sunsets and just about everything you could possibly want in a hotel. Read more >


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The Eeriest Places on Earth

Nevada City, MontanaIf you’re planning to visit a fabricated haunted house for Halloween, or to attend a party in a costume that’s anything but frightening, I have an alternative: Go to an authentic ghost town. These abandoned places teem with vacated, decaying buildings and with the spirits of a long-vanished population. You’re unlikely to run into a vampire or a sexy French maid; a rolling tumbleweed is more probable, or the hint of an odd susurration carried on the wind that blows through the silence of these eerie, deserted places. You can find them all over the globe, from Chile to Italy to Japan, and they will give you a thrill, and a chill, like no other locations in the world. Read about the top five ghost towns >


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Silence and Stars at Namibia’s Desert Homestead Outpost

Desert Homestead Outpost, Sesriem, NamibiaThe nearest town, the rather small settlement of Sesriem, was about 25 miles away, a drive through unspoiled nature with nary a soul around. The isolation of Desert Homestead Outpost here in southern Namibia is part of its broad appeal, providing a chance to forgo televisions, computers, and telephones, and immerse yourself in natural beauty and quiet. Throw in superb lodgings, warm service, and outstanding food, and you have one of the most remarkable accommodations in Namibia. Read more >


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When Orange Is More Than Your Morning Juice

Puente del Inca, ArgentinaFor those of us who live in certain climates, autumn brings a joyful change of season, when comfortably brisk days replace oppressive summer heat, and green foliage gives way to all-too-brief displays of flashy colors — especially a vibrant orange. If you don’t reside in a locale that’s blessed with this annual switch, you can get your fix of orange with an intricately carved jack-o-lantern or a Cincinnati Bengals game. And if you’re not privy to any of this, there are still plenty of oranges around the world that will capture your attention. Read more about my top five oranges >