hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Baggage tag showing the IATA code DME for Moscow Domodedovo airport (photo © Gh19 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Bag Tag

Frequent flyers know that it's perfectly reasonable to fly from JFK to WAW via AMS. Just as they appreciate that it makes no sense at all to fly ARN to HEL via CDG. Those innocuous codes on airline baggage tags are the key to the geography of air ...
Atlantic Airways Airbus A319 landing at Copenhagen Airport (photo © Jens Fiskbaek / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Flights to the Faroes

Are the Faroe Islands perhaps thinking of emulating Iceland's success in attracting North Atlantic stopover traffic? Might travellers a few years hence stop off in the Faroe Islands en route from North America to the European mainland? We take a ...
Lufthansa looks set to become more dominant in German skies following the demise of its rival Air Berlin. Air Berlin operates its last flights on Friday 27 October 2017 (photo © Radarman70 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The slow demise of Air Berlin

  • 27 Oct 2017
This evening, as the prosecco glasses clink and the water salutes cascade, anyone might be forgiven for thinking that Air Berlin had just notched up some great commercial success. What is in fact being marked is the demise of an airline with flight ...
Landing on the beach in Barra. The island's airport is blessed with not one, not two, but three runways (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Notes from a Hebridean island

  • 13 Apr 2017
There is a special dynamic to island life. One meets the same people day after day - but often in different contexts. We bump into people in the most unlikely spots. On the east side of Barra, a number of rocky peninsulas jut out into the Sea of ...
Tupolev 104 OK-LDC in the Czech border village of Petrovice (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Tale of a Tupolev

Shoppers in the Czech border village of Petrovice are inclined to board a Tupolev 104 airplane when they want a coffee or a snack. Find out why this 60-year-old jet aircraft is a good spot to ...
Flybe is one of the operators which applied for support from the UK Government's Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF) to set up new air routes (photo © Richair / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Funding regional air services

  • 7 Feb 2017
The idea behind the UK Government's Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF) is that financial support for a year or two would be an incentive for airline operators to serve routes where there might otherwise be high commercial risk. We take a look at ...
The island of Barra in Scotland's Outer Hebrides relies on a lifeline air link with Glasgow. Loganair's Twin Otter aircraft land on the beach at Barra (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Short hops by plane

  • 9 Jan 2017
Short hops by air over water are of course very common, generally relying on non-jet aircraft and providing lifeline air services to island communities around the coasts of Europe. A review of old airline timetables reveals that there used to be ...
An aerial view of the Zambezi River (photo © Luca Santilli / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The art of flying

  • 10 Jan 2016
Flying is rarely a bundle of fun. Even leaving aside the generally horrid nature of airports with their essential (but inevitably unpleasant) security checks, modern aviation practice makes few concessions to the poetics of the journey. The ...
Magazine article

Ukrainian-Russian links
  

The tit-for-tat posturing between Ukraine and Russia benefits no-one trying to travel to and from Crimea - or for that matter anywhere in the border regions between the two countries. In late October 2015, air links between Russia and Ukraine were ...
Longyearbyen Airport on Svalbard - the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic - is celebrating its 40th anniversary (photo © Splosh / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Longyearbyen Airport, 40 years on

  • 2 Sep 2015
Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the official opening of the airport at Longyearbyen on 2 September 1975. It was an event which dramatically changed this polar outpost, making it far more accessible to the scientific community and ...
Widerøe flight 702 prepares to leave Trondheim for
the two-hour flight to Bodø — with stops at Brønnøysund
and Sandnessjøen along the way (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Real flying: Norway by plane
  

The consensus is that flying has become boring. But fly on small planes offering a web of scheduled services up the Norwegian coast to discover a very different take on civil aviation. Travel by plane can still be immensely enjoyable. We review ...
Magazine article

Crimea notes

The Ukrainian railway administration may still be advertising trains to Crimea, but not a lot of Ukrainians will be heading to the region for their summer holidays. Hoteliers in Crimea are having a lean season, but Moscow has plans to ensure that ...
Magazine article

The airport question
  

What new European airport welcomed its inaugural flight in April this year and has since closed its doors for a long winter break? The answer is Kassel in Germany, which gets the hidden europe wooden spoon for the biggest transport flop of the ...
Letter from Europe

The Out Skerries

  • 11 Sep 2013
For the Out Skerries in Scotland's Shetland archipelago, the 'Filla' has been a veritable lifeline. This year, she marks thirty years of sterling service to the Skerries community. Launched in 1983, the Filla helped transform life on the Out ...
Magazine article

Hartland connections

The parish of Hartland in the north-west corner of Devon is served by no railway lines, and the endless onslaught of winds and waves have destroyed its port. Only the name, Hartland Quay, survives on maps as a reminder of the commerce and trade ...
Letter from Europe

Flying can still be fun

  • 11 May 2012
Flying has generally ceased to be fun. The only certainty about much modern air travel is that it will be boring. Gone are the days when Dakotas battled against headwinds and made unscheduled landings at rough airstrips in offbeat parts of Europe. ...
Letter from Europe

Branding the skies

  • 27 Sep 2011
It is rare that we write about planes, but a few days ago we stumbled on a list of airlines that have been consigned to aviation history. What struck us was the pure poetry embedded in this sad litany: Flying Finn, Styrian Spirit, Magic Blue, Arc ...
Letter from Europe

Beyond the Wall

  • 13 Aug 2011
Prosaic places are so often the most interesting spots. And Lichterfelde ranks as decidedly prosaic. None of the main English-language guidebooks to Berlin so much as mention the suburb where we live and work. Tourists do not flock to Lichterfelde ...
Letter from Europe

Now the dust is settling

  • 22 Apr 2010
Well, that was certainly an interesting week for travellers around Europe. Lots of angst for stranded souls. Rich fodder for the British tabloids as brave holidaymakers returned to English ports recounting tales of journeys from hell. Heavens, we ...
Magazine article

On a wing and a prayer
  

Are we too tolerant of the aggressive new generation of low-cost airlines that are too footloose to show any real commitment to a particular airport? We look at some examples of community support for local airports that has not always reaped ...
A KD Avia plane at Kaliningrad Airport. The Russian airline stopped operating in September 2009 (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Disquiet in Kaliningrad
  

Is it no wonder that citizens of Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad are feeling a little jittery these days? Kaliningrad's inhabitants feel that they are a long way from Moscow, and also increasingly distant from the European Union countries ...
hidden europe note

Portoroz airport reopens

  • 21 Feb 2010
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 ...
Image © Scott Rothstein / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

Timetable interludes
  

Imagine an airport that every single week closes down for a long weekend. Or an airline that observes the sabbath, and leaves its planes grounded. Such curiosities really do ...
Letter from Europe

Airport links

  • 17 Sep 2009
Is not the journey to the airport often one of the great hassles of modern travel? Not all of us can enjoy the relaxed approach taken in the Isle of Man where narrow gauge steam trains pause on request at Ronaldsway Halt, just a short walk from the ...
Magazine article

Norway by plane
  

A small Norwegian airline called Widerøe operates flights into some of Europe's remotest communities. The company's Explore Norway Ticket allows travellers to hop from one small airport to ...
Magazine article

Hidden charges
  

"taxes, fees and charges extra" say the airline advertisements in tiny print, as they hawk low price flights across Europe. But what is included in taxes, fees and charges? And who levies these ...
Magazine article

Svalbard links

For travellers with their ice axes and crampons at the ready, Svalbard (Spitsbergen) is about to come a whole lot closer, with a Norwegian budget airlines offering flights in 2008 to the Arctic ...
Letter from Europe

Spitsbergen and the Italia rescue

  • 19 Jul 2008
Not so many St Petersburg visitors make it over to Vasilievsky Island which sits fair and square in the Neva delta. Those that do stick in the main to the eastern end of the island with the old St Petersburg stock exchange. This is a building of ...
Letter from Europe

Russia's Baltic coast

  • 26 May 2008
It is that time of year when Baltic seaside resorts come into their own, reminding the rest of Europe that beach culture is not solely a Mediterranean prerogative. The sedate charms of Sellin (on the German island of Rügen) are a world away from ...
Letter from Europe

Seaplanes make a comeback

  • 23 Apr 2008
Loch Lomond Seaplanes last week launched a new seaplane service from Glasgow to Tobermory on the Hebridean island of Mull. Predictable media frenzy of course, with hyped accounts in English newspapers of how islanders can now eat 'seaweed muesli' ...
Letter from Europe

Helgoland

  • 24 Mar 2008
Despite a biting north wind and some squally showers of sleet and hail, Helgolanders did what they always do on the evening of Easter Saturday: gather just before dusk for the traditional Osterfeuer (Easter fire). Helgoland (often still referred to ...
Letter from Europe

Cabris (France) - Shetland links

  • 23 Jun 2006
The small hilltop town of Cabris in Alpes-Maritimes is not, we would concede, normal hidden europe territory. Cabris is the archetypal French holiday town, beautiful in the winter season, but a little too crowded on these summer days. That is not ...
Letter from Europe

Airports by night - April Fool's day

  • 1 Apr 2006
Edinburgh's Grid Iron Theatre Company, in conjunction with the National Theatre of Scotland, explores the 'terminal as theatre' theme in its upcoming production Roam at Edinburgh International Airport. Roam is Grid Iron's tenth anniversary ...
Letter from Europe

Estonian ice routes - Icarus Reincarnate

  • 23 Nov 2005
A full week of cold weather over much of northern Europe has brightened the winter prospects for Scotland's ski resorts and for inhabitants of some of Estonia's offshore islands. Where winters are cold enough - by no means every year – some of ...