Articles tagged:

Balkans

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Words Matter – hidden europe 66

Here's a look at the latest issue of hidden europe magazine, published earlier this month. We roam from the Azores to the Balkans, from Iceland to southern France. In between we celebrate 50 years of Interrail and reflect on the metrics to measure how sustainable tourism might be.

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From the Balkans to Nürnberg

by Nicky Gardner

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 Military Tribunal in the German city of Nürnberg.

Magazine article

CityStar Ticket

by hidden europe
Discover a special rail tariff which offers cheap deals for travels from Slovakia to destinations in the Alps, eastern Europe and the Balkans.
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Peaks of the Balkans: Discovering the Lhasa of Europe

by Rudolf Abraham
The Peaks of the Balkans trail is a long-distance hiking route, in the shape of a figure-of-eight, which takes in some of the finest mountain terrain in northern Albania and adjacent parts of Kosovo and Montenegro. Rudolf Abraham describes how the trail opens up international frontiers in a region where crossing borders was until recently rarely easy.
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Bradt Guide to Serbia

by hidden europe
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', which was published in September 2017.
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A River Town out of Season

by Laurence Mitchell
Bicycles outnumber cars in Novi Becej, a small town on the east bank of the River Tisa in the flatlands of the Vojvodina region of northern Serbia. Laurence Mitchell catches the changing moods of Novi Becej as autumn slips into winter.
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Albania: A Tale of Two Valleys

by Laurence Mitchell
It is unlikely that great streams of tourists will be arriving in the mountains of northern Albania anytime soon. But this part of the southern Balkans now benefits from better access roads. Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell reports from two valleys in the hills often known as the Albanian Alps.
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Socialist Architecture in Yugoslavia

by hidden europe
In Tito's Yugoslavia, architects offered an ideological space between East and West - aligned neither to Soviet-style communism nor to the capitalist tradition. The result was some assertively different architecture, not all of it memorably beautiful.
Magazine article

The Hills of Western Serbia

by Laurence Mitchell
There are many visions of Yugoslavia's past. Laurence Mitchell visits the hills of western Serbia to learn how heritage and history fuel the imagination. It's a journey that starts and ends in Uzice and takes in the famous Sargan Eight narrow-gauge railway.
Magazine article

Recalling Tito

by hidden europe
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 became Podgorica. And the others?
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What colour is your flag when it burns?

by Nicky Gardner

Kosovo is arguably Europe's newest country. Most nations now recognising the leadership of the territory as being a legitimate national government, though even some European Union members are still withholding recognition. Kosovo still has internal divisions - just as there were over 100 years ago when Edith Durham first set foot in Kosovo.

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Balkan identities

by Nicky Gardner

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. Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians. We explore the ethnic mosaic of modern Kovoso.

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A Kosovo tale

There's a touch of the wild west about Ferizaj. It has a frontier feel. When the English traveller Edith Durham travelled through Kosovo in 1908, she stopped just briefly in Ferizaj, remarking that this was a community created by the railway.

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New train services for 2016

New railway timetables kick in across much of Europe on Sunday 13 December - so here's a summary of interesting changes which we've noted in the new schedules. They include a useful new direct link from Moscow to Sofia - a journey which connects seven capital cities.

Magazine article

Slow train to Sarajevo

by Nicky Gardner

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 war.

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New rail services across Europe

Four weeks from today much of Europe will awaken to new train timetables. Each year in December, new schedules come into effect across the continent. The big day this year is Sunday 14 December. We take look at a dozen positive developments worth noting.

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Stecci: Bosnia’s mediaeval tombstones

by Rudolf Abraham

The stećci of Bosnnia and Herzegovina are remarkable tombstones with varying styles of decoration. These enigmatic stones are something that all Bosnians can identify with. They are a reminder that this is a land with its own very special sacred landscapes. Guest contributor Rudolf Abraham unravels the story of the stećci.

Magazine article

The Talgo tale

by hidden europe

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 infrastructure.

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Kratovo: a town worth its salt

by Christopher Deliso

The Macedonian town of Kratovo is by-passed by most travellers exploring the southern Balkans. But guest contributor Chris Deliso took time to discover the town which was once an important mining centre. Join us as we walk over the bridges of Kratovo and find a community which is trying to reinvent itself.

Magazine article

Silent witness: the bridge over the River Drina

by Laurence Mitchell

Ivo Andric's book The Bridge on the Drina captures four centuries of life in the town of Visegrad. The book is populated by small-town characters of various religious persuasions — Orthodox, Catholics, Muslims and Jews. In the wake of the terrible conflicts of the 1990s, Visegrad is now mainly a Serb town (and thus Orthodox). Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell introduces us to Visegrad, the small town on the Drina in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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One country, two entities

by hidden europe

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 nationhood played out in a peculiarly schizophrenic way. We unpick the puzzle behind a country that has two "entities".

Magazine article

Zvoncari: Rijeka Carnival and the bell ringers of Kastav

by Rudolf Abraham

Shrovetide is carnival time across much of Europe. A few days of madness in the run-up to Lent subvert the normal order of urban and rural life. Guest contributor Rudolf Abraham reports from Rijeka on a little piece of cultural street theatre that has horned, toothed and exotic creatures dancing on the streets of the Croatian port city.

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Winter comes to Kroscienko

The winter snows have come to higher parts of the Carpathians, and already the beech woods and forests of fir are clad in white. Kroscienko, a little village in the Polish hills, is very quiet this time of year. Were it not for the fact that the road through Kroscienko leads to a border crossing with neighbouring Ukraine, there would be scarcely anyone passing through Kroscienko.

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Of alkari, lace and wooden toys

by Rudolf Abraham

Rudolf Abraham has over the years written about many of Croatia's most remarkable landscapes for hidden europe. Now he returns to the country in search of something more subtle: Croatia’s remarkable craft traditions and festivals. Rudolf argues that this intangible cultural heritage is the DNA that helps define communities - and it is as deserving of protection and preservation as fine mountains, coastlines and wetlands.

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Hidden Istria

by Rudolf Abraham

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 the way we discover the many languages of Istria.

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The ghost of Beeching

by Nicky Gardner

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 Balkan region.

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Through the Rhodopes

Septemvri might have been a railway town like Swindon. If Isambard Kingdom Brunel had not built a carriage works at Swindon on his Great Western Railway, the place would probably have remained an insignificant dot on the map halfway between London and Bristol. Like Swindon, the Bulgarian community of Septemvri was born of the railway.

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End of the line for the peace train

Europe's railway geography was reshaped last night. New timetables kicked in, bringing a host of novel travel options. Yet it is easy for rail operators to shout about new routes. These are the good news stories that everyone wants to hear. But what of the trains that are being axed, and the lines where trains are being shunted into sidings and left to rust for ever?

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Zagreb street art

by Rudolf Abraham

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 street art scene in the Croatian capital Zagreb.

Magazine article

Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb

by hidden europe

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 grounds.

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The naming of sons

You probably don't chart your progress through the year with an ecclesiastical calendar. We do, but in truth we cannot really recommend it as a sensible way of confronting modernity. Today, in that part of Europe which favours Rome over Constantinople, is St John's Day - more precisely, the Solemnity of the Birth of St John the Baptist. The Orthodox communions will wait another 13 days before giving a little festive cheer for St John.

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Sharing sacred space

by hidden europe

The clean lines that we think divide religions often become very blurred in the Balkan region. Thus shrines may be claimed as sacred by adherents of more than one religion. We look at the phenomenon of syncretic shrines.

Magazine article

Quo vadis Macedonia?

by Nicky Gardner

Protecting the national narrative is a fine art in Macedonia, the south Balkan republic which neighbouring Greece insists should be referred to only as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (or FYROM for short). Join us as we try and unravel the modern Macedonian question.

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Train services of yesteryear

There is much talk today about how we live in a new age of the train, and that many journeys around Europe are now much more sensibly undertaken by rail rather than air. Only too true, but such rhetoric does imply that rail travel in Europe was utterly dreadful for an earlier generation of travellers. We have been taking a look at European rail travel 40 years ago.

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Travels through Macedonia

We journeyed through Macedonia last week. We stayed at the country's only World Heritage Site at Ohrid and then hugged the Albanian border as we travelled north through Debar to Tetovo. This is territory that has long fascinated travel writers and our journey picked up elements of itineraries followed by Edith Durham and Rebecca West.

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Europe by Rail: Balkan images

by Nicky Gardner

hidden europe editors Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries showcase a new book which they have edited. Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers was published in March 2011. This well-established title from Thomas Cook Publishing now has a very new look, and here the editors present extracts from a Balkan rail journey that features in the book.

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Where empires collide: Zemun, Serbia

by Laurence Mitchell

The Danube has always been a natural geographic barrier in the Balkans, a watery frontier between two cultural worlds: the Habsburg to the north and the Ottoman territories to the south. Laurence Mitchell escorts us on a riverfront walk from Belgrade to Zemun through an area where empires collide.

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Train service changes for 2010

The Balkan region gets a new rail service tomorrow, with the launch of a once daily direct train between Belgrade and Sarajevo. It is a mark of how much the mood in the region has improved over recent years that routes severed during the nineties are now being restored.

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Kosovo and international politics

The Kosovo issue rumbles on. Contrary to popular opinion, the question of who has recognised the would-be state and who has not is far from being a simple east versus west divide. True, Britain and the United States both gave a positive nod to Kosovo within twenty four hours of the Kosovo Assembly declaring independence on 17 February 2008. And Russia has consistently refused to recognise Kosovo.

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Welcome to Novi Pazar

by Laurence Mitchell

Novi Pazar (the New Bazaar) in the hills of southern Serbia turns out to be a town with a difference. Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell explores this Muslim town close to the Kosovo border.

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Border zone: around Lake Prespa

by Christopher Deliso

At the point in the southwest Balkans where Macedonia, Albania and Greece converge lies Lake Prespa. It is an extraordinary place - brackish waters, fill of bulbous weeds that pull at your feet. In the middle of the lake is Golem Grad, an island with stark white cliffs - and thousands of snakes.

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A hundred years of change: Jovici

by Rudolf Abraham

Krste Jovic has lived in Jovici (Croatia) for almost a century. Regular hidden europe contributor, Rudolf Abraham, introduces us to Krste's home village. Wars, struggle and strife sear the history of a coastal region now known mainly for its sun, sea and sand.

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Serbian Orthodox Christmas

Bitterly cold temperatures over central and eastern Europe last evening and this morning do nothing to diminish enthusiasm for the celebration of the Orthodox Christmas. While Orthodox Christmas is underway, daily demonstrations in Belgrade dilute the peaceful spirit.

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Tito toponyms

The cult status surrounding Josip Broz Tito, the onetime president of Yugoslavia, shows no sign of diminishing almost thirty years after his death. The capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, was until 1992 called Titograd. And we report from the extreme southwest corner of Kosovo. Here, in the narrow mountain valleys south of Prizren, is a landscape of quite delicious beauty.

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Bosnian bridges

In territories dissected by great ravines, bridges become the very symbols of civilisation. And nowhere more so than in Bosnia. In The Bridge on the Drina, the epic Nobel Prize winning novel by Bosnian writer Ivo Andric, Mehmed Pasha's bridge over the Drina at Visegrad is the artery that sustains an entire region.

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Designing identity

Albanians have not lost their way with clothes, as anyone walking the streets of Tirana's business district at lunchtime will quickly notice. Forget notions of an obscure Balkan nation, and look more for the same stylish chic that you might see strolling around the Quadrilatero d'Oro in Milan. Albania's changed, and Edith Durham just wouldn't know what to make of it.

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Kosovo connections - Transdniestr

Western European observers of the east of our continent have had their eyes trained on Serbia and Belarus this past weekend. The Milosevic funeral in Pozarevac, a small city on the Danube plain seventy kilometres east of Belgrade, became a rallying point for Serbian nationalists that will surely, for many in the Balkans and elsewhere in Europe, raise uncomfortable echoes of the past.

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Orthodox Christmas in Cetinje - Christmastide till Candlemas - That Christmas Quiz

Cetinje, a little town that sits on a plain high in the mountains of the Republic of Crna Gora (Montenegro), is the onetime capital and still the spiritual centre of the Balkan republic that finds itself nowadays ambiguously attached to Serbia. Last evening, as on every Christmas Eve in Cetinje, people gathered at dusk for the traditional burning of Yule logs.

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The friendship express - black vultures in Thrace - search hidden europe

All eyes are on Turkey this afternoon as its citizens, from the Sea of Marmara to the hills of eastern Anatolia, react to the news from Luxembourg that Turkey and the EU are at least going to start discussions about the possibility of Turkey joining the Union at some distant point in the future. Whatever the outcome of the politicians' discussions, even the mere prospect of closer links with the EU has done much to improve matters for travellers.