hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Fairy Tales
Letter from Europe

Tales from the East

  • 17 Feb 2017
With mention of fairy tales and film, thoughts often turn to Disney. The cinematic adaptation of fairy tales is often judged in the west to be a peculiarly American prerogative. But central and eastern Europe have a very fine tradition of ...
The Spine of Russia
Magazine article

The Berry Seller

Two new books arising from the Spine of Russia project afford a look at everyday life in the Russian Federation. In this preview of one of the books, Paul Richardson swaps notes with Igor, who is selling berries on a roadside in ...
Odessa Opera and Theatre
Magazine article

Between the Steppe and the Sea

For Odessa writer Issac Babel, his home town was 'the most charming city of the Russian empire'. For many visitors today, Odessa is one of the most striking Black Sea ports. Join us as we head up the Potemkin Steps to discover ...
Italo train
Letter from Europe

Summer excursions by train

  • 8 Jun 2016
New summer train timetables kick in across Europe this month, ushering in many new rail links and interesting changes in rail services across the ...
Frankfurter Tor Berlin
Magazine article

Understanding the socialist city
  

Progressive socialist designs for homes and cities are no longer in fashion. Yet Europe's streetscapes still attest to the grand schemes of yesteryear, when architects and planners envisaged a society that stood opposed to capitalism. We go in ...
Moscow Belorussky Station
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 ...
hidden europe 47
Letter from Europe

A new issue of the magazine: hidden europe 47

  • 12 Nov 2015
hidden europe 47 is published today. It costs just 8 euros, and for that you'll get some of the finest travel writing around. If you like our regular Letter from Europe, why not support our work by taking out a sub to the print ...
Magazine article

Ukrainian-Russian links
  

The tit-for-tat posturing between Ukraine and Russia benefits no-one trying to travel to and from Crimea - or for that matter anywhere in the border regions between the two countries. In late October 2015, air links between Russia and Ukraine were ...
Murmansk Oblast
Magazine article

The spine of Russia
  

Mikhail Mordasov is a very talented Russian photographer. Paul Richardson is a translator and writer who knows Russia well. When Mikhail and Paul decided to create a book from a long road trip across Russia, we knew something good was in the ...
Magazine article

Mennonite migrants
  

Over 100,000 migrants left Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s, a good number moving to Germany. Many of them were descended from Mennonites who over a century earlier had walked from the steppes of southern Russia to ...
Jurmala
Letter from Europe

Jurmala, a victim of circumstance

  • 6 Oct 2015
Imagine a gorgeous sweep of white quartz sand backed by low dunes and pine forest. Add in several mineral water springs of therapeutic value and an endless supply of curative mud - and there you have Jurmala's prime assets. The Latvian coastal ...
Eurostar trains in London
Letter from Europe

Europe by rail: spring news

  • 1 Apr 2015
It is that time of year when rail companies across Europe tweak their schedules for the upcoming summer season. Here's an overview of some of the noteworthy changes for this ...
Russian Railways
Magazine article

A touch of Russia
  

Europe has so many very comfortable train services, but it's really hard to trump the top-of-the-range Russian trains used on routes from Moscow to many cities in central and western Europe. For inner-EU journeys, these trains are often great ...
Afsluitdijk
Magazine article

The road to Ishim
  

The Edinburgh Castle is a pub in the Welsh town of Holyhead (Caergybi in Welsh). The roundabout just outside that pub looks unremarkable. But it marks the very start of the road to Ishim, a route of over 5000 kilometres that spans seven ...
Magazine article

Tall statements
  

Faith has evidently replaced politics as the motivation for some of the world's tallest sculptures. In Europe, the largest such structure is the massive statue of Jesus Christ at Swiebodzin in western ...
Letter from Europe

From the Barents Sea to Gagauzia

  • 11 Nov 2014
The ebb and flow of life in Brussels, London and Paris is well covered in mainstream media. We have instead opted for the road less travelled. hidden europe 44, which is published today, carries reports from offbeat and unsung communities right ...
Church at Svanvik
Magazine article

Borderlands: the Pasvik Valley
  

Few borders divide societies which are so markedly different as the frontier between Norway's easternmost county of Finnmark and Russia's Murmansk Oblast. We take a look at life on both sides of the border in a region which was once a key part of ...
Magazine article

Russia’s eternal winter
  

They have fiddled with the clocks in Moscow. Not just in Moscow, but right across the Russian Federation. Russia has decided to move to perpetual winter – at least when it comes to time. For the clocks shall stay henceforth on winter ...
Pete Seeger
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 ...
Magazine article

Crimea notes

The Ukrainian railway administration may still be advertising trains to Crimea, but not a lot of Ukrainians will be heading to the region for their summer holidays. Hoteliers in Crimea are having a lean season, but Moscow has plans to ensure that ...
Letter from Europe

In search of Eden

  • 14 Jun 2014
There is something very pleasing about communities which display a strong architectural coherence. In some instances, the sense of order and unity might take its spark from one striking central feature. The Italian city of Palmanova is a good ...
Magazine article

Choreographing opinion
  

Did Prince Grigor Potemkin really try to fool Catherine the Great into thinking that life in Russia's Black Sea region was rosier than it really was? We think the idea of Potemkin villages is probably a myth, and that Prince Potemkin was guilty of ...
Letter from Europe

Defending Mother Russia

  • 23 Feb 2014
You might believe that a garage is merely a concrete shed where you park your car overnight. But think again! Alexey doesn't have a car but his corrugated-iron garage figures mightily in his lifeworld. It is his space, a secluded reserve away from ...
Letter from Europe

The Chelyuskin epic

  • 5 Jan 2014
As Russian families gather today to celebrate Christmas (which in Orthodox Europe falls later than in the Roman calendar), they will be inclined - like families everywhere in the world - to look back to Christmas tales from yesteryear. There is ...
Magazine article

All points east
  

The new rail schedules for 2014 kick in across Europe in mid-December. Big changes are afoot as Russia rethinks its strategy for passenger services from Moscow to principal cities in the European Union. There are changes to night train services, a ...
Port at Murmansk
Magazine article

New ports for the Far North
  

The harbour front at Kirkenes could be transformed if the Norwegian port became a major transit point for freight to and from Russia. The key to this happening is getting Russian-gauge railway tracks to Kirkenes. But other ports in northern Norway ...
Letter from Europe

The Russian Season in Paris

  • 16 May 2013
Those looking to depart from convention in Paris usually head for the left bank. No-one goes to the Avenue des Champs-Elysées (on the right bank) looking for revolution. But cast back one hundred years this month and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées ...
Magazine article

Brand power
  

The number of Russians making cross-border journeys into northern Scandinavia to go shopping leapt by over a third last year. They head for small towns in northern Finland and some even continue into Sweden to visit the world's northernmost branch ...
Foros, Ukraine
Letter from Europe

Crimea connections

  • 5 Dec 2012
Foros is a place for holidays and for history. During the Soviet era, this resort at the southern tip of the Crimea was much favoured by Kremlin leaders looking for a little summer relaxation. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev was at his dacha in ...
Magazine article

Russia’s wooden churches

Many books cross our desks. This year, one particular volume has struck us more than any other. Wooden Churches: Travelling in the Russian North is a remarkable volume. Superb photography by Richard Davies complemented by evocative prose by Matilda ...
Magazine article

Chance encounter: Cape Flora

In July 1893, a remarkable chance encounter took place at Cape Flora on Northbrook Island in the Franz Josef archipelago. The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his companion Fredrik Johansen, who had failed to reach the North Pole, bumped in ...
Letter from Europe

Look west

  • 31 Oct 2012
The West is inscribed on our imagination. It is where we watch the sunset, and thus the cardinal point that ushers in the evening, bringing promise of rest and sleep. And yet the West means other things too. For generations of Americans, the West ...
Letter from Europe

The train to Tundra

  • 31 Jul 2012
Year by year, the population of Obozersky dwindles. Fifty years ago, more than 7000 people lived in this little town in the Russian Arctic. More than half have left. They took the train south and never returned. The cream and brown railway station ...
Letter from Europe

Reshaping mental maps

  • 17 Jun 2012
This evening, a train will speed from Córdoba to Valencia in just a shade over three hours, marking the inauguration of another link in Spain's growing high-speed rail network. True, the new stretch of line in this case is very modest, but it is ...
Letter from Europe

Musings for May Day

  • 1 May 2012
Well, we survived Walpurgis Night. Did you? Or were you abducted by ghouls or goblins? Did you sell your soul? Across much of Europe, May is ushered in by a night of bonfires and revelry. "All a matter of keeping the witches at bay," says our ...
Tammerkoski River Tampere
Magazine article

Shaping socialist history: Tampere
  

Lenin's promise that Finland would be granted her independence after the Bolshevik Revolution was first made in Tampere. This Finnish city has a fine industrial and political heritage, as we discover when we visit a museum devoted to the life and ...
Narva-Joesuu
Magazine article

In the days of prosperity
  

The River Narva marks one of Europe's more conspicuous frontiers: that between the European Union (and the Schengen area) to the west and the Russian Federation to the east. But cultures do not always respect borders and in a visit to Narva, on the ...
Weltzeituhr Berlin Alexanderplatz
Magazine article

Timing matters
  

Russia's decision this year to abandon seasonal changes of clocks has prompted much media comment. Belarus has followed Russia's example. Ukraine, after much prevarication, has opted to stick with alternating winter and summer time. In this short ...
Magazine article

An Arctic outpost: Victoria Island
  

The story of Victoria Island, a tiny fleck of land in the European Arctic midway between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land, is a reminder that there are better ways of conducting international diplomacy than leaving a message in a ...
Valamo Monastery
Magazine article

The past is another country
  

To accompany our feature on Karelia in this issue of hidden europe magazine, we look at how Finland’s ceded eastern territories, now part of the Russian Federation, remain a potent symbol in the Finnish ...
Magazine article

The Russian Federation
  

Kalmykia is the only political unit in Europe where Buddhism is the dominant religion. You think we jest! But it is true. We take a look at some of the lesser known republics within the European part of the Russian ...
Letter from Europe

Train services of yesteryear

  • 30 Jun 2011
There is much talk today about how we live in a new age of the train, and that many journeys around Europe are now much more sensibly undertaken by rail rather than air. Only too true, but such rhetoric does imply that rail travel in Europe was ...
Letter from Europe

A tale of two Eltons

  • 29 May 2011
You could easily miss Elton. The train from Dublin to Cork speeds past Elton. You hardly catch a glimpse of the cluster of houses that make up this little Irish village. When the grandly titled Great Southern and Western Railway built a line ...
Letter from Europe

The spiritual geography of Karelia

  • 24 May 2011
Are not some landscapes genuinely therapeutic? We crested wave after wave of rolling forests as we drove through Karelia last week. Writers looking to plot the spiritual geography of Europe might do well to start here, for Finnish Karelia is a ...
hidden europe note

Rail update: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus

  • 4 May 2011
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 ...
Magazine article

Girls on the bridge
  

A line of red and green Russian border-posts skirt the Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo. Politicians turn and look, as do casual passers-by. It is a quiet reminder that Norway really does share a common land border with ...
Magazine article

By ferry to Russia
  

There is one very good reason for travelling by ferry to the Russian city of St Petersburg. For a short stay, ferry travellers are generally exempt from Russia's otherwise strict visa rules. So no surprise perhaps that St Peter Line, which already ...
Letter from Europe

Polar nights in Spitsbergen

  • 9 Feb 2011
It was unusually warm in Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen this past Sunday. The temperature peaked at minus 7 degrees Celsius. And the jazz helped give Longyearbyen a more temperate ring last weekend as the remote Arctic community, capital of the ...
Magazine article

Competing with the guidebook
  

Two new series of books, one from Oxygen Books in the UK and the other from Duke University Press in the USA impel us to reflect on a growing public appetite for anthologies of good literature about places in ...
Magazine article

Superstitious minds
  

If you happen to know a good source of peewit's hearts, please let us know. We explore some of the zanier superstitions that we have run across on our travels across ...
Magazine article

Cruise ferry update
  

Catamarans compete for space with whales and dolphins in the crowded sea lanes off the south coast of Spain. Space is tight in some European waters as more travellers embrace ferry travel and an efficient and relaxing way of getting ...
Letter from Europe

Border markers

  • 11 Nov 2010
We sensed we were crossing into another world as the Moscow-bound train rumbled over the long bridge that spans the River Bug. The reed beds are full of wildfowl which are not troubled by the frequent trains that rattle overhead. This is the border ...
Letter from Europe

The politics of heritage

  • 23 Jul 2010
Albi, Downe, Bikini Atoll and the Putorana Plateau are all in competition with each other next week as UNESCO gears up to announce a new round of World Heritage Sites. Securing a place on the World Heritage List can lead to a big boost in tourism ...
hidden europe note

Polar dawns (Polyarnye Zori)

  • 30 Apr 2010
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 ...
Letter from Europe

The legacy of Katyn

  • 10 Apr 2010
It was twenty years ago this coming Tuesday that Moscow formally acknowledged that the Soviet secret police (the NKVD) had shot thousands of officers, priests, poets and professors in the forests of Katyn. The legacy of Katyn still scars the Polish ...
Letter from Europe

East of Trieste

  • 1 Apr 2010
Europe's Cold War borders were by no means ubiquitously impervious. Trieste on the Adriatic coast of Italy always had rather good links to neighbouring Yugoslavia. Earlier this week, we decided to travel east from Trieste, and found that the modern ...
KD Avia plane
Magazine article

Disquiet in Kaliningrad
  

Is it no wonder that citizens of Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad are feeling a little jittery these days? Kaliningrad's inhabitants feel that they are a long way from Moscow, and also increasingly distant from the European Union countries ...
Magazine article

A Russian diversion
  

The Imperial Russian Standard, with the double-headed eagle so intimately associated with the Romanovs, still hangs in the living room of a wooden lodge on the bank of a river in southern Finland. We visit the former holiday home of the Russian ...
hidden europe note

The Black Sea Riviera by train

  • 15 Mar 2010
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 ...
hidden europe note

Last train from Russia

  • 11 Feb 2010
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 ...
Letter from Europe

The Togliatti syndrome

  • 24 Dec 2009
Journalists in Togliatti (sometimes transliterated as Tolyatti), a town on the banks of the Volga, know all too well about the dangers of reporting in Russia. Tolyattinskoe obozrenie (Togliatti Review) was a minor star in Russian provincial ...
hidden europe note

Wayward moose and reindeer

  • 23 Dec 2009
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 ...
hidden europe note

Great travel myths

  • 18 Dec 2009
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 ...
Letter from Europe

Train service changes for 2010

  • 12 Dec 2009
The Balkan region gets a new rail service tomorrow, with the launch of a once daily direct train between Belgrade and Sarajevo. It is a mark of how much the mood in the region has improved over recent years that routes severed during the nineties ...
hidden europe note

Key train to Kaliningrad axed

  • 30 Nov 2009
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 ...
Letter from Europe

Vadsø (northern Norway)

  • 24 Nov 2009
You really know you have travelled a long way east when you get to Vadsø. The local church, which dominates the small town on the Barents Sea, is a late 1950s essay in poured concrete. But take a peek inside for a surprise. This is a Norwegian ...
hidden europe note

Reindeer pay heavy price for global warming

  • 12 Nov 2009
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 ...
Magazine article

Arctic concord
  

Cross-border confidence is the Barents Sea region has this year prompted a raft of new initiatives fascillitating contact between Norway and Russia. hidden europe reports from the town of Kirkenes in northeast ...
Magazine article

Invading Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is one of Europe's unsung territories: a tiny Alpine principality by-passed by most travellers. We follow the route of an army of Russian soldiers that sought sanctuary in Liechtenstein in May ...
Letter from Europe

Airport links

  • 17 Sep 2009
Is not the journey to the airport often one of the great hassles of modern travel? Not all of us can enjoy the relaxed approach taken in the Isle of Man where narrow gauge steam trains pause on request at Ronaldsway Halt, just a short walk from the ...
Magazine article

Russia: the Kola Sámi
  

There is a Sámi proverb that says: "Don't try to predict today that which we shall know for sure tomorrow." So the local Sámi in Russia's Kola Peninsula will not venture any opinion on whether Sámi life has any credible future in their home ...
Letter from Europe

Crossing the border at Boris Gleb

  • 10 Jun 2009
Boris and Gleb are as saintly a duo as Peter and Paul or Cyril and Methodius. Travel round Russia and you will come across no end of churches dedicated to Boris and Gleb. The two were in fact brothers and evidently their tender humility marked the ...
Letter from Europe

Tallinn's last Soviet soldier

  • 9 Jun 2009
Tallinn's Bronze Soldier highlights the difficulties of rendering recent history. Visitors to Potsdam, a city in the former German Democratic Republic very close to Berlin, will find many informative notices that unravel the story of the old ...
Magazine article

A Polish port: Frombork
  

In Frombork, a tiny port on Poland's Baltic coast, the ferry terminal has closed down for the winter. A lone fisherman sits at the end of the pier and looks out over the lagoon to Russia. But the town where Nicolaus Copernicus lived and worked ...
Magazine article

Mere conventions: meridian lines
  

Meridian lines may be merely a matter of cartographic convention, but a lot of politics underpinned the selection of Greenwich as the prime meridian. We report from El Hierro in the Canary Islands, once known as Isla del Meridiano. Many old maps ...
Magazine article

Another kind of Chernobyl
  

Pesticides, dioxins and nickel processing are among the worst culprits in some of Europe's environmental black spots. hidden europe reports from a few places that lie off most travellers' ...
Letter from Europe

By ferry to Russia

  • 19 May 2009
The whispers from Moscow last week that Russia will sanction visa-free travel to the country for visitors arriving and leaving on ferries is good news indeed. Cruise ship passengers have long benefitted from just such a dispensation, but only if ...
Magazine article

Robocop R BOT 101

R BOT 101 is a robot. He never loses his cool, nor can he be bribed. But otherwise he is much the same as the human police officers who pound the beat in the Russian city of Perm. Meet a Russian electronic ...
Magazine article

Crossing the Urals
  

What about the most northerly railway route across the Ural Mountains? Way up north in the Nenets regions, the train to Labytnangi makes the Trans-Siberian route over the Urals seem rather ...
Magazine article

A dog's life
  

Chtenia: Readings from Russia is a new themed literary journal that features good Russian writing, old and new, in translation. If it lives up to the promise of its first issue, which focuses on canine tales from Russia, it will be a huge ...
Magazine article

Kaliningrad conundrum

The Königsberg problem: start and end at the same place, and walk through the city, crossing all seven bridges once and no more. A mathematical puzzle from the Russian city of ...
Magazine article

From Prussia to Russia: Kaliningrad
  

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Baltic port of Kaliningrad found itself strangely isolated from the rest of Russia. Hemmed in by the European Union, the city of Kaliningrad is rethinking its role in the modern world. It is a ...
Magazine article

In praise of birches
  

Pause and listen, in the rustles of a late summer breeze stirring the majestic birch, for an echo of the Russian soul. Russians have a very special relationship with the birch tree. Find out ...
Magazine article

Pomor visa fiasco
  

Way up north near the Barents Sea, Norway borders onto Russia. The Norwegian port of Kirkenes depends heavily on good links with its Russian hinterland. But all is not well in this Arctic ...
Magazine article

Rallying support for the nation
  

In western Europe, long distance car rallies of the inter-war years came to symbolise glitz and glamour. Just think of the Monte Carlo rally. Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union the car rally became an important tool in the building of socialism. We ...
Magazine article

Focus on fish

Many a coastal community, and even one or two inland spots, have realised that there's no better way to promote trade and tourism than through a colourful display of freshly landed fish and other ...
Letter from Europe

Abkhazia - the Adler connection

  • 5 Mar 2009
If Abkhazia were more secure and better promoted, it would surely be a holiday paradise to match anywhere in the Mediterranean. It was a favourite with Soviet leaders. The area is spectacular with serene beaches backed by meadows, orchards and ...
Letter from Europe

Thoughts on Russia

  • 31 Aug 2008
Russian perceptions of Europe are much in the news this month in the wake of Moscow's response to the Tbilisi government's ill-considered adventure in South Ossetia. And yet Russian popular perceptions are shaped not merely by Kremlin dictates but ...
Letter from Europe

Russia's Baltic coast

  • 26 May 2008
It is that time of year when Baltic seaside resorts come into their own, reminding the rest of Europe that beach culture is not solely a Mediterranean prerogative. The sedate charms of Sellin (on the German island of Rügen) are a world away from ...
Letter from Europe

Across Siberia by slow train

  • 16 Jan 2008
Some of our most productive moments are while we are travelling. And Botton is surely right. A slow train that meanders around forests and lakes of Pomerania, stopping off at tiny wayside halts every few minutes, breeds a quite different set of ...
Letter from Europe

Railway schedules: a look ahead

  • 8 Sep 2007
It is years since the blue and white sleeping cars of Russian Railways (RZD) have been seen in the Netherlands, Switzerland or Bavaria but all three look set to feature on a daily basis in the RZD schedules for 2008. A major revamping of east-west ...
Letter from Europe

Hints of the desert

  • 12 Aug 2007
The land around the Cabo de Gata really does include many classic elements of desert terrain: a nice volcanic mesa, little alluvial fans and of course sand dunes. It is a landscape that has stood in for both the American West and the Middle East on ...
Letter from Europe

Remote mosques: Norway and Wales

  • 13 Feb 2007
Tromsø¸ has many charms, though they may not be quite evident at this time of the year when deep winter darkness still shrouds the town in Arctic Norway. The island town can pop a few surprises, however, for it turns out that Tromsø¸ has a small ...
Letter from Europe

Celebrating Christmas

  • 23 Dec 2006
Christmas generates its own extraordinary traditions across Europe - but they differ greatly from country to country. Even the date on which the celebrations reach their apotheosis varies across the continent. In Germany, Belgium and the ...
Letter from Europe

The road to Petsamo

  • 19 Sep 2006
Early European travel was hugely driven by Christian virtue. Those of the truly devout who had the resources would try to visit Rome, Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela. The fifteenth century English mystic, Margery Kempe, managed all three, and ...
Letter from Europe

Lost communities: France, Russia and more

  • 27 Jul 2006
Many are the European communities that have been lost to warfare, natural disasters or other agencies. The old town of Tocco Caudio in southern Italy was abandoned after an earthquake in the 1980s, as was Poggioreale in western Sicily a few years ...
Letter from Europe

International Women's Day

  • 8 Mar 2006
While Saxony's womenfolk were treated to coffee and cake afloat, indulgence of another kind was evident in the industrial city of Perm, just west of Russia's Ural mountains. Light snow fell this afternoon on the thousands of couples gathered in ...
Letter from Europe

Swedish Lapland - racism in Russia - a tale of two ships

  • 16 Jan 2006
Minority language radio broadcasting takes a step forward in Sweden today, when a new dedicated Sámi language radio station hits the airwaves in the Lapland region of northern Sweden. The Sámi minority has always benefitted from some local language ...
Letter from Europe

The 'other' Channel Islands (France) - the Barents Sea

  • 11 Nov 2005
As always at this time of year, the calm of winter isolation has settled on the Iles Chausey. Most of the population have shuttered up their houses and left Chausey for the mainland. Only the real chausias remain, less than a dozen in number. The ...
Letter from Europe

Lutepää (Estonia) - nocturnal Europe

  • 15 Sep 2005
In the picture perfect world of wooden houses and picket fences that is Lutepää (on Estonia's eastern border with Russia), every household has neatly stacked piles of wood ready for winter. The rich autumn whiff of burning wood has already eclipsed ...
Letter from Europe

The train to Siberia - a Kraków curiosity

  • 12 Jun 2005
Walk the royal road south from Kraków's magnificent central square and you cannot miss the great hill of Wawel with its palace and cathedral overlooking the Wisla river. Walk up to the cathedral in the quiet of night, or at dawn on a summer ...