Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Letter from Europe

  • — Issue 2005/10 posted by hidden europe on

This is a Berlin of hot languid days. School has finished for the summer, and for the coming weeks many Berliners will spend days on end at the many lakes that surround the city. The asparagus season that started with May Day is now nearing its end, and the migrant workers from eastern Europe who have for weeks worked hard harvesting the precious white spears so cherished by Berliners are beginning to return home.

article summary —

Dear fellow travellers

This is a Berlin of hot languid days. School has finished for the summer, and for the coming weeks many Berliners will spend days on end at the many lakes that surround the city. The asparagus season that started with May Day is now nearing its end, and the migrant workers from eastern Europe who have for weeks worked hard harvesting the precious white spears so cherished by Berliners are beginning to return home.

Herr Heinrich spends these summer days in the cool leafy shade of the garden of the retirement home where he has lived for some years. There are views down to the lake, where a fleet of small dinghies sail the light summer breeze. When Herr Heinrich was younger, his allotment garden was his pride and joy. Berlin allotments are like Scottish crofts: tiny parcels of land surrounded by enormous quantities of legislation. In this famously bureaucratic city, even the height of the grass on allotments is subject to precise regulation.

But Herr Heinrich's allotment garden was unusual for it was at Erlengrund, a small area of land that belonged to West Berlin but which lay in the German Democratic Republic (DDR). At prescribed hours on spring and summer days, and at weekends throughout the year, Herr Heinrich was allowed to open a gate in the Berlin Wall, walk into the DDR, and follow a narrow path that led to this West Berlin exclave.

hidden europe 3 preview

In the upcoming issue of hidden europe, published on 1 July, we shall explore territorial exclaves and enclaves throughout Europe - little islands of land which are part of one country but surrounded by another. We track down a corner of the Czech Republic in Hamburg Docks, exclaves of Germany and Italy in Switzerland, and many more.

In hidden europe 3 we visit Paris - but not the chic city of grand boulevards. hidden europe's Paris is another world, a city where sweet mint tea is served in the shady garden of a mosque, where Sephardic Jews offer kosher couscous, and where, in the Passage Brady, there is the spiced air of a thousand curries. Elsewhere in hidden europe 3, we take time out in Andalucía and Latvia, and extol the merits of Kraków and its region. We bemoan the demise of the through carriages from Moscow to Athens and Geneva and look at how Europe's long distance rail services have developed in recent years. All that aside, we also take in Georgia (the one in the Caucasus!), Clydeside and the Swiss Jura. And we report from a Roma community in the Czech Republic.

For a preview of the full table of contents and excerpts from the articles, please visit our website on www.hiddeneurope.co.uk, and follow the "preview the extended table of contents" link. Regular subscribers can expect delivery of hidden europe 3 by 5 July. For new subscribers, our special offer runs until noon on 30 June.

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.