Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


Leave a comment

Kraków’s Divine Churches

Church of the Transfiguration, Krakow, PolandKraków, like most other major cities in Poland, has lived through a tumultuous history. From glory days as the nation’s capital to a widespread conflagration that burned it to the ground, from being shunted aside under the Austrian Empire to resurgent pride when its most famous resident, Karol Wojtyla, became Pope John Paul II, from intense air pollution from Soviet-built steelworks to its role as the country’s leading tourist destination, Kraków is a survivor. And, for centuries, its sturdy citizens have steadily found courage and hope in the city’s gorgeous houses of worship. Read about the top five churches in Kraków, Poland >


Leave a comment

A Good Laugh Is a Mighty Good Thing

Seals in a Bathtub, Portland, OregonHerman Melville said it best in Moby-Dick: “A good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing.” Published in 1851, Melville’s statement could not be more pertinent today. Let’s face it: In light of a disturbing pandemic, food and hand sanitizer shortages, insufficient health care procedures, quarantines, and a constant barrage of bad news and “Breaking News” from CNN that instantly makes you think, “What fresh hell is this?!”, we need a good laugh to relieve the tension, if only for a moment or two. Without further ado, from my travels around the world, here are the top five sights that will make you laugh >


Leave a comment

The World’s Best Depictions of Adam and Eve

Original Sin, by Marco BenefialIn the Bible, the Book of Genesis describes how God created man on the sixth day. To keep him company in the Garden of Eden with all those plants and animals that he got to name, God granted him Eve, fashioning her from one of his ribs. They were free to frolic around Paradise without a care, as long as they didn’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Alas, the sly serpent proved too persuasive to Eve, who then dragged Adam down with her when she tempted him to partake as well. Things quickly went south: For disobeying God’s one command, an angel drove them out of Eden, stripped them of their athanasia, and forced Adam to work for a living and Eve to bear children in a spectacularly painful way. It’s quite a story, one of the most popular in the Bible, and it has been depicted in art for centuries. Read about the best of those renditions >


Leave a comment

Delicacies and History at Píwníca Rajców in Gdansk, Poland

Píwníca Rajców, Gdansk, PolandNight was already falling when I arrived in Gdansk, Poland, so further exploration of the city would have to wait until the next day. For now, I settled at an outdoor table at Píwníca Rajców, the first of many excellent restaurants throughout Poland (although Gdansk remained the best). Eating al fresco became the norm, a wonderful opportunity to enjoy outstanding meals while watching the daily life of local Poles unfold before me. And I enjoyed it all while listening to the sputtering water of the Neptune Fountain and the sounds of some very talented street musicians. Read more>


Leave a comment

Classic Polish Cuisine in a Favorite Polish City

An evening of music from Poland’s greatest composer. A massive square bordered by beautiful buildings with colorful façades. A seat beside arguably the country’s most striking Town Hall. Street performers who provide a lively backdrop. It all melded together seamlessly when I enjoyed a traditional Polish dinner at Pod Fredra in the wonderful city of Wrocław, Poland. Read more >


Leave a comment

Taking a Break on the World’s Best Benches

Bench in Idaho Falls, IdahoThey’re the perfect spot for people watching, or dog watching, if you prefer. They’re shady respites on hot afternoons. They’re ideal for your lunchtime escape from your office. Benches invite us to relax for a bit, whether it’s to catch up on some reading, admire a renowned piece of art, enjoy a beguiling view, or spend some outdoor time with your significant other. When the benches themselves become the attraction, however, they transcend a simple place to sit. Read more about the world’s top five benches >


Leave a comment

A Hearty Meal in an Old World Restaurant in Zakopane, Poland

I was seeking sustenance on a drizzly evening in Zakopane, nestled at the most southern fringes of Poland. Along the main strip of this mountain town of fewer than 30,000 people, I found a wide variety of restaurants, all of which seemed touristy. But Zakopane itself is touristy, jammed with international visitors drawn to skiing opportunities in the winter and hiking trails in the summer in the beautiful Tatra Mountains, and to the unique architecture all year long. The trick is to pick the best one of those restaurants. That would be Pstrag Górski. Read more about it >


Leave a comment

Dinner on the Most Photogenic Street in Gdansk, Poland

Only three blocks long, Ulica Mariacka, or St. Mary’s Street, is arguably the most charming street in Gdansk, Poland. It’s not undiscovered — during the day, tourists fill the cobblestone lane, attracted by a plethora of shops selling everything amber, from jewelry to sailing ship models. At night, however, the crowds thin and the pace slows, and you’re guaranteed to have a remarkable dinner at Literacka while soaking in the historic atmosphere. Read more >


Leave a comment

Revel in the Culinary and Cultural Traditions of Jama Michalika in Krakow, Poland

Jama Michalika, Krakow, PolandFine autumnal weather and abundant outdoor seating perfect for people-watching at nearly every restaurant in Krakow, Poland, kept me dining al fresco for several days. But one restaurant in particular demanded that I grab a table inside. The very popular Jama Michalika serves up a fantastic interior with an engaging history, and you’ll end up coming here for the décor as much as the food. Read about it >


Leave a comment

Gdansk’s Elephant Restaurant Delivers in a Big Way

Elephant Restaurant, Gdansk, PolandEvery night while I was staying in Gdansk, Poland, I would find myself strolling along the Royal Way and the Long Market. Lured by its gravitational pull of meticulously reconstructed townhouses with wonderful facades, the easy mix of locals and tourists, and the pleasant sounds of bubbling water at the Neptune Fountain on one end of the strip and talented street performers creating beautiful violin music under the arches of the 16th-century Green Gate at the other, I found the heart of old Gdansk irresistible. I also found some outstanding restaurants in which to dine, including the very fine Elephant Restaurant. Read more >