hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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The station at Schaanwald is on the Feldkirch to Buchs railway line that cuts through Liechtenstein (© hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

A month without trains

  • 1 Jun 2017
A new month, and the sun shines. It's summer! And guess what? One European country has just closed down its entire rail network. For the whole month of June, not a single train will operate in ...
Lenin statue in Moscow (photo © Mjunsworth / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

April 1917: Lenin returns to Russia

  • 25 Apr 2017
News of the revolution in Russia reached Switzerland in March 1917, and many politically active Russian émigrés immediately decided to return home. Led by Lenin, the revolutionaries boarded a sealed carriage and travelled by train across ...
Strasbourg's trams are going international: from April 2017 one of the city's tram lines is being extended across the border into Germany (photo © Sergij Kolesnyk / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Taking the Tram

With the success of the Schengen region, local transport links are being extended over international borders. In the coming months, new international tram routes from France to both Germany and Switzerland are due to ...
The island of Barra in Scotland's Outer Hebrides relies on a lifeline air link with Glasgow. Loganair's Twin Otter aircraft land on the beach at Barra (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Short hops by plane

  • 9 Jan 2017
Short hops by air over water are of course very common, generally relying on non-jet aircraft and providing lifeline air services to island communities around the coasts of Europe. A review of old airline timetables reveals that there used to be ...
Monument to Nikolai Gogol in Vevey on the Montreux Riviera in Switzerland. Gogol was just one of many artists who enjoyed a sojourn by Lake Geneva (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Montreux connections

  • 31 Dec 2016
If you've eaten too much over the holidays and fancy some exercise, why not join us on a walk around Lake Geneva. Let's focus on the Montreux Riviera, which sweeps softly around the north-east part of the lake. It is densely settled with ...
New rail timetables from December 2016 will improve journey times from Milan to Zürich, Verona and Venice. Pictured here is Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (photo © Mrusty / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

New European rail timetables for 2017

  • 9 Dec 2016
This weekend sees the launch of new railway timetables across Europe. This ritual takes place on the second weekend of December every year, with rail operators revamping service patterns and tweaking their schedules to reflect changing demand. We ...
Byron's visit to the Château de Chillon in 1816 set the agenda for generations of subsequent travellers. This hugely popular castle on the shores of Lake Geneva is in the premier league of Swiss visitor attractions (photo © Pavalache Stelian / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The Prisoner of Chillon

  • 5 Dec 2016
200 years ago, on 5 December 1816, the Scottish publisher John Murray published The Prisoner of Chillon, a poem in the romantic idiom by Lord Byron. It was inspired by a visit which Byron and Shelley had together made to the Château de Chillon that ...
Madrid's Metro Linea 1 has a disused station that has been converted into an exhibition (photo © Dariusz Szwangruber / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Platform Zero

At Augsburg station in Bavaria, there is a Platform 801, while a number of stations around Europe have a Platform 0 - among them Aarau in Switzerland and King's Cross station in London. We take a look at the Platform Zero ...
The main street in Clarens, South Africa (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

A Tale of Two Clarens

On the face of it, there is no connection between the Swiss town of Clarens (on the north shore of Lake Geneva) and the South African town of Clarens in the Free State. But the South African town took its name from the eponymous Swiss community. It ...
This tower in Lago di Resia (Reschensee) in Italy’s Alto Adige region is all that remains of the old parish church of Graun-im-Vinschgau (photo © hidden europe)
Magazine article

Silent witness
  

Discover the extraordinary story of how an Italian village was sacrificed to provide hydro-electric power for Switzerland. The evacuation of Curon Venosta (or Graun-im-Vinschgau in German) was a tragedy. Today the church campanile rises serenely ...
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 ...
Issue 47 of hidden europe magazine
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 ...
Letter from Europe

100 years after Zimmerwald

  • 5 Sep 2015
The Zimmerwald Conference was a defining moment in European socialist history. There were stand-offs between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks; there were long and heated debates about how class struggle might bring an end to the First World War. ...
The centrepiece of Geneva's Mur des Réformateurs: sculptures of Beza, Calvin, Farel and Knox (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Radical assets Geneva-style

  • 30 Aug 2015
All who make their way to Geneva are struck by the sheer beauty of the city's setting. It is also a place that has always made space for radicals of all persuasions. Three hundred years after Calvin's death in 1564, the city emerged as a hotspot in ...
Calvary scene from the Altötting panorama (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The borders of reality: panoramas

Panoramas, often displayed in purpose-built circular galleries, offered virtual travel experiences long before cinema and the internet. Like all immersive technologies, panoramas raised important questions about the boundaries between subject and ...
Letter from Europe

Food for thought - Expo 2015

  • 28 Jan 2015
A van speeds by in the fast lane of the West Tangent ring road, bearing the inscription: 'Nutrire il pianeta, energia per la vita'. That is the Milan mantra for 2015. 'Feed the planet, energy for life'. For this year Milan hosts a Universal ...
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 ...
Letter from Europe

The Aurora fades

  • 11 Aug 2014
A couple of years ago we commented on the departure boards at the main railway station at Basel that they are "no longer bubbling with as much character as once they did." But Basel's SBB station in 2012 still had its moments, the best of which was ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Miss Jemima’s Swiss journal
  

In 1863, Jemima Morrell participated in the first ever escorted tour of the Alps organised by Cook. Her diary of that journey is a remarkable piece of writing - one that slices through Victorian formality. The story of what happened to that diary ...
Letter from Europe

Remembering Miss Jemima

  • 14 Jul 2013
Cast back 150 years, and Bastille Day came and went without the average Parisian taking much notice. It was not till 1880 that 14 July acquired the status of a national holiday. Thus when Miss Jemima Morrell wandered the streets of Paris on 14 July ...
Magazine article

Time check

The second weekend in December sees new rail timetables introduced across Europe. The new schedules see a significant recasting on long distance services in the northern Balkans. Two new international night trains will link Italy with France and ...
Magazine article

Swiss connections: the city of Basel
  

The station departure boards at Basel are nowadays not quite so exotic as once they were. True there's still the occasional train to Minsk and Moscow, but no longer are there direct trains to Spain, Romania and England. Yet Basel's Swiss and French ...
Magazine article

Zurich’s Moulage Museum
  

Duncan JD Smith, urban explorer extraordinaire, introduces us to the world of medical moulage, a technique that was used to reproduce the physical manifestations of various diseases and dermatological conditions. Welcome to Zurich’s Moulage ...
Letter from Europe

Reformation Day

  • 31 Oct 2011
Europe's Protestant reformers were not, on the whole, men who took kindly to statues. Indeed, thousands of statues in Catholic churches across Europe were smashed to pieces during the Reformation. So it's hard to fathom what Martin Luther would ...
Letter from Europe

The Centovalli Railway

  • 19 Mar 2011
Domodossola has sleek trains aplenty. There are great expresses that purr north through the Simplon Tunnel into Switzerland or slide south towards Milan, hugging the west side of Lago Maggiore along the way. But lovers of great scenery and unusual ...
Magazine article

More than small change
  

You probably would have no very clear idea what currency is used in Nagorno Karabakh, no indeed whether you need to tip the barber next time you stop off for a short back and sides in deepest Chechnya. We ponder the knotty business of currencies ...
Letter from Europe

Gerês (Portugal)

  • 6 Mar 2011
It is an odd experience to arrive in a small town before noon and find a local restaurant full of folk eating lunch. Vila do Gerês, the town where spa clients eat before noon, comes as a surprise. It is a little town in northern Portugal — faded, ...
Magazine article

Switzerland beyond the Alps
  

Switzerland is a country of extraordinary variety, complexity and uncertainty. Jung was probably spot-on when he asserted that Switzerland's total preoccupation with itself was the only thing that precluded the country's engagement in wider ...
Magazine article

The mystery of the mikveh
  

The mikveh (or ritual bathing pool) is a key part of Jewish culture, an intimate part of Orthodox Jewish life that is hidden from the public gaze. We take a look at mediaeval and modern mikveh'ot across ...
Magazine article

Painted churches
  

The UNESCO World Heritage List features many ornately decorated churches across Europe. The List includes the painted monasteries of southern Bukovina (described elsewhere in this issue), as well as murals on churches in Switzerland, Bulgaria and ...
Magazine article

Towards the Simplon
  

For those without a hint of romance in their souls, it is possible to speed through the Simplon Tunnel from Switzerland to Italy. The train takes just fifteen minutes. But the old Simplon Pass route is still there for the taking. Brig is the ...
Letter from Europe

Vorarlberg (Austria)

  • 27 Aug 2009
Alighting from the train at Bregenz station in Austria, the traveller instantly has a sense of being in a place that takes recreation seriously. The station architecture is memorably bizarre with its turquoise-green platform canopies and the spiral ...
Magazine article

Switzerland: the Bernina connection
  

The small Swiss town of Pontresina once attracted many of Europe's literati. Today, the poets and philosophers have gone, yet Pontresina and the surrounding mountains are as exquisite as ever. The town's railway station is the jumping off point for ...
Magazine article

Taking the high road
  

France's Cime de la Bonette road is often feted as "la plus haute route d'Europe". But is this really true? We drive some of Europe's highest roads and track down the real record ...
Magazine article

Rest-stops for the soul
  

There is little that is religious about modern mass travel. But seaports, railway stations, airports and even motorway service areas have chapels and churches that address the needs of ...
Magazine article

The heart of nations
  

"We may no longer be officially the centre of England" says a lady in Meriden in the English Midlands. "But we are undoubtedly at the heart of the country." Join us as we ponder on the heart of ...
Magazine article

Passionate nomads
  

Three Swiss-born women travel writers slipped from our shared literary consciousness until they were rediscovered by feminist critics. hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner finds in the writing of Isabelle Eberhardt, Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Ella ...
Letter from Europe

Campione - an Italian exclave in Switzerland

  • 1 Feb 2009
Campione is an extraordinary spot - a geopolitical oddity of the first order. The village is an exclave of Italy within the Ticino region of southern Switzerland. The conundrum that is Campione'd Italia is nicely captured in a set of old Campione ...
Letter from Europe

Swiss spring

  • 14 May 2008
May Day may still be more than a fortnight away, but Zürich takes time out today for an early spring festival. Rain looks set to put a dampener on this year's Sechseläutern. This is a peculiarly Swiss occasion. The name refers to the "six o'clock ...
Letter from Europe

The soul of Switzerland

  • 7 Jan 2008
To cross the threshold of the Wilmersdorf church today is truly to enter another world. For today, in the Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical calendar, it is Christmas Day. The twin virtues of ardent faith and a strong sense of attachment to a diaspora ...
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

Shrovetide frolics

  • 20 Feb 2007
Consider a journey that starts in the Swiss Alps and ends in an abandoned city in the south Caucasus region. To be more precise, we'll start at Pontresina, just over the hill from St Moritz. It's a place where poets and philosophers used to come ...
Letter from Europe

Val Müstair

  • 6 Jan 2007
From Zürich it was just three hours on happily empty trains via Landquart and Klosters to Zernez in the Inn valley. There is something rather nice about entering the long tunnel at Klosters, knowing that, in a matter of minutes, one will be ...
Letter from Europe

Samnaun (Switzerland) - hidden europe 6

  • 14 Dec 2005
Samnaun is an utterly surreal spot, not least this past week or two while this out of the way community in eastern Switzerland hosted its annual Santa Claus championships. Chimney climbing and displays of sledging prowess were the order of the day ...