A new year is a time to plan fresh journeys. The Swiss travel writer Ella Maillart well appreciated that journeys of discovery are as much about ourselves as about far flung places. "I have started on a new journey," she wrote in her autobiography in 1942. For Mailart it was an adventure which would "take me further than before towards the perfect life I was instinctively seeking. I began this journey by exploring the unmapped territory of my own mind."
We are of course only pale shadows of Ella Maillart. She travelled to remote parts of Russia and central Asia in the nineteen-thirties in search of a simplicity that eluded her in western European society at that time. Another century, another world perhaps, but still we venture to some of the remotest corners of our home continent in search of something different. Through such encounters, we learn a little more about ourselves, find a solitude as old as the hills, and as Ella Maillart nicely put it, "La vie retrouve son équilibre."
Yet homogeneity is on the offensive, ousting the local and imposing bland uniformity. Our New Year resolution for 2009 is to cherish local values. We mourn a little that globalisation is making town squares across Europe ever more similar. In this issue of hidden europe, we lok at one of the best - the Stary Rynek in Poznan. It is on the very brink of change.
Elsewhere in this issue, we report from the Curonian Spit, a geomorphological curiosity that is split between Lithuania and Russia. We also have a feature that you may not judge to be strictly European. It is about the search for John Franklin's lost expedition that set sail from Britain in 1845 to find the Northwest Passage. But we include the piece without apology, for it was suggested by a hidden europe reader and in the article we focus on the role of European mediums and clairvoyants in the search for Franklin's ill-fated expedition.
We especially welcome Üstün Bilgen-Reinart and Rudolf Abraham as guest contributors, writing about an endangered archaeological site in Turkey and French comic strip art respectively. Üstün writes for us for the first time, and Rudolf is now a hidden europe regular. To both Üstün and Rudolf, our sincere thanks.
Whether you plan to explore the unmapped territories of your mind in 2009, or venture out to discover hidden Europe, we hope that all your journeys in the upcoming year will be happy and rewarding.
Nicky SC Gardner & Susanne Kries