The worst part of travelling is surely the departure. That early morning flight seems fine when you book it on a sunny July afternoon. Six months later, and a pre-dawn departure on a cold January morning becomes almost sufficient cause to stay in bed and forget the whole trip. It is encouraging to note that this is not a new phenomenon. When DH Lawrence set out from his home in Sicily for a short break in Sardinia in 1921, he cursed the early departure hour and in night dismal tiredness made bacon sandwiches for the journey.
We follow Lawrence on part of his route through Sardinia in this new issue of hidden europe, exploring the complex web of cultures and languages that make this island so fascinating. Our friend Karlos Zurutuza from Euskal Herria (the Basque Country) is much to be thanked for his superb Sardinian photographs.
As always in hidden europe we take a measured pace in our travels, as we explore how Albanian hospitality is every bit as generous today as it was a century ago. For his account of an afternoon of raki and byrek on the Albanian shores of Lake Ohrid, we are much indebted to Christopher Portway - as too to Sophie Barta who kindly supplied the photographs that accompany Christopher's essay. Southeast Europe figures elsewhere in this issue of hidden europe, as we feature the tiny semi-independent monastic state of Mount Athos.
In northwest Europe, both the Orkney and Shetland islands get a mention, and we also investigate the most southerly building anywhere in the British Isles - which turns out to be a public toilet! Elsewhere, we explore Sicily on New Year's Day, visit an intriguing bridge in northern Germany, and, with Australian travel writer Amanda Kendle as our guide, we investigate a Bratislava suburb.
For map permissions, we are as always in the debt of Kathryn Kelly of Collins Bartholomew Publishers (www.collinsbartholomew.com). In a magazine that has an affection for offbeat parts of Europe, maps are an essential, and it is a privilege that Collins Bartholomew have allowed us to use their graceful cartography. And finally our thanks goes to others who have provided pictures for this issue: Keith Dagwell of the Silver City Association, Ian Dorant, Nicolas Jouault, Matthias Burg, Jörg Lehmann and the Berlin Airports Press Bureau.
We wish all our readers a very happy New Year.
Nicky SC Gardner & Susanne Kries
9 December 2005