Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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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 >

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A Mountain Oasis in an Overcrowded Town

Aries Hotel, Zakopane, PolandThe mountain village of Zakopane seems to always be too full. In the winter, snow aficionados flock to the ski resorts of this southern Polish town near the Slovakia border. In fairer weather, hikers scale the trails of the impressively scenic Tatra Mountains. And all year long, everyone jams the main strip to shop, eat, and admire the unique wooden architecture that has made this a notable town. There’s no escaping the crowds — except for when you check in to ARIES Hotel & Spa, a welcome oasis that’s still in the heart of town. Read more >


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Kashubian Cuisine Will Take You by Surprise at Kaszubska Marina

More colorful than I imagined, Gdansk, Poland, impressed me as soon as I stepped out of my hotel, made a left, and stumbled onto the Royal Way and the Long Market. Flanked by gorgeous reconstructed gabled townhouses with wonderful facades, painted in cheerful colors and many covered in terrific artistic details, this strip is the heart of the city. As I slowly progressed, noting all the tempting Polish restaurants along the way, I finally came across one that sounded a bit different: Kaszubska Marina, specializing in Kashubian cuisine. My unfamiliarity with that specialty drew me closer, and once a personable, informative waiter escorted me to my table, I was ready to try something new. And I was rewarded beautifully. Read more >


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First-rate Dining Along the Royal Route in Warsaw, Poland

There are plenty of dining options along Krakowskie Przedmieście, one of the main tourist strips in Warsaw, Poland, some more touristy than others. One that is more favored by locals is Restauracja Kultura, housed on the ground floor of Kino Kultura, one of Warsaw’s best-known cinemas. Restauracja Kultura is the perfect destination for dinner after you’ve just attended a screening here, or if you’re merely wandering down the old Royal Route on your way from the Royal Castle or checking out the U.S.–Polish exhibits across the street. Whatever the reason for finding this restaurant, you’ll be very glad you chose it for your evening meal. Read more >


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Quiet Luxury in the Polish Capital

Hotel Bellotto, Warsaw, PolandEven though it’s one of the premiere hotels in Warsaw, Poland, it sounds Italian — and with good reason. Hotel Bellotto was named after Bernardo Bellotto, the Venetian artist who spent the last 20 years of his life in Poland, unwittingly playing a critical role in the rebuilding of Warsaw after nearly the entire city was destroyed during World War II, long after he died in 1780. Today, the five-star hotel’s name pays homage to this critical player in Warsaw’s rebirth while providing exceptionally wonderful services and luxurious rooms. Read more about it >


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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 >


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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 >