Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Seattle’s Art World at Its Most Brilliant

Seattle Art Museum, WashingtonAnother gray, wet day in Seattle had me searching for indoor activities. The tall, black, steel man with the hammer on a downtown street corner caught my eye, even through the rain and from under the shelter of my umbrella. Unperturbed by the tail end of the morning rush hour, he maintained a steady and soundless rhythm as he beat at the air high above the corner of University Street and 1st Avenue. He also lured me to the building behind him, which quickly ended my quest: the Seattle Art Museum. Read more >


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When Orange Is More Than Your Morning Juice

Puente del Inca, ArgentinaFor those of us who live in certain climates, autumn brings a joyful change of season, when comfortably brisk days replace oppressive summer heat, and green foliage gives way to all-too-brief displays of flashy colors — especially a vibrant orange. If you don’t reside in a locale that’s blessed with this annual switch, you can get your fix of orange with an intricately carved jack-o-lantern or a Cincinnati Bengals game. And if you’re not privy to any of this, there are still plenty of oranges around the world that will capture your attention. Read more about my top five oranges >


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What Lies Beneath Seattle, Washington

Seattle Underground, Seattle, WashingtonA forgotten but not-so-secret city wound its way under my feet in Seattle. I didn’t know it existed, but my first hint that something lurked below was the small and thick amethyst-hued squares of glass embedded in the sidewalks around Pioneer Square. I found myself wondering what purpose they served. When I discovered that they were skylights for an underground city, I simply had to know more. Fortunately, there’s an exceptionally popular tour that explains all the mysteries. Read more >


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When Spring Springs in the World’s Best Botanic Gardens

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New YorkEvery spring, as we bid winter goodbye, the time comes to terminate our hibernation and return to the outdoor world. One visually invigorating, and very gentle, way to re-acclimate ourselves is to visit a botanic garden. These oases of flora, very often in the heart of concrete urban clusters, can stir your soul, as the annual rebirth begins and plants, birds, animals, and insects get busy once again. Read more about the top five botanic gardens 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 >


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Five Doors to Admire Before You Open Them

House of the Blackhead, Tallinn, EstoniaWe pass through doors countless times every day — in our home, our workplace, the subway, elevators, barns, garages. Most are fairly unremarkable, utilitarian means of egress. But every now and then, a masterfully crafted door stands out in the crowd, arresting our attention, hinting at something remarkable behind it and enticing us to go inside and discover the treasures or surprises awaiting us on the other side. These are my top five doors in the world. Read more >


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Top 5 Aquariums

Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WashingtonThe deep blue sea is probably the last great unexplored place on the planet — a dark, forbidding netherworld filled with beauty and mystery that has long held the fascination of mariners and landlubbers alike. Examine any map from the 1500s and you’ll see the oceans illustrated with ferocious sea monsters that terrorized sailors. Although many of the legends and myths surrounding those creatures have been dispelled or explained (mermaids don’t really exist, and the Kraken was most likely a giant squid), the sea and its myriad denizens still fascinate us.

Whether it’s the ferocious dragonfish or horrifying viperfish that could petrify even the bravest explorer, the perennially happy clownfish (thank you, Nemo), the vividly colorful mandarinfish, or the remarkably intelligent dolphin, life under the sea is an ongoing voyage of discovery. Thanks to aquariums around the world, we don’t have to plunge to the ocean floor to see and understand what lies beneath (although that’s fun, too). These are my top five aquariums in the world. Read more >


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Smith Tower: The Most Attractive Building in Seattle, Washington

Smith Tower, Seattle, WashingtonOnce the tallest building west of Chicago, the Smith Tower in Seattle has long since fallen in the rankings of such things since it opened in 1914. But that doesn’t mean it has lost its significance, or its beauty. In fact, this graceful skyscraper is arguably the most attractive in the city, complete with a finely detailed Chinese Room, terrific observation deck on the 35th floor, human elevator operators, and exactly one penthouse suite for the building’s only residents. Read more >


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Sleep More in Seattle

Sorrento Hotel, SeattleFor more than a century, the Sorrento Hotel has been providing luxurious rest for guests ranging from President Taft to Kelly Clarkson. It is Seattle’s oldest boutique hotel and oldest hotel still serving its original purpose. Conjuring images of an enormous Italian palazzo, the Sorrento is that perfect combination of historic ambience and modern convenience. Read more>