Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Wooden Greek-Catholic (Uniate) church at Bardejovské Kúpele in north-east Slovakia (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Next week, the Pope is visiting Slovakia and the world’s media will surely show images of His Holiness taking a leading role in what looks like an Orthodox liturgy. It prompts us to look at faith and identity in the Carpathians - the area where the ...
Landscape of the Morvan hills (photo © Boulanger Sandrine / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

There is one very distinctive area in the north-west reaches of Burgundy. And that's Morvan - an upland block defined by its striking granite landscapes which communicate a sense of wilderness not encountered elsewhere in the region. We touch down ...
Venus resort on Romania’s Black Sea coast (photo © Cristi111 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Five or six decades ago, Romania had a sense of building the future and many citizens were eager to dance the night away in Venus or just lie on the beach at Saturn. We recall the voucher tourism of yesteryear - an era when sun, sea and socialism ...
image © Emprize / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

Being amber brings special privileges. The ‘reds’ are escorted by security personnel to a quarantine hotel. We ambers have it easy. We can make our own way to an agreed isolation address. And it's the theme of isolation that is very much present in ...
The Ukrainian city of Slavutych (photo © atlant1403 / shutterstock.com)
Letter from Europe

The Ukrainian city of Slavutych is a striking surviving example of a planned Soviet city underpinned by utopian principles – and even if the latter were sometimes diluted by pragmatism, there is a palpable sense of a well-designed and carefully ...
The iconic clock at London's Waterloo station makes a cameo appearance in John Schlesinger's 1961 film Terminus (photo © Phartisan / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The film director John Schlesinger was largely unknown when in 1960 he was persuaded by Edgar Anstey to make a documentary for British Transport Films (BTF). Terminus went on general release in 1961 and provoked a very positive response ...
River Slaney upstream from Bunclody at Altamont (photo © Colin Park licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
Letter from Europe

There can be few finer spots to be, on these bright spring days, than exploring the land around the River Slaney in south-east Ireland. The lower reaches of the Slaney, from Enniscorthy down to Wexford, is a gorgeous sweep of river. But we reserve ...
The Princess Anastasia approaching the docks in St Petersburg (photo © Eugenesergeev / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

Large ferries often go through multiple incarnations and we developed a sort of vicarious attachment to the Princess Anastasia, a vessel which we saw in Bilbao in 2008, and which is now based near Murmansk where she has become part of the ...
View of Fiesole with its small cathedral (photo © Henrik Stovring / dreamstime)
Letter from Europe

With its handsome villas, lavish gardens and sweeping views over the valley of the River Arno, Fiesole developed as a fabled spot. It was a place for political intrigue, a retreat to be creative and a spot to just relax. No surprise, perhaps, that ...
A Czech restaurant car was the perfect spot for breakfast on a winter journey from Berlin to Dresden (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

A chance reference on twitter this week to a Tajik restaurant car that runs all the way to Moscow has prompted us to recall some unlikely meals on trains. Join us as we recall such culinary delights as apéroplättli and svícková while riding the ...
Vineyards at Hunawihr in Alsace, France (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

hidden europe 63 is now available, featuring articles about Bulgaria, Alsace, rural Galicia and northern Italy. We also look at the prospects for slow travel in the post-COVID world. Single issues and subscriptions are available in the hidden ...
Vardø harbour in the Barents Sea, Norway (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Across southern Europe, and most particularly in Portugal, it is the season for bacalhau - the salted, dried cod which is a staple in the Portuguese diet. This much sought after version of cod is a strong Lenten tradition in many Catholic ...
Russia's booming commercial port at Ust-Luga at the head of Luga Bay (photo © Konstik / dreamstime . com).
Letter from Europe

Luga Bay of 50 years ago looked much the same as it would have done in centuries long gone. Fishing, forestry and the extraction of peat were local staples, and the only vessels using the bay would have been those belonging to local fishermen, some ...
Watery polder landscape around the village of Jisp, a community which once played a major role in the Dutch whaling industry (photo © Rudmer Zwerver / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

There’s a village on the polder which we really like. It’s called Jisp. It is one of those long straggly places where you see cloudscapes just like those in the paintings of Jacob van Ruisdael - the Dutch artist who was born in Haarlem, which is ...
The Tuscan city of Livorno thrived as an early example of a free port (photo © Duccio / dreamstime . com).
Letter from Europe

The current plans to create free ports around the shores of the United Kingdom made us delve into the history of the porto franco. This year marks the 600th anniversary of the sale of Livorno - the Tuscan port which Genoa sold to Florence. It paved ...
A key element in the mountaineer's armamentarium: the ice axe (photo © Claudio Baldini / dreamstime . com)
Letter from Europe

Nicky Gardner, one of the editors of hidden europe magazine, reflects on all the good and bad things that can be done with an ice axe. Opening tins of pineapple is just the ...
Celebrating the Feast of the Theophany in Russia (photo © Tsargvidon / dreamstime . com)
Letter from Europe

This weekend sees the annual ritual of the opening of the ice in anticipation of the Orthodox Feast of the Theophany on Tuesday. Often this is done by creating a hole in the shape of a cross, allowing the faithful to totally immerse themselves in ...