Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Cuban Food in a Very American City

Alma de Cuba, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaAfter spending the day walking around the streets of the quintessential American city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, exploring key American sites like Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin’s grave, and the Liberty Bell, I headed to dinner at a restaurant located in a very American-looking three-story Federal-style townhouse, painted a soft pastel yellow. Was my dinner traditional American? Nope. It was Cuban. And it was delicious. Read more about Alma de Cuba >

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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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Opa! It Will Be All Greek to You at Poros in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Poros, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaGiven the diversity of dining options in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Polish, Thai, German, Peruvian, Italian, and so on — deciding on where to have dinner becomes a perplexing, but pleasant, problem. And strolling around the weekly farmers market in landmark Market Square, when more than 30 vendors purvey a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, fresh-pressed juices, milk, cheese, honey, and breads, will certainly put you in a gastronomic frame of mind. You can act immediately on that particular mental state without leaving the square by settling in for dinner at Poros, a stylish Greek estiatorio that’s a fine credit to its culture. Read more >


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Bird Hunting Inside Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Hotel Monaco, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaHaving already stayed at the Baltimore property of Hotel Monaco, I knew what to expect when I checked into the Pittsburgh location: a spotless, comfortable, exceptionally quiet room; great service; perfect location. What I wasn’t anticipating, however, was the whimsical bird motif throughout — subtle little popup appearances in unexpected places, making my weeklong stay in this superior hotel an enjoyable guessing game as I hunted for new feathered friends every day. Read more >


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Fantastic French Cuisine at Pittsburgh’s Le Lyonnais

When Zagat crowned Pittsburgh the number-one food city in the United States in 2015, they knew what they were talking about. During a week in this western Pennsylvania city, I sampled a wide variety of excellent cuisines, from Greek to Thai to Italian to Peruvian to Polish. The best of them all? A superior French restaurant called Le Lyonnais in the heart of downtown. Read more about it >


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Portals to Greatness: The World’s Best Entryways

Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, OntarioFor better or worse, we often make snap decisions about books, or magazines, or people, by their cover. Sometimes we’re right, and the contents inside are as wonderful or as horrendous as we prejudged; sometimes we’re wrong, and exactly the opposite happens. When it comes to the world’s most magnificent building entrances, however, they never fail: They invariably lead to something magical inside, but they also always capture our attention, seducing us into admiring them on their own merit. Read more about the top five entryways in the world >


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Shopping at the Five Best Indoor Markets

Pike Place Market, Seattle, WashingtonDuring periods of pleasant weather, many of us flock to outdoor markets — to New York’s bountiful farmers market in Union Square, for example, or the irresistibly charming Christmas markets scattered around Germany, or the open-air Marigot Market on the French side of St. Martin. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, however, we still have the option of patronizing indoor markets to purchase our produce, our earrings, our leather-bound journals, our fancy corkscrews, our locally crafted pottery. Not only do they provide an opportunity to pick up the perfect gift, or souvenir, or components of a fine meal, they also offer the chance to mingle with locals, both the vendors and their customers. Read more about my top five indoor markets from around the world >