hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

A few days ago I travelled by train from the Berlin suburb of Lichterfelde to Ewell in England, just south of London. In total I paid 55 euros for the entire 15-hour train journey of 1393 km. Looking at the different fare components, I see that I ...
The former route of the Berlin Wall around the outer edges of West Berlinis now marked a cycle way and footpath. Much of the route is leafy and green. Along the way there are markers that highlight episodes in the history of the Berlin Wall. This one recalls the death of Christoph-Manuel Bramböck on 31 August 1990 (photo © hidden europe). Detail from the marker on the Berlin Wall cyle way that recalls the death of Christoph-Manuel Bramböck, the last victim of the Berlin Wall (photo © hidden europe).

Twenty years ago this summer, each new week seemed to bring another momentous political event as the two German States edged towards Union. But a tragic incident overshadowed the Unification Treaty signed on 31 August ...

There are a few changes on Eurostar this week with the introduction of a new Standard Premier class on services linking London with Brussels and Paris. Standard Premier replaces Leisure Select as the middle tier of the three class service on ...

We were saddened to see the news this week about the death of the writer George Behrend on Monday evening. He was always very enthusiastic about our work with hidden europe, although perhaps a tad surprised to find two women writing about his pet ...

Communities across Polissya are this week celebrating Chernobyl Days, the festival that marks the renaissance of the Chernobyl region since it was resettled in June 2040. Polissya now boasts Europe's largest national park, a region of remarkable ...

Our quest to travel light is of course a fruitless whim. We like the idea of strolling down to our nearest mainline station and hopping on a night train to the other side of Europe with no more than a light day sack. But it never ...

We would not suggest using rail timetables as a definitive indicator of the state of relations between neighbouring states. But it is interesting that train schedules are often altered very quickly when there is a downturn in ...

We see that this summer the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) are offering rail passes that give unlimited rail travel anywhere within Germany. The passes are valid for use for either 175 hours or for a full month in the period from 13 June until 31 ...

Vatry is a nice enough spot, a village with its own aiport in the middle of nowhere. Yet Ryanair obviously judges that Vatry might be just the place where Paris-bound Scandinavians might like to ...

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 ...

While flights across much of Europe are getting back to normal after the delays of last week, we should not forget that over parts of the North Atlantic air travel still depends very much on the whim of that Icelandic ...

Subotica is one of those places which are quite disarming. We rather like the small town in northern Serbia, which has a feast of art nouveau architecture and deserves to be better known on that count ...

Airlines all over Europe are proclaiming how zealous they have been in looking after their passengers over the past days. Yet well do we all know that many European airlines have behaved in a quite despicable manner towards their ...

The news that about seven million air travellers across Europe have had their travel plans disrupted over the last five days has captured the headlines. But let us get this in perspective. Well over one hundred million journeys are made every day ...

A couple of recent airline bankruptcies highlight the economic vulnerability of small airports in Europe which are not served by a wide range of carriers - and indeed the social vulnerability of remote communities that depend on lifeline air ...

The death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski on Saturday brings to mind that this is not the first time that the Head of State of a European country has died abroad in a plane ...

The Sunday after Easter was for years known as Low Sunday in the Roman calendar, but Pope John Paul II changed that arrangement ten years ago, when he renamed the Sunday in the Easter Octave, calling it Divine Mercy Sunday. Today is Divine Mercy ...

We had a visitor from Russia a while back who expressed surprise that rail passengers in western Europe make long daytime hops by train without having a place to take an afternoon nap. True indeed, but that seems set to change with the French ...

We have been taking a look at which cities around Europe have enjoyed capital of culture status. Including this year's trio of cities that hold the title, there have thus far been over forty cities which have received the European ...

Young Martin wanted nothing more than to fly. Five years ago he launched Alpha One Airways. In 2005, the media were seduced by Martin's youthful entrepreneurialism and rag to riches appeal. But Baby Branson's first venture was a flop - and so was ...

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 ...

Quite how we came to spend yesterday afternoon listening to a score or more national anthems from across Europe is a long tale - and one that need not detain us here. But it made us realise just how uninspiring is the music that accompanies many ...

Lamb soup is a staple in some parts of Europe, but utterly unknown elsewhere. In Iceland, lamb soup has the status of a national dish. That lamb soup was once judged to be the perfect remedy for dysentery was new to ...

Today's the day. 1st March. St David's Day. And the day on which three start-up companies were due to launch new transport links in or around the British ...

Each new monthly edition of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable is an invitation to start planning new journeys. This book, so full of facts, is also a glorious treasure chest of entertaining diversions. And a quick glance at this latest issue ...

Meta-search engines and route indexing services for tracking down flight connections are becoming ever more popular. They are the focus of much uncritical media attention. Devotees of such sites argue that a good flight meta-search engine or route ...

The little airstrip at Portoroz in Slovenia has never featured prominently in Europe's flight schedules. The airfield is south of the town of Portoroz, and built on water meadows near the Dragonja river. But Portoroz airport is back in the news, as ...

A look at two carriers and their new routes to northern European destinations: Atlantic Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Atlantic offers links to the Faroe Islands and Norwegian is launching new routes to ...

The Irish long distance bus company Bus Eireann is offering special fares to users of Twitter. But we are happy to reveal the details here so that readers of the hidden europe notes can benefit from this splendid ...

The independent review of Eurostar's less than perfect performance in the pre-Christmas period makes for interesting reading. It was published this morning. Apparently, some journalists, commenting on the review panel's conclusions, are getting ...

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 ...

Most places across Europe have their local heroes, men and women who command enormous respect for their contribution to their own communities. And today Malta marks the centenary of the birth of just such a man: Mikiel Azzopardi (Dun ...

At breakfast time this morning, an earthquake shook the town of Jaworzno in Polish Upper Silesia. Now in the general scale of seismic events, this was a mere shudder that measured 3.4 on the Richter scale. But clearly there is some subterranean ...

Risavika on the coast of Norway has experienced mixed fortunes in recent years. The port serves nearby Stavanger, the city that is the service hub for the Norwegian offshore oil industry. It now looks as if Smyril Line is tempted to add Risavika as ...

The phrase "Passing Brompton Road" was as familiar to users of the Piccadilly Line tube trains in London a hundred years ago as is the announcement "Mind the Gap" today. But why Brompton ...

Today saw an interesting new development on the Deutsche Bahn (DB) website. Suddenly a handful of new trains have appeared - they all bear the prefix EST, suggesting a Eurostar ...

The self-image of communities and even whole countries is always deserving of study. We never would have thought that Luxembourg feared it was boring and monotonous. To us, it seems vibrant, varied, chic and ...

In the middle of last month we reported in our regular e-brief about Euroferries, the would-be cross Channel shipping operator that has yet to make a single crossing on its much publicised Ramsgate to Boulogne route. Now the saga ...

The news that a new air carrier called Varsity Express is due to launch scheduled air services from Oxford to Edinburgh in March will evoke memories of ill-fated Alpha One which five years ago promised to launch another Varsity link - from Oxford ...

It is bitterly cold today in Dilove, a tiny village in the Tysa valley in Ukraine. As folk gather outside the village's recently restored wooden church after the morning liturgy, they wonder whether it really is worth bothering to vote. Ukraine has ...

Fantasy architecture has long been common in American hotels, but it is becoming increasingly frequent on this side of the Atlantic too - and not just at Eurodisney near Paris. We look at examples from Turkey and the Canary ...

As Europe shivers through a protracted cold spell, it is interesting to note which cities around the continent have had to endure the coldest days. Of course we are all affected by the chilly weather, but the local media coverage of wintry weather ...

The Toros Express has always been an optimistic name for the train that links Istanbul with Aleppo in Syria. And in the last year or two it has run only irregularly. But last Friday a new regular train service was launched across the border between ...

This weekend Valletta hosts the big street festival that regularly marks the end of the Christmas season. Under the banner Citta Magica, there will be music and performances aplenty, and the streets of Valletta will be full of visitors from across ...

Much of northern Europe has endured some pretty wintry weather these past couple of weeks. Last night, temperatures plummeted to below minus 30 degrees Celsius over a large area of northern Scandinavia and northwest ...

It was an amiable distraction over Christmas and the New Year to browse news media from across Europe, all dutifully reporting on the best of the dying year. But one tires eventually of reading accounts of the top ten books and places of 2009. So ...