Articles tagged:

Spain

Magazine article

Out-of-town connections: The very end of the line

by Nicky Gardner

Go one step further. Stay on the train for an extra station. Or why not stay on the train to the very end of the line? You should, because often the place at the end of the line is very interesting, as we discovered when we visited Provins, the final station for the commuter trains that run east from Paris.

Magazine article

From slow boats to slow trains

by hidden europe

If you have some time to spare, don’t take the fast train when there’s a slower option. The latter will almost certainly be more interesting. We share some of our favourite slow journeys, citing examples from Calabria, Danish Jutland, Spain and Germany.

Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 68

by hidden europe

In this new issue of the magazine we present articles with a focus on Sweden, France, Greece, Spain and Malta. We have a number of thematic pieces too, taking inspiration in part from rail travel which is experiencing such a welcome renaissance in many parts of Europe just now.

Magazine article

Names to ponder: memory and place in the city

Take a look as the names of streets as you explore foreign cities. We’ve noted streets named after Stalin in southern England and a road named after Tito in France’s Champagne region. These and similar street name evoke important issues about place and memory, reminding us how historical narratives evolve through time.

Magazine article

European heathlands

by hidden europe

Dedicated teams of scientists and conservationists are working to preserve Europe’s lowland heaths. The threats to these endangered habitats are many: creeping urbanization, the conversion of traditional heathland to cropland and the planting of conifers.

Blog post

Watery diversions

Making time for creative journeys has been at the heart of our work with hidden europe. So in this issue of our Letter from Europe we highlight some longish ferry routes which even allow for some sightseeing. Here are some examples from this winter’s Mediterranean shipping schedules.

Blog post

From Bilbao to Murmansk: A Tale of One Princess

Large ferries often go through multiple incarnations and we developed a sort of vicarious attachment to the Princess Anastasia, a vessel which we saw in Bilbao in 2008, and which is now based near Murmansk where she has become part of the infrastructure for tackling the COVID pandemic.

Blog post

The waiting game

hidden europe 63 is now available, featuring articles about Bulgaria, Alsace, rural Galicia and northern Italy. We also look at the prospects for slow travel in the post-COVID world. Single issues and subscriptions are available in the hidden europe online shop.

Magazine article

The goat keeper: life in rural Galicia

by Amy Aed

The connections between people and the land, between people and animals, were once taken for granted. No longer! Amy Aed travels to rural Galicia and discovers simple pleasures as she spends a few weeks on a goat farm.

Magazine article

Beyond the Marais: Punting Traditions

by hidden europe

From the withy boats of the Somerset Levels to the gunboats used on the Essex coast, wetlands have often fostered ingenuity among boatbuilders. Navigating shallow waters takes skill and a special kind of vessel. We survey a range of boats from the punts of Cambridge and Lusatia to the double-ended barquet of the Albufera lagoon.

Magazine article

The Map-Maker: From Brockley to València

by Nicky Gardner

We explore the work of contemporary illustrator Mike Hall who, from his base in Spain, produces many very fine maps. Creative use of tints and fonts, often complemented by an elaborate cartouche, and a bold aesthetic underpin maps which are both practical and beautiful.

Blog post

A Four-Hour Train Journey for one Euro

Over the years we’ve tracked down many great-value international rail fares. We once wrote about the City Star tariff which offered extraordinarily cheap fares from Slovakia to Russia. But there is one cross-border fare in western Europe that even beats that. Have a guess where that might be.

Blog post

A Taste of Heaven

Christianity is not especially sweet-toothed, though the Old Testament psalms do drip generously with honey. Shift to the New Testament and there are loaves, fishes, but not much by way of dessert. Yet by the 16th century, convents in Sicily and the Iberian Peninsula were very much into the business of producing sweets for sale to those living beyond the convent walls.

Note

The Power of Pots and Pans

Last night the government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti was forced to resign, making it the first government in Europe to be toppled by Coronavirus - aided by saucepans. The protest of the angry citizens of Kosovo was expressed by the noisy clamour of pots and pans banged on balconies. We take a look at how kitchenware has been deployed to deter locusts and topple governments.

Magazine article

The Last Settlers: Franco's Legacy in Rural Spain

by Karlos Zurutuza
In the 1950s and 1960s, the development of new agrarian settlements became a key element of Franco's statecraft in Spain. The villages, often planted in unpromising terrain, symbolised Franquista power and ambition. Karlos Zurutuza and Andoni Lubaki, respectively a writer and photographer based in the Basque region, set out to discover the villages populated by Spain's last settlers.
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 59

by hidden europe
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 months after the end of the Great War in 1918, to shape emerging narratives of that conflict.
Magazine article

Agrarian Reform in Spain: The Broader Picture

by hidden europe

Mussolini's draining of the Pontine Marshes was a landmark piece of colonisation politics. There have been many similar schemes around Europe – one earlier example was King Carlos III's new town programme in Andalucía in the 1760s. To accompany our feature on Franco's agrarian settlement scheme (see 'Spain's Last Settlers'), we look at the broader context for such ambitious schemes.

Magazine article

Plain Sailing

by hidden europe
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 taking the boat from France to Ireland.
Magazine article

The Legacy of the San Juan

by Karlos Zurutuza
On the rocky shores of Labrador (in eastern Canada) is a remote settlement which features strongly in the Basque imagination. Karlos Zurutuza explains how the whalers of Euskal Herria (the Basque Country) once dominated the whale oil trade around Newfoundland and Labrador. Now a fine replica and a great Basque whaling vessel is nearing completion at Pasaia.
Magazine article

Fifth-freedom Flights

by hidden europe
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 now on offer within Europe.
Magazine article

Vintage Views: Railways and Wine Tourism

by Nicky Gardner
What better way to survey some of the world's great vineyards than from the comfort of a train cruising slowly through a region celebrated for its fine wines? Ideally with a glass of wine to hand! We explore opportunities for rail-wine tourism in Spain, Hungary, France, Portugal and further afield.
Magazine article

Platform Zero

by Nicky Gardner
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 phenomenon.
Magazine article

Life and Death in Secastilla

by Kate Wilson
Kate Wilson, a first-time contributor to hidden europe, reports from the village in northern Spain where she lives. This is no ordinary day, for this is el día de la matanza - the day of a ritual pig slaughter. No fun for Tia the pig, but a rich insight into a local tradition.
Blog post

Cabrera, a tainted paradise

In the summer of 1812, while Napoleon's Grande Armée was storming east towards Moscow, William Faden's publishing house in London was busy putting the finishing touches to a new guide to Spanish inshore waters. Among the areas covered in the pilot guide is the island of Cabrera, off the south coast of Mallorca.

Blog post

Exploring Alfàbia

We wandered amid bamboo and eucalyptuses, past carob trees and citrus orchards, by pomegranates and myrtle. The gardens at Alfàbia on the island of Mallorca are one of many beautiful places we have visited as part of our work for hidden europe.

Blog post

Encounter at Hendaye

75 years ago this week, Hitler was on the move. Within just a few days, the Führer's train was in north-west France, in the Basque region and in Tuscany. But this was no holiday. On 23 October 1940, Hitler met General Franco in Hendaye. It was the only face-to-face meeting of the two leaders.

Blog post

Islands and politics

Cartographers, seafarers, poets and artists have long seen the appeal of offshore islands - and they are especially interesting when political allegiance and geography do not quite seem to agree. Perhaps the most striking political compromise with respect to offshore islands was the arrangement between the Japanese and the Dutch during the more than 200 years when Japan pursued its sakoku (closed country) policy.

Blog post

The centre of the universe

It was 50 years ago that Salvador Dalí completed his celebrated La Gare de Perpignan. It is a huge oil painting which now hangs in the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. It celebrates Perpignan as the very centre of the universe.

Blog post

Europe by rail: spring news

It is that time of year when rail companies across Europe tweak their schedules for the upcoming summer season. Here's an overview of some of the noteworthy changes for this spring.

Magazine article

Wastelands: Europe’s empty runways

by Nicky Gardner

Aviation is a growing industry. European airports saw over 5% growth last year. But that statistic masks the fact that ever more European airports are closing down. Quite what does one do with a disused airport?

Blog post

A new deal for Austrian lawyers

Europe is full of trains with oddly inappropriate names. At least the Alhambra goes to Granada. Not so the Wawel, which nowadays does not run to Kraków at all but only to Wroclaw. Some of the most bizarre train names are actually found in Austria. 'Austria reads' is just one of them.

Magazine article

Alhama de Granada: Al-Andalus revisited

by Laurence Mitchell

Alhama de Granada is a small town in the mountains of Andalucía, one feted by many writers in the Romantic tradition as being on a par with Granada itself. Laurence Mitchell describes the pulse of everyday life in Alhama, a place that still has its fair share of Moorish ghosts.

Magazine article

Oriental dreams

by Nicky Gardner

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 place that is marked on our map as Orient. Join us for a magical tour of an island in the sun.

Magazine article

All points east

by Nicky Gardner

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 new international link from Austria and much more.

Magazine article

By train to Sóller

by hidden europe

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 island.

Magazine article

Island hopping through the Balearics

by Nicky Gardner

To understand Menorca and its history, you have to arrive at Maó by ship. There is no better way to do this than by taking the weekly sailing from Palma di Mallorca to Menorca, along the way passing the island where Hannibal was born and another island where prisoners of war were held captive.

Magazine article

Beauty and the Beast

by Diego Vivanco

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 normally slow pace of mountain life. Diego Vivanco escorts us through the crowded streets of Bielsa at a time when caution is thrown to the wind. Anything can happen at carnival time.

Blog post

The fifth season

Welcome to the fifth season. Spring, summer, autumn, winter... and now the fifth season. This weekend, and the day or two thereafter, mark the culmination across Europe of fifth season frolics. It is carnival time. The normal rules of social engagement, most particularly with anyone in authority, are suspended.

Magazine article

Time check

by hidden europe

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 Germany respectively.

Magazine article

Fried fish in Cádiz

by Nicky Gardner

"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 Americas. And it invented the classic fish supper.

Magazine article

Mining heritage

by hidden europe

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 colourful Swedish farmhouses.

Blog post

Reshaping mental maps

This evening, a train will speed from Córdoba to Valencia in just a shade over three hours, marking the inauguration of another link in Spain's growing high-speed rail network. True, the new stretch of line in this case is very modest, but it is enough to facilitate a new fast service linking the Guadalquivir Valley in Andalucía with the Gulf of Valencia. And it will help reshape the mental maps of citizens of both the Spanish Levante and Andalucía.

Blog post

Recalling Guernica

Most art lovers visiting Madrid make first for the Prado and then for the Thyssen-Bornemisza. Both have celebrated collections. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, based in a former hospital near Atocha railway station, does not attract quite the same crowds as the two top-tier galleries. But with a weekend in Madrid last month, we made time for the Reina Sofia, where the big draw is Picasso's Guernica.

Magazine article

The mystery of Los Picaos

by Diego Vivanco

Guest contributor Diego Vivanco visits the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra in Spain's Rioja region to see how its inhabitants mark Holy Week. He witnesses a Lenten spectacle that is both theatrical and intimate at the same time.

Blog post

Charlottenburg to Cádiz

There is something rather satisfying about being up and about earlyish on a Sunday morning. Streets that would on working days be busy are happily empty. So I hopped on a train just after eight and rode west out of Berlin. This is familiar terrain. Charlottenburg looks, as ever, faded but interesting. We sweep out of the city, passing the Olympic Stadium, glimpses here and there of empty parks.

Blog post

Of glaciers and glacierets

The news this week, widely reported in Europe's media, that French glaciers are on the retreat prompts us to reflect on glaciers around mainland Europe. It is of course no surprise that Europe's permanent areas of snow and ice are threatened by our warming climate. These changes are most strikingly evident in the Alps, but perceptive observers of mountain environments notice them more widely.

Magazine article

Botany in Paradise

by Iain Bamforth

Iain Bamforth, a first-time contributor to hidden europe, wanders through the fruit markets of his home town of Strasbourg and reflects on apples and apricots, persimmons and pomegranates. Join us on a botanical tourof Paradise.

Blog post

Escape from Alcúdia

The fast ferry will speed you from Alcúdia to Ciutadella in just an hour. Too fast, perhaps, to really savour the transition between two worlds. Alcúdia has its quiet corners. Choose a sunny spring evening and the ruins of the old Roman theatre can be very atmospheric. But for most of the budget travellers who flock to Alcúdia, visits to Roman ruins are probably not a top priority.

Magazine article

Border assets: travels on the frontier

by Nicky Gardner

Borders have become something of a rarity in modern Europe. We can now travel by car from northern Norway to the Mediterranean without ever once having to show a passport. Political frontiers have faded, yet cultural frontiers remain. We reflect on the role of borders in Europe today and note how erstwhile lines of division are now recast as assets for the future.

Magazine article

Cruise ferry update

by hidden europe

Catamarans compete for space with whales and dolphins in the crowded sea lanes off the south coast of Spain. Space is tight in some European waters as more travellers embrace ferry travel and an efficient and relaxing way of getting around.

Blog post

Lost maritime links

Boulogne has always knocked spots off Calais as a port-of-entry into France. The city has a particularly attractive Ville Haute (Upper Town). But sadly, not a lot of travellers from England will be visiting Boulogne this winter, for today sees the withdrawal of the sole remaining ferry link between England and Boulogne.

Magazine article

Paths of history: transhumance in Spain

by Diego Vivanco

Southern Europe is criss-crossed by old drove routes that served the pastoral economies of yesteryear. In Spain, these routes are called canadas. They are still used by herders who practice transhumance, spending summer in the hills with their cattle and returning each autumn to the coastal lowlands. Guest contributor Diego Vivanco joined Lionel Martorell and a herd of Avilena cattle on a five day trek down to the Ebro delta.

Magazine article

Erronkari's claim to fame

by Karlos Zurutuza

The memory of Julián Gayarre, the accomplished nineteenth-century tenor, is perpetuated in his home village in the Pyrenees by a larynx preserved in formaldehyde. Karlos Zurutuza, who is a regular contributor to hidden europe, took the bus to Erronkari to unpick the tale of a local lad whose voice was revered in Europe's great opera houses.

Magazine article

Sillitoe in Menton

by hidden europe

Alan Sillitoe's first publications, written during the brief spell that he lived in Menton in France, were travel essays. Sillitoe died in April, having achieved a formidable reputation as a novelist. We take a look at the lesser known side of Sillitoe's writing, namely his travel prose.

Blog post

Glimpses from the train

Are not the finest parts of many long train journeys those fleeting glimpses of a city or a country that you get just prior to arrival at your destination? There is a superb moment on the train journey through Slovakia towards Budapest, a view dominated by the huge basilica at Esztergom.

Note

The demise of Highland Airways

A couple of recent airline bankruptcies highlight the economic vulnerability of small airports in Europe which are not served by a wide range of carriers - and indeed the social vulnerability of remote communities that depend on lifeline air services.

Note

Fantasy architecture and themed hotels

Fantasy architecture has long been common in American hotels, but it is becoming increasingly frequent on this side of the Atlantic too - and not just at Eurodisney near Paris. We look at examples from Turkey and the Canary Islands.

Blog post

A trio of cat stories

Catamarans are in the news. Spanish operator Transcoma this week launches its new fast catamaran service between Gibraltar and the Spanish port of Algeciras and in the English Channel the Euroferries saga continues.

Magazine article

Taking the high road

by Nicky Gardner

France's Cime de la Bonette road is often feted as "la plus haute route d'Europe". But is this really true? We drive some of Europe's highest roads and track down the real record holders

Magazine article

Essays in stone: Mérida

by David Cawley

Retirement communities tend to be rather tame places. Not so the one in Spain's Extremadura region, which guest contributor David Cawley has been exploring for hidden europe.

Magazine article

Essays in glass

by hidden europe

Never heard of a fosterito? Then you have probably never been to Bilbao! hidden europe explores some unusual street architecture.

Magazine article

Turbulent waters

by Nicky Gardner

Freight boats that take passengers, new routes and change aplenty as hidden europe reviews what's new in Europe's shipping schedules for 2007.

Magazine article

Mere conventions: meridian lines

by Nicky Gardner

Meridian lines may be merely a matter of cartographic convention, but a lot of politics underpinned the selection of Greenwich as the prime meridian. We report from El Hierro in the Canary Islands, once known as Isla del Meridiano. Many old maps and charts reference longitude against the Ferro meridian - which skirted the western coast of El Hierro.

Magazine article

Seaplanes and helicopters

by hidden europe

Yes, flying between major airports may have become boring, but there are still interesting ways to fly in some parts of Europe. We check out a few scheduled flights by helicopter and seaplane.

Magazine article

Spain: la vía de la plata

by Laurence Mitchell

The Via de la Plata is one of Spain's ancient trading routes. It served Roman interests and then developed into one of the most important pilgrim trails to Santiago de Compostela. Laurence Mitchell heads north from Seville along the old camino.

Magazine article

Tilting at windmills: from La Mancha to Andalucí­a

by Nicky Gardner

God never intended travellers to reach the land of tapas, sherry, flamenco and Carmen without a struggle. Join us as we head south through Spain for Andalucía, first crossing Don Quixote country (La Mancha) and then taking Despenaperros Pass through the Sierra Morena.

Magazine article

In the spirit of Che Guevara: Marinaleda

by Nicky Gardner

Few towns and villages in Europe will mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of Che Guevara in October. But they surely will in Marinaleda, a small town in southern Spain where the cult of Che is alive and well.

Magazine article

Make believe: the geography of films

by Nicky Gardner

Film directors often morph real world geographies to suit their own purposes. Docks on the River Thames stand in for Venice, and Granada in southern Spain suddenly is given new life as a Turkish port. We look at a few examples of transposed geography.

Magazine article

Doomed to die

by John Mead

La corrida (bullfighting) is as much a part of Andalucian culture as tapas and flamenco. Like it or not, bullfighting is in no rush to disappear. John Mead recounts a tale of life and death from Baza in southern Spain.

Magazine article

Cardinal points

by hidden europe

One travel guide claims that Finisterre is the most westerly point on the European mainland. This is in fact wrong, just as other points that lay claim to special status as geographical extremities are often spurious. We map Europe's extremities.

Magazine article

Expo architecture

by Nicky Gardner

Expo is back in the news with Milan having just been selected to host the 2015 World Fair. At their best, Expos have served as a boost to imaginative urban regeneration. We look at the Expo legacy in various European cities.

Magazine article

Atarazanas Market, Málaga

by Theresa O'Shea

"Tear it down," shouted the reformers who wanted to modernise Málaga in the mid-nineteenth century. But fortunately the old Atarazanas, once a shipyard, survived and in 1879 it opened as a public market - a focal point for Málaga life.

Magazine article

Rotor heaven: Europe's helicopter links

by Nicky Gardner

We take a look at commercial helicopter routes around Europe, both past and present. There are areas in Europe where helicopter services are still very much a part of the regular transport network. Examples include the Faroe Islands, the Scilly Isles, Isole Tremiti in the Adriatic and the Gulf of Finland.

Magazine article

A Basque village: Urzainki connections

by Karlos Zurutuza

The tiny village of Urzainki in the Basque Pyrenees is a mere fleck on the map. But it is a place with connections. Can it really be true that this one village has a link with an erstwhile Pope, an American President, the Bronte family and a South American political leader?

Magazine article

Dates galore: the Palmeral de Elche

by Nicky Gardner

Early Arab settlers in the Spanish Levante created at Elche a remarkable region of palm groves. Curiously, a cultural landscape that was so Arabic in inspiration now serves mainly Christian interests. We take the slow train south from Alicante and stop off at Elche.

Blog post

The edge of Europe

To drive out to Malin Head in Donegal on a wild December day is real travel. Or, in Ireland's southwest corner, to be alone at the ancient fort at Dún Beag, feel the fierce wind sweep in over Slea Head and then dive for cover in one of Dingle's colour-washed pubs. Down in Galicia, the road to Cape Finisterre is one of Europe's finest Atlantic excursions. A journey to the very end of the earth.

Blog post

Pyrenean borders

In the heart of the Pyrenees, just to the east of Andorra, lies a great depression in the mountains that is a sunny oasis of fertile soils in an otherwise rather wild region. It is known as Cerdanya on the Spanish side and Cerdagne on the French side of the frontier. Not a lot of folk head for Cerdanya as a primary destination, but many pass through en route to ski slopes, mountain resorts and of course Andorra.

Blog post

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Seaside Kolobrzeg has more to offer than sand and spa cures. Enter Agnieszka Rylik, onetime world kickboxing champion and later a junior welterweight world champion in women's pro boxing. Lidia tells me animatedly all about Agnieszka Rylik. Undefeated in her first dozen bouts, Rylik punched for Poland in Las Vegas, only there to suffer the first ever defeat of her professional career.

Blog post

Hints of the desert

The land around the Cabo de Gata really does include many classic elements of desert terrain: a nice volcanic mesa, little alluvial fans and of course sand dunes. It is a landscape that has stood in for both the American West and the Middle East on the silver screen. Not just spaghetti westerns, but also many scenes in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. In the September 2007 issue of hidden europe magazine we shall take a look at the ways in which film directors create their own geographies.

Blog post

Almagro (Spain)

The last day of school is always an interesting moment to be in Poland, and hidden europe happened to be in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz a week or two back when the school year drew happily to its conclusion. By ten in the morning on a hot and humid Friday, all the tables outside a favoured café were full, as Bydgoszcz youth set about celebrating the end of another school year. Bydgoszcz is one of those unsung Polish cities, the sort of spot where few tourists stop.

Blog post

Estuaries

Europe is full of fine estuaries, oftentimes ethereal spots where the waters of silty rivers mingle with the sea. Estuaries are liminal zones, places that do not quite belong to the ocean. Some of our favourite European estuaries are those traversed by ferries. Take the Cromarty Rose, a beautiful little car ferry that carries just two vehicles at a time across the mouth of Cromarty Firth on Scotland's northeast coast.

Blog post

Remote mosques: Norway and Wales

Tromsø¸ has many charms, though they may not be quite evident at this time of the year when deep winter darkness still shrouds the town in Arctic Norway. The island town can pop a few surprises, however, for it turns out that Tromsø¸ has a small Islamic community. Ramadan is edging ever closer to the longer summer days.

Blog post

Port Grimaud (France)

To drive the main coastal road west from the French-Italian border along France's Riviera coast is an essay in chic exclusivity: Antibes, Cannes, Ste-Maxime and so on. Not quite hidden europe territory. Most travellers speed through Port Grimaud at the head of the Golfe de St Tropez without even noticing it. Just one more of those spots with a fleet of yachts and too many people with too much money.

Blog post

El Ejido (Spain)

Viewed from the plane descending to land at Almería's airport, El Ejido is a shining sea of plastic that dazzles the eye. For mile after mile, plastic covered greenhouses and plastic cultivation tubes rely on drip feed irrigation to produce tomatoes, capsicums and other vegetables and fruit for the supermarket shelves of northern Europe. But this plastic-wrapped agricultural El Dorado, nowadays a bustling city of some 70,000 people, conceals a shadier side of European life.

Blog post

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.

Blog post

Sangria in Torrie - advice to travellers in the eighteenth century

Accounts by early travellers make for some of our favourite en route reading, and one of the best is Hans Reichard's Conseils aux touristes (Advice to Tourists), a volume of generic travel wisdom first published in 1793, the same year as Reichard also published his Guide d'Espagne.