Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Former Prussian Military Railway which is now used for draisine outings in the Berlin hinterland (photo © hidden europe).

War trains

Many railways across Europe were built to satisfy military ambition. In the hinterland of Berlin there is a railway line which was constructed quite explicitly as a military plaything. In the Nazi period, the very existence of this railway ...
Glacial erratics from Scandinavia are common throughout the region: this group is at Glashütte (photo © hidden europe).

End of the Ice Age

The last pulses of the wave of Quaternary glaciations in Europe left some distinct glacial spillways across the North European Plain. These short-lived channels were important for meltwater from a decaying ice sheet. Three of the spillways can be ...
The Aeolian island of Lipari (photo © DiegoFiore / dreamstime.com).

Landscapes of immunity

There are some small populated islands off the coast of Sicily which have never recorded a single COVID infection. And, by comparison with many European countries, Iceland has consistently shown low incidence ...
Shannon Airport on Ireland's west coast (photo © ShutterUpIreland / dreamstime.com).

End of Shannon stopover

It was never really efficient that wide-bodied jets would take to the sky in Dublin, and then make a brief stop at Shannon Airport near Ireland’s west coast, where Aer Lingus aircraft would share space on the tarmac with planes in Aeroflot or ...
photo © Егор Балясов / dreamstime.com

Pedal power: the caffeine fix

There are thousands of cafés across Europe that have made their mark in the communal psychogeography of the cycling community — places which supply a timely caffeine and calorie boost for the cyclists who have escaped the city for a day or longer. ...
Park and manor at Baruth, eastern Germany (photo © hidden europe).

Editorial hidden europe 64
  

Staying close to base brings its own rewards. This is the first time since the inception of the magazine (16 years ago) that we have ever carried a full feature on that rural area, just south of Berlin, which we count as our home region. All three ...

From the Balkans to Nürnberg

What was Rebecca West doing 75 years ago this summer? West’s accomplishments as a travel writer are complemented by a fine range of other work. In the summer of 1946, West was sitting alongside Martha Gellhorn and Erika Mann at the International ...
Vineyards at Hunawihr in Alsace, France (photo © hidden europe).

Editorial hidden europe 63
  

Is there not a measure of absurdity in all our lives today? We have discovered that it’s hardly possible to plan anything. And yet there is a certain liberation in simply not trying to plan, in just receiving with simplicity all that might come our ...
Riquewihr is in a small depression formed by a stream called Le Sembach which flows down from the forested Vosges hills towards the plain of Alsace (photo © hidden europe).

Alsace grape types

Do you know your Sylvaner from your Muscat? Your Pinot Gris from your Pinot Blanc? Here’s a quick and easy guide to the nine main varieties of grapes used in the production of various Alsace wines. We would wager that there may be one or two ...
St Michael’s Mount on the Cornish coast is linked by a tidal causeway to the mainland (photo © Bonandbon DW / dreamstime . com).

Tidal islands

There are islands which never lose their island status. And then there are islands which come and go with every tide. Such fragments of land, which are only proper islands at low tide, are called drying islands or tidal islands. We look at some ...
The ambiguity as to where the border between Europe and Asia lies has led to a proliferation of markers and monuments. This one, on the western outskirts of Ekaterinburg, is one of them (photo © Sergey Zavyalov / dreamstime . com).

Where Europe meets Asia

Pull off the main highway just west of Ekaterinburg and you'll find a fairly new monument that purports to mark the border between Asia and Europe. The design recalls the Eiffel Tower in Paris, a nice reminder that Ekaterinburg iron was used to ...
Castle Hill funicular in Budapest (photo © Michael Paschos / dreamstime . com)

Budapest transport

The steep topography around the Hungarian capital, especially on the west bank of the Danube, meant that great ingenuity was needed in developing public transport. Examples are the famous funicular up to Buda Castle and a cog railway, both dating ...
In 2020 RegioJet launched a Prague to Rijeka overnight service. This year the company expands its offereing with a night train from Prague, Bratislava and Budapest to Split. The picture shows a RegioJet train at Rijeka railway station (photo © DiningCar_licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0).

New night trains in 2021

The privacy of a cosy compartment is part of the appeal of the overnight train. The pandemic has changed attitudes and travellers are now mightily aware of the importance of space and privacy. So it is no wonder that demand for night sleeper ...
The strong Baedeker branding introduced in the late 1850s relied on distinctive red covers and gilded text. This cover shows a nice example of a Baedeker dagger on the initial letter ‘S’ in the title (photo © hidden europe).

Exploring Baedeker's Switzerland

The Baedeker series of guidebooks showed a remarkable consistency in presentation over many decades from the mid-19th century. But many guides were updated every couple of years, so how far did the content change? We compare two editions of ...
Ferry operator DFDS has creatively picked up the Stena Line route from Frederikshavn to Oslo by making an extra stop on their route from Oslo to Copenhagen (photo © Ryhor Bruyeu / dreamstime.com).

Scandinavian ferry news

The downturn in travel is being felt in Europe’s ferry industry as service frequencies are trimmed on some routes and other links are axed entirely. We take a look at how services to Norway and Sweden have fared during the ...

Beyond the Small Homeland

Mishar Tatars and Lipka Tatars have been quick to assimilate into the communities to which they migrated. We discover how they moved through the Baltic region, settling in Lithuania and Finland, with some moving on to Sweden and the United States ...

The home of Esperanto

Who was Dr Esperanto (Dr Hope)? He was an ophthalmologist by profession, but he is most remembered for his love of languages. The good doctor’s real name was Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof and he is best remembered as the creator of Esperanto. He came from ...
Teplice rocks in the Czech Republic (photo © hidden europe).

Editorial hidden europe 62
  

We do rather like an amble, even sometimes a ramble, but when we are in rural regions we do also quite like to vegetate, and the current pandemic has certainly allowed us many opportunities to do just that. And thus maybe unsurprisingly, there is a ...

Cape Verde Links

Travelling around Luxembourg, one is ever aware of the influence of the Cape Verde islands. Conversely, in Cape Verde one notices the influence of Luxembourg. We explore the reciprocal relationship between the Grand Duchy and the island archipelago ...

Untold Riches

Jakob Fugger the Rich was indeed very rich. But his approach to business presciently anticipated many practices which are now commonplace. We look at the life of a man who challenged business cartels and had a canny appreciation of the importance ...
Brownfield reevelopent at Belval, Luxembourg (photo © hidden europe).

Editorial hidden europe 61
  

Coronavirus seemed merely a distant threat as the last issue of hidden europe went to press on 28 February. We then spent the early part of March in Luxembourg and Switzerland, making tracks for Berlin just as much of Europe shut down due to ...
The seaward end of Rhenigidale village includes a handful of isolated cottages with superb coastal views (photo © hidden europe).

Social Isolation Hebridean Style

Kenneth Mackay, the one-time postman in the village of Rhenigidale is long retired. But he is happy to chat to visitors about the life of social isolation and material deprivation which was once the norm in remote villages in the Outer Hebrides. We ...
Not a real Malevich — but an illustration in the suprematist
style that was popularised by artists at the People’s Art School in Vitebsk in 1920 (image © Dorvard / dreamstime.com).

One Glorious Summer

In summer 1920, the Unovis collective of artists set off from Vitebsk for Moscow. Kasimir Malevich and his comrades were convinced they could realize the full revolutionary potential of art in the Soviet Union. But the rise of Unovis signalled ...
A classic staging of the sublime: JMW Turner's painting ‘The Devil’s Bridge, St Gotthard’ (1803–4), part of the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (photo © Andrewrabbott licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0).

In the Eye of the Beholder

Attitudes towards mountain landscapes have changed dramatically over the years. Alpine scenes once reviled for their bleak desolation were rehabilitated in the Romantic era. Travellers now appreciate such scenes for their grandeur and great beauty. ...
photo © Yirmi Oppenhime / dreamstime.com

The 21.48 from Aachen

The prospect of an overnight train journey should be something to savour. But Paul Scraton’s thought upon boarding his train in Aachen is to ask “Where, oh where are the beds?” Paul endures a memorable, though not very comfortable, overnight ride ...

Changing Places
  

Had you noticed that humble Staines, a riverside town south-west of London, has changed its name? It is now called Staines-upon-Thames. Moving upmarket one might say. But the Canadian village of Swastika is resolutely resisting suggestions that a ...
We feature Blaudruck (indigo dyeing) textile artist Josef Kóo and some of his colleagues from Austria in this issue of hidden europe magazine (photo © Rudolf Abraham).

Editorial hidden europe 60
  

We are writing this editorial in Luxembourg, a diminutive Grand Duchy where there is seemingly limitless choice. Three other countries are within a half-hour drive of the capital and thanks to the splendid Schengen Agreement there is absolute ...

The Bus to Imber
  

Bus route 23A in Wiltshire (England) is a rarity. Buses on this route, serving the village of Imber on Salisbury Plain, run on just one day each year. This year your chance to ride the Imberbus is on Saturday 15 ...

Border-hopping Rail Tariffs
  

We delve into the high theology of rail fares, noting the phenomenon of the extra-territorial tariff point. So Aachen in Germany features in the Belgian domestic tariff, and Schaffhausen in Switzerland is a German tariff point (as well as being a ...

Island Summit
  

In October 2003, there was an unlikely standoff between Russia and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait. The status of Tuzla Island had been the subject of discussions between the presidents of the two countries just five weeks ...
The town hall and church in the Vosges town of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. The town was once home to many Amish who in time emigrated to America (photo © hidden europe).

The Spirit of the Vosges

Join us as we discover the Vosges hills in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of eastern France. It's a region which has always been a wellspring of fine ideas, cutting a dash in the world of culture and industry. We visit a valley once settled by the ...
A rare departure from Berlin Hauptbahnhof — a direct train to Stockholm (photo © hidden europe).

Making Tracks for Sweden

As winter slipped slowly into spring in 1917, Lenin passed through Berlin on his journey back to Russia from Switzerland. His onward route from Berlin took him by train to Sassnitz, then on by ferry to Trelleborg in Sweden. These days it's still ...
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria is of course a complete fake. There is nothing mediaeval about it at all (photo © minnystock / dreamstime.com).

The Death of Romance

Germany has themed tourist routes aplenty, but one of the earliest was the so-called Romantic Road, which leads from Würzburg in northern Bavaria south towards the Alps. It was hugely popular with American visitors, becoming a sort of showcase for ...
The train to nowhere: a fragment of a railway through the Vosges, built in the 1930s but never completed (photo © hidden europe).

Unfinished business

In a field near the village of Urbès in eastern France, a stretch of graceful railway viaduct stands alone in a valley. It has never been connected to any railway line. It's a poignant reminder of what might have ...
Image © Ievgenii Tryfonov / dreamstime.com

Mapping America

How did America get its name? Amerigo Vespucci, of course. But the Florentine merchant never himself suggested that the continent be named after him. It's all down to a cartographer in the ...
Image © Shaiith / dreamstime.com

Sixty Years of Eurail

2019 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the launch of the Eurail pass. Rail Europe Inc sold the first passes in North America in 1959. We look at how Eurail helped shape perceptions of Europe for overseas visitors and see how the Eurail scheme ...

Editorial hidden europe 59
  

The shaping of history and the stories which are told about a region’s past are endlessly fascinating and that’s a running theme in this issue of hidden europe. We look at examples from Alsace and Spain and also look at how guidebooks helped, in ...
The ceremonial banners of Galway’s leading mercantile families (the ‘tribes’) are displayed in Eyre Square (photo © hidden europe).

The Tribes of Galway

We take the pulse of early evening ceol and craic on the streets of the Irish city of Galway - where a dozen families dominated the mercantile and social life of the city for centuries. These families are often known as the tribes of ...

Sketches in Teviotdale

Southern Scotland has had more than its fair share of poets, along them Rabbie Burns, Robert Davidson and James Hogg. But one Borders poet, Thomas Pringle, is far better known in South Africa than he is in his native Scotland. Born just south of ...
Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze (photo © Bernd Feurich / dreamstime.com).

Shared High Points

Germany makes much of its highest mountain, the mighty Zugspitze. The frontier between Austria and Germany bisects the mountain. But in Austria, the Zugspitze hardly counts as a significant peak. We look at the phenomenon of shared ...
Interrail passes can offer great flexibility when travelling - and can be a cheap alternative to point-to-point tickets in countries that do not charge a supplement, like Switzerland (photo © hidden europe).

New Interrail Passes

Train fares are getting cheaper. As retailer Loco2 launches split tickets in the British market, travellers on longer journeys across the continent are discovering that judicious use of an Interrail pass can undercut the cost of a regular return ...
The German island of Helgoland enjoys an unusual status outside the European Union's customs area, and that means that ferries bound for Helgoland may offer duty-free sales (photo © hidden europe).

Butter Trips

There once was a time when passengers would smuggle butter on trains running from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland. And more recently in Germany, budget-conscious shoppers would go one a boat trip to buy cheap butter. We take a look at ...
The German resort town of Binz on the Baltic island of Rügen (photo © Szabolcs Kiss / dreamstime.com).

Editorial hidden europe 58
  

If good writing makes the reader think, even if she or he might wholly disagree with the authorial view, then a fine purpose is well served. So see what you make of our words in this new issue of hidden europe where the dominant theme is place and ...
The lock at Kurzyniec marks the border between Belarus (left) and Poland (right). Only waterborne traffic may cross the border here (photo © hidden europe).

Summit-level-Canals

Canals which breach great drainage divides are always interesting. There's one, opened in 1992, which links the River Danube with the River Main, the latter a tributary of the Rhine. So today it's possible to travel on a ship through the very heart ...
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Chilean carrier LATAM (photo © Andrew Periam / dreamstime.com).

Fifth-freedom Flights

You could opt for Ryanair when flying from Edinburgh to Dublin, but - if you must fly for such a short hop - why not choose a more interesting option and book with the Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines? We explore the range of fifth-freedom flights ...

Plain Sailing

With new routes from Toulon to Menorca and Sicily, there's much ado in the Mediterranean ferry scene this summer. Further north, there are new year-round services between Germany and a Danish island in the Baltic and good news for foot passengers ...
On the last Sunday before Lent, the busós cross the Danube in traditional wooden boats before gathering for a procession through the town (photo © Rudolf Abraham).

Dancing by the Danube

In the town of Mohács, on the bank of the River Danube in Hungary, the single most important cultural event of the year is the Busójárás, which is part of a wider European Shrovetide tradition. Rudolf Abraham stopped off in Mohács to report on this ...
A combination of well-kept parks and elegant buildings make Mariánské Lázně instantly appealing (photo © hidden europe).

Bohemian Waters

Here's a hidden europe briefing for first-time visitors to the Czech spa towns. Often referred to as the spa triangle, north-west Bohemia actually has more than just three spa ...
The main stret in Karolovy Vary, formerly known as Karlsbad (photo © hidden europe).

Russians in Bohemia

Where would the spa towns of Bohemia be without the patronage from the great and good? The Romanov family's enthusiasm for taking the water has encouraged generations of Russians to visit the ...
Berlin's Charlottenburg station will add a new departure in December 2018: the Metropol night train to Vienna and beyond (photo © Gestur Gislason / dreamstime.com).

Central Europe by Night

New rail timetables kick in across Europe on 9 December 2018. There are new direct daytime links from Bratislava to Innsbruck and Zürich, and from the Austria city of Linz to both Halle and Berlin. But the showpiece innovation is a new direct night ...
The wooden Roman Catholic church at Marcinkonys, a village in the Dzūkija National Park east of Druskininkai (photo © hidden europe).

Dzukija National Park

Great sand seas seem at home in the Sahara or Namib deserts - or even perhaps on Mars. But in southern Lithuania is a striking sandy landscape shaped largely by the winds. Dzukija National Park is a region of fossil ...
The main spa colonnade at Mariánské Lázne with the neoclassical portico leading to the Kreuzquelle at its end (photo © hidden europe).

Editorial hidden europe 56
  

It is de rigueur these days to keep oneself busy when travelling. Where once travellers would just enjoy being in a place, it’s now almost essential to have an experience. It is with this fad for hyperactivity in mind that we dedicate this issue of ...
A CFS train to La Chaux-de-Fonds waiting in the bay platform at Glovelier station on a misty summer morning (photo © hidden europe).

The Swiss Jura by Train

For first impressions of the Swiss Jura, hop on the red train which plies the narrow-gauge rail route from Glovelier to La Chaux-de-Fonds. Green landscapes aplenty, but tucked away in these hills are communities which were influential in the ...
Falconer Vladimir Garaj in historical costume with a white gyrfalcon at Schloss Rosenburg, Lower Austria (photo © Rudolf Abraham).

The Art of Falconry

Falconry has invariably been associated with a measure of privilege and wealth. So it's no surprise that the French Revolution led to a downturn in falconry. Wider access to modern weapons (guns in particular) also helped sideline the art of ...
Baggage tag showing the IATA code DME for Moscow Domodedovo airport (photo © Gh19 / dreamstime.com).

Bag Tag

Frequent flyers know that it's perfectly reasonable to fly from JFK to WAW via AMS. Just as they appreciate that it makes no sense at all to fly ARN to HEL via CDG. Those innocuous codes on airline baggage tags are the key to the geography of air ...
A train of the Ostdeutsche Eisenbahn GmbH (ODEG) leaving Görlitz station for Zittau, a line which crosses the Polish-German border four times along the way (photo © hidden europe).

Corridor Trains
  

Corridor trains (Korridorzüge in German) have a privileged status in international law which makes provision for the trains of one country to transit another country's territory without onerous bureaucracy and border checks. With the ...
Belle époche paddle steamers ply Lake Geneva, connecting the villages along the lakeshore. Here, the historic steamer ‘La Suisse’ arrives at the station in Cully. The vessel has been in regular service for over 100 years (photo © hidden europe).

Lake Geneva By Boat

From the Bodensee in the north to Lago Maggiore in the south, Swiss lakes are blessed with a wide range of scheduled boat services. We take a look at services which ply the waters of Lake Geneva, serving over two dozen ports across the ...
Ukrainian IC train at Przemysl station bound for Lviv and Kiev (photo © hidden europe).

Lviv Rail Links

News that a new night train, aimed largely at travellers from Ukraine, will link Przemyśl with Berlin from later this year is a sure sign that Ukrainians are making the most of visa-free access to the Schengen group of nations. The new demand for ...
Atlantic Airways Airbus A319 landing at Copenhagen Airport (photo © Jens Fiskbaek / dreamstime.com).

Flights to the Faroes

Are the Faroe Islands perhaps thinking of emulating Iceland's success in attracting North Atlantic stopover traffic? Might travellers a few years hence stop off in the Faroe Islands en route from North America to the European mainland? We take a ...
The Lavaux vineyards and Lake Geneva (photo © hidden europe).

Editorial hidden europe 55
  

We take time out in hidden europe 55 to sample Switzerland’s excellent white wines made from the Chasselas grape, visit the Ukrainian city of Lviv and the Abkhaz-Georgian borderlands and explore the art of falconry in Lower Austria. We ...

Reading Matters

Russian Railways (RZD) have launched their Library for Young Travellers programme with a selection of books for kids on trains to holiday destinations across Russia. Hop aboard for fairy tales, classic novels and a wide choice of poetry by Russian ...

In from the Cold

The thrills and spills of top-class soccer are just part of the appeal of the FIFA World Cup. Sport aside, it's been a chance for visitors to feel the warmth of Russian hospitality. An amiable wolf called Zabivaka has been doing his bit to make ...

The Spinetta Report

In the future it may not be so easy to take the slow train from Sospel to Tende. Or from Clermont-Ferrand to Nîmes. Jean-Cyril Spinetta's February 2018 report to President Macron is not good news for regional rail routes in France. It may be ...

Off-track

Route 45 in our Europe by Rail book links Sofia with Zagreb via Belgrade and Brod. That's just the route once followed by the Orient Express. It features in both the 1974 and 2017 versions of the film Murder on the Orient Express. But neither film ...

On a Starry Night

To walk in solitude in the company of stars is indeed something special. It's a chance to attend to the beauty of the heavens. In the Austrian village of Großmugl, the 1500-metre long Sternenweg is a gift to ...
Salt pans in Janubio, Lanzarote (photo © Meinzahn / dreamstime.com).

Editorial hidden europe 54
  

In hidden europe 54 we feature a long-distance hiking trail in the Balkans, visit chess-mad Yerevan and spend a night in a castle in Austria's Burgenland region. We explore the art of salt harvesting in Lanzarote and combine our passion for wine ...
Sustenance at half time, as the Bangla Bantams tuck into samosas on the terraces at Bradford City’s Valley Parade Stadium (photo © Emma Levine).

Samosas on the Terraces

Britain's Asian communities are woefully underrepresented in professional football, whether as players or on the terraces. Emma Levine returns to her home city of Bradford to report on an initiative to promote diversity on the terraces at Valley ...
A ship grave close to the west coast of the Swedish island of Gotland (photo © hidden europe).

Boat-shaped Graves

Lozenge-shaped graves, fashioned in the form of a ship, are a distinctive element of Bronze Age visual culture on the Baltic island of Gotland. Do these unusual graves, known as 'ship settings' have a deeper cosmological ...
Former fishing station at Grynge on the east coast of the island of Gotland. It is typical of the fishing stations that the roofs abutted onto one another (as seen here at Grynge). That gave more protection against the elements (photo © hidden europe).

Fishing stations

A number of fishing stations around the coasts of the Baltic islands of Fårö and Gotland recall the heyday of the herring trade, when farmers would become fishermen for a few ...
Eroded limestone sea stacks (called raukar) on Gotland, Sweden (photo © hidden europe).

Editorial hidden europe 53
  

Globalisation is easy to understand. The sharing economy is less so. What at one moment seems to be altruism shades quickly into greed. Connecting “I want” with “I have” seems like a smart idea, but it raises tensions. Uber tussles with the taxi ...

Bradt Guide to Serbia

Laurence Mitchell has written a number of Bradt Guides, including titles on Norfolk (where he lives), central Asia and the Balkan region. We have been thumbing through Laurence's latest Bradt book, the 5th edition of his 'Bradt Guide to Serbia', ...
The market square in Torgau, Saxony, with the Rathaus (town hall) on the far side (photo © hidden europe).

Lutherstadt Torgau

The renaming of towns to honour an individual is commonplace. Nizhny Novgorod became Gorky, in honour of the Russian writer Maxim Gorki who was born there. The town later switched back to its original name. In eastern Germany, towns have been ...

Rail Travel News

Two new high speed rail routes in France, extra trains through the Alps and new services to Ukraine are the headline stories in the summer 2017 rail timetables. We review what's new and what's ...
Smock mill in West Blatchington, Sussex (photo © Martin Meehan / dreamstime.com).

Smock Mills

The smock mill is a distinctive element of the Dutch cultural landscape. The functionality and simplicity of these simple mills has made them popular exports, and migrants from the Netherlands built smock mills in New England, South Africa and ...
Bruges Embankment in Yoshkar Ola, capital of the Mari El Republic (photo © Artyom Mirniy / dreamstime.com).

Faking Bruges

The legacy of Leonid Markelov, who in April this year stood down from the position of President of the Mari El Republic, lies in the oddball architecture of the republic's capital city of Yoshkar ...
Hostel of the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust (GHHT) at Rhenigidale, North Harris, Scotland (photo © hidden europe).

Hebridean Hostels

The Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust gives a chance for travellers to stay a while in some of the remotest communities in the Outer Hebrides. Through the work of the Trust, many casual visitors come to love these island communities. The Trust ...
The cover of hidden europe 52 shows the town of Torgau. The scene is dominated by Hartenfels Castle, the one-time residence of the Electors of Saxony (photo © hidden europe).

Editorial hidden europe 52
  

Welcome to hidden europe 52. Much travel writing fuels a shallow approach to travel. Fear of missing out (FEMO) makes travellers roam the globe in haste. There is, we think, a better way of engaging with places and cultures. We prefer to take ...
A little short on character development, and the plot is thin, but the Czech Republic's annual railway timetable is always a good read.

Bookmark: Jízdní Rád

Now here's a really remarkable book. The Czech national railway timetable for 2017 may not be great when it comes to plot structure and character development, but it is nonetheless an engaging read. Trust ...
Strasbourg's trams are going international: from April 2017 one of the city's tram lines is being extended across the border into Germany (photo © Sergij Kolesnyk / dreamstime.com).

Taking the Tram

With the success of the Schengen region, local transport links are being extended over international borders. In the coming months, new international tram routes from France to both Germany and Switzerland are due to ...
Tupolev 104 OK-LDC in the Czech border village of Petrovice (photo © hidden europe).

Tale of a Tupolev

Shoppers in the Czech border village of Petrovice are inclined to board a Tupolev 104 airplane when they want a coffee or a snack. Find out why this 60-year-old jet aircraft is a good spot to ...
Visitors to Warsaw can chase the ghosts of the city's Jewish past by exploring the boundaries of the former ghetto (photo © hidden europe).

Out of the Shadows

Władysław Szpilman’s remarkable book The Pianist (made into a film by Roman Polanski) reveals the devastation of Jewish life in Warsaw in 1945. To accompany our feature on Jewish Warsaw we look at the city's Jewish community in the ...

Catholic Oxford

December 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of John Henry Newman's admittance to Trinity College, Oxford. Almost 30 years later (in 1845), Newman was accepted into the Roman Catholic Church. We take a look at Catholic ...

Visa News

A chance to visit Belarus without a visa, and a tweak to the visa regulations in the Russian port of Murmansk are just two of the latest changes to visa regimes in ...

Editorial hidden europe 50
  

Welcome to hidden europe 50. We live and work in a city where foreign nationals make an immense contribution to the local economy, to society and to the arts. Berlin is in that respect very typical of many places in Europe. In hidden europe, we ...
The crofting settlement of Northton on South Harris in Scotland's Outer Hebrides (photo © hidden europe).

Only Fit For Wild Ducks

Catch the spirit of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides with Gaelic psalm singing at a country church in Lewis or Marian devotions on the Isle of Eriskay. We explore an island archipelago that has a complex mix of landscapes, of which the most distinctive is ...
One of Robin Stam's 'euro bridges' in Spijkenisse. This bridge is a copy of the design featured on the ten euro banknote (photo © Roel van Deursen, licensed under CC BY 2.0).

Improbable Places

The last year or two have seen a flood of new books which invite readers to engage on a virtual journey exploring our planet. We take a look at a new volume called 'Atlas of Improbable Places', just published by Aurum ...
The Neolithic standing stones at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis attest to a long history of human settlement in the Outer Hebrides (photo © hidden europe).

Hebridean Narratives

Peter May's novels set in the Outer Hebrides communicate a strong sense of Hebridean landscapes. May is the latest in a long line of writers who have helped inscribe the islands on the public imagination. We take a look at a number of Hebridean ...
CalMac's MV Loch Alainn (seen here at Eriskay) plies the Sound of Barra (photo © hidden europe).

New CalMac Contract

The network of car ferries operated by Caledonian MacBrayne is part of the fabric of island life in Scotland's Western Isles. No trip to the Hebrides is complete without a journey or two on a CalMac ferry. The company has just secured a new ...
End of the road: Siberia, part of the Lausitz village of Welzow (photo © hidden europe).

News from Haidemühl

The Czech energy group EPH has taken over the lignite mining operations in eastern Germany previously managed by Swedish company Vattenfall. What does this mean for the village of Haidemühl, now abandoned for almost a decade, which sits in a area ...
Fish is a staple in the local diet, and you'll find a fabulous choice of seafood in the markets of Siracusa, Sicily (phooto © Presse750 / dreamstime.com).

South to Sicily

The latest book from hidden europe editors Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries is Europe by Rail. Catch the flavour of this new edition with our train journey from Rome to Sicily, specially adapted from the book for this issue of the ...

Bouvet Island

Bouvet Island, at the southern end of the mid-Atlantic ridge, is 1,800 kilometres away from the nearest landmass (Antarctica) and is thus one of the remotest places on earth. The normal jumping off point for expeditions to this fragment of ...

Bosna-gauge Railways

Had the Balkan region narrow-gauge rail network survived, it would surely today be a cherished asset in promoting tourism over a wide region - in much the same way as the narrow-gauge Rhaetian Railway network has been important in attracting ...

Recalling Tito

From Skopje to Moscow, from Sarajevo to New Delhi, the names of roads and squares recall Josep Broz Tito, who was President of Yugoslavia from 1953 until his death in 1980. But what happened to all the Tito towns in former Yugoslavia? Titograd ...

Editorial hidden europe 49
  

Welcome to the 49th issue of hidden europe magazine. In this issue we visit the Ukrainian town of Odessa, explore western Serbia, witness the vanishing art of cowbell crafting in Portugal's Alentejo region and attend the matanza in the Spanish ...
Memorial to Father Hendrik in the Altes Land village of Steinkirchen, Germany. He was the symbolic leader of the first Dutch settlers who moved to the area in the 12th century (photo © hidden europe).

A Visit to the Old Country

Beside the River Elbe, just downstream from Hamburg, lies the Altes Land. It is one of Europe's most intensive areas of fruit cultivation. Apples, raspberries, cherries and plums aplenty in a region which owes much to early Dutch ...
Madrid's Metro Linea 1 has a disused station that has been converted into an exhibition (photo © Dariusz Szwangruber / dreamstime.com).

Platform Zero

At Augsburg station in Bavaria, there is a Platform 801, while a number of stations around Europe have a Platform 0 - among them Aarau in Switzerland and King's Cross station in London. We take a look at the Platform Zero ...
The main street in Clarens, South Africa (photo © hidden europe).

A Tale of Two Clarens

On the face of it, there is no connection between the Swiss town of Clarens (on the north shore of Lake Geneva) and the South African town of Clarens in the Free State. But the South African town took its name from the eponymous Swiss community. It ...
From great novels to vintage romance, the whole world of the printed word is traded in Redu, a book town in Belgium (photo © Katrin Schönig).

Redu: that novel idea
  

Tucked away in the hill country of southern Belgium is the town of Redu. On the face of it, Redu is much the same as other towns in the Ardennes region. Except that, in Redu, the printed word is especially cherished and valued. Paul Scraton invites ...

Editorial hidden europe 48
  

Welcome to the 48th issue of hidden europe magazine. In this issue we visit the Belgian book town of Redu, explore the chapels of Finistère and Dungeness Foreland, and move underground to discover Malta's military history. All that and much more ...
Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children pose for a photo at the renovated Centre for Co-operation and Integration ‘Fidan Lahu’, funded by the OSCE, at Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje (OSCE / Hasan Sopa).

Balkan identities
  

So you think you know the key ethnic groups in Kosovo? Serbs and Albanians, to be sure. But life on the ground is more complicated. Who are the Gorani? Then there is a trio of ethnic groups who are locally referred to as the RAE community, viz. ...
Looking west from Frankfurter Tor along Karl-Marx-Allee, Berlin. The two ceremonial towers were designed by Hermann Henselmann, who also did the initial design concept for the Alexanderplatz TV Tower in the distance (photo © Sergey Kohl /dreamstime.com).

Understanding the socialist city
  

Progressive socialist designs for homes and cities are no longer in fashion. Yet Europe's streetscapes still attest to the grand schemes of yesteryear, when architects and planners envisaged a society that stood opposed to capitalism. We go in ...
This tower in Lago di Resia (Reschensee) in Italy’s Alto Adige region is all that remains of the old parish church of Graun-im-Vinschgau (photo © hidden europe)

Silent witness
  

Discover the extraordinary story of how an Italian village was sacrificed to provide hydro-electric power for Switzerland. The evacuation of Curon Venosta (or Graun-im-Vinschgau in German) was a tragedy. Today the church campanile rises serenely ...

Playing the Welsh card
  

Welsh settlers landed on the Patagonian coast in 1865 to create Y Wladfa (literally 'the colony') in the Chubut Valley. Within little more than a generation, most of the Welsh migrants had moved inland or left South America altogether. But a veneer ...

Kosovo travel notes
  

It's perfectly sensible to travel from Budapest to Thessaloniki through Kosovo. But it's unwise to attempt the journey in the reverse direction. Find out why in our notes on travelling through ...

From Austerlitz to Waterloo
  

So where is the Trafalgar which gave its name to the Battle of Trafalgar? And where is the Blenheim after which Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is supposedly named? We look at a few European place names which feature larger-than-life in the ...

Mystical France
  

Scottish publisher Findhorn has always had an eye on the offbeat and alternative. Many travellers place great stock on their Camino pilgrimage guides. Now Findhorn has launched a new guide to France. We dip into the pages of Mystical ...

Scottish ferries
  

The ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has always had a dash of Scottish spirit. But this spring CalMac is facing a challenge with a rival company bidding to take control of the lifeline ferry routes in the Hebrides and Clyde ...
Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia & Herzegovina, is served by just one international train each day (photo © Dejan Vekic / dreamstime.com).

Slow train to Sarajevo
  

Twenty years ago this autumn, the Dayton Peace Accord brought a measure of peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Join us as we take the train from Zagreb to Sarajevo, travelling through a region which still bears the scars of ...
The front cover of Skylines – a new book from Aurum Press (cover courtesy of Aurum Press).

The makings of a city
  

'Skylines' is a book to make you think. This new title by travel writers Yolanda Zappaterra and Jan Fuscoe is a celebration of the iconic buildings which shape the skylines of some of the world's most interesting cities. We take a look at the ...

Ukrainian-Russian links
  

The tit-for-tat posturing between Ukraine and Russia benefits no-one trying to travel to and from Crimea - or for that matter anywhere in the border regions between the two countries. In late October 2015, air links between Russia and Ukraine were ...
The ‘temple’ of Walhalla in the Danube Valleyappeals to classical style in its homage to the German nation (photo © hidden europe).

No space for Marx
  

A mock Greek temple on a bluff above the River Danube turns out to be a good spot to reflect on what it means to be German. Walhalla is a national hall of fame - a sort of Bavarian version of the Panthéon in ...
Paul Richardson looks out over the dystopian wasteland near Nikel in Russia’s Murmansk Oblast (photo © Mikhail Mordasov).

The spine of Russia
  

Mikhail Mordasov is a very talented Russian photographer. Paul Richardson is a translator and writer who knows Russia well. When Mikhail and Paul decided to create a book from a long road trip across Russia, we knew something good was in the ...

Pleasure or pain
  

The notion of privation as conductive to more virtuous travel seems alien to the modern mind. Today's travellers search for five-star luxury and often look for a higher level of food, lodging and service that they experience at home. Travel has ...

Mennonite migrants
  

Over 100,000 migrants left Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s, a good number moving to Germany. Many of them were descended from Mennonites who over a century earlier had walked from the steppes of southern Russia to ...

Keeping track
  

It is that time of year when Europe prepares to introduce new train timetables. The 2016 schedules come into effect on Sunday 13 December 2015. As usual, there are winners and losers. We look at some new ...

Editorial hidden europe 47
  

Welcome to the 47th issue of hidden europe magazine. In this issue we visit Geneva, explore villages in Transylvania, take the train from Zagreb to Sarajevo and take a look at the Berlin suburb of Marienfelde. All that and much more ...
A German ferry company will operate 22 direct sailings between late July and early October from the island of Helgoland (pictured here) to a city-centre quayside in Hamburg (photo © hidden europe).

Elbe excursions

A new ferry powered by liquefied natural gas will make its first journey from the island of Helgoland to the port of Hamburg this month. It'll be a rare chance to cruise in comfort up the River Elbe to the German port ...

Railway ghosts

Literary ghosts haunt the pages of mid and late 19th-century fiction - from Henry James The Turn of the Screw to Charles Dickens' The Haunted House. One of the spookiest tales of all is Dickens' The Signalman, a fine short story which may have been ...
Calvary scene from the Altötting panorama (photo © hidden europe).

The borders of reality: panoramas

Panoramas, often displayed in purpose-built circular galleries, offered virtual travel experiences long before cinema and the internet. Like all immersive technologies, panoramas raised important questions about the boundaries between subject and ...
Isaac Titsingh’s plan of the Dutch trading post on Dejima Island drawn up in 1824–1825 (the original is held by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in Den Haag).

The bridge to Dejima Island
  

For 200 years, Japan was largely closed to outside influences. But it was not completely isolated, for a small island in Nagasaki Harbour was occupied by Dutch traders. The island was linked by a bridge to the mainland. Cabbages and chocolate, ...

Pity the poor horses

Thomas Tilling revolutionised bus transport in London. Among his pioneering ideas was the notion of having regular bus stops along a route. But the company that bore his name was not always in the forefront of developments. In 1914 Thomas Tilling ...

Editorial hidden europe 46
  

Welcome to issue 46 of hidden europe travel magazine. In this issue we walk through Lisbon and take the ferry to Iceland's Vestmannaeyjar. We also explore the Suffulk coast of England and visit the Danube wetlands and the Scottish ...
Shades of cyan around the Mont
Blanc Massif, seen here reflected in Lac Blanc
above Chamonix, France (photo © Bogdan /
dreamstime.com).

Into the Blue
  

For Swiss scientist and mountaineer HB de Saussure, the sky held "in its grandeur and its dazzling purity, an element of death and infinite sadness." Guest writer Iain Bamforth invites us to jump into the blue. Wrap up warm, and bring your ...
Château d’If with the city of Marseille on the
mainland behind (photo © Dan Talson / dreamstime.com).

Offshore Provence
  

Sailing east from Marseille along the coast of Provence to the Italian border, there are some two dozen islands, many of which are overlooked by visitors to the region. Climb aboard the hidden europe private yacht (if only!) as we set sail for the ...
Widerøe flight 702 prepares to leave Trondheim for
the two-hour flight to Bodø — with stops at Brønnøysund
and Sandnessjøen along the way (photo © hidden europe).

Real flying: Norway by plane
  

The consensus is that flying has become boring. But fly on small planes offering a web of scheduled services up the Norwegian coast to discover a very different take on civil aviation. Travel by plane can still be immensely enjoyable. We review ...
The Russian Railways (RZD) train from Moscow to
Paris seen here in Hannover. The carriage decorated with the
RZD logo is one of the new Austrian-built sleepers introduced
on this route in January 2015 (photo © hidden europe).

A touch of Russia
  

Europe has so many very comfortable train services, but it's really hard to trump the top-of-the-range Russian trains used on routes from Moscow to many cities in central and western Europe. For inner-EU journeys, these trains are often great ...
The E22 Holyhead to Ishim road crossing the Afsluitdijk
in Holland (photo © Chrwincan5dm2 / dreamstime.com).

The road to Ishim
  

The Edinburgh Castle is a pub in the Welsh town of Holyhead (Caergybi in Welsh). The roundabout just outside that pub looks unremarkable. But it marks the very start of the road to Ishim, a route of over 5000 kilometres that spans seven ...

Tall statements
  

Faith has evidently replaced politics as the motivation for some of the world's tallest sculptures. In Europe, the largest such structure is the massive statue of Jesus Christ at Swiebodzin in western ...
The new European Solidarity Centre in the Polish city of
Gdańsk (photo © Krzysztof Janczewski / dreamstime.com).

Remembering Anna
  

Anna Walentynowicz died five years ago this spring in the plane crash that also claimed the lives of many in the Polish leadership. We recall the woman who was a welder, crane driver and political activist - a woman who quietly helped shape modern ...

Editorial hidden europe 45
  

Welcome to the forty-fifth issue of hidden europe travel magazine. In this issue we reach out to the extremities of the Schengen area, roaming from the south of Italy to the north of Norway. We venture west to Brittany and east to ...
The church at Svanvik asserts Norwegian authority and identity in a region that borders onto Russia (photo © hidden europe).

Borderlands: the Pasvik Valley
  

Few borders divide societies which are so markedly different as the frontier between Norway's easternmost county of Finnmark and Russia's Murmansk Oblast. We take a look at life on both sides of the border in a region which was once a key part of ...
This installation on the shores of the Barents Sea recalls witch burnings in Vardø (photo © hidden europe).

The witches of Varanger
  

The 17th-century witchcraft trials in Finnmark are recalled in a striking new memorial on the shores of the Barents Sea. hidden europe visited the memorial which is pictured on the front cover of this issue of hidden ...

Russia’s eternal winter
  

They have fiddled with the clocks in Moscow. Not just in Moscow, but right across the Russian Federation. Russia has decided to move to perpetual winter – at least when it comes to time. For the clocks shall stay henceforth on winter ...

The Talgo tale
  

The story of the Talgo trains of Bosnia reveals a quite stunning waste of money. This is a country which invested in a new fleet of trains which are simply incompatible with its antiquated rail ...
The Forth Rail Bridge (photo © Ian Whitworth / dreamstime.com).

Setting Forth
  

One firth: three bridges. Each of the three bridges over the Firth of Forth was built in a different century. There is the 19th-century rail bridge, a 20th-century road bridge and now the new Queensferry Crossing road bridge under construction. ...

Express bus to London?
  

There was a time when Deutsche Bahn (DB) only operated trains. Now they are emerging as serious players in the bus business. We just wonder if they have London in their sights? Their IC-Bus network is expanding and they already have a route from ...

Travelling irresponsibly
  

The publication of a new book by Bradt Travel Guides makes us ponder issues of responsibility and irresponsibility in travel. The book is called The Irresponsible Traveller. It is a great read, but we conclude that travel writers tend to go to ...

Martinmas
  

Martinmas is a day for a fresh start, a chance to turn over a new leaf. A good day for an armistice. And a good day to kick off the Carnival ...

The three pillars of Rusyn life

The fragile flame of Rusyn consciousness is flickering back to life. There is renewed interest in Rusyn art and literature. A group that endured "fifty years of Soviet silence" (Norman Davies' words) is reasserting its right to be heard. We look at ...

Editorial hidden europe 43
  

Welcome to hidden europe 43. “Do not rush on your journey,” implores Cavafy. That’s a lesson we have taken to heart in hidden europe. We skip the fast train and avoid main highways, instead favouring the slow train and meandering back lanes. It is ...
Looking east into Ukraine from Slovakia at the small frontier post in Slemence (photo © hidden europe).

A village torn in two: Slemence

The fall of the Berlin Wall was way back in 1989. But the community of Slemence remained divided until 2005. For sixty years, there was no link between the two halves of the village which lies astride the border between Ukraine and Slovakia. A new ...
The school in the Austrian village of Jungholz could soon be welcoming pupils from the nearby German village of Unterjoch (photo © hidden europe).

Divided loyalties: Jungholz

The village of Jungholz lies at an altitude of just over 1000 metres in the Alps. At this time of years, the Alpine meadows are full of wild flowers. So Jungholz is a pretty spot. But it is also exceptional in that it is a diamond-shaped piece of ...
Pete Seeger at a concert in his home town of Beacon (USA)in 2009 (photo © Sandra Dunlap / dreamstime.com).

The power of song

It is forty years since Pete Seeger took to stages in Moscow, the Crimea and Prague as part of a world tour. Seeger died earlier this year of course, and in this postscript to his life we look at how Seeger's music was very similar to that of the ...

Crimea notes

The Ukrainian railway administration may still be advertising trains to Crimea, but not a lot of Ukrainians will be heading to the region for their summer holidays. Hoteliers in Crimea are having a lean season, but Moscow has plans to ensure that ...

One country, two entities

Several European countries are split on ethnic lines. We see the dramas being out in Ukraine just now. Belgium is even more decisively split, but happily the results are not as fractious. Shift to Bosnia and Herzegovina and we see the great game of ...
Painting at the East Side Gallery, a surviving fragment of the Berlin Wall (image © Anagram1 / dreamstime.com).

A share in history

The agency that promotes tourism to the German capital is called Visit Berlin. During 2014 Visit Berlin is promoting the idea that 9 November 2014 is the night when you just must be in Berlin. Just as Notting Hill Festival and Edinburgh Hogmanay ...
100 years old this summer: the funicular railway to the Café Diana in Karlovy Vary (photo © hidden europe).

Escape from Carlsbad

The funicular railway to the Café Diana on the hills above the spa town of Karlovy Vary marks a birthday this summer: it was opened to the public in 1914. It remains the easy way to get a bird's-eye view of Karlovy Vary (the town often referred in ...

Choreographing opinion
  

Did Prince Grigor Potemkin really try to fool Catherine the Great into thinking that life in Russia's Black Sea region was rosier than it really was? We think the idea of Potemkin villages is probably a myth, and that Prince Potemkin was guilty of ...

A question of numbers
  

'Grey gold' is the term used by Ærø councillor Carl Heide to describe the talented and still-very-active migrants whom he feels can help sustain community life on the Danish island of Ærø. For an island where deaths greatly outnumber births, and ...

Rail timetable reborn
  

The renaissance of the European Rail Timetable (ERT) is good news for rail travellers across the continent. The decision last year by Thomas Cook to scrap the title was a bitter blow. But, thanks to a new company set up by the team that compiled ...

The idea of ‘good’ borders
  

The Curzon Line, which for so long marked the approximate western border of the Soviet Union is named after Lord Curzon. His Lordship has strong ideas on borders, seeing them very much as zones of demarcation. But ideas have changed since Curzon's ...

Editorial hidden europe 42
  

Welcome to hidden europe 42. More than half a century after his death, Robert Schuman still makes good reading. His work in the early 1950s to create “a gathering of European nations” was rooted in ideals for a Europe that wanted to look to the ...
Eastern Mpumalanga in South Africa. The province is part of the region previously known as Transvaal. It is 150 years since Alexander McCorkindale founded New Scotland in the eastern Transvaal (photo © hidden europe).

Exploring New Scotland
  

In the eastern highveld, where South Africa nudges up to Swaziland, place names on maps reveal the predictable mix of isiZulu and Afrikaans influences. But there is another layer to the toponyms of the region, one that reveals a legacy of Scottish ...

Tales from the A39
  

Forget the Maserati centenary celebrations this year. 2014 marks the centenary of the Mendip Motor. Chewton Mendip was never destined to become a Detroit. But one hundred years ago this month this small Somerset village saw the launch of the Mendip ...
The west coast of Bonaire — an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Netherlands — with a view fo the harbour at Kralendijk, the capital city of Bonaire (photo © Lidian Neeleman).

Dollars and cents
  

Three of the 406 municipalities that comprise the Netherlands use a currency other than the euro. Yes, there really are three municipalities where you buy Dutch pancakes with US ...
Statue in Leipzig by sculptor Stephan Balkenhol showing the young Richard Wagner overshadowed by his reputation (image © hidden europe).

Leipzig soundscapes
  

Few European cities can rival Leipzig when it comes to musical associations. Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach had an extraordinarily productive 27 years in the city, and the roll call of great musical names continues: Clara ...
Like two giant molars that guard access to the mountains: Puig Alaró (left) and Puig de s'Alcadena (right) (photo © hidden europe).

Oriental dreams
  

We explore an Eden which has its apple orchards, running waters and beautiful gardens. There is even a touch of the East about this unlikely Eden. It is only the minarets that are missing on our journey past the silent monastery of Petra to a ...
The 'old town' recalled in Jacob Riis’s memoirs is Ribe in Denmark, seen here in early autumn (photo © hidden europe).

Remembering Jacob Riis
  

The social reformer and documentary photography Jacob Riis, author of 'How the Other Half Lives' (1890), was born in the town of Ribe in Danish Jutland. Understanding Ribe is the key to understanding Jacob Riis. We take a look at how Riis described ...
The higher of the two footbridges over the River Spree shown here is often called the Mierscheid Bridge (photo © Chris Dorney / dreamstime.com).

A life less ordinary
  

Jacob Maria Mierscheid was born on 1 March 1933, so we hear. Still going strong at 80, Mierscheid is a German enigma with a knack for missing key events. Earlier this year, Mierscheid failed to show up for his own 80th birthday party. hidden europe ...

All points east
  

The new rail schedules for 2014 kick in across Europe in mid-December. Big changes are afoot as Russia rethinks its strategy for passenger services from Moscow to principal cities in the European Union. There are changes to night train services, a ...
A Palma-bound Ferrocarril de Sóller train at Bunyola on the island of Mallorca (photo © hidden europe).

By train to Sóller
  

The jewel in the crown of Mallorca's railways is the delightfully antiquated Ferrocarril de Sóller. Last year, it celebrated 100 years of service. It is just one of three separate railways to serve the Mediterranean ...

The airport question
  

What new European airport welcomed its inaugural flight in April this year and has since closed its doors for a long winter break? The answer is Kassel in Germany, which gets the hidden europe wooden spoon for the biggest transport flop of the ...
Gleisdreieck station in the southern suburbs of Berlin still has some of the antique style of Joseph Roth's day (picture © hidden europe).

The lost kingdom
  

A 1924 essay by Joseph Roth on an unsung railway station in Berlin fired our imagination and inspired us to take the train to Gleisdreieck - an elevated station that in Roth's day looked down on a tangled maze of railway lines and sidings. ...

Hidden Istria
  

Istria may be defined by its coastline, but the hinterland warrants a visit too. Rudolf Abraham, co-author of the new Bradt Guide to Istria, invites us to join him in a search for mediaeval frescoes, truffles and an enigmatic pillar of shame. Along ...

Miss Jemima’s Swiss journal
  

In 1863, Jemima Morrell participated in the first ever escorted tour of the Alps organised by Cook. Her diary of that journey is a remarkable piece of writing - one that slices through Victorian formality. The story of what happened to that diary ...
Ports in northern Norway are looking to challenge Murmansk (pictured here), the Russian port on the Barents Sea coast (photo © Tupungato / dreamstime.com).

New ports for the Far North
  

The harbour front at Kirkenes could be transformed if the Norwegian port became a major transit point for freight to and from Russia. The key to this happening is getting Russian-gauge railway tracks to Kirkenes. But other ports in northern Norway ...

The Caucasus dimension
  

Georgians have high hopes for the Lithuanian Presidency of the European Union - a six-month term that started this month. Georgia, like Lithuania, slipped out of the Soviet Union in 1991. The hopes in Tbilisi are that Lithania will open European ...

Hitting the buffers
  

Does the European Rail Timetable, published by Thomas Cook since 1873, have a future with a new publisher? Plans are afoot for the relaunch of a book that has defined horizons for generations of ...

Beauty and the Beast
  

Just prior to the start of Lent each year, the village of Bielsa on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees welcomes a flood of visitors to its annual carnival. For a couple of days of transgression, the frenetic energy of the carnival contrasts with the ...

History for sale
  

Many abandoned station buildings in rural Poland are finding new life as private entrepreneurs restore them to their former glory. This spring the Polish authorities are selling off a further tranche of buildings, most of them remarkable pieces of ...

Asia in the mind
  

We start with a dubious attribution, a few words allegedly uttered by the Austrian diplomat and politician Count Metternich. And we end with the Ukrainian poet and dramatist Lesya Ukrainka in Georgia. In between, we discover that Asia is a state of ...

Editorial hidden europe 39
  

Welcome to hidden europe 39, in which we sweep from the Pyrenees to the Tatra Mountains, from Rannoch Moor in Scotland to Russia's Arctic outpost of Franz Josef Land. Ghosts of Habsburg days haunt the pages of hidden europe 39. [full text available ...

The ghost of Beeching
  

Is cutting public transport links in rural areas and across its borders really the right way for Croatia to gear up to join the European Union this summer? We look at how the pieties of the market are playing havoc with rail services in the north ...

The Book of Hours
  

Some argue that printed timetables are obsolete in an Internet Age. But no online database has ever managed to capture the overall pattern of a train service with the fluency of the tabular format used in printed timetables. We probe the magic ...

Papal exits
  

The Holy See and the Italian Republic tussled for years over which country owned one contested section of the Passetto di Borgo. That's the name given to the elevated footpath that links the papal apartments in the Vatican with the Castel ...

Brand power
  

The number of Russians making cross-border journeys into northern Scandinavia to go shopping leapt by over a third last year. They head for small towns in northern Finland and some even continue into Sweden to visit the world's northernmost branch ...
Passing Hoops Inn on the A39 bus (photo © hidden europe).

Cruising the Atlantic Highway

If roads have personalities, then the A39 in south-west England is certainly one of the most memorable. It meanders from Georgian Bath to the south coast of Cornwall, taking in some of the most engaging scenery in England. For part of its length ...

The heart of Slovenia

The essence of Slovenia is evinced in the country's rustic simplicity and natural grandeur. Jonathan Knott experiences both on a winter walk through villages that boast a close association with the poets and priests who, in the nineteenth century, ...

Russia’s wooden churches

Many books cross our desks. This year, one particular volume has struck us more than any other. Wooden Churches: Travelling in the Russian North is a remarkable volume. Superb photography by Richard Davies complemented by evocative prose by Matilda ...

The crossing

The satnavs tick off the passing interchanges, the passengers in the back seats are bored and the blood pressure of the drivers rises. No-one, no-one on the busy highway will ever know that a touch of heaven is just a few feet below the angry ...
The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, England (photo © hidden europe).

Just like Elba

Antony Gormley's dramatic sculpture, The Angel of the North, has done wonders for south Tyneside. Will Verity do the same for Ilfracombe? But Verity's stay in the north Devon port is limited to just twenty years. And who then might take her place ...

Chance encounter: Cape Flora

In July 1893, a remarkable chance encounter took place at Cape Flora on Northbrook Island in the Franz Josef archipelago. The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his companion Fredrik Johansen, who had failed to reach the North Pole, bumped in ...

Hartland connections

The parish of Hartland in the north-west corner of Devon is served by no railway lines, and the endless onslaught of winds and waves have destroyed its port. Only the name, Hartland Quay, survives on maps as a reminder of the commerce and trade ...

England and Europe

Given our interests, you might have thought that we'd have pounced on The Smell of the Continent the moment it was published in 2009. The book is a witty and well-researched account of how the English discovered continental Europe in a decades ...

Time check

The second weekend in December sees new rail timetables introduced across Europe. The new schedules see a significant recasting on long distance services in the northern Balkans. Two new international night trains will link Italy with France and ...
Teetering on the brink: the capital of San Marino clusters around the summit of Mount Titano (photo © hidden europe).

La Serenissima: San Marino
  

No other country in Europe can boast so beautiful a name: La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino. But to experience the serenity of San Marino, you really need to stay overnight in the capital, which clusters around the summit of Monte Titano. ...

Zagreb street art
  

When you paint something on the street, it is no longer your own. It becomes public property. Street art demands of artists that they 'let go', that they have the courage to relinquish ownership of their work. Rudolf Abraham takes a look at the ...

The Schengen factor
  

Schengen is more than just a village on the banks of the River Moselle in Luxembourg. The Schengen programme of free movement across borders helps shape modern Europe geographies. It explains why trains now rumble by night through Hodos and why ...
Photo © Ronfromyork

Capital affairs
  

Just over one hundred years ago, Greece was expelled from a currency union that once extended from Latin America to the Balkans. We take a look a currency unions of yesteryear, wading along the way through a medley of soldi and quattrini, blutzger ...

The art of marketing
  

We fear that the slow travel tag has been appropriated by writers and publishers who see slow travel as the latest marketing opportunity. Seven years after the launch of hidden europe and three years after the publication of our Manifesto for Slow ...
Waiting for fried fish in Cádiz (photo © hidden europe).

Fried fish in Cádiz
  

"Cádiz is pretty in a way peculiar to itself." And that's as true today as it was when a traveller penned those words 200 years ago. The most important Atlantic port in Andalucía played a key role in mediating Spain's relationship with the ...

Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb
  

Nicely multi-ethnic, assertively multi-confessional, the cemetery at Maragoj is a fine spot to fire the imagination of the living. The cemetery in Zagreb's northern suburbs is one of Europe's most evocative burial ...
Elvas in Portugal has just been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List (photo © Inacio Pires).

Mining heritage
  

A new crop of European heritage has just been added to UNESCO's celebrated list of notable heritage. The newcomers to the World Heritage List include remarkable industrial villages in Flanders and Wallonie, a German opera house and a clutch of ...
The train to nowhere: all that is left of the San Marino railway (photo © hidden europe).

Stranded in San Marino
  

San Marino may no longer have a passenger railway. It does however still have a train, thus marking out San Marino as one of two countries in Europe that have a train but no railway. The surviving train in San Marino is a graceful addition to the ...

Swiss connections: the city of Basel
  

The station departure boards at Basel are nowadays not quite so exotic as once they were. True there's still the occasional train to Minsk and Moscow, but no longer are there direct trains to Spain, Romania and England. Yet Basel's Swiss and French ...
Solid farmsteads are common along the west Jutland coast, and some cultivation is even possible when the dunes have been stabilised (photo © hidden europe).

Tussling with the elements: Jutland
  

Survival on Jutland's coast has always been a question of working with nature. Great storms have transformed the sandy coastline and entire communities have come and gone with the ebb and flow of history. We travel north along the Danish mainland's ...
Where faith and the sea meet: devotionaland maritime bric-a-brac in La Maison de laBeurière in Boulogne (photo © hidden europe).

La Maison de la Beurière
  

Today, the steeply sloping streets behind Boulogne's Quai Gambetta no longer have the character of a closely-knit fishing community. hidden europe visits a little museum that recalls the former life of this distinctive part of the French port ...
Rome being reclaimed by the elements on the west coast of Jutland, Denmark (photo © hidden europe).

Ephemeral art
  

There is a remarkable vividness about pieces of art whose days are numbered. Artists like Richard Shilling and Andy Goldsworthy have been keen advocats of what is sometimes called land art. We search for the remnants of last year's sand sculpture ...