Dear fellow travellers
I love that rim of the world feeling that you get on headlands around Europe's Atlantic coast. Especially in winter. To drive out to Malin Head in Donegal on a wild December day is real travel. Or, in Ireland's southwest corner, to be alone at the ancient fort at Dún Beag, feel the fierce wind sweep in over Slea Head and then dive for cover in one of Dingle's colour-washed pubs.
Down in Galicia, the road to Cape Finisterre is one of Europe's finest Atlantic excursions. A journey to the very end of the earth. You twist and turn through tiny ports, skirt inlets full of mussel rafts, and run past sheltered meadows, each with an elevated stone granary perched on stilts and decorated with a crucifix. Wind is the defining feature of Finisterre weather, and glass clad balconies on the upper floors of many houses afford both protection from the elements and a fine view down to the streets below. Not that a lot of folk are about on the streets on wild winter days.
I went to Cape Finisterre (Cabo Fisterra in the local Galician language) on a spectacularly stormy day in early 2005. I hunkered down in the lee of the lighthouse, and there wrote a few lines that later formed the editorial of the first ever issue of hidden europe. As it happens, Cape Finisterre claims no geographical records. It is not even mainland Spain's westernmost point. But it is nonetheless atmospheric. Not for nothing that earlier mariners dubbed this coastline the Costa da Morte (Death Coast). I gazed west towards Newfoundland and truly had a sense of being at the end of Europe.
So Advent is upon us. We dutifully lit our first Advent candle yesterday, and then had an engaging hour or two assembling Moravian stars - the iconic Nativity emblem of the Moravian Church which has its worldwide headquarters in a tiny community in the hills of eastern Saxony. We wrote about Moravian matters in hidden europe in September this year.
With Advent, thoughts turn to Christmas gifts. Moravian stars perhaps. But why not a gift subscription to hidden europe for a relation or close friend? A feast of European travel and culture captured in fluent prose and delivered to the front door six times each year. Surprise a friend with hidden europe. Just go here for more details. And please remember that for pre-Christmas deliveries to European addresses we need your order by Monday 15 December (or even earlier for delivery to Asia, Africa, Australasia, the Americas and Antarctica).
You can top-up a Christmas sub by throwing in a themed pack of three back issues, and for Christmas gifts, we are always happy to add a card announcing your gift with the wording of your choice.