Notes Archive: 2012

About our notes

Our Notes are published from time to time to comment on aspects of travel, culture, society and politics in and around Europe.

These are opinions and news-related items that complement both the printed magazine and our Letter from Europe and presented with that same quiet authority and perceptive insight that readers of hidden europe magazine have come to expect.

Journeys: Winter in Arabia and Summer by the Baltic

by hidden europe

Summer in Europe might not seem a natural ally for winter in Arabia. But Freya Stark’s 'A Winter in Arabia' is a book for all seasons and all continents. It recalls Freya Stark’s second journey through the Hadhramaut region of southern Arabia (nowadays part of Yemen). Freya Stark’s first Arabian foray, in the winter of 1934–1935, ended with measles and an ignominious rescue by the Royal Air Force. The publicity in Europe which attended that rescue helped establish Freya Stark’s reputation as an intrepid explorer.

The warm shadow of Isabelle Eberhardt

by Nicky Gardner

Many years ago, I spent a long hot summer in and around a sleepy ksar on the edge of the Sahara. I read many books that summer, but it was 'Dans l’ombre chaude de l’Islam' that tugged and tugged again, urging me to return to its pages. That book was my introduction to Isabelle Eberhardt, a writer who — perhaps more than any other — has influenced my life and my thinking. This summer, so far from the desert and in a country where the most charming of all oases is my garden, I turned to Sharon Bangert’s English translation of 'Dans l’ombre chaude de l’Islam'. It appears under the Peter Owen imprint in a pocket-sized paperback.

Bookmark: A Sentimental Journey

by hidden europe

The travel narratives of yesteryear line our shelves, and it was really no more than chance that last week we looked again at Laurence Sterne’s Sentimental Journey. Some might venture that in shelving it in the travel section of our modest library we have erred. It is more a work of sentimental fiction than a travelogue sensu stricto. 244 years after its initial publication, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy is still a fine read.

Slow is better: the real value of InterRail

by hidden europe

“InterRail isn’t the same as in the early days,” came the cry after our 40th-birthday bouquet in honour of InterRail published in hidden europe 37. Several correspondents have contacted us with stories of how InterRail and Eurail have lost their gloss. Many hold against the scheme that there are too many supplements nowadays — unlike forty years ago, when you could just hop on any train and travel where you wanted. But is this true? It's time to put the record straight.

Opening of new Berlin airport delayed

by hidden europe

Berlin’s much vaunted new airport, already much delayed, was due eventually to open on 3 June. But the announcement this week that the airport (dubbed BER in IATA-speak) will not now open until later in 2012 threatens to pay havoc with summer travel plans. The whole airport saga has dragged on for years with contractors squabbling and an evident lack of clear leadership. But after delays last year, the 3 June opening date seemed very firm and few Berliners had any inkling that there would now be further problems.