Articles tagged:

Transport

Magazine article

Exploring Europe by rail

by hidden europe

We never planned to write about trains. But it just sort of happened and then we developed a curious niche writing about railway journeys. Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries reflect on a serendipitous opportunity.

Magazine article

The Tyre Man

by hidden europe

With the unreliability of the very first cars, motoring was a stop-go process. Bibendum, the remarkable tyre man from Michelin, was always on hand to give advice in the event of breakdown or an enforced overnight stay.

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

Bulgaria: cross-border links with Romania

by hidden europe

The Danube marks the shared border between Romania and Bulgaria. But, with just two bridges crossing the Danube to link the two countries, the Danube also separates Bulgaria and Romania. New ferries are however forging new connections.

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

Making waves: Havila style in Norwegian waters

by Nicky Gardner

Havila Voyages is a Norwegian shipping operator which is now bringing its own style to Norway’s coastal voyage – a very special slow travel adventure which until now has been run exclusively by Hurtigruten. With two Havila ships already in use, and two more making their debut on the coastal voyage in 2023, Havila Voyages is upping its challenge to the incumbent operator.

Magazine article

Fast cats

by hidden europe

The current record for the fastest Atlantic crossing was set in 1998 by an Incat catamaran capable of carrying 600 passengers and 200 cars. That same vessel is still in day-to-day service as a ferry. We'll go in search of the Skane Jet.

Magazine article

All change for 2023: New rail links

by hidden europe

A new daily rail link from Warsaw to Lithuania, direct trains from Bordeaux to the Black Forest and new night trains from Genoa, Dresden and Stuttgart all feature in Europe’s 2023 train timetables which come into effect on Sunday 11 December 2022.

Blog post

50 years of Interrail

We know that many readers of hidden europe were quick off the mark in May this year when, to celebrate 50 years of Interrail, some passes were available for 50% off the list price. A superb offer that means that there are now thousands of people holding passes valid until next April but uncertain when and where to use them.

Blog post

From Nero to the Habsburgs: the Corinth Canal

The isthmus at Corinth is one of the most celebrated isthmuses of the classical world. It connects the Greek mainland with the huge ragged-edged peninsula known as the Peloponnese. The Ancients portaged their small boats over the narrow neck of the isthmus as a shortcut between the Ionian Sea and the Aegean, so saving a long voyage around the Peloponnese.

Magazine article

An Essex backwater: Discovering Harwich

by Nicky Gardner

The old town of Harwich, a port in the county of Essex on England's North Sea coast, is tucked away on the end of a peninsula. Maritime connections have shaped the development of Harwich. It's a place for sea breezes, rock oysters and watching the ferries come and go.

Magazine article

The last poet: Farewell, Pushkin

by Nicky Gardner

The last of the Soviet Union's great ocean liners outlived the Soviet Union. The MS Aleksandr Pushkin made her first visit to Tilbury (in the lower reaches of the River Thames) in April 1966. For over half a century, this classic ship was a regular visit to Tilbury. Renamed the MS Marco Polo, she arrived in Tilbury the very last time in March 2020.

Magazine article

The Athus factor

by hidden europe

Never heard of Athus? It's a small town in south-east Belgium through which you must route if you wish to travel by train from London to Poland's Baltic coast for just €120 return.

Magazine article

Visitor mobility

by hidden europe

How far should the local travel requirements for tourists be met by a region’s regular transport infrastructure? Or does it make sense to lay on special services for seasonal visitors? We look at examples from Switzerland and Britain.

Magazine article

New Albanian bus routes

by hidden europe

So what is the best way to get from Dubrovnik to Athens? Take the bus, we say, at least for the first part of the journey. Improved bus and ferry services now make it very easy to travel from southern Croatia through Montenegro and Albania to Greece. It is a fine journey, especially if you can make time to stop off in Kotor, Tiranë and Corfu.

Magazine article

A triple dose of culture: Europe’s cultural capitals

by Nicky Gardner

Can you name Europe's three capitals of culture for 2022? All three are the second-largest cities in their respective countries. Step forward Esch-sur-Alzette, Novi Sad and Kaunas. International visitors to the latter two will surely find it immensely frustrating that there are no cross-border train services to Kaunas and Novi Sad.

Magazine article

European ferry links: opportunities and challenges

by Nicky Gardner

Have you noticed that some ferry companies serving Britain and / or Ireland are now decidedly sniffy about carrying foot passengers? Must we really take a car with us to be permitted on some ferries? But it’s not all bad news on the ferry front since there are a number of new Baltic routes which are very pleased to take foot passengers.

Magazine article

Pure theatre: homage to Lake Lucerne

by Nicky Gardner

Swiss lakes are in a class of their own. But is there one that just has the edge over the rest? Some may cast their vote for Léman, and others will argue the case for Lugano. But for us it’s Lake Lucerne, where the lake’s unusual vaguely cruciform shape changes a boat journey into pure theatre.

Magazine article

Fifty years of Interrail: the freedom to explore Europe

by Nicky Gardner

Allow yourself to be curious! Take time to wander. That’s the beauty of Interrail, the rail pass which gives travellers the freedom to explore Europe. March 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of Interrail. We celebrate the first half-century of a scheme which has so dramatically shaped Europeans’ understanding of their home continent.

Blog post

The perfect night train

You’ll surely have seen that there’s a lot of hype around the return of night trains across Europe. The legitimacy of flying as a social norm was hardly questioned a decade ago. Nowadays we can no longer be oblivious to our carbon footprint. In this Letter from Europe we share what in our view constitutes the perfect night train.

Magazine article

Looking for Lohner: a Viennese transport legend

by Duncan JD Smith

Discover the story of the world’s first hybrid car as we explore the remarkable history of Lohner – a Vienna-based company which over two centuries has developed cars, aircraft, trams and scooters. Duncan JD Smith delves into the archives to chart the history of this Austrian legend.

Magazine article

Flying the green flag: the gentle art of greenwashing

Many travel companies these days are keen to promote their green credentials. How much of it is mere tokenism and how far is the travel industry genuinely committed to tackling the climate crisis by promoting behavioural change? We explore the gentle art of greenwashing.

Magazine article

Time for change: new rail services for 2022

Slower trains from Newcastle to Edinburgh and faster dashes from Cologne to Berlin are in the offing. New rail timetables across Europe come in effect in mid-December 2021. New night trains from Austria to France and from Switzerland to the Netherlands will start. We highlight some key changes in European rail schedules.

Magazine article

Promoting Europe: the Connecting Europe Express

On 7 October 2021, a train from Lisbon arrived in Paris. The journey from the Portuguese capital had taken five weeks. The Connecting Europe Express was no ordinary train, but one which recalled the fine tradition of agit-prop trains which 100 years ago criss-crossed Russia to spread the Bolshevik message.

Magazine article

Allegro speculations

by hidden europe

No rail operator’s international operations were more brutally affected by the pandemic that those of RZD Russian Railways. Links from Russia to fourteen other European countries were suspended in March 2020, and none of those regular passenger services have yet been restored.

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

On the edge of Burgundy: the Morvan hills

There is one very distinctive area in the north-west reaches of Burgundy. And that's Morvan - an upland block defined by its striking granite landscapes which communicate a sense of wilderness not encountered elsewhere in the region. We touch down in an area of France with a strong regional identity.

Magazine article

Flashback 1971: travels of yesteryear

by Nicky Gardner

There was a time when you could travel from Turin or Trieste to Moscow or from Istanbul to Beirut or Baghdad without changing trains. We look back half a century and explore the rail journeys which were on offer in the summer of 1971. It was a time when many premium trains between major European cities carried only first-class seating, with fares which were well beyond anything that many travellers could afford.

Magazine article

War trains

by hidden europe

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 influenced the preferred location for German experiments in missile and nuclear technologies.

Magazine article

Pedal power: the caffeine fix

by Nicky Gardner

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. We investigate how coffee became the cyclist’s elixir.

Magazine article

Connecting extremities: Shetland to Cornwall

by Nicky Gardner

Is the United Kingdom too compact ever to justify taking a domestic flight? With many travellers these days eager to make positive environmental choices, short flights of just an hour or two may soon become a thing of the past. But readers may be surprised to discover that Britain’s longest domestic flight extends to over five hours.

Blog post

Terminus - a 1961 documentary

The film director John Schlesinger was largely unknown when in 1960 he was persuaded by Edgar Anstey to make a documentary for British Transport Films (BTF). Terminus went on general release in 1961 and provoked a very positive response from the public. Its setting was London Waterloo station.

Magazine article

Budapest transport

by hidden europe

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 back to the 1870s and still well used today.

Magazine article

New night trains in 2021

by hidden europe

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 services has rocketed. The coming months will see new overnight trains to the Netherlands, Sweden, the Croatian coast, Lake Constance and the French Riviera.

Magazine article

A tale of two bridges: the work of William Tierney Clark

by Duncan JD Smith

It's no coincidence that the graceful bridge that spans the River Thames in Marlow looks remarkably similar to Budapest's celebrated Széchenyi Lánchíd (Chain Bridge) over the Danube – though the latter is much larger than its English counterpart. Duncan JD Smith discovers that the reason for the similarity lies in the work of William Tierney Clark.

Blog post

The story of Luga Bay

Luga Bay of 50 years ago looked much the same as it would have done in centuries long gone. Fishing, forestry and the extraction of peat were local staples, and the only vessels using the bay would have been those belonging to local fishermen, some of them Izhorian and others Russian. But these days Luga Bay and the community at the head of the bay, which is called Ust-Luga, are very much in the minds of Russia’s industrial magnates and energy moguls.

Blog post

Free ports

The current plans to create free ports around the shores of the United Kingdom made us delve into the history of the porto franco. This year marks the 600th anniversary of the sale of Livorno - the Tuscan port which Genoa sold to Florence. It paved the way for competition between Genoa and Livorno and the development of the first free ports.

Blog post

The Gotthard revival

The new Treno Gottardo rail service starts in mid-December 2020. It offers the chance to travel from Basel to Switzerland's southernmost canton of Ticino via the classic Gotthard railway. Climb aboard a panorama carriage, sit back and enjoy the Alpine views.

Magazine article

Scandinavian ferry news

by hidden europe

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 pandemic.

Blog post

Berlin Tegel Airport

Few airports have quite that cool retro feel of the original hexagonal terminal at Berlin’s Tegel airport. The airport opened in 1960 and was an iconic piece of design in "the new Berlin" - that part of the city, occupied by the Western Allies, which showcased new highways and Germany's first drive-in airport. As Tegel gears up to close in autumn 2020, we explore the importance of that airport to the identity of West Berlin.

Blog post

Changing trains

Railway stations where passengers were able to change trains, but which could not be used to start or end a journey, were common in the past. They were often called exchange platforms or exchange stations. Few exist today, but we track down working examples at Sagliains in Switzerland and Manulla in Ireland.

Blog post

For a privileged few: travel corridors and air bridges

We thought that the concept of the air corridor had been relegated to history until it popped up again this past spring, with the plucky English reviving the idea and giving it a new twist. We look at some of the privileged places that enjoy a special travel connection with the UK during COVID-19 times.

Magazine article

Night Vision: Sleeping through Europe

by Nicky Gardner

Changing attitudes towards travel, prompted in part by a fuller appreciation of how air travel is causing climate change, are helping fuel a renaissance in rail travel across Europe. That’s as true of overnight services as it is of day trains. But new night sleeper services require dedicated carriages that will take time to build. And there are some major regulatory issues to be addressed if we are to see Europe’s night trains reaching their full potential.

Blog post

Voice of a Nation

Across hundreds of French railway stations, millions of travellers every day would in normal times encounter Simone Hérault, for hers is the disembodied voice which proclaims the imminent departure of the TGV to Aix-les-Bains or the regional train to Annecy.

Blog post

Turboprops at Britain's busiest airport

Turboprops are back at London's Heathrow airport. An ATR-42 belonging to Scottish airline Loganair is flying a once-daily scheduled service to the Isle of Man on behalf of British Airways. We take a look at previous occasions when airport staff at Britain's busiest airport reckoned they were waving goodbye to the last turboprop.

Magazine article

The Bus to Imber

by hidden europe

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 August.

Blog post

All Change in Luxembourg

There is much ado in Luxembourg - a country which is getting some good press these days as it gears up to introduce free public transport. We shall be in Luxembourg next week to witness the introduction of free public transport on 1 March. And we shall follow with interest this great national experiment.

Blog post

Storm Brendan

Brendan’s arrival had been much touted. He didn’t come as a surprise. Days prior to his arrival there was talk of Brendan. There was a run on lettuces and toilet rolls here on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. People like to stock up on the essentials when there’s a big storm coming.

Magazine article

Unfinished business

by hidden europe
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 been.
Magazine article

Marking Time: New Train Services for 2020

by Nicky Gardner

The hidden europe award for ingenuity in creating new European rail travel opportunities is awarded to Austria's state rail operator, Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB). We look at what ÖBB will offer anew for 2020, and examine too what's new on the rails in Russia, Germany and elsewhere across Europe.

Blog post

Lyria Ruffles Swiss Feathers

The Franco-Swiss rail operator Lyria runs fast trains between Paris and a number of Swiss cities. It also offers the last remaining year-round direct train from Switzerland to the south of France - which is about to be axed. We take a look at Lyria's December 2019 timetable changes and review how the company's network has changed through time.

Magazine article

To the Urals and the Russian Riviera

by hidden europe
Direct trains from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to such far flung destinations as Sochi and Adler (both on the Russia's Back Sea Riviera) and to Anapa and Chelyabinsk recall the days of Soviet travel. We scan the departure boards for a few exotica.
Magazine article

New Interrail Passes

by hidden europe
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 ticket. Interrail may make sense even for just one round trip.
Blog post

The German Manchester

This week we travelled slowly through Lusatia, exploring communities once sustained by extensive vineyards and a thriving textile industry. The modestly sized town of Forst on the west bank of the River Neisse once styled itself as the German Manchester because of its many textile mills.

Blog post

On the Canal

John Hollingshead's account of his 1858 journey on a cargo boat from London to Birmingham is a fine narrative celebrating slow travel; its beauty resides in the manner it captures that sense of wonder at navigating so slowly through England.

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.
Magazine article

Lake Geneva By Boat

by hidden europe
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 lake.
Magazine article

Flights to the Faroes

by hidden europe
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 look at the islands' national airline, Atlantic Airways, as the carrier marks its 30th anniversary of linking the Faroes to the wider world.
Magazine article

Bag Tag

by Nicky Gardner
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 travel and some have a dash of history too.
Blog post

Tracking through Berlin

This year marks the 180th anniversary of the opening of the first railway in Prussia. This was the line from Berlin to Potsdam. So we joined fellow Berliners on a 1950s-vintage railcar that went from Lichterfelde West to Gesundbrunnen station.

Magazine article

The Spinetta Report

by hidden europe
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 overdoing it to call Spinetta the French Beeching - but the fallout from the report is worth watching.
Blog post

Barra connections

Islands breed patience – among both the living and the dead. Especially in mid-winter in Barra, when the storms can be relentless. For us, however, there is a rare pleasure in being at the mercy of the elements. One feels connected with nature in a way which is harder to discern in Berlin.

Magazine article

Exploring Europe by Train

by Nicky Gardner
New editions of Mike Ball's European Railway Atlas and our own Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide have just been published. We take a look at these two new additions to the rail traveller's armamentarium.
Blog post

The slow demise of Air Berlin

This evening, as the prosecco glasses clink and the water salutes cascade, anyone might be forgiven for thinking that Air Berlin had just notched up some great commercial success. What is in fact being marked is the demise of an airline with flight AB6210 from Munich to Berlin being Air Berlin's very last scheduled flight.

Blog post

A month without trains

A new month, and the sun shines. It's summer! And guess what? One European country has just closed down its entire rail network. For the whole month of June, not a single train will operate in Liechtenstein.

Blog post

The bus biz in Berlin

Berlin's central bus station opened in 1966. Tucked away on the edge of Berlin's trade-fair grounds it is one of the German capital's unsung spaces. Yet the no-frills terminus is still going strong and has seen an increase in services in recent years.

Blog post

April 1917: Lenin returns to Russia

News of the revolution in Russia reached Switzerland in March 1917, and many politically active Russian émigrés immediately decided to return home. Led by Lenin, the revolutionaries boarded a sealed carriage and travelled by train across Germany.

Blog post

Exploring the dyke

We crossed the Afsluitdijk last week on a long journey from Berlin to the island of Barra in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. Most other vehicles on the Afsluitdijk road sped along close to the speed limit. Instead of dashing over the dyke, we stopped off here and there to learn more about its history and its future - for the Dutch dyke is back in the news.

Magazine article

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 us!
Magazine article

Taking the Tram

by hidden europe
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 open.
Magazine article

The Place by the Bay: the Butrint Story

by Nicky Gardner
One of the least frequented great classical sites in the entire Mediterranean basin is at Butrint in south-west Albania. Its roll call of illustrious visitors includes Lord Byron and Nikita Krushchev. Take care to avoid the snakes as we explore Butrint.
Blog post

Funding regional air services

The idea behind the UK Government's Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF) is that financial support for a year or two would be an incentive for airline operators to serve routes where there might otherwise be high commercial risk. We take a look at the eleven routes that received RACF support in late 2015.

Blog post

Short hops by plane

Short hops by air over water are of course very common, generally relying on non-jet aircraft and providing lifeline air services to island communities around the coasts of Europe. A review of old airline timetables reveals that there used to be many more such services, including many very short hops across lakes or estuaries. We take a look at some of them.

Blog post

150 years after Agar Town

It is 150 years since the Midland Railway, which in 1866 was extending its tracks south into St Pancras, demolished a poor, working-class community which inconveniently straddled the company's proposed route to its grand new London terminus. Agar Town was tucked into the wedge of land between the Regent's Canal and the main railway line running north from King's Cross.

Blog post

New European rail timetables for 2017

This weekend sees the launch of new railway timetables across Europe. This ritual takes place on the second weekend of December every year, with rail operators revamping service patterns and tweaking their schedules to reflect changing demand. We take a look at what the new schedules bring.

Magazine article

New CalMac Contract

by hidden europe
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 contract for operating links to some of the remotest communities in the Hebrides.
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

The Best of Both Worlds

by hidden europe
On a lake to the east of Berlin is Europe's sole surviving example of a ferry which relies on an overhead cable to pick up electricity. The Straussee ferry is an unusual transport oddity.
Magazine article

Bosna-gauge Railways

by hidden europe
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 visitors to the Graubünden region of eastern Switzerland.
Blog post

Summer excursions by train

New summer train timetables kick in across Europe this month, ushering in many new rail links and interesting changes in rail services across the continent.

Magazine article

Scottish ferries

by hidden europe

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 regions.

Blog post

Ferry links: Britain and Ireland

There is much ado in British and Irish waters these days, with so many very appealing ferry routes, but also a few services slipping from the schedules. In this Letter from Europe, we give an overview of some interesting new developments.

Blog post

The art of flying

Flying is rarely a bundle of fun. Even leaving aside the generally horrid nature of airports with their essential (but inevitably unpleasant) security checks, modern aviation practice makes few concessions to the poetics of the journey. The privilege of a window seat, however, allows the imagination to roam free as real topographies are shaped by half-remembered geography lessons. On a clear day by the window of a plane, anyone can be an explorer.

Blog post

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.

Magazine article

All change at Westbahnhof

by Duncan JD Smith

Big changes are afoot at the Westbahnhof in Vienna, a station which these past months has seen crowds of refugees from Syria and elsewhere. Vienna-based writer Duncan JD Smith takes a look at how the station has changed over the years.

Magazine article

Keeping track

by hidden europe

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 services.

Magazine article

Ukrainian-Russian links

by hidden europe

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 severed.

Magazine article

Eastern connections: rail links through Ukraine

by Nicky Gardner

At a very practical level, the difficult relations between Russia and Ukraine - and in particular their competing interests in Crimea - is playing itself out in train timetables. No trains have run from Ukraine's Kherson Oblast into Crimea for almost a year now. But the effects of the conflict have been felt much further afield, with rail services from Moscow to the Balkans being disrupted.

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

No train to Poland

The decision 170 years ago to build a great viaduct across the Neisse Valley was a visionary leap. Now that elegant structure needs a dose of 21st-century vision. Because what use is a graceful viaduct if it doesn't have any trains?

Blog post

Longyearbyen Airport, 40 years on

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the official opening of the airport at Longyearbyen on 2 September 1975. It was an event which dramatically changed this polar outpost, making it far more accessible to the scientific community and adventurous travellers.

Blog post

Bohemian therapy

Eight times each day, even on Sundays, a train leaves the Czech town of Karlovy Vary for the 80-minute journey through the hills to Mariánské Lázne. Both communities are celebrated stops on the European spa circuit. They both flourished in Habsburg days and both are nowadays still well known by their erstwhile German names, respectively Karlsbad and Marienbad.

Magazine article

North from Paris: with Eurostar and Émile Zola

by Nicky Gardner

Tolstoy, Dickens and Zola all wrote about railways - but in very different ways. Zola's La Bête humaine is one of the great railway novels of European literature. The perfect read, we thought, prior to joining train driver Andy Pratt in the cab of a Eurostar train at the Gare du Nord station in Paris.

Magazine article

Pity the poor horses

by Nicky Gardner

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 Ltd still ran London's last ever horse-drawn bus service.

Magazine article

A station in the shadows

by hidden europe

The Gare Saint-Lazare attracted the artists. Yet Paris Gare du Nord has a grittier atmosphere. This busiest of Paris' railway termini is ultimately a station in the shadows. And therein lies its enduring appeal.

Magazine article

Elbe excursions

by hidden europe

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 city.

Blog post

150 years since Staplehurst

A Friday afternoon. The second Friday in June. As is today. The tidal train left Folkestone just after two in the afternoon. Charles Dickens was on board the tidal train on that Friday afternoon in 1865. It should have been a routine journey through the Garden of England.

Blog post

From London to the Med without changing trains

If you visit St Pancras tomorrow morning, cast your eye over the departure boards. For at 07.19 tomorrow morning something remarkable will happen. The first ever scheduled passenger train will leave London for the shores of the Mediterranean: the direct Eurostar service to Marseille.

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

The road to Ishim

by Nicky Gardner

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 countries.

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?

Magazine article

Real flying: Norway by plane

by Nicky Gardner

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 flying with Widerøe, a small airline based north of the Arctic Circle at Bodø in Norway.

Blog post

Food for thought - Expo 2015

A van speeds by in the fast lane of the West Tangent ring road, bearing the inscription: 'Nutrire il pianeta, energia per la vita'. That is the Milan mantra for 2015. 'Feed the planet, energy for life'. For this year Milan hosts a Universal Exposition, an Expo, which will focus on themes of food, diet and sustainability.

Blog post

The London Charabanc

If you are in Antwerp by night on the weekend before Christmas, you might see a wondrous sight. Shortly after midnight on Saturday 19 December, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) will launch its new direct service from Antwerp to London. If you are expecting a comfortable overnight train with sleeping cars, think again.

Blog post

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.

Magazine article

Setting Forth

by Nicky Gardner

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. Long gone are the days when a trip from Edinburgh to Fife meant attending to the ebb and flow of the tides.

Magazine article

Express bus to London?

by Nicky Gardner

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 Düsseldorf to Antwerp. Extending it to London might be a way of delivering on DB's oft-repeated claim that it would enter the cross-Channel market.

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.

Blog post

Vienna’s new railway station

Shortly after ten o’clock this morning a priest stepped forward to the podium and blessed Vienna’s new railway station. There were speeches aplenty with the statutory votes of thanks to those who have presided over planning committees and management boards. And there was music too: ‘Mamma Mia’ filled the concourse.

Note

Hurtigruten: dinner on board

Dinner menus on Hurtigruten boats reflects the local cuisine of the particular region through which you pass on that day of your journey. It’s a great way of exploring both the cultural as well as the culinary accents of the communities along the Norwegian coast.

Note

Hurtigruten ASA: business and brand

Our focus in the notes on Hurtigruten on the hidden europe website is very much on the Norwegian coastal voyage. But that is just part of a wider portfolio of activities undertaken nowadays by Hurtigruten ASA, the company founded in 1912 to develop and manage the Norwegian coastal shipping route.

Note

Hurtigruten: the Norwegian coastal voyage

To our mind, the Norwegian coastal voyage is one of Europe’s finest slow travel adventures.The Hurtigruten vessels which ply the Norwegian coast provide essential links to ports along the way. The pure simplicity of the timetable allows travellers to create their own itineraries, confident in the knowledge that another Hurtigruten ship will be along in 24 hours.

Note

Hurtigruten: frequently asked questions

Readers of hidden europe often ask us about details of the Norwegian coastal voyage. On this page we have gathered together two dozen such questions with our answers. A lot of general information on Hurtigruten is available in brochures. Our focus here is more on the details of life on board.

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

Cross-border links in the Carpathians

by Nicky Gardner

New cross-border roads have enhanced communications across the Polish-Slovakian border, two countries which have greatly benefited from becoming part of the Schengen region. The new roads are good news for private motorists, but those who rely on public transport are mourning the demise of cross-border rail routes in the same region.

Magazine article

Escape from Carlsbad

by hidden europe

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 older travel literature as Carlsbad). The doctors treating spa clients would naturally prefer that their patients walk rather than ride up the hillside.

Blog post

Ship Talk: From the Kattegat to the Crimea

Many travellers through Denmark this summer will be sorry to discover that the long-standing direct ferry from Kalundborg (on Sjælland) to Aarhus (on Jutland) has been axed. This is just one of many routes to disappear in the latest round of cuts to Europe's ferry networks. Meanwhile we have also been watching a Russian ferry operator who promotes a new Black Sea ferry route from Ukraine to Georgia.

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.

Magazine article

Tales from the A39

by Nicky Gardner

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 Motor. We travel down the A39 to uncover this story of car production in the Mendip Hills of England.

Magazine article

The airport question

by hidden europe

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 year.

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.

Blog post

One journey, one Europe, one book

We sped from London to Brussels at lunchtime on Friday, swapping a pleasant English summer day for sultry Belgium — pausing along the way at Calais. There is always a little frisson of excitement on those rare Eurostars which stop at Calais. English travellers bound for Brussels peer out of the windows and are evidently surprised to find that Calais still exists. This is the tale of that journey. But it is also the story of one book that communicated a powerful vision of a networked, integrated Europe.

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.

Magazine article

Hitting the buffers

by hidden europe

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 travellers.

Blog post

After the flood

The waters came, and so did the European media. The water was ruthless and unsympathetic. It tore down bridges and wrecked homes. The mud and debris that came with the flood blocked culverts and drains. Lives were put on the line. So too were livelihoods as the water flooded factories, warehouses and business premises.

Blog post

100 years of buses

If British buses had a golden age, it was in the years just prior to the First World War. Motorised buses were changing British streetscapes. New routes were being launched every week, and suddenly a ride on a bus was an option even for those of more modest means.

Blog post

First plans for a Channel Tunnel rail service

Forty years ago this spring, civil servants in London and European rail planners were sketching out the first tentative ideas for just such a train service. The prevailing pieties in Britain about all things European were very different in those days. The UK had opted into the European project at the start of 1973, and the following October the Westminster Parliament approved a White Paper that gave the green light to the Channel Tunnel.

Blog post

The Aix Factor

The departure boards at London's St Pancras station are regaining their eclectic character of yesteryear. Cast back half a century and St Pancras had its share of trains to fire the imagination. Perhaps the most distinguished morning departure from St Pancras in those days was the 11.20 Midland Pullman to Nottingham. This train consisted only of first-class Pullman cars, affording cushioned comfort for passengers taking a leisurely luncheon as the train cruised north to Nottingham.

Blog post

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?

Magazine article

Cruising the Atlantic Highway

by Nicky Gardner

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 (west from Barnstaple) it is called The Atlantic Highway. We hop aboard the 319 bus to explore The Atlantic Highway, encountering along the way some the finest bus shelters around.

Magazine article

The crossing

by Nicky Gardner

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 tarmac. Join us as we follow the forest path as it passes under a motorway.

Magazine article

Hartland connections

by hidden europe

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 once handled here.

Blog post

Britain by bus — could you write for us?

Let's speak of buses. Can we set you a challenge? Could you pen some words for us? Britain benefits from a fabulous network of local bus routes. Last year, in a collaboration with Bradt Travel Guides, we edited a volume called Bus-Pass Britain. Over forty members of the public rose to the challenge of writing with passion and enthusiasm about bus routes in England, Scotland and Wales that are in some way special. Now, we are working with Bradt on a follow-up volume for publication in 2013.

Blog post

A dozen nautical miles

Only once past Foreland Point does Devon reveal her secrets. From Foreland it is a dozen nautical miles of easy cruising along the coast to Ilfracombe. But there are choices. Due west of Foreland Point lies nothing but open ocean until the rocky shores of Newfoundland. Our skipper takes the tame option and hugs the English coast, Devon unfolding along the way. Shales and sandstones, reminders of an ancient desert, a land rent asunder by the oceans and crumpled like a concertina.

Note

Slow is better: the real value of InterRail

“InterRail isn’t the same as in the early days,” came the cry after our 40th-birthday bouquet in honour of InterRail published in hidden europe 37. Several correspondents have contacted us with stories of how InterRail and Eurail have lost their gloss. Many hold against the scheme that there are too many supplements nowadays — unlike forty years ago, when you could just hop on any train and travel where you wanted. But is this true? It's time to put the record straight.

Magazine article

Swiss connections: the city of Basel

by Nicky Gardner

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 stations still ooze character. We follow Russian spies to the home city of Carl Gustav Jung.

Magazine article

Ticket to ride: 40 years of InterRail

by Nicky Gardner

InterRail is far more than just a train ticket. Cast back to the nineteen seventies, and the rail pass was feted by a generation of young Europeans as the ultimate 'ticket to ride'. InterRail appealed to the wanderlust of travellers who took weeks to explore the boundaries of both Europe and themselves. Co-editor of hidden europe Nicky Gardner reflects on the early days of InterRail and notes how the scheme now appeals to Europeans of all ages.

Magazine article

The Schengen factor

by Nicky Gardner

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 travellers can no longer enjoy the creatures comforts of night sleepers from England to the continent.

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

Flying can still be fun

Flying has generally ceased to be fun. The only certainty about much modern air travel is that it will be boring. Airports from Omsk to Omaha are nowadays all very much the same and all equally uninspiring. All that said, it is always interesting to browse the summer flight schedules and find that there are a few parts of Europe where scheduled air services still make a very fine contribution to life in remote communities. And there are many examples where a plane bridges a gap between places that are otherwise unlinked by surface transport.

Magazine article

Sanctuary: in the shadow of St Pancras

by Nicky Gardner

In 'A Tale of Two Cities', Dickens recalls the work of bodysnatchers in St Pancras Churchyard. The graveyard is in the very shadow of London's magnificently restored St Pancras station. We reflect on how the railways have reshaped the St Pancras area, pay a visit to Somers Town and savour the renaissance of the former Midland Grand station hotel, which reopened as the St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel.

Blog post

West to Reading

The fast trains from London to Reading take a mere twenty-four minutes for the journey. And First Great Western (FGW), successor to Brunel's celebrated Great Western Railway, happily still name some of their trains. Scanning the current FGW timetable for departures from Paddington, we opt for the Cornish Riviera for the ride to Reading.

Blog post

Letter from St Pancras

There is something quite exquisite about grand railway termini. Folk fly through them, the dash for the train diminishing the status of these great cathedrals to travel. But these are not places through which one should rush. So we lingered at St Pancras in London for almost an entire day, catching the changing moods of William Barlow's magnificent train shed at dusk and dawn.

Magazine article

Steaming through the Harz Mountains

by Nicky Gardner

The Harz Mountains lie astride the erstwhile border between East Germany and West Germany. The forested hills of the Harz preside over the North European Plain. The eastern portion of the Harz benefits from a legacy of East Germany: a wonderful narrow-gauge railway system. This is slow travel at its best, as we explore the Harz Mountains in autumn.

Magazine article

Celebrating British buses

by Nicky Gardner

Buses are experiencing a happy renaissance in Britain. The advent of concessionary bus passes to senior citizens has tempted many diehard motorists onto the top deck. In a special two-part feature for hidden europe, we look at a new book that showcases fifty great bus journeys from across Britain.

Magazine article

An Indian summer of passenger shipping

by Nicky Gardner

We have been taking a look at some ferry timetables of yesteryear. Forty years ago, there were still regular ferry services from the Scottish port of Leith to Iceland. This, and many similar routes in north European waters, was a slow travel experience par excellence. We cast back to the days when ferries still ran to Svalbard and flit boats were still in use at many ports.

Note

Plymouth to Portsmouth by boat

Devotees of unusual ferry routes will find a few gems tucked away in Brittany Ferries’ winter schedules. From next week until the end of March 2012, there will be a seasonal Plymouth to St Malo service. The service kicks off next Monday with a morning sailing at 11.30 from St Malo. The passage time is eight hours.

Blog post

Branding the skies

It is rare that we write about planes, but a few days ago we stumbled on a list of airlines that have been consigned to aviation history. What struck us was the pure poetry embedded in this sad litany: Flying Finn, Styrian Spirit, Magic Blue, Arc Air, Air Andalucía and Amber Air. Some names seemed a little ill-judged to carry the hopes and ambitions of a new airline's promoters. Was not Atlantis Airways destined from the outset to be lost for ever?

Magazine article

To name a train: from Easterlings to Tyrolean bacon

by Nicky Gardner

This summer marks the 80th anniversary of the launch of one of Russia’s most famous trains, the ‘Red Arrow’ fast overnight service between Moscow and St Petersburg. hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner has been taking a look at some of Europe’s most memorably named trains — and a few less memorable ones.

Magazine article

Switzerland by train: Zürich to Lausanne

by Nicky Gardner

The Glacier Express is one of Switzerland’s most celebrated rail journeys. But it is expensive and dreadfully touristy. Travellers looking to see the best of Switzerland by train could, we think, do better. The rail journey from Zürich to Lake Geneva via Lucerne, Interlaken and Gstaad is one of our favourite Swiss excursions by train.

Blog post

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.

Blog post

The 313 to Botany Bay

We were having difficulty being enthusiastic about Enfield. Jack, an amiable octogenarian who is Enfield born and bred, is more positive. "Heavens," he exclaims. "You've no idea. Enfield has been important for centuries. Do you remember the Lee Enfield, for example?" asks Jack. Actually we don't, but Jack tells a plausible tale about how the rifle that was for sixty years standard issue to British troops was made in Enfield.

Blog post

Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers

Readers of our e-brief have often asked us what else we do apart from hidden europe, so please indulge us as we give an example. Last year Thomas Cook Publishing, a company with which we always had enjoyed amiable relations, contracted us to take a long-standing Thomas Cook book and give it an entire new look. The result is 'Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers' which was published last month.

Magazine article

By ferry to Russia

by hidden europe

There is one very good reason for travelling by ferry to the Russian city of St Petersburg. For a short stay, ferry travellers are generally exempt from Russia's otherwise strict visa rules. So no surprise perhaps that St Peter Line, which already operates ferries from Helsinki to St Petersburg, is now adding new routes from Stockholm and Tallinn.

Magazine article

Orbiting Birmingham

by Nicky Gardner

Birmingham's Outer Circle bus route is a veteran among urban bus routes, dating back to the nineteen-twenties. How many Brummies who ride the Outer Circle realise that this is Europe's longest urban bus route? Probably very few. But this extraordinary bus route provides a wonderful kaleidoscope of Birmingham life as it makes a great orbit through the suburbs of England's second city.

Magazine article

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.

Blog post

Birmingham silences

Head out along the Bristol Road and you get an eyeful of Birmingham's suburbs. Leaky ipods and restive mobiles mix with discarded newspapers and chip wrappers on the upper deck of Bus 61 that runs all the way out to Frankley. An empty Red Bull can dances beneath the seats, rolling back and forth as the bus brakes and accelerates.

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.

Blog post

Now the dust is settling

Well, that was certainly an interesting week for travellers around Europe. Lots of angst for stranded souls. Rich fodder for the British tabloids as brave holidaymakers returned to English ports recounting tales of journeys from hell. Heavens, we never knew that France was really that bad.

Magazine article

On a wing and a prayer

by Nicky Gardner

Are we too tolerant of the aggressive new generation of low-cost airlines that are too footloose to show any real commitment to a particular airport? We look at some examples of community support for local airports that has not always reaped handsome dividends.

Magazine article

A matter of Principalities

by Nicky Gardner

A pot-pourri of railway-related facts that you would never have guessed could ever be so interesting. We leap from Wales to Monaco, from Liechtenstein to Vatican City in search of a few railway records. Not just for geeks!

Magazine article

Budapest: beneath the Hungarian capital

by Duncan JD Smith

Guided by Duncan JD Smith, we dive below the streets of Budapest to unravel the history of the Hungarian capital. No other capital city in the world is so riddled with caves as Budapest. We find Roman ruins, a labyrinth from the Ottoman period and some remarkable wine cellars.

Note

Portoroz airport reopens

The little airstrip at Portoroz in Slovenia has never featured prominently in Europe's flight schedules. The airfield is south of the town of Portoroz, and built on water meadows near the Dragonja river. But Portoroz airport is back in the news, as it is about to reopen for scheduled flights.

Magazine article

Northern waters: Iceland by boat

by Nicky Gardner

It is surprising how quickly Denmark recedes into nothingness, and then the Norröna is alone among the waves. We travel on Smyril Line's flagship as she sails from Denmark via the Faroe Islands to the eastern fjords of Iceland.

Magazine article

Cyprus links

by hidden europe

A range of new shipping links now gives Cyprus new status as a stepping stone to ports in the eastern Mediterranean. We report on new services from Cyprus to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel.

Blog post

Airport links

Is not the journey to the airport often one of the great hassles of modern travel? Not all of us can enjoy the relaxed approach taken in the Isle of Man where narrow gauge steam trains pause on request at Ronaldsway Halt, just a short walk from the island's airport.

Magazine article

Hidden charges

by hidden europe

"taxes, fees and charges extra" say the airline advertisements in tiny print, as they hawk low price flights across Europe. But what is included in taxes, fees and charges? And who levies these extras?

Magazine article

On the night train

by Nicky Gardner

After the last of the daytime express trains have left, Europe's mainline railway stations play host to night trains. These are the trains which are the stuff of poetry. We explore some of the very best which the continent has to offer.

Magazine article

Schönefeld airport: a retrospect

by Nicky Gardner

Just imagine! A time when plane tickets had no hidden extras and could be endlessly changed without penalty. We cast our eyes back to East Germany in 1973, and recall the days when Iraqi Airways flew from Berlin to London.

Magazine article

Kaliningrad conundrum

by Nicky Gardner

The Königsberg problem: start and end at the same place, and walk through the city, crossing all seven bridges once and no more. A mathematical puzzle from the Russian city of Kaliningrad.

Magazine article

Britain's weakest links

by Nicky Gardner

What do the English railway stations at Denton, Reddish South, Pilning and Teesside Airport have in common? The answer is that they have virtually no trains. Ghost trains, ghost stations and more as we review Britain's weakest links.

Magazine article

From Plopsaland to Preventorium: Belgium's coastal tram

by Nicky Gardner

Belgium's coastal tram (De Kusttram) is the longest tram route in the world. Running the entire length of the Belgian coast, the tram blends surrealism, fantasy and the utterly mundane. Join us for moules et frites, and lots of gnomes too, as we ride the coastal tram from Plopsaland to Preventorium.full article available in pdf format

Magazine article

Sea fever

by Nicky Gardner

When one time English poet laureate John Masefield extolled the lure of the ocean ("I must down to the seas again..."), he clearly didn't have Cunard's luxury Queen Elizabeth II ship or the same company's new super liner Queen Mary in mind.

Blog post

Across Iceland's interior

Iceland's central highlands are no cakewalk. At least that's the way Andrew Evans puts it in the Bradt Guide to the country. "Iceland's interior feels more a cross between the Gobi desert and Antarctica," writes Andrew. It is that time of year when the highlands, known as Hálendið in Iceland, begin to open up for the season.

Blog post

Across Siberia by slow train

Some of our most productive moments are while we are travelling. And Botton is surely right. A slow train that meanders around forests and lakes of Pomerania, stopping off at tiny wayside halts every few minutes, breeds a quite different set of musings from a sleek express that slices through the countryside at two hundred kilometres an hour. Somehow creativity, for us at least, is spurred by the slow train.

Blog post

Railway schedules: a look ahead

It is years since the blue and white sleeping cars of Russian Railways (RZD) have been seen in the Netherlands, Switzerland or Bavaria but all three look set to feature on a daily basis in the RZD schedules for 2008. A major revamping of east-west night train services will create a raft of new journey options.

Blog post

Night sleepers

Enthusiasts for European train travel, we have noticed, sometimes get a little edgy this time of year. It is that season when train timetables, which have served us well - or sometimes less than perfectly - for almost twelve months are suddenly discarded. It can be a disconcerting moment, that Saturday in December when trains run to the old schedules for the very last time.

Blog post

By bus to Moldova

hidden europe has been in the North Frisian islands this past week. The island of Gröde is one of ten communities known collectively as the Halligen, tiny islands that lie off the west coast of the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein. This week the sea lavender is in bloom, great foamy sprays of blue that line the beaches just above the high water mark.

Blog post

Terminalia: a day for borders - no tram to Poland

Today, 23 February, is the Festival of Terminalia - not a date that features prominently in any modern ecclesiastical calendar, but one that was laden with meaning in the Roman world. For Terminus was the deity who presided over boundary stones and border markers in Rome and its provinces. Nowadays, the obelisks and pillars that stand at regular intervals along most of Europe's international land borders often go unremarked by the public.

Blog post

New hidden europe issue - Iceland colour

Some places make their mark through colour. Picture the urban landscapes of Hungarian artist Csontváry: assertive shades of crimson in his depictions of Mostar in Bosnia, vivid turquoises in his scenes of Castellammara di Stabia on the Bay of Naples and the sand shades of Sicilian heat in his Taormina pictures. Some places need no artists to communicate a vibrancy of colour.

Blog post

Europe's best value flight - island hopping in the Faroes - Georgian visas

In these days of discount airlines, we all expect to travel for next to nothing, except of course when we are flying to some far flung remote spot where there is absolutely no competition. So when hidden europe checked out domestic flights in the Faroe Islands last week, we expected to have to pay the earth to travel on the once a week flight from Froðba on the island of Suðeroy, at the south of the archipelago, to Hattarvík on Fugloy, the remotest island in the Faroes.