Welcome to the latest hidden europe, where we invite you to join us on an itinerary that takes us from the Outer Hebrides via a double dose of Latvia and an intriguing Swiss museum to Jutland’s sandy shores.
Charles Dickens has much to answer for, especially in 2012, the bicentenary of his birth. It was his comment that Boulogne was “every bit as good as Naples” that prompted us to set off for the French coast and see what Boulogne might have to offer. Dickens pops up in another article within these covers, as we visit the London graveyard where, in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens recalled the work of bodysnatchers. The graveyard is in the very shadow of London’s magnificently restored St Pancras Station, nowadays the jumping off point not merely for Luton and Leicester but also for Paris. This issue kicks off with an article reflecting on how the railways have reshaped the St Pancras area, where we mention in particular the renaissance of the fine station hotel.
The two cities in Dickens’ novel are of course London and Paris. Anglo-French connections are a leitmotif in this issue of hidden europe. Within weeks of Napoleon abdicating in 1814, the English were setting off to explore the continent, taking with them their libraries, servants and prejudices. We look at what those early travellers made of Boulogne and we also review in this issue another legacy of English adventures on the continent: erstwhile Anglican churches that now serve as museums and nightclubs.
This issue of hidden europe is published in a season usually associated with penitential reflection, so we pick up a Lenten theme with a feature on how the villagers of San Vicente de la Sonsierra in Spain’s Rioja region mark Holy Week.
We count it as a great privilege to include articles by five outside contributors in this issue of the magazine: Diego Vivanco, Toby Screech, Neil Taylor, Laurence Mitchell and Duncan JD Smith. All five have written for hidden europe before, and we are pleased to welcome them back. Diego’s article benefits from photography by Juan Sierra and we express our thanks to Juan too.
It is the season where many Europeans are busy planning spring and summer travels. We have our InterRail passes to hand, ready to explore Europe by train. May your own travels be rewarding.
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries