Articles tagged:


More than heads on beds: metrics for sustainable tourism

by Nicky Gardner

European Travel Commission boss Luís Araújo is keen to push travellers to "adopt greener options and pay closer attention to their impact on the environment and local communities." All good, but the tourism industry also needs to do its bit, and that means nudging national tourist boards and providers of tourism services into adopting better performance metrics. Counting heads on beds is too crude a metric to support a shift to more sustainable tourism.

Promoting Europe: the Connecting Europe Express

On 7 October 2021, a train from Lisbon arrived in Paris. The journey from the Portuguese capital had taken five weeks. The Connecting Europe Express was no ordinary train, but one which recalled the fine tradition of agit-prop trains which 100 years ago criss-crossed Russia to spread the Bolshevik message.

In the Eye of the Beholder

by Nicky Gardner

Attitudes towards mountain landscapes have changed dramatically over the years. Alpine scenes once reviled for their bleak desolation were rehabilitated in the Romantic era. Travellers now appreciate such scenes for their grandeur and great beauty. Attitudes towards the people who lived in the hills changed too. Once widely stigmatized as uncultured primitives, they came to be praised for their moral virtue.

Wordcraft: A Wander through the World of Words

by Nicky Gardner
New Nature Writing may not be so new after all. But it taps a vein of nostalgia, reasserting aspects of landscape and nature from which we have become detached by modernity. Whatever its history, a new cadre of nature writers are doing much to revitalise travel writing. It is part of a wider movement to rewild the English language.

Belgrade and Beyond: Cities Shaped by the Lie of the Land

by Nicky Gardner
We explore the making of a city, referring to examples from across Europe. Those cities blessed with distinctive geographical assets would do well to value them. For, in an increasingly globlised world, a strong sense of place could turn out to be a city's trump card - one that endures longer than its reputation for fine food, ritzy shopping or a lively club scene.

The current state of travel writing

by Nicky Gardner

Travel writers have traditionally been fiercely independent spirits, and it was that independence which helped build trust and credibility with readers. But times are changing and a new breed of English-language writers seems to act as handmaidens of the tourism industry, weaving tales that read more like a PR blurb than dispassionate travel writing. Is there still scope for genuinely independent travel writing?

Meaningful partnerships for eastern Europe

by Nicky Gardner

The worrying developments in Ukraine highlight the challenges experienced by countries eligible for support under the European Union's Eastern Partnerships (EaP) programme. Tugged in one direction by Brussels and in the other by Moscow, it is no surprise that loyalties in the region are being sorely tested.

Remembering Jacob Riis

by Nicky Gardner

The social reformer and documentary photography Jacob Riis, author of 'How the Other Half Lives' (1890), was born in the town of Ribe in Danish Jutland. Understanding Ribe is the key to understanding Jacob Riis. We take a look at how Riis described his home town in his 1909 book 'The Old Town'.

The ghost of Beeching

by Nicky Gardner

Is cutting public transport links in rural areas and across its borders really the right way for Croatia to gear up to join the European Union this summer? We look at how the pieties of the market are playing havoc with rail services in the north Balkan region.

It’s the small things that matter

by Nicky Gardner

Would you believe that a major guide book publisher really suggests that the Rhine runs from north to south through Germany? With tight budgets, some publishers are cutting corners and skimping on detail. For the Rough Guide to Germany, that means focusing in on mainstream destinations, removing from new editions those sections of the book which reflect on smaller communities across Germany. Yet it is the latter that capture much that is so appealing in Germany.

Switzerland beyond the Alps

by Nicky Gardner

Switzerland is a country of extraordinary variety, complexity and uncertainty. Jung was probably spot-on when he asserted that Switzerland's total preoccupation with itself was the only thing that precluded the country's engagement in wider European conflicts. We take a look at the other Switzerland - the country beyond the cliché images of Alps and cuckoo clocks.

List mania

by Nicky Gardner

Is the Baltic the new Med? Or Bridlington the new St Tropez? Come now, we don't write about that sort of thing in hidden europe. But we do like to keep in touch with mainstream travel writing. And we find that in Britain the travel pages are full of lists.

Drink local

by Nicky Gardner

In praise of local wines, the ones made from grapes native to the local area, rather than the big name varietals.

Taking the slow boat

by Nicky Gardner

A few words in praise of slow coastal shipping services that hop from port to port. Surely a more romantic way to travel than to endure the thud, thud, thud of a modern catamaran.

The seven wonders of Europe

by Nicky Gardner

It is hard to gaze in awe at a monument so often photographed, so relentlessly packaged and promoted, as the Eiffel Tower or the castle at Neuschwanstein in Bavaria (with its turrets and Disney-like trappings). hidden europe ponders on just what it takes to qualify as a potential wonder of the world.

Without let or hindrance: passports of yesteryear

by Nicky Gardner

The Russian writer Anton Chekhov travelled around Russia with nothing more than his university diploma as evidence of his identity and good character. Nineteenth-century Englishmen, if they had a passport at all, often opted for a Belgian or French one! We examine the history of the world's most travelled document.

Evoking a sense of place: literary cartography

by Nicky Gardner

Real travel does not always mean going to far-flung and exotic places. Is it not more a question of seeing the world differently? We take a look at how places acquire meaning and, along the way, reflect on the literary cartography that lies at the heart of hidden europe.

Divided by a common border: the Narva river region

by Nicky Gardner

Rivers are often the great links between nations. Not so the Narva River which divides Russia from Estonia. We review life in this border region and look at how the Saimaa Canal, on the frontier between Finland and Russia, might offer a good model for the Narva river area.

Market forces: the city of Pécs

by Amanda Wilson

What is a city that does not respect its markets and its open spaces? Cherishing communal assets does not always rest easily with the search for profit, as Amanda Wilson finds in the south Hungarian city of Pécs.

Election special

by Nicky Gardner

Tired of McCain and Obama? Fed up with Sarah Palin's take on foreign policy? We have the perfect antidote with a hidden eruope round up of elections from Iceland to Malta, the Czech Republic to Azerbaijan.

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A manifesto for slow travel

by Nicky Gardner

Slow travel is about making conscious choices, and not letting the anticipation of arrival undermine the pleasure of the journey. By choosing to travel slowly, we reshape our relationship with place and with the communities through which we pass on our journeys. In 2009 we launched our 'Manifesto for slow travel'. You can read the full text here.