hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Magazine article

In from the Cold

The thrills and spills of top-class soccer are just part of the appeal of the FIFA World Cup. Sport aside, it's been a chance for visitors to feel the warmth of Russian hospitality. An amiable wolf called Zabivaka has been doing his bit to make ...
The birthplace of Karl Marx in Trier, Germany, which houses a museum on the life of the German philosopher (photo © Matyas Rehak / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Paris in the springtime

  • 5 May 2018
Today marks the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth. He was born in the town of Trier in the Moselle Valley, a place which these days seems so sedate as to be entirely devoid of revolutionary potential. But Marx had sensitive political antennae and, ...
The new, 15th edition of Europe by Rail was published in late November 2017.
Letter from Europe

High days, holy days and Christmas gifts

  • 13 Dec 2017
In a rare commercial plug for our products, we have some handsome Christmas gift ideas. For just 48 hours from the time stamp of this newsletter, we are selling signed copies of our Europe by Rail book, the fifteenth edition of which was published ...
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 ...
The Russian cruiser Aurora is anchored in St Petersburg and currently serves as a museum ship (photo © Marcorubino / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

One shot from the Aurora

  • 16 Oct 2017
100 years ago, on the evening of 25 October 1917 (in the Russian calendar), a single blank shell was fired from the Russian cruiser Aurora. It gave the signal for the Bolsheviks to storm the Winter Palace. Was that single blank shot from the Aurora ...
The Champs de Mars in Paris, site of the 1867 World Fair (photo © Freesurf69 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Paris sideshows in June 1867

  • 27 Jun 2017
There was much ado in Paris 150 years ago this month. The 'Exposition universelle de 1867' had opened at the Champs de Mars in April and had secured very positive press reviews both in France and more widely across Europe. It also drew a big crowd ...
The memorial to the children of Lidice in the Czech village (photo by Moravice)
Letter from Europe

Lidice shall live!

  • 23 May 2017
This Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the Czech Resistance's successful attempt on the life of senior Nazi administrator Reinhard Heydrich. It was an event which had terrible repercussions; the Germans retaliated with ruthless force. Those ...
Lenin statue in Moscow (photo © Mjunsworth / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

April 1917: Lenin returns to Russia

  • 25 Apr 2017
News of the revolution in Russia reached Switzerland in March 1917, and many politically active Russian émigrés immediately decided to return home. Led by Lenin, the revolutionaries boarded a sealed carriage and travelled by train across ...
image © Tamarindarts / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

Thoughts for the 8th of March

  • 8 Mar 2017
Today is International Women's Day (IWD). In the ecclesiastical calendar, Rome assigns 8 March to St John of God, who died on this day in 1550. He was, as it happens, a thoroughly decent guy who in the latter years of his life worked in Granada ...
Surveying the scene: the small town of Krupka on the edge of the Ore Mountains in Bohemia. The region features in issue 50 of hidden europe magazine (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Issue 50 of hidden europe magazine

  • 15 Nov 2016
Today is special. On account of an anniversary. Today sees the publication of issue 50 of hidden europe magazine. For a niche travel magazine which appears just thrice annually, hidden europe has punched far above its weight, often covering travel ...
Professor Doreen Massey
hidden europe note

In honour of Doreen Massey 1944-2016

  • 13 Mar 2016
We have this weekend heard the sad news of the death of Doreen Massey, the distinguished geographer whose ideas powerfully influenced our work at hidden europe. Her ability to challenge everything is a model for all socially committed ...
Magazine article

From Austerlitz to Waterloo
  

So where is the Trafalgar which gave its name to the Battle of Trafalgar? And where is the Blenheim after which Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is supposedly named? We look at a few European place names which feature larger-than-life in the ...
Letter from Europe

Encounter at Hendaye

  • 23 Oct 2015
75 years ago this week, Hitler was on the move. Within just a few days, the Führer's train was in north-west France, in the Basque region and in Tuscany. But this was no holiday. On 23 October 1940, Hitler met General Franco in Hendaye. It was the ...
50 years ago, the village of Capel Celyn in North Wales was sacrificed to make way for a new reservoir (photo by Velela).
Letter from Europe

Remember Tryweryn

  • 20 Oct 2015
The Welsh phrase Cofiwch Dryweryn (Remember Tryweryn) recalls the fate of the Tryweryn Valley which was flooded to provide water for the English city of Liverpool. The new reservoir, officially opened in October 1965, meant the end for the village ...
The former bath house in Jurmala, Latvia, erected in the early 20th century (photo © Sergiy Palamarchuk / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Jurmala, a victim of circumstance

  • 6 Oct 2015
Imagine a gorgeous sweep of white quartz sand backed by low dunes and pine forest. Add in several mineral water springs of therapeutic value and an endless supply of curative mud - and there you have Jurmala's prime assets. The Latvian coastal ...
Letter from Europe

100 years after Zimmerwald

  • 5 Sep 2015
The Zimmerwald Conference was a defining moment in European socialist history. There were stand-offs between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks; there were long and heated debates about how class struggle might bring an end to the First World War. ...
Magazine article

Railway ghosts

Literary ghosts haunt the pages of mid and late 19th-century fiction - from Henry James The Turn of the Screw to Charles Dickens' The Haunted House. One of the spookiest tales of all is Dickens' The Signalman, a fine short story which may have been ...
Letter from Europe

150 years since Staplehurst

  • 12 Jun 2015
A Friday afternoon. The second Friday in June. As is today. The tidal train left Folkestone just after two in the afternoon. Charles Dickens was on board the tidal train on that Friday afternoon in 1865. It should have been a routine journey ...
Teenagers from the Soviet Union and Africa at Artek in summer 1982 (image from RIA Novosti).
Letter from Europe

A children's republic in the Crimea

  • 9 Jun 2015
This week marks the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Artek children's camp in the Crimea. Throughout post-Soviet Europe there are thousands of older people who look back with great affection to the summer holidays they enjoyed as children at ...
Letter from Europe

The view from Ankerwycke

  • 1 Jun 2015
So you know, Ancient Yew, of all that came to pass in 1215? You shivered for more than a thousand winters. You gave shelter for more than a thousand summers. Did you gaze in those days over the Thames to the meadows at ...
The Chapel of Grace (Gnadenkapelle in German) - the centrepiece of Altötting's main square and the heart and soul of Bavaria (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Pentecost in the heart of Bavaria

  • 24 May 2015
It rained last night on the hills above the Inn Valley in Bavaria. Lucky were those pilgrims who had the luxury of a bed in one of the many small inns and guest houses which are to be found along the route of Saint James. Nourished in body if not ...
Letter from Europe

Remembering Taras Shevchenko

  • 9 Mar 2015
Grab your coat and come with us. This walk we'll make together is important, and this week is the time to do it. Important because, if we want to understand Ukraine, then we need to know the poetry of Taras Shevchenko. And there's no better place ...
Letter from Europe

Food for thought - Expo 2015

  • 28 Jan 2015
A van speeds by in the fast lane of the West Tangent ring road, bearing the inscription: 'Nutrire il pianeta, energia per la vita'. That is the Milan mantra for 2015. 'Feed the planet, energy for life'. For this year Milan hosts a Universal ...
Letter from Europe

New rail services across Europe

  • 16 Nov 2014
Four weeks from today much of Europe will awaken to new train timetables. Each year in December, new schedules come into effect across the continent. The big day this year is Sunday 14 December. We take look at a dozen positive developments worth ...
Magazine article

Martinmas
  

Martinmas is a day for a fresh start, a chance to turn over a new leaf. A good day for an armistice. And a good day to kick off the Carnival ...
Letter from Europe

The beauty of Berlin

  • 7 Nov 2014
In the third and last of three pieces to mark the 25th anniversary of the dramatic events of November 1989 in Berlin, the editors of hidden europe reflect on the special qualities that mark their home ...
Ketwurst used to be a popular East German snack. It was most associated with Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, famous for its world clock seen here (photo © Patrick Poendl / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Eastern senses

  • 23 Oct 2014
With the approaching 25th anniversary of the East German government's decision to relax restrictions on its borders, you'll surely be hearing a lot about Berlin over the coming weeks. We have our own recollections of the German Democratic Republic, ...
Letter from Europe

Edwardtide

  • 13 Oct 2014
Today is an ordinary working day, though if history had taken a different turn, October 13 could so easily have become a national holiday in England. Many of the men and women who have occupied the English throne in the last 1000 years have aspired ...
Letter from Europe

Vienna’s new railway station

  • 10 Oct 2014
Shortly after ten o’clock this morning a priest stepped forward to the podium and blessed Vienna’s new railway station. There were speeches aplenty with the statutory votes of thanks to those who have presided over planning committees and ...
Painting at the East Side Gallery, a surviving fragment of the Berlin Wall (image © Anagram1 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

A share in history

The agency that promotes tourism to the German capital is called Visit Berlin. During 2014 Visit Berlin is promoting the idea that 9 November 2014 is the night when you just must be in Berlin. Just as Notting Hill Festival and Edinburgh Hogmanay ...
Letter from Europe

Much ado about the Ascension

  • 29 May 2014
There was often much ado around San Marco on Ascension Day. At least if Canaletto's celebrated paintings of Venice on the Feast of the Ascension are to be believed. The particular ceremony that caught Canaletto's attention was the annual dedication ...
Letter from Europe

A polar travel centenary

  • 10 Jan 2014
The Arctic has been much on our minds of late. Today we mark the centenary of an epic moment in polar travel. One hundred years ago today, the Karluk was wrecked in the Chukchi Sea. The ship set off from Vancouver Island in June 1913 on a voyage to ...
Letter from Europe

The Chelyuskin epic

  • 5 Jan 2014
As Russian families gather today to celebrate Christmas (which in Orthodox Europe falls later than in the Roman calendar), they will be inclined - like families everywhere in the world - to look back to Christmas tales from yesteryear. There is ...
Letter from Europe

The storm

  • 28 Dec 2013
It is one of those wild sulphurous days, and the bare heath beats to the roar of the winds. The storm sweeps in from the west. The drenched heath lies low. And it survives the fierce onslaught. The forest at Froeslev is less ...
Letter from Europe

An Advent meditation

  • 22 Dec 2013
The sky takes on a different quality in the run-up to Christmas. The grey cloud-folds of Advent have rolled back, and suddenly the air is brighter, drier and clearer. The trees have been flayed by autumn. Only bare skeletons remain, their outlines ...
Magazine article

Of alkari, lace and wooden toys
  

Rudolf Abraham has over the years written about many of Croatia's most remarkable landscapes for hidden europe. Now he returns to the country in search of something more subtle: Croatia’s remarkable craft traditions and festivals. Rudolf argues ...
The higher of the two footbridges over the River Spree shown here is often called the Mierscheid Bridge (photo © Chris Dorney / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

A life less ordinary
  

Jacob Maria Mierscheid was born on 1 March 1933, so we hear. Still going strong at 80, Mierscheid is a German enigma with a knack for missing key events. Earlier this year, Mierscheid failed to show up for his own 80th birthday party. hidden europe ...
Letter from Europe

Lastovo (Croatia)

  • 1 Jul 2013
At ten o'clock yesterday evening, well after the sun had dipped below the waters of the Adriatic, the car ferry arrived in Ubli. The little port at the south-west corner of the island of Lastovo has a hangdog sort of feel. Long before sunrise ...
Letter from Europe

After the flood

  • 24 Jun 2013
The waters came, and so did the European media. The water was ruthless and unsympathetic. It tore down bridges and wrecked homes. The mud and debris that came with the flood blocked culverts and drains. Lives were put on the line. So too were ...
Letter from Europe

On the march

  • 29 Apr 2013
It was one hundred years ago tomorrow that Rosa Luxemburg published some thoughts on May Day in the Leipziger Volkszeitung. Writing, as she put it, "amid the wildest orgies of imperialism," Luxemburg extolled "the brilliant basic idea of May Day" ...
hidden europe note

That long, cold winter

  • 10 Apr 2013
The European winter that is now — all too belatedly — being eclipsed by spring has seemed painfully long. Yet curiously, it has not been exceptionally cold. Across much of Europe, March was chilly by the standards of the average March, but it broke ...
Letter from Europe

A season of grace

  • 29 Mar 2013
It is Good Friday again, a day that jolts much of Europe out of its regular routine. It is a day for pilgrimages - some avowedly secular, others more religious in character. Large crowds from the Saarland region of Germany will flock over the ...
Magazine article

The Book of Hours
  

Some argue that printed timetables are obsolete in an Internet Age. But no online database has ever managed to capture the overall pattern of a train service with the fluency of the tabular format used in printed timetables. We probe the magic ...
Letter from Europe

Thomas Cook: March 1873

  • 28 Feb 2013
By the end of February 1873, Thomas Cook had encircled most of the northern hemisphere. Cook and his party of circumnavigators had sailed from Liverpool in September 1872. The travellers discovered iced water, Pullman cars and Sioux warriors in the ...
Letter from Europe

The ghost of Christmas past

  • 23 Dec 2012
Okay, so the Mayans are getting the blame for their miscalculations. But the upside is that we can all enjoy another Christmas here on planet earth - and thus all that comes with the Feast of the Nativity. For a lot of homebound earthlings, tied to ...
The Church of the Resurrection located on the rock above the Black Sea in Foros, Ukraine (photo © Andybor / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Crimea connections

  • 5 Dec 2012
Foros is a place for holidays and for history. During the Soviet era, this resort at the southern tip of the Crimea was much favoured by Kremlin leaders looking for a little summer relaxation. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev was at his dacha in ...
Letter from Europe

Retreating into Advent

  • 1 Dec 2012
Have we lost the ability to wait, to keep vigil, to be patient? This weekend, much of Europe marks the start of Advent. In many countries this is still a season defined by quiet reflection in anticipation of Christmas. For some, these weeks in the ...
Magazine article

The heart of Slovenia

The essence of Slovenia is evinced in the country's rustic simplicity and natural grandeur. Jonathan Knott experiences both on a winter walk through villages that boast a close association with the poets and priests who, in the nineteenth century, ...
Magazine article

Chance encounter: Cape Flora

In July 1893, a remarkable chance encounter took place at Cape Flora on Northbrook Island in the Franz Josef archipelago. The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his companion Fredrik Johansen, who had failed to reach the North Pole, bumped in ...
Letter from Europe

Land, sea and the frontiers of space

  • 3 Oct 2012
They are the forgotten places, the liminal zones where land meets the sea. Shingle promontories and spits rarely have the same appeal as rugged cliff coastlines or great tracts of golden sand.Unlovely spreads of shingle, patchy sand and saline ...
Letter from Europe

From Askania-Nova to Vaduz

  • 14 Sep 2012
Another Friday morning. And a sunny September day in Liechtenstein. A little fog around dawn down in the Rhine Valley, but that will surely clear quickly. So blue skies will set the tone for the hundredth birthday of Baron Eduard Alexandrovich von ...
Letter from Europe

All eyes on Ukraine

  • 4 Jun 2012
Just over five years ago, on a sunny day in mid-April 2007, Victor Yushchenko paid a courtesy visit to the European Commission. On the same day Victor Yanukovich addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Ukraine was in ...
Letter from Europe

Musings for May Day

  • 1 May 2012
Well, we survived Walpurgis Night. Did you? Or were you abducted by ghouls or goblins? Did you sell your soul? Across much of Europe, May is ushered in by a night of bonfires and revelry. "All a matter of keeping the witches at bay," says our ...
Magazine article

The mystery of Los Picaos
  

Guest contributor Diego Vivanco visits the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra in Spain's Rioja region to see how its inhabitants mark Holy Week. He witnesses a Lenten spectacle that is both theatrical and intimate at the same ...
The shores of Cape Kolka on Latvia’s coast(photo © Dat / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Livonian culture in Latvia: Mazirbe
  

Guest author Toby Screech travels to the heartland of the Livonian minority in Latvia to visit the their annual cultural festival. Not as grand as the main Latvian event in Riga, it is an altogether more intimate affair. And it reveals that the ...
Letter from Europe

Women on the rails

  • 8 Mar 2012
International Women's Day (IWD), which is celebrated today in many countries across the world, has been a feature of the European social landscape for more than a century. From the outset, IWD gave focus to a range of initiatives across Europe that ...
Letter from Europe

Frisian waves

  • 16 Jan 2012
We map our way around Europe using antique guidebooks, just as we map our way through the year using long-obsolete ecclesiastical calendars. So we are in a small minority of Europeans who happen to know that today, 16 January, was long observed as ...
Letter from Europe

Less bratwurst, more Brussels

  • 24 Dec 2011
It is the season for good cheer. Or so they say. And this Advent we have caught a dash of Christmas spirit in several different countries across Europe. Mulled wine comes with a variety of accents, sometimes with hints of cinnamon and citrus, ...
Letter from Europe

Happy birthday, Ukraine

  • 24 Aug 2011
Over the last couple of days, we have heard Shche ne vmerla Ukraina sung with just a little more gusto, a shade more passion, than is perhaps the norm. Hot on the heels of one of the most colourful Orthodox feasts of the year - when great baskets ...
Letter from Europe

From Dutch tornadoes to Sussex avalanches

  • 11 Aug 2011
We were surprised to learn recently that the place in the world where you are most likely to experience a tornado is the Netherlands. True, those Dutch twisters don't cause quite the havoc of the big tornadoes that occasionally sweep across the US ...
Letter from Europe

Amina unmasked

  • 16 Jun 2011
Perhaps you, like us, were enthralled by the tales from Damascus as Amina Arraf blogged about her adventures and misadventures in the Syrian capital. Amina has of course now been exposed as an American hoaxer with a very fine imagination and a gift ...
Letter from Europe

Kicking off the New Year

  • 1 Jan 2011
New Year's Day. Again. Aching heads for those who took their Hogmanay revelries a little too seriously. We slipped into 2011 in a little house on the edge of a heath on one of the North Frisian islands. Yet Estonia awakens today to the euro as its ...
Letter from Europe

The last victim of the Berlin Wall

  • 29 Aug 2010
1990 was a Berlin summer dominated by the Mauerspechte - literally the 'wall peckers' - who chipped away at the Wall with chisels, often in the hope that fragments of the legacy of a divided Berlin could be sold to the tourists who were then ...
Letter from Europe

Music in Potsdam

  • 12 Jun 2010
Fernweh is a marvellous German word that is not easily translated into English. It hints of the unbearable pain of being stuck at home when in truth you would far rather be exploring a desert island on the other side of the ...
Letter from Europe

The legacy of Katyn

  • 10 Apr 2010
It was twenty years ago this coming Tuesday that Moscow formally acknowledged that the Soviet secret police (the NKVD) had shot thousands of officers, priests, poets and professors in the forests of Katyn. The legacy of Katyn still scars the Polish ...
Letter from Europe

A Dutch planetarium

  • 17 Mar 2010
Evidently the world is going to end in 2012. Well, that at least was the suggestion of the young man we met on the train to Franeker, a small town in the ...
photo © Jostein Hauge / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

Viva football
  

World Cup year! Again! We shall be eagerly following the 2010 Viva World Cup as teams from Padania, Gozo, Lapland, Monaco and other small territories compete for football ...
Letter from Europe

Polling day in Iceland

  • 6 Mar 2010
Today is referendum day in Breiðdalsví­k. The town is a ramshackle sort of place on the edge of a bay of the same name. Breiðdalsvík does not really have a lot going for it. It is raw, untamed, an outback town that has something of the feel of the ...
The former Russian military hospital at Beelitz where Erich and Margot Honecker lived for a spell (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

East Germany: after the fall
  

Brandenburg's business corridor, an east-west strip south of Berlin, incorporates many preserves that featured in Cold War history. We take a look at some of the places outside Berlin that played the role in the political events of 1989 and ...
Letter from Europe

Levoca (Slovakia)

  • 11 Oct 2009
Levoca is picture perfect, a community that deserves to be far better known. As it surely will, for this summer Levoca secured inclusion on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. The historic centre of Levoca reflects late medieval Saxon ...
Letter from Europe

Ferry updates

  • 27 Sep 2009
September will not be remembered as an easy month for ferry operators in the waters around the British Isles. With the end of the peak summer season, many ferry operators look to their books and ponder how (or even whether) they can survive the ...
Letter from Europe

Vitebsk (Belarus)

  • 13 Jul 2009
Every year since 1992, the city of Vitebsk in Belarus has hosted an extravagant festival of music, art and culture known as the Slavianski Bazaar. The old centre of Vitebsk has been handsomely restored, and the city on the banks of the Western ...
Magazine article

Thinking about festivals

The festivalisation of culture penetrates all areas of the arts. No longer is it possible to offer a string of Mozart concerts. Nowadays it has to be a Mozart festival. hidden europe probes the issues of authenticity surrounding Europe's growing ...
Letter from Europe

Slow travel

  • 14 Mar 2009
Have you ever thought about slow travel? The Slow Food movement is well established, and there are now slow cities. But what about slow travel? Robert Louis Stevenson and Freya Stark both travelled with donkeys. They were attentive to every turn of ...
Letter from Europe

Roma gather in the Camargue

  • 20 May 2008
The main highway that skirts the northern fringes of Thessaloníki is no place to linger. Summer has come early to northern Greece this year, and several warm sunny days with still air have left a hazy pall of pollution over Thessaloníki. But the ...