There was a time when we would wander down to one of Berlin’s main railway stations and watch trains departing to Siberia, the Crimea and even Kazakhstan. Such exotica have long disappeared from the departure boards, but until the start of the pandemic there were still regular trains from Berlin to Minsk and Moscow. We used Russian trains not just to travel east but also on journeys wholly within the European Union. For many years, until the service was suspended in March 2020, the direct night sleeper train from Berlin to Paris was operated by Russian Railways.
How our horizons have changed! With Russia and Belarus now pretty well offlimits, and with travel to Ukraine currently not advisable, our mental map of Europe has dramatically changed during 2022. The centre of gravity of our personal European space has shifted decisively to the west.
That curbing of eastern horizons still leaves a treasure trove of great material for hidden europe. In this new issue of the magazine we present articles with a focus on Sweden, France, Greece, Spain and Malta. We have a number of thematic pieces too, taking inspiration in part from rail travel which is experiencing such a welcome renaissance in many parts of Europe just now. And that is very appropriate as Europe has marked the half-centenary of Interrail. Will the cherished pass which has brought so much freedom to rail travellers still be around in another 50 years?
We are as ever extremely grateful to our guest contributors who have travelled hither and thither to put pen to paper for hidden europe. We offer our thanks to Daiva Repečkaitė, Suzanne and Andrew Edwards, Rudolf Abraham and Duncan JD Smith for their essays in this issue.
We also extend a vote of thanks to our readers and subscribers for supporting our work. Remember that a subscription to hidden europe makes a fine Christmas gift and orders can be placed in our online shop at www.hiddeneurope.eu/shop. Order early to ensure pre-Christmas delivery.
We take this moment to wish our readers a very happy and peaceful break over the Christmas season. We are taking a few weeks out on a remote Scottish island to gather strength to face all that 2023 brings. We shall be making some changes to hidden europe in the coming year, as we juggle various interesting projects which all make demands on our time. We’ll say a little more about what we plan in the next issue of the magazine.
Nicky Gardner & Susanne Kries