Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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The Best Artistic Depictions of Palm Sunday

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New YorkThis coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, a key date in the Christian calendar when millions of Christians around the world commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem — a fateful day that launches Holy Week. Depicted in art for centuries, Palm Sunday is an unmistakable scene, whether it’s been rendered on a canvas or, as in most of the ones that really impressed me, stained glass. Read more about the top five Palm Sundays >


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Indulging in a Dutch Tradition at The Pancake Bakery

All around Amsterdam, I had been noticing a formidable number of restaurants touting their pancake menus. I didn’t realize what all the fuss was until I read up a bit on this traditional Dutch mainstay, and then I was intrigued when I learned just how creative pancakes can get in the Netherlands. They’re not your typical grilled batter with maybe some blueberries or chocolate chips thrown in. At The Pancake Bakery, a menu of 79 different types will make you completely reevaluate your notion of what a pancake can be. Read more >


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When Spring Springs in the World’s Best Botanic Gardens

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New YorkEvery spring, as we bid winter goodbye, the time comes to terminate our hibernation and return to the outdoor world. One visually invigorating, and very gentle, way to re-acclimate ourselves is to visit a botanic garden. These oases of flora, very often in the heart of concrete urban clusters, can stir your soul, as the annual rebirth begins and plants, birds, animals, and insects get busy once again. Read more about the top five botanic gardens in the world >


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The Greatest Story Ever Told on a Crucifix

Church of St. Teresa, New York, New YorkIf you celebrate Easter, then you most likely start your day by preparing a big holiday meal, tearing into a chocolate bunny, watching your children search your home for hidden colored eggs, or putting on your Sunday best — including the obligatory bonnet — for the Easter Mass. The most important day in the Christian calendar brings with it the most powerful image as well: Jesus on a cross. Although it’s His resurrection that Christians celebrate today, it’s this Good Friday image that solidifies what His life and teachings were all about. Since that pivotal day at Golgotha, the Crucifixion has been represented countless times in countless cultures in countless media — paintings, sculptures, stained-glass windows, and more. Read about the world’s top five crucifixes >


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Tulip Mania at Keukenhof

Keukenhof, Lisse, NetherlandsI’ve booked vacations around available time off from my job, around seasonal weather in my destinations, around fluctuating airfares and hotel rates. But only once did I plan a vacation around a flower.

Spring in the Netherlands is all about the tulip. Given the fairly short lifespan of this iconic flower in the country that sparked the “Tulipomania” in the 1630s that nearly ruined it, I had little leeway in the weeks I wanted to spend here. So, with some careful planning, I arrived at the best time of year, when tulips of all varieties and colors greeted me wherever I went — in parks, markets, planters, and shop windows. But it wasn’t until I visited Europe’s largest garden, Keukenhof, and its seven million flowers that I truly appreciated my good timing. Read more >


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Lunching at Amsterdam’s Villa Zeezicht

With more than 1,000 restaurants to choose from in Amsterdam, ranging from Argentinean steak houses to Indonesian takeaway joints to traditional Dutch establishments, you’re never at a loss to satisfy any particular craving. Those located along the city’s famous canals, of course, boast the more charming setting. But even if you can’t get to enjoy the views at the often limited outdoor seating, you’ll still be satisfied with the fine meal you’ll be served at your indoor table. Villa Zeezicht is one of those lovely canal-side restaurants with a delicious menu that ultimately makes it irrelevant where you’re sitting. Read more >


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Five Train Stations That Will Make You Rethink Flying

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, New ZealandNot that long ago, when travel by train was the preferred and quickest way to embark on a vacation or business trip, railroad companies made sure their passengers were impressed by and made comfortable in their stations, whether it was a charming small-town depot or a massive big-city terminal. Many of these stations are still in use today, offering a far more pleasant experience than generic, isolated airports with countless hassles, endless lines, and crushing rules and regulations. Although some have been repurposed to function as everything but what they were originally intended for, they remain architectural jewels in our urban landscape. These are my five favorite train stations in the world. Read more >