After hidden europe 1 was published at the start of March, we took a deep breath, and then set off on our travels again. In hidden europe 2, we ride the Orient Express... not the posh tourist train, but the daily 5.17 pm departure from Paris Gare de L'Est. And we head north to the Faroe Islands, a remote outpost of Europe in the North Atlantic, for some island hopping by ferry and helicopter.
We visit not one, but two Galicias in this issue of hidden europe. One is the landlocked former Austro-Hungarian province that once encompassed a large chunk of modern day southern Poland and western Ukraine, plus parts of Slovakia and lots more besides. And then we head to northwest Spain, to the Galicia of empanadas, caldeirada and elegant Albariño wines.
With Ukraine announcing that its visa regime will be relaxed from the start of May to the end of August this year, at least for EU and Swiss citizens, hidden europe predicts that this onetime Soviet republic will be the surprise European destination of 2005. So the Ukrainian town of Mukaceve features in our account of the Rusyn culture of the Transcarpathian region.
Religion seems to get a fair airing in this issue of hidden europe, as we follow the pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela in Spanish Galicia. The trail we take to Santiago is not the traditional one from the Pyrenees but rather that which approaches the shrine of St James from the south: the Caminho Português. Many regions of hidden Europe are Catholic to the core, so the death of a Pope, and a Polish one at that, cannot go unremarked.
In a double feature, we probe the Silesian city of Görlitz, welcoming England based travel writer Tim Locke as a guest contributor to this issue of hidden europe. Görlitz is, quite simply, one of those unsung spots that should be better known, the perfect weekend destination, one that has emerged from a troubled history to reveal a picture postcard townscape that deserves to rival Prague.
This editorial is written in a place that epitomises hidden europe - a small industrial town in northern Bohemia, an unloved place if ever there was one. When the train stopped here, we were the only people to alight. It is a town more remembered for the unhappy way it treated some of its Roma population. What other secrets Ústí might offer, we shall reveal in a future issue of hidden europe.
Nicky Gardner & Susanne Kries
Ústí nad Labem, Bohemia, Czech Republic
7 April 2005