hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Doreen Massey

We have this weekend heard the sad news of the death of Doreen Massey, the distinguished geographer whose ideas powerfully influenced our work at hidden europe. Her ability to challenge everything is a model for all socially committed ...
Castlebay

Here is the answer to the Scottish Slow Travel Challenge we posted in the hidden europe Notes section on 19 February. The heart of the challenge was to tell us the latest possible date on which it would be possible to leave Skye in order ...
Ardrossan

Take part in the Scottish Slow Travel Challenge and win a subscription to hidden europe magazine. Devise a route from Skye to Ardrossan relying entirely on scheduled ferry and boat services. Read more about the specific travel conditions ...
Kong Harald

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 ...
Loading cargo

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 ...
The Norwegian coastal voyage: Hurtigruten

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. ...
Kong Harald in Kirkenes

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 ...

The European winter that is now — all too belatedly — being eclipsed by spring has seemed painfully long. Yet curiously, it has not been exceptionally cold. Across much of Europe, March was chilly by the standards of the average March, but it broke ...
Vatican

Rarely has the Vatican been so much in the spotlight as over the last week or two. The dog days of a papacy have never in recent times been quite so clearly defined as they were in February 2013. Benedict’s announcement on 12 February ushered in 16 ...

Summer in Europe might not seem a natural ally for winter in Arabia. But Freya Stark’s 'A Winter in Arabia' is a book for all seasons and all continents. It recalls Freya Stark’s second journey through the Hadhramaut region of southern Arabia ...

Many years ago, I spent a long hot summer in and around a sleepy ksar on the edge of the Sahara. I read many books that summer, but it was 'Dans l’ombre chaude de l’Islam' that tugged and tugged again, urging me to return to its pages. That book ...

The travel narratives of yesteryear line our shelves, and it was really no more than chance that last week we looked again at Laurence Sterne’s Sentimental Journey. Some might venture that in shelving it in the travel section of our modest library ...

“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 ...

Berlin’s much vaunted new airport, already much delayed, was due eventually to open on 3 June. But the announcement this week that the airport (dubbed BER in IATA-speak) will not now open until later in 2012 threatens to pay havoc with summer ...

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 ...

New rail timetables for the former Soviet Union come into effect later this month. There remains some uncertainty about some services, but for travellers heading east, here are a few thoughts on what to expect: the return of the Berlin to ...

It is more than forty years since the Ibáñez family gave Fontana Rosa to the town of Menton. Ibáñez was born in Valencia, and many of his novels are set in the Valencia region. He spent the final six years of his life in Menton, the most Italianate ...

Looking back at rail journeys we made in 2010, we would say a December journey with UK operator Wrexham and Shropshire really was one of the highlights. We travelled north from London's Marylebone station on one of W&S' sleek silver and grey ...

A few days ago I travelled by train from the Berlin suburb of Lichterfelde to Ewell in England, just south of London. In total I paid 55 euros for the entire 15-hour train journey of 1393 km. Looking at the different fare components, I see that I ...
Memorial Christoph-Manuel

Twenty years ago this summer, each new week seemed to bring another momentous political event as the two German States edged towards Union. But a tragic incident overshadowed the Unification Treaty signed on 31 August ...

There are a few changes on Eurostar this week with the introduction of a new Standard Premier class on services linking London with Brussels and Paris. Standard Premier replaces Leisure Select as the middle tier of the three class service on ...

We were saddened to see the news this week about the death of the writer George Behrend on Monday evening. He was always very enthusiastic about our work with hidden europe, although perhaps a tad surprised to find two women writing about his pet ...

Communities across Polissya are this week celebrating Chernobyl Days, the festival that marks the renaissance of the Chernobyl region since it was resettled in June 2040. Polissya now boasts Europe's largest national park, a region of remarkable ...

Our quest to travel light is of course a fruitless whim. We like the idea of strolling down to our nearest mainline station and hopping on a night train to the other side of Europe with no more than a light day sack. But it never ...

We would not suggest using rail timetables as a definitive indicator of the state of relations between neighbouring states. But it is interesting that train schedules are often altered very quickly when there is a downturn in ...

We see that this summer the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) are offering rail passes that give unlimited rail travel anywhere within Germany. The passes are valid for use for either 175 hours or for a full month in the period from 13 June until 31 ...

Vatry is a nice enough spot, a village with its own aiport in the middle of nowhere. Yet Ryanair obviously judges that Vatry might be just the place where Paris-bound Scandinavians might like to ...

Polar dawns come in different shades, often with streaks of rare beauty lacing the skies. Not so in Polyarnye Zori, a town in northern Russia whose very name means 'polar dawns'. Most of the time a giant cloud hangs over Polyarnye Zori, while kids ...

While flights across much of Europe are getting back to normal after the delays of last week, we should not forget that over parts of the North Atlantic air travel still depends very much on the whim of that Icelandic ...

Subotica is one of those places which are quite disarming. We rather like the small town in northern Serbia, which has a feast of art nouveau architecture and deserves to be better known on that count ...

Airlines all over Europe are proclaiming how zealous they have been in looking after their passengers over the past days. Yet well do we all know that many European airlines have behaved in a quite despicable manner towards their ...

The news that about seven million air travellers across Europe have had their travel plans disrupted over the last five days has captured the headlines. But let us get this in perspective. Well over one hundred million journeys are made every day ...

A couple of recent airline bankruptcies highlight the economic vulnerability of small airports in Europe which are not served by a wide range of carriers - and indeed the social vulnerability of remote communities that depend on lifeline air ...

The death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski on Saturday brings to mind that this is not the first time that the Head of State of a European country has died abroad in a plane ...

The Sunday after Easter was for years known as Low Sunday in the Roman calendar, but Pope John Paul II changed that arrangement ten years ago, when he renamed the Sunday in the Easter Octave, calling it Divine Mercy Sunday. Today is Divine Mercy ...

We had a visitor from Russia a while back who expressed surprise that rail passengers in western Europe make long daytime hops by train without having a place to take an afternoon nap. True indeed, but that seems set to change with the French ...

We have been taking a look at which cities around Europe have enjoyed capital of culture status. Including this year's trio of cities that hold the title, there have thus far been over forty cities which have received the European ...

Young Martin wanted nothing more than to fly. Five years ago he launched Alpha One Airways. In 2005, the media were seduced by Martin's youthful entrepreneurialism and rag to riches appeal. But Baby Branson's first venture was a flop - and so was ...

Europe has Rivieras aplenty. For many travellers, the word Riviera evokes images of the French coast from St Raphael to Menton. But we should not forget the Black Sea, which has along its north coast a Riviera style coastline that is surely the ...

Quite how we came to spend yesterday afternoon listening to a score or more national anthems from across Europe is a long tale - and one that need not detain us here. But it made us realise just how uninspiring is the music that accompanies many ...

Lamb soup is a staple in some parts of Europe, but utterly unknown elsewhere. In Iceland, lamb soup has the status of a national dish. That lamb soup was once judged to be the perfect remedy for dysentery was new to ...

Today's the day. 1st March. St David's Day. And the day on which three start-up companies were due to launch new transport links in or around the British ...

Each new monthly edition of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable is an invitation to start planning new journeys. This book, so full of facts, is also a glorious treasure chest of entertaining diversions. And a quick glance at this latest issue ...

Meta-search engines and route indexing services for tracking down flight connections are becoming ever more popular. They are the focus of much uncritical media attention. Devotees of such sites argue that a good flight meta-search engine or route ...

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 ...

A look at two carriers and their new routes to northern European destinations: Atlantic Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Atlantic offers links to the Faroe Islands and Norwegian is launching new routes to ...

The Irish long distance bus company Bus Eireann is offering special fares to users of Twitter. But we are happy to reveal the details here so that readers of the hidden europe notes can benefit from this splendid ...

The independent review of Eurostar's less than perfect performance in the pre-Christmas period makes for interesting reading. It was published this morning. Apparently, some journalists, commenting on the review panel's conclusions, are getting ...

Remember Mlynary? Well we have news of Mlynary, the station that has long been unusual in being served only by Russian trains, even though it is in Polish ...

Most places across Europe have their local heroes, men and women who command enormous respect for their contribution to their own communities. And today Malta marks the centenary of the birth of just such a man: Mikiel Azzopardi (Dun ...

At breakfast time this morning, an earthquake shook the town of Jaworzno in Polish Upper Silesia. Now in the general scale of seismic events, this was a mere shudder that measured 3.4 on the Richter scale. But clearly there is some subterranean ...

Risavika on the coast of Norway has experienced mixed fortunes in recent years. The port serves nearby Stavanger, the city that is the service hub for the Norwegian offshore oil industry. It now looks as if Smyril Line is tempted to add Risavika as ...

The phrase "Passing Brompton Road" was as familiar to users of the Piccadilly Line tube trains in London a hundred years ago as is the announcement "Mind the Gap" today. But why Brompton ...

The self-image of communities and even whole countries is always deserving of study. We never would have thought that Luxembourg feared it was boring and monotonous. To us, it seems vibrant, varied, chic and ...

In the middle of last month we reported in our regular e-brief about Euroferries, the would-be cross Channel shipping operator that has yet to make a single crossing on its much publicised Ramsgate to Boulogne route. Now the saga ...

The news that a new air carrier called Varsity Express is due to launch scheduled air services from Oxford to Edinburgh in March will evoke memories of ill-fated Alpha One which five years ago promised to launch another Varsity link - from Oxford ...

It is bitterly cold today in Dilove, a tiny village in the Tysa valley in Ukraine. As folk gather outside the village's recently restored wooden church after the morning liturgy, they wonder whether it really is worth bothering to vote. Ukraine has ...

Fantasy architecture has long been common in American hotels, but it is becoming increasingly frequent on this side of the Atlantic too - and not just at Eurodisney near Paris. We look at examples from Turkey and the Canary ...

As Europe shivers through a protracted cold spell, it is interesting to note which cities around the continent have had to endure the coldest days. Of course we are all affected by the chilly weather, but the local media coverage of wintry weather ...

The Toros Express has always been an optimistic name for the train that links Istanbul with Aleppo in Syria. And in the last year or two it has run only irregularly. But last Friday a new regular train service was launched across the border between ...

This weekend Valletta hosts the big street festival that regularly marks the end of the Christmas season. Under the banner Citta Magica, there will be music and performances aplenty, and the streets of Valletta will be full of visitors from across ...

Much of northern Europe has endured some pretty wintry weather these past couple of weeks. Last night, temperatures plummeted to below minus 30 degrees Celsius over a large area of northern Scandinavia and northwest ...

It was an amiable distraction over Christmas and the New Year to browse news media from across Europe, all dutifully reporting on the best of the dying year. But one tires eventually of reading accounts of the top ten books and places of 2009. So ...

We chanced on a nice yarn from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) this week when they reported on the manners of the moose who roam the Arctic wilderness around the Pasvik valley, where the territories of Norway, Finland and Russia are ...

We were intrigued to read a recent account in an English newspaper of a journey along "he most northerly railway in the world". The Ofoten railway from Kiruna in Sweden to Narvik in Norway is without doubt one of the most remarkable train journeys ...

Bulgaria is gearing up for more visitors from neighbouring countries, having just announced that from Saturday 19 December 2009 travellers from Macedonia and Serbia making short visits to Bulgaria will no longer need to secure a visa in ...

Europe's new 2010 train schedules take effect today, opening up lots of glorious new travel opportunities. Faster trains from the Kent coast to London are the highlight in England, while in Italy there is a veritable revolution as the 'missing ...

For budding travel writers with time on their hands this month, there is a golden opportunity to make their mark. The British Guild of Travel Writers has a competition for unpublished ...

Bananas are big business in Iceland. There are few more popular snacks in the tundra than a nice ripe banana - which may go some way to explaining why McDonalds cut no ice in Iceland and announced in October that they will quit the ...

It is not so very often that one hears Faroese accents in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in northeast England. But the streets of the Tyneside city echoed to many voices from the remote North Atlantic islands yesterday afternoon as a friendly invasion of folk ...

Back in the summer of 2007, a number of European rail operators founded Railteam, a promising new alliance that proudly announced that it would transform international rail ticketing in Europe - offering through fares at the press of a button ...

The new EU Kaliningrad programme is designed to promote contact and understanding between Russia's Baltic exclave at Kaliningrad and the territory's EU neighbours. But sadly, just as this new programme is announced, so comes news that a key train ...

It is interesting to see how little has been made of the half centenary this autumn of the demise of the Penguin Cerise series. The books in the Cerise series helped define in Britain the art of travel writing. So good to see that today the ...

This piece is one we researched and first published in June 2009. But its message is still as valid today, which we why we think it deserves a place here. Some travellers, especially when they purchase rail tickets in North America for European ...

One of the key points we learnt from an article on the Sámi of Russia's Kola Peninsula is how warmer autumns are making life much harder for the locals. They rely on frozen ground to allow winter mobility in the tundra. But these days the ground ...

There has been a intriguing debate rumbling on in Potsdam (Germany) these past weeks which nicely captures the dilemmas associated with heritage and conservation. We have been following events in Potsdam's Russian community. Just north of the ...