Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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The Firehouses That Burn the Brightest

Jasper Fire Hall, Jasper, AlbertaThe word “hero” is employed far too often to describe someone who simply does his or her job, or someone you might have a shred of admiration for. In fact, the word is quite in danger of verbicide. The shortstop who makes a great catch is not a hero; your favorite reality star is certainly not a hero. In a world that is seriously lacking in true heroes, it’s heartening to know that there is one group that deservedly earns the accolade every day: firefighters. And societies have acknowledged their selfless bravery and critical role by constructing some highly impressive buildings for them from which they perform their duties. Read about the world’s top five firehouses >

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Terrific Food and Beer on Tap at Albany Pump Station

Albany Pump Station, Albany, New YorkFacing the elevated roads of US Route 9 and then Interstate 787 that lead into Albany, New York, Albany Pump Station doesn’t have much of a view. But that won’t matter as you cross the cobblestone parking area and enter the century’s-old buildings that house this brewery and restaurant. This unique venue serves up more than a dozen home-brewed beers that have won awards and both national and international competitions, and plates of food that would satisfy even the most voracious appetites. Read more >


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A Century of Fine Dining at Jack’s Oyster House in Albany, New York

Just a short walk downhill from the gorgeous New York State Capitol and near many of Albany’s top churches, along the city’s main downtown thoroughfare, Jack’s Oyster House has been in business for more than 100 years. Still operated by the same family, this stalwart establishment has remained open for business every day of the year since World War I—with one exception: the day of the founder’s funeral in 1987. That sort of dedication earned Jack’s a certification from the Distinguished Restaurants of North America for achieving the highest distinction in the distinguished dining and hospitality communities. But Jack’s doesn’t rest on its laurels; the head chef, named Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation, merges its history with forward-looking creations. Read more >


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Italian Immigrants Keep It Real at Sorge’s in Corning, New York

I devoted most of my only day in Corning, New York, to the outstanding Corning Museum of Glass, where I admired thousands of fantastic glass objects and took a flameworking class and created my own glass pumpkin pendant. By the time I emerged, the sun had shifted to the opposite end of the sky, and I was ready for a large meal. Just a couple doors down from my lodgings, the wonderful Inn at the Gaffer Grille, I found Sorge’s. This was hardly a discovery — everyone in town seemed to be there already — but it was certainly a stroke of good decision-making when I chose it for dinner. Read more >


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A Century of Style and Grace: New York’s Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building, New York, New YorkOnce the tallest building on the planet — a title it retained for 17 years in the early 1900s — it now ranks at #63 in the United States and doesn’t crack the world’s top 100. Despite surrendering its lofty crown, the Woolworth Building retains its elegance and style that have been hallmarks of the New York City skyline since 1913. Although it’s getting increasingly harder to see as taller, less interesting neighbors sprout up around it, the Woolworth Building still puts other skyscrapers to shame, and once you take your first glance at it, you’ll understand why my favorite building in New York earned the moniker the “Cathedral of Commerce” only three days after it opened. Read more >


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A Singular Serving of Asian Cuisine in the Heart of New York State

The hemp and granola feel of Ithaca, New York, famous for its colleges, farmers market, outdoorsy predilections, and annual musical Porchfest, was in full swing, with plenty of plaid and skateboarders as well as a handlebar mustache or two. So I was more than a little surprised to stumble upon Mia Tapas Bar & Restaurant, an unexpectedly sophisticated pan-Asian restaurant in the heart of the city and one of Ithaca’s finest — and most creative — establishments. Read more >


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Come Sail Away on the World’s Best Boat Rides

Maligne Lake, Alberta, CanadaWhen the summer heat becomes too oppressive and you’re tired of sitting in enclosed air-conditioned rooms, one of the best ways to cool off is to hop on a boat, whether it’s your own private tricked-out yacht or a workaday municipal water ferry. A refreshing breeze kicks in as the speed increases, cooling your overheated skin and providing a pleasant reprieve. The ride gets more interesting, of course, when you’re traveling and you find yourself on a luzzu in Malta, a paddleboat on the Alabama River, a pletna in Slovenia, or a high-speed catamaran in Saint Martin. Read more about the world’s top five boat rides >