Articles tagged:

Arctic

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From Paris to the Peloponnese

Today we are releasing another trio of articles in full text format. All three are on Greek themes and all three were written by travel writer and publisher Duncan JD Smith. There is a tight geographical focus here as all three articles are set in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece.

Magazine article

Polar bees

by hidden europe

The news is not great for polar bumble bees, which are well adapted to the Arctic climate. Climate change may not bode well for these bees in the Russian North, but the prospects for adventurous butterflies are on the up.

Magazine article

Rewilding the Wolf Border

by Laurence Mitchell
Time was when cartographers embellished their maps with warnings to unwary readers. "Here be dragons," was one such advisory notice. For today's travellers, many of whom rarely venture beyond the reach of broadband, there's little chance of dragons. But, as Laurence Mitchell discusses, it is still possible to get a touch of wilderness.
Magazine article

The witches of Varanger

by hidden europe

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 europe.

Magazine article

Borderlands: the Pasvik Valley

by Nicky Gardner

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 the Sami homeland.

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The Nansen trail

A recent visit to the Arctic port of Vardø, on an island off the eastern extremity of the Varanger Peninsula, prompts us to reflect on Fridtjof Nansen’s visit to the same place in 1893. Nansen arrived in Vardø on the Fram. It was the ship's last port-of-call in Norway on the great voyage of exploration that was to take Nansen closer to the North Pole than any earlier expedition.

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Tales from Titovka

Everyone stops at Titovka sooner or later. That's the way things are up here in the far north-west corner of Russia. The Titovka roadside café is on the highway that runs west from Murmansk towards the mining towns of Zapolyarny and Nikel.

Magazine article

Second chance for the Northern Sea Route

by Nicky Gardner

Global warming means thinning Arctic ice, which is a tragedy for imperilled polar wildlife. But, for the merchant shipping industry, receding Arctic ice opens up new opportunities for exploiting the Northern Sea Route. The route from the Barents Sea to the Bering Strait is being transformed into an operational seaway.

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A polar travel centenary

The Arctic has been much on our minds of late. Today we mark the centenary of an epic moment in polar travel. One hundred years ago today, the Karluk was wrecked in the Chukchi Sea. The ship set off from Vancouver Island in June 1913 on a voyage to explore and map the Canadian Arctic.

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The Chelyuskin epic

As Russian families gather today to celebrate Christmas (which in Orthodox Europe falls later than in the Roman calendar), they will be inclined - like families everywhere in the world - to look back to Christmas tales from yesteryear. There is barely a Russian alive - of any age - who cannot recount a heroic tale or two about the bravery of the crew and passengers of the Chelyuskin, who 80 years ago endured an ice-bound Christmas in the Chukchi Sea.

Magazine article

New ports for the Far North

by Nicky Gardner

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 are also developing similar plans. We look at the politics of laying tracks across frontiers.

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Hidden europe 39

We head north in the latest issue of hidden europe magazine which is published next week (and is already available for purchase). Writer Philip Dunshea invites us to join him as he ventures onto Rannoch Moor. This vast wilderness can be a desperate place, in Phil's words "a ragged purgatory." And the crew of the Tegetthof surely thought much the same when their ship, stuck fast in pack ice, drifted close to Franz Josef Land in 1873.

Magazine article

The Great and the Good: history distilled in Franz Josef Land

by Nicky Gardner

The maps of Franz Josef Land are a cartographic journey through the royal salons of a lost era. Here is territory where the relatives of explorers are locked in cartographic alliance with a Russian princess and the Viceroy of India. We look at the cartographic legacy of early travels to Russia's largest Arctic archipelago.

Magazine article

Brand power

by hidden europe

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 of IKEA.

Magazine article

Chance encounter: Cape Flora

by Nicky Gardner

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 the British expeditioner Frederick George Jackson. This serendipitous meeting almost certainly saved the lives of Nansen and Johansen. Two decades later, another equally fortuitous meeting took place at Cape Flora.

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The train to Tundra

Year by year, the population of Obozersky dwindles. Fifty years ago, more than 7000 people lived in this little town in the Russian Arctic. More than half have left. They took the train south and never returned. The cream and brown railway station is spick and span and, along with the Orthodox church, is one of the smartest buildings in town. Railways and religion are the mainstays of rural Russia.

Magazine article

Viking voyages: Eirik Raudes Land

by Nicky Gardner

For a brief period in the early 1930s, the Norwegian flag fluttered over two remote settlements in eastern Greenland: Myggbukta and Antarctichavn. This is the story of Eirik Raudes Land (Erik the Red Land), an upstart territory named in honour of one of the Viking World's most celebrated mediaeval scoundrels.

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Ramadan in the Far North

Ramadan, the annual month of prayer and fasting for the world's Muslim population, is just starting, so it is worth sparing a thought for Muslims who live in Europe's northern regions. To refrain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset is a tough challenge, though one doubtless made easier when underpinned by a firm faith. But with Ramadan moving forward towards mid-summer each year, the issue of an appropriate fasting regime for Muslims in Europe's polar regions is a very real one.

Magazine article

An Arctic outpost: Victoria Island

by Nicky Gardner

The story of Victoria Island, a tiny fleck of land in the European Arctic midway between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land, is a reminder that there are better ways of conducting international diplomacy than leaving a message in a bottle.

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Polar nights in Spitsbergen

It was unusually warm in Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen this past Sunday. The temperature peaked at minus 7 degrees Celsius. And the jazz helped give Longyearbyen a more temperate ring last weekend as the remote Arctic community, capital of the Svalbard archipelago, celebrated its annual Polar Jazz festival.

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Vadsø (northern Norway)

You really know you have travelled a long way east when you get to Vadsø. The local church, which dominates the small town on the Barents Sea, is a late 1950s essay in poured concrete. But take a peek inside for a surprise. This is a Norwegian Lutheran church with an interior design that has striking Byzantine overtones. The chancel area has an almost Orthodox demeanour.

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The Italia expedition

The Italia left its Milan base in mid April, under the command of Umberto Nobile. Destination: the North Pole. In late May, the pioneer aviators reached their goal. But luck was not on their side. Returning south towards Spitsbergen, the Italia was damaged in a storm and plunged onto the pack ice.

Magazine article

Norway by plane

by hidden europe

A small Norwegian airline called Widerøe operates flights into some of Europe's remotest communities. The company's Explore Norway Ticket allows travellers to hop from one small airport to another.

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Crossing the border at Boris Gleb

Boris and Gleb are as saintly a duo as Peter and Paul or Cyril and Methodius. Travel round Russia and you will come across no end of churches dedicated to Boris and Gleb. The two were in fact brothers and evidently their tender humility marked the Russian soul. That very Orthodox quality of patient forbearance of suffering is often said to be inspired by Boris and Gleb.

Magazine articleFull text online

Where towering cliffs in ocean stand: Lofoten

by Nicky Gardner

Capture the atmosphere of one of Europe's most magical landscapes with our account of two communities in the Lofoten islands in northern Norway. Nusfjord is an old fishing station that has reinvented itself through tourism. Meanwhile, the tiny hamlets that cling to the edges of Reinefjord teeter on the brink of extinction.

Magazine article

Svalbard links

by hidden europe

For travellers with their ice axes and crampons at the ready, Svalbard (Spitsbergen) is about to come a whole lot closer, with a Norwegian budget airlines offering flights in 2008 to the Arctic archipelago.

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Spitsbergen and the Italia rescue

Not so many St Petersburg visitors make it over to Vasilievsky Island which sits fair and square in the Neva delta. Those that do stick in the main to the eastern end of the island with the old St Petersburg stock exchange. This one building alone, flanked by two distinctive rostral columns in deep terracotta hues, warrants the trip over to Vasilievsky. But there is something else.

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Swiss spring

May Day may still be more than a fortnight away, but Zürich takes time out today for an early spring festival. Rain looks set to put a dampener on this year's Sechseläutern. This is a peculiarly Swiss occasion. The name refers to the "six o'clock bells" and marks the time of year when, with the evenings slowly lengthening, it becomes possible still to enjoy some daylight after finishing work.

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Europe's nerve ends

Driving through Iceland's northeast corner, you really have a sense of touching the nerve ends of the continent. The most northerly point on the Icelandic mainland, called Hraunhafnartangi, falls just short of the Arctic Circle, which lies a tantalisingly short distance further north. Just a couple of kilometres. There's a lighthouse, a scatter of driftwood on the beach and a burial mound, said by the locals to mark the spot where a thousand years ago some Viking ruffian met his end in a revenge killing.

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The wandering Arctic Circle

Capital cities are hardly regular hidden europe territory but Stockholm would surely be a firm contender if ever we were pressed to pinpoint our favourite European capital. Others that would certainly make it onto the shortlist would be Luxembourg and Ljubljana. Somehow these are spots that capture the spirit of a country, in a way that many capitals, often the least typical city in a country, patently do not.

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North Cape (Norway)

The experience of driving through the world's longest road tunnel is one to remember. At over 24 km long (more than 15 miles), the Lærdalstunnelen linking Aurland and Lærdal in western Norway is more than twice as long as the Mont Blanc Tunnel that dives under the Alps to provide a road link between France and Italy.

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The 'other' Channel Islands (France) - the Barents Sea

As always at this time of year, the calm of winter isolation has settled on the Iles Chausey. Most of the population have shuttered up their houses and left Chausey for the mainland. Only the real chausias remain, less than a dozen in number. The ferry from Granville on the coast of Normandy that brings in so many summer visitors has dropped back to its winter schedule with just two crossings a week.

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Harvest festivals in eastern Europe - Lammastide - hidden europe 4: preview

Today, 19 August, is a sight to behold in Orthodox communities from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea. For everywhere in this region, it is the moment to give thanks for the year's harvest, and the churches are packed for the ritual blessing of honey and apples. As always, it coincides with one of the great feasts of the Orthodox calendar, that of the Transfiguration.

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A thousand Europes: local media from Andalucí­a to the Arctic

When we are not on the road, the hidden europe team keeps a finger on the pulse of European affairs. Local newspapers from the Arctic to the Aegean are grist to the mill of this endeavour. Few are better than Svalbardposten, arguably the world's most northerly local newspaper. This weekly account of all that's happening in the Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen is no new upstart.

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Ny-Ålesund (Spitsbergen) - Sealand update

Spring may have eclipsed winter here at hidden europes Berlin home, but elsewhere across our continent conditions are very different. Across a large part of inland southern Spain this afternoon, temperatures topped 30ºC, yet this morning at Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard (Spitsbergen) the mercury dipped to minus 19ºC.