Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Dream Bigger: White Is Not Only for Christmas

Church of St. Charles at the Four Fountains, Rome, ItalyAs winter wonderlands start to pop up around the globe, white takes center stage in the form of unique flakes, shiny skating rinks, and Santa’s beard. But snow, ice, and St. Nick’s facial hair don’t hold a monopoly on the pure, unspoiled beauty of white. In fact, some of the world’s best occurrences of white have nothing to do with gelid winters and aren’t seasonal at all. Read more about the world’s top five whites >

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A Must-see Library Even if You Are Not a Bookworm

Jefferson BuildingWith so many outstanding museums to visit in the capital of the United States, not to mention gorgeous churches and the White House and the U.S. Capitol to see how the government is supposed to function, it’s easy to overlook a library, and I had no intention of visiting one. But, uphill from the Capitol, the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress presented an alluring Beaux-Arts profile that I couldn’t resist. Once inside, I was wonderstruck by one of the most sumptuous interiors in all of Washington, D.C. Read more >


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The Best Depictions of the Real Meaning of Christmas

The Adoration of the MagiDecember 25 is rapidly approaching, and for 2.2 billion Christians around the world, the Christmas season is in full swing. Although the secular aspects of this important holiday increasingly garner all the attention and overshadow the real meaning of Christmas — the birth of Jesus Christ — all you have to do is look at a Nativity scene (or listen to Linus’ beautiful soliloquy in A Charlie Brown Christmas) to be reminded of what it’s all about. For centuries, artists have been depicting that day that changed the world in Nativities in every type of media imaginable. Some of these painters, sculptors, glaziers, woodworkers, and other talented experts broke the traditional mold of just showing the Holy Family in a stable with some hay, farm animals, a couple of shepherds, and the Three Wise Men. I found these works in particular to be the most imaginative, and most memorable. Read more about my top five Nativities in the world >


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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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Where Politics Do Not Matter: The Best Churches in Washington, D.C.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DCThey’ve witnessed papal visits, presidential funerals, memorial services for war and terrorism victims, and countless weddings. For anyone visiting the capital of the United States who isn’t attending a particular headlines-generating service, however, they’re simply beautiful attractions with impressive art, long histories, and no interest in your political affiliation. Read more about the top five churches in Washington, D.C. >


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Great Food and Unexpected Entertainment in a Downtown DC Restaurant

Without a reservation, I struck out twice in a row in my search for somewhere to have dinner in downtown Washington, D.C., which seemed to be lacking in options for anyone who’s near the National Mall after 5 p.m. or on the weekend, so the ones that do exist are packed. Eventually, I wandered into the only McCormick & Schmick’s location in the District of Columbia. This national chain of seafood and steak restaurants stretches from California to Massachusetts, but the one in D.C. seems like it would be unique among 60 locations, based solely on its location in the epicenter of American politics. Neither the food nor my fellow diners disappointed, as I enjoyed one of my most tasty and entertaining dinners in the national capital. Read more >