Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Gorgin’ on Georgian

Veal stew, Old Tbilisi Garden, New York, New YorkExactly one week after watching a television show about traveling to Georgia (the ancient land tucked into the Caucasus region, not the Peach State), I stumbled upon a Georgian restaurant in New York. With fresh mental images of this intriguing foreign land, I knew I had to take advantage of this fortuitous coincidence and stop here for lunch to sample the flavors of this faraway nation. Read about Old Tbilisi Garden >


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Mangia in One of Little Italy’s Best Restaurants

Tables at Da Nico Ristorante, New York CityNew York’s Little Italy needs help. Slammed by COVID-19 travel restrictions that clobbered its all-critical tourist trade, as well as by neighboring Chinatown’s typhonic expansionism, Little Italy has been shrinking for decades. Now concentrated along Mulberry, Mott, and Grand streets, Little Italy gets littler by the year. But you can still find the oldest cheese shop in the United States (opened in 1892 and now co-owned by actor Tony Danza), the oldest souvenir and gift store in the neighborhood (since 1910), gelato shops and bakeries, a ravioli and pasta store that’s been around since 1920, and a good number of restaurants. I decided to show some love, and financial support, to Da Nico Ristorante, a family business that owns and operates a kitchen where your nonna would be completely comfortable. Read more about it >


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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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Ties to Thais

Thai Farm Kitchen, New York CityNew York’s South Street Seaport used to teem with the arrival of imports from faraway nations and of immigrants ready to start a new life in the New World. Hammered by the collapse of New York’s shipping industry starting in the 1950s, the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the economic devastation wreaked by COVID-19 in 2020–21, the Seaport has seen its fortunes rise and fall. This resilient district is now rising again, and it still attracts international crowds, especially in its food scene, ranging from Irish pubs to Japanese sushi restaurants. One such standout is Thai Farm Kitchen, which sources its flavorful ingredients not only from new organic farmers in the United States, but from its old partners in Thailand. Read about it >


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Pedal Your Way to New Experiences

Stanley Park, VancouverWhen riding public transportation became a dodgy activity during the pandemic, carless people began switching to bicycles in droves, causing a severe shortage in supply. And now, with spring in full bloom, hopping on two wheels becomes an even more attractive way to get around. Beyond just a mode of transportation to help you accomplish your daily errands, a bike ride for the casual cyclist is also a terrific way to explore a new destination. Read about the world’s top five bike rides >


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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 >


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Five Fantastic Buildings in Albany, New York

First Trust Company Building, Albany, New YorkIn 1614, Dutch traders built Fort Nassau, a fur-trading post and the first documented European structure in present-day Albany, New York. Things have changed over the four centuries since then, and a wood fort would hardly blend in at all in the capital of New York. I would have liked to have seen what that short-lived structure looked like (abandoned after only a few years due to the river’s flooding), but I found just as much pleasure in checking out some of its successors. Read about the top five buildings in Albany, New York >


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Viewing and Creating Art at the World’s Best Glass Museum, in Corning, New York

VasesUpstate New York is often shunted aside by visitors who tend to descend on downstate, on New York City, and unjustifiably so. In this vast expanse I explored the magnificent State Capitol in Albany, had a blast in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, hiked in the gorges in Ithaca, marveled at outstanding architecture in Buffalo, and soaked in Niagara Falls, one of the world’s top five waterfalls. On my way home from this romp around my home state, I made a stop in Corning, a small, charming city of about 12,000 people that means one thing for most of us: glass. Here, glass is far more than just a mirror or your orange juice pitcher. And nobody explains, demonstrates, and shows it better than the Corning Museum of Glass. Read more about it >


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A Good Deed Portrayed in Art Around the World

St. Veronica, National Gallery of Art, Washington DCJuly 12 is the feast day of St. Veronica, one of the most identifiable saints in the Christian canon. Whereas so many saints can be hard to recognize by sight according to their symbols (for example, a lily is associated with at least 10 saints; a book accompanies more than 20), the veil with Jesus’ face is assigned only to Veronica. She was especially revered in the 14th and 15th centuries, but her simple act of kindness — offering to wipe Christ’s face — is just as relevant, and as necessary, today. Throughout the world, she has been portrayed in myriad ways and materials. Read about the top five depictions of St. Veronica >