Dear fellow travellers
The view from the edge is always interesting. Here on the Baltic island of Rügen, there is a palpable sense of being on the edge of things. Sunny days, even at this time of year, and unseasonally warm temperatures are tempting visitors out onto the promenade in the quiet seaside resort of Binz.
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 magazine which is published tomorrow. If you value good travel writing, why not take a punt on hidden europe 57, which costs just €8 (and that includes airmail postage to any European address).
As ever in the magazine, we mainstream on understated prose which evokes the spirit of landscape and a sense of place. And in this issue we focus very much on the view from the edge. We explore why faith communities on the western margins of the Russian Empire in the 19th century sought refuge in East Prussia. And we see how new railways eclipsed waterborne trade in the westernmost part of the tsarist realm.
Rügen is too big to really have much by way of island character. Some would argue it's not an island at all. It is after all linked by both road and rail bridges to the German mainland.
But perhaps 'islandness' is not merely a matter of geography but more a state of mind. Few would dispute the island status of North Ronaldsay or Silba, both of which feature in this new issue of hidden europe. The first is in the Orkney archipelago, off the north-east coast of Scotland, while Silba is one of the lesser known Croatian islands. Very hidden Europe.
We consider notions of wilderness in hidden europe 57, and wonder if, rather than being an objective commodity, wilderness is more in the eye of the beholder. In Europe today, is wilderness to be found through a conscious approach to landscape?
It's not often that we venture far beyond the shores of Europe, but there are a few far-flung places which feature in hidden europe 57. We note how Red Bay on the coast of Labrador was once an important centre for the Basque whaling industry. Also in the New World, we reveal how Russian Old Believers ended up in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
We love giving praise where praise is due, so it is a pleasure to say a few nice things about Bradt Travel Guides in hidden europe 57, commenting on that company's ambitious publishing programme which includes guides to South Sudan, Iraq, North Korea and Belarus. The latter title now runs to four editions - proof indeed, if ever it were needed, that there's still a strong public appetite for the path less travelled.
For 14 years, we've ploughed a distinct furrow with hidden europe, never seeking sponsorship and never taking a cent in advertising revenue - and never once featuring infinity pools or frivolous luxury. We have given space for long-form travel writing which has been squeezed out of mainstream media. Above all, we have promoted decent, liberal European values, highlighting a Europe of many cultures and many nations. It's a perspective which now, more than ever, is sorely needed.
If you are interested, you can purchase a subscription (including gift subscriptions) or individual copies of the magazine in our online shop.
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
(editors, hidden europe magazine)