Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Letter from Europe

  • — Issue 2007/17 posted by hidden europe on

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.

article summary —

Dear fellow travellers

The next issue of hidden europe is a geographical and cultural roller coaster that takes in Maltese fireworks, lots of dead cod in the Lofoten islands and remote villages in the Svaneti region of Georgia. We look at Spanish exclaves in North Africa - not just the cities of Ceuta and Melilla but several more besides. We report on a tower built by Monsieur Eiffel; not, as it happens, the famous Parisian landmark but rather a lighthouse on the Estonian island of Ruhnu.

We consider whether the detritus of early expeditions to the European Arctic should be viewed as rubbish or heritage. And we check out onion beds on allotments in both England and Germany, report on May Day in a Czech spa town, and munch our way round Europe on railway restaurant cars. The reindeer stew on the night train from Stockholm to northern Sweden is hard to beat.

It is a good moment, surely, to catch the flavour of hidden europe by taking out a subscription (or even a three issue mini-sub). Or surprise a friend with a gift subscription. We also offer themed back issue sets that focus on a selected area or topic. For further details please click here. Our July issue is published next week, and can be ordered now. Summaries of every article in this upcoming issue are online here.

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. No better way to spend a summer evening than shuttling to and fro on the fifteen minute crossing. On Germany's North Sea coast there is a marvellous car ferry route across the Weser estuary. With the motto 'Moin und Ahoi', the MS Bremerhaven and the MS Nordenham cross the Weser from early morning till late evening. Another super estuary ferry crossing is in the Netherlands between Breskens and Vlissingen where the ferries dodge the massive container ships running down the Schelde river from the docks at Antwerp.

ferry to Spain

The liminality of the estuary is all the more evident when the river forms an international boundary. We have written before in hidden europe about crossing the Foyle estuary on the car ferry that links Magilligan Point in Northern Ireland with the Donegal port of Greencastle in the Republic of Ireland. But our favourite international estuary crossing is surely the Minho ferry link. The River Minho marks the boundary between Portugal (on the south side of the river) and Spain (to the north). It is even a time zone boundary. Put your watch forward an hour on the short journey from Caminha in Portugal over to A Guarda in Spain. There are fine views of the Atlantic away to the west beyond the Punta dos Picos. And alighting from the ferry in A Guarda really is like arriving in another world. A Guarda has a touch of the exotic, for a good part of its population has links with the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Cafés that ooze Caribbean vitality with one or two Puerto Rico classics creeping onto menus. Just a ten minute ride on a ferry over the estuary from Portugal for the sweet scent of sofrito and cocina criolla (creole cooking).

Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
(editors, hidden europe magazine)

This article was published in Letter from Europe.

About The Authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.