Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Seeing Red

Japanese maple treeRed is an extreme color. For many, it’s all about love and passion. What would Valentine’s Day be without red roses or red heart-shaped boxes of candy, presented by the revered red-blooded American, perhaps, in some cases, to his red-hot mama? Those emotions, however, can lead to danger, another of the color’s associations—The Scarlet Letter, for instance, or stop signs and stoplights and code reds. You’ll see red if you’re angry and overheated, and if you’re a politician on the rise, you’ll need to don the requisite red power tie. But not everything red is so intense. Plenty of red things around the world have nothing to do with its common links, and they’ll make an equally strong impression on you. Read about the top five reds >


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A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose, But Some Places Grow Them Better

Kilkenny Castle, IrelandGarden cultivation of roses began several millennia ago, starting way back in Babylon, ancient China, and the Roman Empire. Long admired for their color, their fragrance, and their beauty (some royalty used them as legal tender in the 17th century), the world’s most popular flower has achieved fame not only in horticultural circles, but also in song (“Yellow Rose of Texas”; “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”), war (The War of the Roses), adages (“bed of roses”; “I never promised you a rose garden”), and cinema (The Rose; The Rose Tattoo). This international symbol of love is tended to in dedicated gardens around the world, some of which have truly perfected the art. Read about the world’s top five rose gardens >


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Bodies of Work

Jenners Department Store, Edinburgh, ScotlandIf you feel like the weight of the world is sometimes pressing down on you, imagine if an actual building were doing the same thing. Since the sixth century BC in ancient Greece, stone women have been supporting entablatures on their heads; their male counterparts came along a little later, in the Greek cities in Sicily and southern Italy. These caryatids and atlantids not only served a practical function, as a column or pillar to support the weight of a structure, but they also added impressive panache. Read about the top five atlantids and caryatids >


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A Festive Day in Lindsborg, Kansas, Is “Lagom”

Dala horseFestivals are one of the best ways to spend your time outdoors when traveling. You’ll experience a locale at its most joyous, most authentic, and most relaxed, and you’ll have ample opportunities to mingle with the locals. Case in point: a two-day celebration of Swedish culture in the U.S. Midwest called Svensk Hyllningsfest. In Lindsborg, Kansas, you’ll get to meet the friendly residents while experiencing the richness of Sweden that has been the hallmark of this small city since the mid-1800s. At the end of the festival, you’ll say that it was lagom—not too little, not too much, but just the perfect amount. Read more about it >


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Unforgettable Café Culture Experiences

Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaYou’re ready to start your day with a light breakfast. Or you’ve been working your way through the morning sights and need a little midday nourishment. Or you’re up for a late evening cup of coffee and something sweet. No matter what time of day, a welcoming café invites you in with a tempting menu and a closer look at local customs, and the best ones do it in fine style. Read about the top five cafés >


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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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Museum Mania in Stockholm, Sweden

Army Museum, Stockholm, SwedenStockholm, Sweden, invites you to be outdoors, with its perfect blend of parks, water, open spaces, and built environment. But when it’s time to head inside, the city makes that just as welcoming, with well over 50 museums to occupy your time. But which ones to choose? The traditional art and history museums? The ABBA Museum? The Museum of Spirits (of the alcoholic kind, not the supernatural)? The Royal Coin Cabinet? I’ll make it easy for you. Read about the top five museums in Stockholm >


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Going Green Around the World

Decanter Set, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaWith spring almost at the doorstep for many of us, we begin to think of shedding extra layers of thick clothing and weatherproof boots, stowing away our rock salt and shovels, and not having to de-ice our cars every morning. Buds will soon appear, and gray will morph into green bursting all around us, bringing with it all signs of rebirth and new life. Of course, nature doesn’t hold a monopoly on green; there are plenty of nonliving objects that are green that you can see and fall in love with all year. Read about the world’s top five greens >


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Arcades Provide Sheltered — and Beautiful — Walkways Around the World

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb, CroatiaSuch a simple and practical idea: the creation of the arcade — a succession of contiguous arches, each supported by columns. You’ll see them all over the world, from Salisbury Cathedral in England to the Great Mosque of Damascus in Syria to the Old Town streets of Pisa, Italy. These sheltered walkways, often lined with shops, provide an intermission for pedestrians trying to escape torrential rains, bitter snows, blistering sunshine, and soggy/muddy/icy streets. And they do so with style and elegance. Read about the world’s top five arcades >


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Secular Stockholm’s Religious Past

St. James Church, Stockholm, SwedenNearly 80 percent of Swedes describe themselves as “not religious” or “convinced atheists,” and only about 4 percent of members of the Church of Sweden attend a weekly service. Those statistics belie the country’s religious past: There are more than 3,500 churches in Sweden, dozens and dozens of which are dotted around the capital city. I was enamored by the diversity of their architecture, history, and features, and I was enchanted by all of them. Read more about the top five churches in Stockholm >