Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Letter from Europe

  • — Issue 2011/32 posted by hidden europe on

Slow travel can be quite hard work. It takes time of course, but it also requires a certain mindset. And we have tried to bring that mindset to every page in the latest issue of hidden europe magazine which is published today. hidden europe 35 is an adventure that takes in the nerve ends of Europe. We visit Narva in Estonia, where some in the local community are apt to refer to 'the days of prosperity' - an interestingly nostalgic and rose-tinted reference to the times when Narva was still part of the Soviet Union.

article summary —

Dear fellow travellers

Slow travel can be quite hard work. It takes time of course, but it also requires a certain mindset. And we have tried to bring that mindset to every page in the latest issue of hidden europe magazine which is published today. You can order it either in our online shop or by calling +49 30 755 16128.

hidden europe 35 is an adventure that takes in the nerve ends of Europe. We visit Narva in Estonia, where some in the local community are apt to refer to 'the days of prosperity' - an interestingly nostalgic and rose-tinted reference to the times when Narva was still part of the Soviet Union. We wander through Carpathian beechwoods in south-west Ukraine and we reflect on botany in Paradise.

That word, paradise, is so overused in the modern tourism industry. In a provocative essay for hidden europe 35, guest contributor Iain Bamforth concludes that "Paradise is a far simpler (and rarer) thing than an five-star hotel with infinity pool." Infinity pools have thus had an outing even in hidden europe, but in a good cause because we think Iain's engaging review of fruits from persimmons to pomegranates is a splendid article.

Slow boats, buses and trains

And what of slow journeys? Well, in this issue of the magazine we revisit a voyage of yesteryear when it took a couple of weeks to sail from Iceland to Scotland. Along the way we recall the moment when Rider Haggard was shipwrecked in the Orkney Islands. He and two hundred Icelandic ponies swam ashore where the locals gave the ponies a fine welcome but were less positively inclined to Rider Haggard.

And we take the slow bus through mid-Wales, swapping persimmons in Paradise for tangerines on the road to Tregaron. The T21 bus service from Aberystwyth to Tregaron is a gem. It was born out of adversity when floods on the River Ystwyth cut the railway. And J Alwyn Evans, the local bus company based in the old station yard in Tregaron, now runs buses where once there were trains. It's a great ride - slow travel at its best.

The slow appeal of the railways in the Harz Mountain area of Germany is obvious. Day-in day-out, throughout the year, you can still travel on steam trains that trundle through the deliciously beautiful valleys of the region and even up to the summit of the Brocken. We have a feature on the area in hidden europe 35.

Elsewhere in this new issue of the magazine, we take time out for Tampere in Finland, a town that benefits from a strong Quaker industrial heritage and a fascinating political history too. Did you know that it was in Finland that Lenin and Stalin first met each other?

Guest contributors

Most of the material that appears in the magazine is written in-house. But we do rely on guest contributors too. We have three in this latest issue. Iain Bamforth, whose thoughts on Paradise we have already mentioned, writes for us for the first time in this issue. And we welcome back Paul Hadfield and Laurence Mitchell, both of whom have written for us before. Laurence contributes with a thoughtful piece on Bukovina and Paul nicely evokes the spirit of a special spot in Scotland with his poem on the Whaligoe Steps on the Caithness coast. You can find the full table of contents of this winter issue of hidden europe here.

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.