Letter from Europe

From the Barents Sea to Gagauzia

Issue no. 2014/34


The ebb and flow of life in Brussels, London and Paris is well covered in mainstream media. We have instead opted for the road less travelled. hidden europe 44, which is published today, carries reports from offbeat and unsung communities right across Europe.

Dear fellow travellers

We have long thought that a country is best judged from its periphery. And might that not also be true of an entire continent? That's why for many years we have reported from the very nerve ends of Europe. The ebb and flow of life in Brussels, London and Paris is well covered in mainstream media. And many very fine travel writers pen captivating words about regular tourist destinations.

We have instead opted for the road less travelled. In hidden europe 44, you'll find a medley of prose and images which together present a novel perspective on the continent we call home. In this new issue of the magazine, we report from several communities in the Barents Sea region. They include Nikel in Russia (where the processing of nickel is still big business) and Vardø, a town on an island off the eastern end of the Varanger Peninsula where modern graffiti proclaims the virtues of fresh fish ('Cod is Great'). Visitors who explore beyond the immediate harbour area of Vardø usually discover the memorial which recalls the witch trials in Finnmark in the 17th century. It is a remarkable piece of environmental art, one that attests to a community confronting its own difficult history.

These past few days, our home city of Berlin has been much in the news. Few places in Europe have such a complicated and difficult history. Yet Berlin is striking and appealing in its resilience, and that quality of resilience is evident so often across Europe. We like places with difficult histories. The new issue of hidden europe includes a feature on Bosnia & Herzegovina where the country's striking mediaeval tombstones have become a rallying point for a still divided country.

Gagauzia barely gets a mention in the media, but we offer a perspective on a fascinating region which we judge could all to easily turn into another flashpoint between East and West. The outcome of national elections in Moldova later this month might nudge Gagauzia towards secession. The Gagauz region relies mightily on support from both Ankara and Moscow. Turkish support has often been contingent on Gagauzia remaining part of Moldova. Moscow worries less on that score.

Elsewhere in hidden europe 44, we report from North Cyprus, visit an island in the Peloponnese which is often dubbed the Greek Gibraltar and reminisce on the shores of the Firth of Firth. And we take time out for English fizz from Yearlstone Vineyard in Devon - because there is still a lot that is worth celebrating in Europe.

Take a look at the table of contents of our latest issue and explore the nerve ends of Europe by ordering a copy of hidden europe 44. Naturally we are ourselves biased, but we would venture to suggest that this new issue of the magazine might be the best yet.

Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
(editors, hidden europe magazine)

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