We first chanced upon Kobarid in Slovenia quite by accident, when, a few years back, we were meandering north from the Adriatic towards the Austrian Alps. There was something about the whiter than white rocks, and the turquoise waters of the Soca river, which was instantly beguiling. Something too about the town itself, of which Hemingway wrote in Farewell to Arms, so perfectly positioned at the foot of Mount Krn. If truth be told, it is one of our favourite spots in all Europe. Which is one very good reason why Kobarid features so centrally in this new issue of hidden europe.
Elsewhere in hidden europe 4, we pursue a maritime theme as we try to track down Slovenia's offshore islands, make landfall in Iceland and the Hebridean island of Oronsay, and mark the sixtieth anniversary of the sinking of the Arandora Star off the Irish coast. And as always, we make a foray into eastern Europe, this time as we follow the trail of members of a Jewish Hasidic sect as they make their annual pilgrimage to central Ukraine - a reminder of the days when Podillya had one of the most richly varied Jewish cultures of any region in Europe.
We are struck how health and wellness themes have ever greater visibility in the regular travel press, so, anxious not to miss out on this current fad, we take a trip to one of central Europe's most historic health spas near Jeseník in the Czech Republic - though it's not a spot that figures in any modern brochures. And, deferring again to the demands of convention, we even do a little sightseeing and take in museums in Macedonia and Spanish Andalucía.
With this issue, we have introduced a change or two. Several readers have suggested that we need more maps, so this time there are maps aplenty, and our warm thanks are due to Kathryn Kelly and her colleagues at Collins Bartholomew for permission to reproduce extracts from atlases produced by that illustrious Scottish cartographer, John Bartholomew of Edinburgh (www.collinsbartholomew.com).
We are very grateful to Mervyn Benford, Leibel Berger, David Cawley and Alasdair Gardner for permission to include their photographs. Additional permissions were granted by Trine Rosen Madsen of Ribe Tourism and Catherine Trippet of Random House Publishers. Full photo and map credits appear in each article.
Finally, our thanks to David Cawley for so ably discharging the responsibility of being this issue's guest contributor, with his fine piece on Europe's longest tidal crossing.
Nicky SC Gardner & Susanne Kries
21 August 2005