Our journeys during the first half of 2012 have taken us to a dozen European countries. Sometimes alone, but more often together, we have travelled these past months by train, bus and boat from Calais to Cádiz. We have meandered from the bare hills of Basilicata via the snowfields of Bernina to the forests of Bohemia. On the whole, we’ve done this in a fairly relaxed sort of way, stopping off here and there as the mood took us. And sticking to public transport has been a good way of seeing communities.
This summer marks a special anniversary. For a generation of Europeans who were in their late teens and early twenties in the 1970s, there was an opportunity which greatly shaped their views of Europe. That was InterRail. On the face of it, it was no more than a rail pass which offered the chance to roam Europe at will. But in practice, it became the preferred vehicle for a restless generation to discover Europe and discover themselves. In this issue of hidden europe we celebrate forty years of InterRail. So within these pages you’ll find a heftier dose of rail travel than in any previous issue of hidden europe, with some of those articles recalling journeys of yesteryear.
InterRail is of course still going strong, and no longer limited just to younger travellers. The freedom to roam with InterRail is now open to all European residents. A new breed of traveller is less hurried than the InterRail pioneers. Slow travel has come of age, and nowadays we, like many others, savour the journey as much as the destination. Within these pages, however, we cover a lot of terrain. We escort you from south-west Spain to the shores of the Barents Sea in northern Norway, from the Scottish Trossachs to a scatter of islands off the coast of Turkey. Along the way, we take in Basel and Zagreb, head deep into the forests that span the border between Poland and Belarus, visit a violin maker in the Alps and seek sanctuary in San Marino — the mountainous republic in the Apennines that marks time in its own peculiar manner.
Before our train leaves the station, we would like to offer a warm welcome to two fellow travellers: Rudolf Abraham and Laurence Mitchell. Both contribute regularly to hidden europe and we are grateful to both Laurence and Rudolf for the articles (on Turkey and Croatia respectively) that they have written for this issue.
Now hop aboard and sit back. We hope you enjoy the ride.
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries