In recent years we have been ever more associated with writing about rail travel. “Ah, yes,” said a railway company executive whom we met at a rail industry conference in Amsterdam last November. “You’re the two women who write about train journeys.”
Believe us, it was not always so. In the very first issue of hidden europe, we carried an article about a train journey through the Bohemian hills. The focus was on a mushroom collector called Jiri who rides the train from Zdislava to Žandov. The article played with the intertwined themes of Jiri’s life and the stop-go progress of the ageing Czech railcar. We were genuinely uncertain whether this piece deserved space in hidden europe, but in the end we ran it as a threepager under the title ‘The Slow Train’. It was the article on which readers commented most and it was quickly syndicated for republication elsewhere. Our diffidence about publishing that piece was rooted in doubts over its literary effectiveness and a nagging worry that neither of us really knew much about trains.