Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

The main square in Sopron's Old Town (photo © Vrabelpeter1 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Sopron is one of those places with a sense of being in the heart of Europe. One hundred years ago, this small town in western Hungary was much in the news. Few places were so shaken by the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It's a thought ...
Shunmyo Masuno's Japanese garden, based on Zen principles, in the Berlin suburb of Marzahn (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Berlin's suburb of Marzahn is uncompromising. Its powerful and authoritarian architecture is definitely interesting, but does not find favour with all. Not everyone likes the relentless spread of apartment blocks which sprung up in the ten years ...
A fine black-and-white shot of the town of Clifden with the Twelve Bens in the background. Few writers capture the spirit of these Connemara landscapes as well as Tim Robinson (photo © Michael Walsh / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Clifden is an interesting example of a purposefully planned community in the outback. The town was founded just over 200 years ago in what was then one of the remotest corners of Ireland. Recently, we travelled to Clifden by ...
A road in the Lusatian town of Forst. The derelict mill building serves as a reminder that this area once had a thriving textile industry (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

This week we travelled slowly through Lusatia, exploring communities once sustained by extensive vineyards and a thriving textile industry. The modestly sized town of Forst on the west bank of the River Neisse once styled itself as the German ...
Promenade architecture and the Kurhaus in Binz on the shore of the Baltic island of Rügen (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

We have this year visited the Baltic twice already. It's a region of Europe that's at its best in winter, we find, and sedate Binz was the perfect place to pen the editorial for issue 57 of hidden europe which is published tomorrow. Let's ...
Lock on the Grand Union Canal - this major English canal was used by John Hollingshead on his way from London to Birmingham by boat (photo © Cpphotoimages / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

John Hollingshead's account of his 1858 journey on a cargo boat from London to Birmingham is a fine narrative celebrating slow travel; its beauty resides in the manner it captures that sense of wonder at navigating so slowly through ...
The gardens of the Villa Rufolo in Ravello overlook Italy's Amalfi coast (photo © Leonid Sorokin / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Even at this time of the year there is a lush richness in the citrus groves and chestnut woods which tumble down to the sea. We make our way through cypresses and limes towards the Villa Rufolo, the gardens of which inspired Richard ...
Paddington station is the departure point for over 200 trains a day which speed west on Brunel's classic railway to Ealing and beyond. Just one train each day follows a different route out of Paddington - the New North Line (photo © Jonkio4 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

This is the story of Paddington’s ghost train which runs for the last time today. The 11.35 to High Wycombe uses the New North Line out of Paddington towards the Chiltern ...
The view towards the Vindhyagiri Hill temple complex - visitors and devotees ascend the hill via a flight of steps (photo © ePhotocorp / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

We were and still are Indian novices. The subcontinent pivots around a different Heaven from Europe. So we were a little nervous when we recently visited the country. Wouldn't you be? And we were rarely in the right place at the right time. Enjoy ...
The hill community of Zakopane, in the shadow of the Tatra Mountains, hardly seems the sort of spot for revolution. But 100 years ago it was a self-styled independent republic (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The dignified commemorations marking one hundred years since the end of the First World War masked the details of what actually happened in November 1918. The aftermath of the Great War was a messy business, with conflict continuing in some areas ...