hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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A little short on character development, and the plot is thin, but the Czech Republic's annual railway timetable is always a good read.
Magazine article

Bookmark: Jízdní Rád

Now here's a really remarkable book. The Czech national railway timetable for 2017 may not be great when it comes to plot structure and character development, but it is nonetheless an engaging read. Trust ...
Tupolev 104 OK-LDC in the Czech border village of Petrovice (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Tale of a Tupolev

Shoppers in the Czech border village of Petrovice are inclined to board a Tupolev 104 airplane when they want a coffee or a snack. Find out why this 60-year-old jet aircraft is a good spot to ...
Duchcov Castle in the Czech Republic, where Giacomo Casanova spent the last 13 years of his life looking after the library of Count von Waldstein (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Cashing in on Casanova

  • 30 Jan 2017
Were it not for a librarian, we would surely never have ventured to Duchcov. We have always held librarians, and indeed libraries, in high regard. We're of one mind with Dervla Murphy who once described Heaven as an infinite library and Eternity as ...
Part of a 'Kursächsische Postmeilensäule' - a milestone erected in the Electorate of Saxony as part of an initiative to formalise postage charges. This milestone is at Bad Gottleuba on the former post route between Dresden (Saxony) and Teplice (Bohemia) (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Exploring the Ore Mountains

The Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) offer excellent possibilities for hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing. But even less energetic visitors can reach remote communities in the region by local bus and train ...
The Grand Hotel Zvon dominates one side of the town square in the Bohemian town of Ceské Budejovice (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The Beauty of the Square

  • 11 Jul 2016
Kings come and kings go, and even freedom goes in and out of fashion. But the appeal of the town square endures, because ultimately these are spaces that belong to the people. The square in Ceské Budejovice is no exception to that rule. Welcome to ...
Moscow Belorussky railway station, the starting point for the direct service from Moscow to Sofia which connects seven capital cities. The new service launches on 13 December 2015 (photo © Victoria Demidova / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

New train services for 2016

  • 3 Dec 2015
New railway timetables kick in across much of Europe on Sunday 13 December - so here's a summary of interesting changes which we've noted in the new schedules. They include a useful new direct link from Moscow to Sofia - a journey which connects ...
Magazine article

Keeping track
  

It is that time of year when Europe prepares to introduce new train timetables. The 2016 schedules come into effect on Sunday 13 December 2015. As usual, there are winners and losers. We look at some new ...
End of the line for the slow train from the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary: Marianske Lazne (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Bohemian therapy

  • 2 Aug 2015
Eight times each day, even on Sundays, a train leaves the Czech town of Karlovy Vary for the 80-minute journey through the hills to Mariánské Lázne. Both communities are celebrated stops on the European spa circuit. They both flourished in Habsburg ...
Letter from Europe

The Great Synagogue of Plzen

  • 22 Apr 2015
You might expect the most striking building in Plzen to be a brewery. But there's more to Plzen than beer. In fact the most impressive building in the Czech city is the Great Synagogue on Plzen's main ...
Letter from Europe

New rail services across Europe

  • 16 Nov 2014
Four weeks from today much of Europe will awaken to new train timetables. Each year in December, new schedules come into effect across the continent. The big day this year is Sunday 14 December. We take look at a dozen positive developments worth ...
The Czech town of Jáchymov rates as one of the lesser spas of western Bohemia. The town also has an intriguing industrial history (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Glowing in the dark

  • 19 Sep 2014
The main road drops down from the hump of the mountain in a series of sharp zigzags. Polished blue sky above, velvety green forests all around and the tacho ticking off the miles of grey tarmac below. We are on the south side on the ore-rich hills ...
Pete Seeger at a concert in his home town of Beacon (USA)in 2009 (photo © Sandra Dunlap / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

The power of song

It is forty years since Pete Seeger took to stages in Moscow, the Crimea and Prague as part of a world tour. Seeger died earlier this year of course, and in this postscript to his life we look at how Seeger's music was very similar to that of the ...
100 years old this summer: the funicular railway to the Café Diana in Karlovy Vary (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Escape from Carlsbad

The funicular railway to the Café Diana on the hills above the spa town of Karlovy Vary marks a birthday this summer: it was opened to the public in 1914. It remains the easy way to get a bird's-eye view of Karlovy Vary (the town often referred in ...
Letter from Europe

Yuri gets a ticket

  • 25 May 2014
Yuri overstayed the limit. So he was given a ticket. Then the authorities ushered Yuri out of town. Now he's parked outside the airport terminal. How long he'll stay there is a matter for debate. Our guess is that, as long as Russians keep flying ...
Winter in the hills of northern Bohemia (photo © Tomas Simek).
Magazine article

Into the hills: a Bohemian diversion
  

Of course one can speed across Europe on sleek, fast trains. But slow trains, the kind that dawdle along branch lines, are so much more interesting. We ride a rural rail route in northern Bohemia, where fading railway stations reveal a Habsburg ...
Letter from Europe

After the flood

  • 24 Jun 2013
The waters came, and so did the European media. The water was ruthless and unsympathetic. It tore down bridges and wrecked homes. The mud and debris that came with the flood blocked culverts and drains. Lives were put on the line. So too were ...
Letter from Europe

200 years of summer holidays

  • 24 Jul 2012
The thrice-daily local bus service from Altenberg to Teplice is a blessing for cross-border travellers. The bus crosses the mountains that define the border between Saxony and Bohemia. When we rode this route last Thursday, there were just five ...
Curves dominate the memorial to the Slovak Uprising at Banská Bystrica (photo © Kordoz / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Slovakia: a foray into modernism
  

Slovakia boasts some of the finest modernist architecture anywhere in Europe, though you would hardly know it from the guidebooks. There is something distinctly Slovakian about these buildings which, during the years that Slovakia was linked to the ...
Letter from Europe

Origins: from Marie Curie to Tom Stoppard

  • 21 Feb 2010
It is always interesting to discover the places where famous folk were born. Who ever would have thought that Andre Agassi, the son of an Iranian-born boxer, should have first seen the light of our world in Las Vegas? hidden europe visits the home ...
Magazine article

Hungarian rhapsody
  

Sometimes we travel to really get somewhere. But occasionally a journey is worthwhile merely for its own sake. Sit back, relax, and from the comfort of a corner seat watch all the world go by on the train from Berlin to ...
Magazine article

A day in Domazlice
  

The small towns of southwest Bohemia, many of them just a stone's throw from the border with Bavaria, are well off most tourist trails. We visit Domazlice, a town in the hills that boasts a beautiful elongate plaza at its ...
Letter from Europe

Bohemian borderlands

  • 16 Aug 2009
The first town over the hills, on the Czech side of the border, is Domazlice. Just twenty minutes on the steam trains that this weekend shuttle between Furth and Domazlice. The Czech town has a fabulous elongated main square that during these ...
Magazine article

Cultivating the soul

We refresh our wearied and wandering minds in two intriguing gardens. We visit a secret garden in Prague, and hidden europe reader Mervyn Benford reports on a humble Swedish postman who followed in Linnaeus' ...
Magazine article

Icons or eyesores
  

Most visitors look to Prague for a feast of Gothic and baroque. But what of the city's modern architecture? Prague boasts what is probably the finest cubist interior anywhere in the world. We visit the Grand Café ...
Magazine article

National tipples
  

When did you last see a bottle of Unicum for sale outside Hungary? We try out a few drinks that are inexorably associated with a particular region: from Kvint to kvass, from Irn-Bru to ...
Magazine article

The Via Sacra
  

The Via Sacra is an inspired initiative that foregrounds the religious heritage of a particularly beautiful part of central Europe - the area where Bohemia (Czech Republic), Polish Silesia and the German State of Saxony ...
Magazine article

Election special

Tired of McCain and Obama? Fed up with Sarah Palin's take on foreign policy? We have the perfect antidote with a hidden eruope round up of elections from Iceland to Malta, the Czech Republic to ...
Letter from Europe

Liberec (Czech Republic)

  • 20 Feb 2009
The Bohemian city of Liberec is much in the news this week as it hosts the Nordic World Ski Championships. Liberec has an improbably old-style hotel, called Imperial, that is an amazing throwback to the past. Its foyer still displays an old ...
Letter from Europe

A matter of time - Belgrade

  • 14 Oct 2008
hidden europe reports on European elections and a referendum in Jersey. We also visit Belgrade and think about the city's illustrious history - the times when the Orient Express stopped in ...
Letter from Europe

New links across Schengen borders

  • 14 Jul 2008
The benefits of having open borders across most of Europe are beginning to influence the pattern of weekend excursions made by Europeans living or taking holidays in frontier areas. The burden of having to show a passport at a border was never an ...
Letter from Europe

Strangers churches

  • 20 Nov 2007
In the heart of the City of London, there used to be all manner of Strangers Churches (as churches for foreigners are commonly termed). There was a Spanish church, a Scots church and a Lutheran church from Hamburg. The Dutch community at Austin ...
Letter from Europe

Landswaps: Czech Republic and Slovakia

  • 25 Jul 2007
Sidonie was not the only place to change hands on that July day. Fifty kilometres away to the southwest, the hamlet of U Sabotu was ceded to Slovakia by the Czech Republic. Most of the population secured a handsome financial windfall from the ...
Letter from Europe

Special subscription offer - an improbable Czech memorial

  • 17 Jun 2005
Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic is certainly an unsung spot. hidden europe stopped off here in early April, revisiting a town that first caught our attention three years back when we found an intriguing few lines in The Rough Guide to The ...