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Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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The lock at Kurzyniec marks the border between Belarus (left) and Poland (right). Only waterborne traffic may cross the border here (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Summit-level-Canals

Canals which breach great drainage divides are always interesting. There's one, opened in 1992, which links the River Danube with the River Main, the latter a tributary of the Rhine. So today it's possible to travel on a ship through the very heart ...
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Chilean carrier LATAM (photo © Andrew Periam / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Fifth-freedom Flights

You could opt for Ryanair when flying from Edinburgh to Dublin, but - if you must fly for such a short hop - why not choose a more interesting option and book with the Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines? We explore the range of fifth-freedom flights ...
Magazine article

Plain Sailing

With new routes from Toulon to Menorca and Sicily, there's much ado in the Mediterranean ferry scene this summer. Further north, there are new year-round services between Germany and a Danish island in the Baltic and good news for foot passengers ...
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

When Empires Crumbled

  • 13 Nov 2018
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 ...
Berlin's Charlottenburg station will add a new departure in December 2018: the Metropol night train to Vienna and beyond (photo © Gestur Gislason / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Central Europe by Night

New rail timetables kick in across Europe on 9 December 2018. There are new direct daytime links from Bratislava to Innsbruck and Zürich, and from the Austria city of Linz to both Halle and Berlin. But the showpiece innovation is a new direct night ...
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 ...
A train of the Ostdeutsche Eisenbahn GmbH (ODEG) leaving Görlitz station for Zittau, a line which crosses the Polish-German border four times along the way (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Corridor Trains
  

Corridor trains (Korridorzüge in German) have a privileged status in international law which makes provision for the trains of one country to transit another country's territory without onerous bureaucracy and border checks. With the ...
A 1950s-era West German railcar at Lichterfelde West station. This heritage railcar makes special journeys in the Berlin region, often traversing railway lines which are rarely used by passenger trains (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Tracking through Berlin

  • 10 Jun 2018
This year marks the 180th anniversary of the opening of the first railway in Prussia. This was the line from Berlin to Potsdam. So we joined fellow Berliners on a 1950s-vintage railcar that went from Lichterfelde West to Gesundbrunnen ...
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, ...
Ghosts on the Shore by Paul Scraton (Influx Press, 2017)
hidden europe note

Ghosts on the Shore

  • 6 Nov 2017
Nicky Gardner, co-editor of hidden europe magazine, reviews 'Ghosts on the Shore' by Paul Scraton. The book was published in June 2017 by Influx Press. It gives rare insights into Baltic landscapes and ...
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 ...
photo © Teeraporn Tirakul / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

The darker side of verse

  • 25 Aug 2017
It is eighty years ago this autumn that the Jewish-German poet and polemicist Ernst Lissauer died in Vienna. His sad life was a roller coaster of rant and prejudice. He was best known for his hate verse deployed against England in the First World ...
St Giles Church at Imber on Salisbury Plain (photo © Tim.firkins licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)
Letter from Europe

Forbidden places

  • 21 Aug 2017
Next weekend, there's the chance to visit an extraordinary place in England - a village where the entire population was forcibly removed in 1943 in order to provide space on Salisbury Plain for American military manoeuvres. It's one of those places ...
The town of Miltenberg on the River Main (photo © Darknightsky / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Everything but the Lorelei

  • 31 Jul 2017
The various hill areas of central Germany, stretching from Bohemia to the River Rhine and beyond, have helped define the landscapes of the region. And last week I took time out to explore some parts of this hill country, wandering from the ...
The market square in Torgau, Saxony, with the Rathaus (town hall) on the far side (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Lutherstadt Torgau

The renaming of towns to honour an individual is commonplace. Nizhny Novgorod became Gorky, in honour of the Russian writer Maxim Gorki who was born there. The town later switched back to its original name. In eastern Germany, towns have been ...
Smock mill in West Blatchington, Sussex (photo © Martin Meehan / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Smock Mills

The smock mill is a distinctive element of the Dutch cultural landscape. The functionality and simplicity of these simple mills has made them popular exports, and migrants from the Netherlands built smock mills in New England, South Africa and ...
A new take on the classical villa: Robert Mallet-Stevens' Villa Cavrois at Croix (in French Flanders)
has clear echoes of Frank Lloyd Wright. The villa is one of many buildings in the Wright idiom featured in Gwyn Lloyd Jones' new book 'Travels with Frank Lloyd Wright' (photo © Rifberlin / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

Frank Lloyd Wright in Europe

  • 8 Jun 2017
Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Frank Lloyd Wright. He is often regarded as a quintessentially American architect, a man who perhaps was never really comfortable in Europe. But the great advocate of Prairie Style has a legacy in ...
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 ...
The departure bays at Berlin's central bus station (photo © Fridolin freudenfett licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0).
Letter from Europe

The bus biz in Berlin

  • 18 May 2017
Berlin's central bus station opened in 1966. Tucked away on the edge of Berlin's trade-fair grounds it is one of the German capital's unsung spaces. Yet the no-frills terminus is still going strong and has seen an increase in services in recent ...
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 ...
Strasbourg's trams are going international: from April 2017 one of the city's tram lines is being extended across the border into Germany (photo © Sergij Kolesnyk / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Taking the Tram

With the success of the Schengen region, local transport links are being extended over international borders. In the coming months, new international tram routes from France to both Germany and Switzerland are due to ...
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 ...
photo © Yarchyk / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

City without Jews

  • 28 Feb 2017
Speculative fiction can sometimes turn out to be eclipsed by real-life events. In Hugo Bettauer's 1922 novel, Die Stadt ohne Juden, fictitious Austrian Chancellor Karl Schwertfeger signs an executive order decreeing that all Jews must leave Austria ...
photo © Wideonet / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

From Burton to Berlin

  • 22 Jan 2017
Berlin is not normally a place for liturgical theatre, at least not of the Catholic variety. But St Afra is a place apart. And the musical flourishes in this service are remarkable for their provenance. One of the great English organs of the ...
The Ludwigsplatz with the baroque Ludwigskirche in the heart of Saarbrücken, capital of the German state of Saarland (photo © Sergey Dzyuba / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Saarland, January 1957

  • 15 Jan 2017
We walk down the lane between two villages. Each takes its name from the River Gailbach. The higher community is Obergailbach. It's a wee slip of a place. Just a couple of kilometres down the valley lies Niedergailbach which is rather larger. This ...
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 ...
New rail timetables from December 2016 will improve journey times from Milan to Zürich, Verona and Venice. Pictured here is Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (photo © Mrusty / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

New European rail timetables for 2017

  • 9 Dec 2016
This weekend sees the launch of new railway timetables across Europe. This ritual takes place on the second weekend of December every year, with rail operators revamping service patterns and tweaking their schedules to reflect changing demand. We ...
Our image shows just one portion of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin; the wooded area in the background is the Tiergarten (photo © Matyas Rehak / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Stumbling through history

  • 13 Nov 2016
As I walked deeper into the complex, surrounded on all sides by the chunky columns, I heard the animated chatter of two kids from time to time - two young English voices in a forest of memories in the very middle of Berlin. I met some Spanish ...
Part of a 'Kursächsische Postmeilensäule' - a milestone erected in the Electorate of Saxony as part of an initiative to formalise postage charges. This milestone is at Bad Gottleuba on the former post route between Dresden (Saxony) and Teplice (Bohemia) (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Exploring the Ore Mountains

The Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) offer excellent possibilities for hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing. But even less energetic visitors can reach remote communities in the region by local bus and train ...
End of the road: Siberia, part of the Lausitz village of Welzow (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

News from Haidemühl

The Czech energy group EPH has taken over the lignite mining operations in eastern Germany previously managed by Swedish company Vattenfall. What does this mean for the village of Haidemühl, now abandoned for almost a decade, which sits in a area ...
The former monastery at Chorin in Brandenburg is a fine example of Brick Gothic architecture, made all the better by its serene setting (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Walking with friends

  • 28 Sep 2016
Summer is slipping into autumn and the leaves in forests around Berlin are already falling. We walked through mixed woodland pondering the sounds and smells of beech, oak, hazel and pine. Before long, we came to Chorin where the remarkable ...
Magazine article

Hollandries: Dredging and Draining

Europe's most accomplished dredgers and drainers are the Dutch. Settlers from the Netherlands have industriously drained wetlands and coastal meadows across the continent from Bordeaux to the Baltic. We look at some of the continent's ...
Memorial to Father Hendrik in the Altes Land village of Steinkirchen, Germany. He was the symbolic leader of the first Dutch settlers who moved to the area in the 12th century (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

A Visit to the Old Country

Beside the River Elbe, just downstream from Hamburg, lies the Altes Land. It is one of Europe's most intensive areas of fruit cultivation. Apples, raspberries, cherries and plums aplenty in a region which owes much to early Dutch ...
Madrid's Metro Linea 1 has a disused station that has been converted into an exhibition (photo © Dariusz Szwangruber / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Platform Zero

At Augsburg station in Bavaria, there is a Platform 801, while a number of stations around Europe have a Platform 0 - among them Aarau in Switzerland and King's Cross station in London. We take a look at the Platform Zero ...
Looking west from Frankfurter Tor along Karl-Marx-Allee, Berlin. The two ceremonial towers were designed by Hermann Henselmann, who also did the initial design concept for the Alexanderplatz TV Tower in the distance (photo © Sergey Kohl /dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Understanding the socialist city
  

Progressive socialist designs for homes and cities are no longer in fashion. Yet Europe's streetscapes still attest to the grand schemes of yesteryear, when architects and planners envisaged a society that stood opposed to capitalism. We go in ...
Moscow Belorussky railway station, the starting point for the direct service from Moscow to Sofia which connects seven capital cities. The new service launches on 13 December 2015 (photo © Victoria Demidova / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

New train services for 2016

  • 3 Dec 2015
New railway timetables kick in across much of Europe on Sunday 13 December - so here's a summary of interesting changes which we've noted in the new schedules. They include a useful new direct link from Moscow to Sofia - a journey which connects ...
The border museum at Schnackenburg (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The inner-German border at Schnackenburg

  • 15 Nov 2015
The village of Schnackenburg is on the south side of the Elbe right on the erstwhile border between East and West Germany. It is a place which has lived by borders and died by borders. It is an interesting case of a community which lost out in ...
The ‘temple’ of Walhalla in the Danube Valleyappeals to classical style in its homage to the German nation (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

No space for Marx
  

A mock Greek temple on a bluff above the River Danube turns out to be a good spot to reflect on what it means to be German. Walhalla is a national hall of fame - a sort of Bavarian version of the Panthéon in ...
Magazine article

Keeping track
  

It is that time of year when Europe prepares to introduce new train timetables. The 2016 schedules come into effect on Sunday 13 December 2015. As usual, there are winners and losers. We look at some new ...
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 ...
Letter from Europe

No train to Poland

  • 20 Sep 2015
The decision 170 years ago to build a great viaduct across the Neisse Valley was a visionary leap. Now that elegant structure needs a dose of 21st-century vision. Because what use is a graceful viaduct if it doesn't have any ...
A German ferry company will operate 22 direct sailings between late July and early October from the island of Helgoland (pictured here) to a city-centre quayside in Hamburg (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Elbe excursions

A new ferry powered by liquefied natural gas will make its first journey from the island of Helgoland to the port of Hamburg this month. It'll be a rare chance to cruise in comfort up the River Elbe to the German port ...
Calvary scene from the Altötting panorama (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The borders of reality: panoramas

Panoramas, often displayed in purpose-built circular galleries, offered virtual travel experiences long before cinema and the internet. Like all immersive technologies, panoramas raised important questions about the boundaries between subject and ...
Letter from Europe

The Seven Sleepers

  • 28 Jun 2015
In some parts of Europe, 27 June is marked as the day of the Seven Sleepers. In Germany, the weather on Siebenschläfer is seen as indicative of what sort of summer we can expect. Stable weather on 27 June bodes well for the weeks ahead. But wild ...
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

A season of shadows

  • 3 Apr 2015
It is the season for shadows. No other week in the ecclesiastical calendar comes with such a hefty dose of liturgical theatre as that which concludes with Easter. It is a week which has its highs and lows, its exuberant periods of light balanced by ...
Potsdamer Platz in the very heart of Berlin (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The view from Berlin

  • 27 Mar 2015
Our travels over the last fortnight have taken us from one end of Germany to the other. Yet strangely this is a country which neither of us really understands. One of us is a Berliner by birth, the other a Berliner by choice. The view from Berlin ...
The Russian Railways (RZD) train from Moscow to
Paris seen here in Hannover. The carriage decorated with the
RZD logo is one of the new Austrian-built sleepers introduced
on this route in January 2015 (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

A touch of Russia
  

Europe has so many very comfortable train services, but it's really hard to trump the top-of-the-range Russian trains used on routes from Moscow to many cities in central and western Europe. For inner-EU journeys, these trains are often great ...
Letter from Europe

A Silesian story

  • 3 Jan 2015
It was 274 years ago today that Frederick II of Prussia rode through the Schweidnitzer Gate in Breslau to claim the Silesian city for Prussia. It is a mark of Frederick's style that he was accompanied, as he ceremonially entered the city, not by ...
Letter from Europe

A Christmas journey

  • 25 Dec 2014
The Magi set a trend by travelling in the dying wick of the year. This is the season when most folk just want to hunker down by the fire with friends and family. But it is actually a very fine time for exploring. One of the finest travel memoirs of ...
Letter from Europe

The London Charabanc

  • 3 Dec 2014
If you are in Antwerp by night on the weekend before Christmas, you might see a wondrous sight. Shortly after midnight on Saturday 19 December, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) will launch its new direct service from Antwerp to London. If ...
Magazine article

Express bus to London?
  

There was a time when Deutsche Bahn (DB) only operated trains. Now they are emerging as serious players in the bus business. We just wonder if they have London in their sights? Their IC-Bus network is expanding and they already have a route from ...
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 ...
Narrow-gauge steam train at the top of the Brocken in Germany’s Harz Mountains (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Following Faust up the Brocken

  • 31 Oct 2014
In our second article to mark 25 years since the political changes in East Germany of late 1989, we make a pilgrimage to one of Germany's most celebrated mountains: the ...
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, ...
The school in the Austrian village of Jungholz could soon be welcoming pupils from the nearby German village of Unterjoch (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Divided loyalties: Jungholz

The village of Jungholz lies at an altitude of just over 1000 metres in the Alps. At this time of years, the Alpine meadows are full of wild flowers. So Jungholz is a pretty spot. But it is also exceptional in that it is a diamond-shaped piece of ...
Pete Seeger at a concert in his home town of Beacon (USA)in 2009 (photo © Sandra Dunlap / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

The power of song

It is forty years since Pete Seeger took to stages in Moscow, the Crimea and Prague as part of a world tour. Seeger died earlier this year of course, and in this postscript to his life we look at how Seeger's music was very similar to that of the ...
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 ...
Bach statue outside St Thomas' Church in Leipzig (© hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Music for 25 March

  • 25 Mar 2014
March 1714 was a good month for Johann Sebastian Bach. On the second of the month, he was promoted to the plum job of Konzertmeister at the Weimar court. This was quite an achievement for a man who was only 28 years old. The terms of the new ...
Winter in the hills of northern Bohemia (photo © Tomas Simek).
Magazine article

Into the hills: a Bohemian diversion
  

Of course one can speed across Europe on sleek, fast trains. But slow trains, the kind that dawdle along branch lines, are so much more interesting. We ride a rural rail route in northern Bohemia, where fading railway stations reveal a Habsburg ...
Magazine article

The idea of ‘good’ borders
  

The Curzon Line, which for so long marked the approximate western border of the Soviet Union is named after Lord Curzon. His Lordship has strong ideas on borders, seeing them very much as zones of demarcation. But ideas have changed since Curzon's ...
Letter from Europe

Sounds of a city

  • 10 Feb 2014
Think how voices help define a city. Speeches and songs have shaped the Weimar soundscape. And they have been more varied in tone than you might expect. To be sure, the foremost exponents of Weimar classicism all pitched into the Weimar ...
Letter from Europe

Reclaiming Weimar

  • 30 Jan 2014
Snow falls over all the city, covering the cobbles and the pathways. In the gentle stretch of parkland that lines the valley of the Ilm, snow drapes the follies and the ruins. In the middle of Weimar, statues of stern men are laced with light snow. ...
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

Hemingway in Hemmeres

  • 13 Dec 2013
Folk in Hemmeres make the point that theirs was the first village east of the River Our in which the Americans set foot. The truth is that several patrols made forays over the river on the evening of 11 September 1944. And it was on the railway ...
Statue in Leipzig by sculptor Stephan Balkenhol showing the young Richard Wagner overshadowed by his reputation (image © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Leipzig soundscapes
  

Few European cities can rival Leipzig when it comes to musical associations. Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach had an extraordinarily productive 27 years in the city, and the roll call of great musical names continues: Clara ...
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 ...
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

From Berlin to Siberia

  • 15 Oct 2013
We have long judged the Sibirjak to be the most outlandish train in Europe, running as it does from the German capital to Saratov and beyond. There was always the thought that we could hop on that train here in Berlin and travel across the ...
Letter from Europe

Sally Bowles did not live in Weimar

  • 1 Sep 2013
Travelling through eastern Germany last week, we changed trains at Weimar. Does not the very name evoke all sorts of associations to fire the imagination? That edgy period when cultural horizons were redefined in a decade of divine decadence? But ...
Letter from Europe

A bridge too far

  • 25 Aug 2013
Tomorrow, a mighty stream of cars will roll over a new bridge across the River Elbe at Dresden. The bridge's opening is not being celebrated in any very public manner. For many Germans, it is a Bridge of Shame, for it is the reason why that part of ...
Letter from Europe

One journey, one Europe, one book

  • 4 Aug 2013
We sped from London to Brussels at lunchtime on Friday, swapping a pleasant English summer day for sultry Belgium — pausing along the way at Calais. There is always a little frisson of excitement on those rare Eurostars which stop at Calais. ...
Gleisdreieck station in the southern suburbs of Berlin still has some of the antique style of Joseph Roth's day (picture © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The lost kingdom
  

A 1924 essay by Joseph Roth on an unsung railway station in Berlin fired our imagination and inspired us to take the train to Gleisdreieck - an elevated station that in Roth's day looked down on a tangled maze of railway lines and sidings. ...
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" ...
Letter from Europe

Travel writing: the view from home

  • 10 Apr 2013
During these first days of April, we have not ventured far from home. And yet there is a tangible sense of having travelled - if not through space, then through time. Ten days ago, much of eastern Germany was still formidably wintry. The little ...
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 ...
The Hilligenlei car ferry arriving at Hallig Hooge (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Life on a mound: visiting Hallig Hooge
  

At the eastern margins of the North Sea, in the shallow waters hard by the German coast, are a series of islands that are seasonally flooded. Human settlement on these islands is a fragile thing. These special islands (called Halligen in German) ...
(photo © Redeyed / dreamstime.com)
hidden europe note

Small is beautiful: the view from the Vatican

  • 4 Mar 2013
Rarely has the Vatican been so much in the spotlight as over the last week or two. The dog days of a papacy have never in recent times been quite so clearly defined as they were in February 2013. Benedict’s announcement on 12 February ushered in 16 ...
Letter from Europe

The fifth season

  • 8 Feb 2013
Welcome to the fifth season. Spring, summer, autumn, winter... and now the fifth season. This weekend, and the day or two thereafter, mark the culmination across Europe of fifth season frolics. It is carnival time. The normal rules of social ...
Letter from Europe

From Sylt to Samoa

  • 1 Jan 2013
We had set our sights on Samoa. But with a fierce storm closing in from the west, we decided instead to make for Zanzibar. Locally, it is the German spelling that prevails: Sansibar. The North Frisian island of Sylt may not seem the most obvious ...
Magazine article

The crossing

The satnavs tick off the passing interchanges, the passengers in the back seats are bored and the blood pressure of the drivers rises. No-one, no-one on the busy highway will ever know that a touch of heaven is just a few feet below the angry ...
The watery townscape of Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany (photo © hidden europe)
Magazine article

It’s the small things that matter

Would you believe that a major guide book publisher really suggests that the Rhine runs from north to south through Germany? With tight budgets, some publishers are cutting corners and skimping on detail. For the Rough Guide to Germany, that means ...
Letter from Europe

A time for following

  • 16 Oct 2012
Sometimes it is good to be led. Paul has the map. I follow. Three of us are walking: Greg, Paul and I. Paul leads us to the shores of the lake. It is a good spot to retreat from the dark-scud clouds that crowd the October skies. There is a sweet ...
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

The Baltic, Switzerland, and a hint of Islam

  • 19 Aug 2012
Arabia, the Baltic and Switzerland collided this week. In our last Letter from Europe, we extolled the merits of spontaneity in travel. This week we returned to the Baltic, following an itinerary the precise trajectory of which was determined only ...
Letter from Europe

Travelling on a whim

  • 11 Aug 2012
When was the last time you just wandered? Not merely through your home community, but more widely? Just travelling without fixed intent from region to region, perhaps even across frontiers to foreign lands. Last week we explored a little of the ...
Letter from Europe

200 years of summer holidays

  • 24 Jul 2012
The thrice-daily local bus service from Altenberg to Teplice is a blessing for cross-border travellers. The bus crosses the mountains that define the border between Saxony and Bohemia. When we rode this route last Thursday, there were just five ...
Violin maker Anton Maller’s workshop inMittenwald, Germany (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Second fiddle: music in Mittenwald
  

Anton Maller is a patient man. He has to be. Creating the perfect violin takes weeks of concentrated effort. We meet Anton Maller, a master violin maker, in his home town of Mittenwald in the Alps. Mittenwald enjoys a fine reputation for the ...
Elvas in Portugal has just been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List (photo © Inacio Pires).
Magazine article

Mining heritage
  

A new crop of European heritage has just been added to UNESCO's celebrated list of notable heritage. The newcomers to the World Heritage List include remarkable industrial villages in Flanders and Wallonie, a German opera house and a clutch of ...
Letter from Europe

The naming of sons

  • 24 Jun 2012
You probably don't chart your progress through the year with an ecclesiastical calendar. We do, but in truth we cannot really recommend it as a sensible way of confronting modernity. It is all too easy to miss dental appointments, dinner dates and ...
Letter from Europe

Reshaping mental maps

  • 17 Jun 2012
This evening, a train will speed from Córdoba to Valencia in just a shade over three hours, marking the inauguration of another link in Spain's growing high-speed rail network. True, the new stretch of line in this case is very modest, but it is ...
Letter from Europe

Alpine accents

  • 31 May 2012
We have been exploring the northern ranges of the Alps this past week, criss-crossing the international border that separates the German State of Bavaria from the Austrian Tyrol. Like many of Europe's borders, this particular frontier has been ...
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 ...
Letter from Europe

Charlottenburg to Cádiz

  • 12 Mar 2012
There is something rather satisfying about being up and about earlyish on a Sunday morning. Streets that would on working days be busy are happily empty. So I hopped on a train just after eight and rode west out of Berlin. This is familiar terrain. ...
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

Liberating public spaces

  • 19 Feb 2012
Wandering through the middle of Berlin last week, we were struck by the large number of professional photographers and film crews busily working away, each claiming a stretch of pavement to use classic Berlin scenes as the backdrop for their work. ...
Letter from Europe

Diverted via Paris

  • 5 Feb 2012
Remember the ash cloud in 2010? It had a silver lining in making stranded travellers think creatively about the journeys they wanted or needed to make. And similarly with the seasonal doses of wintry weather that play havoc with rail schedules ...
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

Polish mysteries

  • 23 Nov 2011
We drifted slowly through wintry forests, past unkempt meadows and villages full of scrawny desolation. We crossed the River Odra four times. And four times I gazed down at the river's wine-dark waters from the train, watching the waters swirling ...
Taking water at Eisfelder Talmühle where the Selke Valley railway connects with the Trans-Harz route (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Steaming through the Harz Mountains
  

The Harz Mountains lie astride the erstwhile border between East Germany and West Germany. The forested hills of the Harz preside over the North European Plain. The eastern portion of the Harz benefits from a legacy of East Germany: a wonderful ...
Magazine article

Better prospects
  

During the 1960s and 70s, trains full of guest workers (or Gastarbeiter as the migrant workers were called in Germany) were a common site arriving in German cities. This autumn marks the fiftieth anniversary of the accord between Turkey and Germany ...
Letter from Europe

Reformation Day

  • 31 Oct 2011
Europe's Protestant reformers were not, on the whole, men who took kindly to statues. Indeed, thousands of statues in Catholic churches across Europe were smashed to pieces during the Reformation. So it's hard to fathom what Martin Luther would ...
Letter from Europe

The other Germany

  • 8 Oct 2011
My brief was to take the pulse of eastern Germany on the 21st anniversary of her union (in October 1990) with her bigger neighbour to the west. Thus was a new and larger Germany born. Twenty-first birthdays have symbolic rather than any legal ...
Letter from Europe

Travelling through the Harz Mountains

  • 20 Sep 2011
Travelling across the North European Plain, a vast sweep of two-dimensional terrain that extends from Brussels to Berlin and beyond, travellers might well give thanks for whatever modest hills punctuate their journey. The Harz Mountains barely rise ...
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 ...
Magazine article

From Waterlitz to Austerloo
  

Did you know you can take the train to Brathlavstan or fly to MaastrAachen? The portmanteau title of Daniela-Carmen Crasnaru’s 1998 poetry anthology Austerloo prompts us to reflect on portmanteau terms in European ...
Letter from Europe

Village life in Jamel

  • 22 Jun 2011
These fine summer days are a time to explore the rural hinterland of Germany's Baltic coast. There is a delicate beauty in the undulating country behind the old port city of Wismar. And there's a touch of history too with ancient dolmens and ...
hidden europe note

Rail update: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus

  • 4 May 2011
New rail timetables for the former Soviet Union come into effect later this month. There remains some uncertainty about some services, but for travellers heading east, here are a few thoughts on what to expect: the return of the Berlin to ...
Letter from Europe

The Wedding Factor

  • 29 Apr 2011
The Berlin district of Wedding is blessed with the definite article and cursed with a bad reputation. Quite why locals allude to the suburb as 'der Wedding' (The Wedding) is a matter of debate. The Wedding has urban colour, a multicultural mix and ...
Letter from Europe

Szczecin (Poland)

  • 14 Mar 2011
For a spell Swedish, then German (and known as Stettin) and only since 1945 Polish, Szczecin is distant from the hubs of Polish power. Its shipyard workers played a key role in the Solidarity movement of the nineteen-eighties. But the city feels ...
The fortress at Medzhybizh in Ukraine was a classic bordermarker, presiding over the river that delimited the boundary between Polish and Turkish spheres of influence in central Europe (photo © Alexander Solentsov / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Border assets: travels on the frontier
  

Borders have become something of a rarity in modern Europe. We can now travel by car from northern Norway to the Mediterranean without ever once having to show a passport. Political frontiers have faded, yet cultural frontiers remain. We reflect on ...
photo © Sandra van der Steen / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

More than small change
  

You probably would have no very clear idea what currency is used in Nagorno Karabakh, no indeed whether you need to tip the barber next time you stop off for a short back and sides in deepest Chechnya. We ponder the knotty business of currencies ...
Magazine article

Crossing the lagoon
  

The Stettiner Haff or Szczecin Lagoon is one of Europe's unsung water bodies, a vast area of shallow saline water that is home to many birds. Seasonal ferry services cross the lagoon in the summer months, allowing travellers to explore this remote ...
Letter from Europe

Shaped by wind and waves

  • 18 Jan 2011
There is something definitive, something final, about a long spit that juts out into the sea. Be it sand or shingle, vegetated or barren, you know you have reached the end of the world when you reach the end of the spit. Tennyson said as much in ...
Letter from Europe

Crossing the Kiel Canal

  • 6 Jan 2011
If you like three dimensional landscapes, then Germany's most northerly state of Schleswig-Holstein is probably not for you. The hills are there, but you have to look hard to see them. We took a local train across Schleswig-Holstein last Sunday on ...
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

Winter arrives in the Baltic

  • 30 Nov 2010
It was just an hour on the train to Putbus, a little community on the Baltic island of Rügen that is impossibly grand for such a remote spot. Just four thousand souls, yet a town so full of aristocratic associations that it seems like a Baltic take ...
The mediaeval mikveh in Speyer is one of the oldest preserved
mikveh’ot in Europe. The ritual bath was first mentioned in sources dating back to 1128 (photo by Chris 73, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0).
Magazine article

The mystery of the mikveh
  

The mikveh (or ritual bathing pool) is a key part of Jewish culture, an intimate part of Orthodox Jewish life that is hidden from the public gaze. We take a look at mediaeval and modern mikveh'ot across ...
Magazine article

Superstitious minds
  

If you happen to know a good source of peewit's hearts, please let us know. We explore some of the zanier superstitions that we have run across on our travels across ...
Magazine article

Cruise ferry update
  

Catamarans compete for space with whales and dolphins in the crowded sea lanes off the south coast of Spain. Space is tight in some European waters as more travellers embrace ferry travel and an efficient and relaxing way of getting ...
hidden europe note

Fair fares: by train across Europe

  • 12 Nov 2010
A few days ago I travelled by train from the Berlin suburb of Lichterfelde to Ewell in England, just south of London. In total I paid 55 euros for the entire 15-hour train journey of 1393 km. Looking at the different fare components, I see that I ...
Letter from Europe

Border markers

  • 11 Nov 2010
We sensed we were crossing into another world as the Moscow-bound train rumbled over the long bridge that spans the River Bug. The reed beds are full of wildfowl which are not troubled by the frequent trains that rattle overhead. This is the border ...
Letter from Europe

The road less taken

  • 24 Oct 2010
Only the British can really understand the appeal of the perfect B road. It is a road that may have pretensions, hoping one day to be upgraded to A class status. And then there are B roads that have come down in the world. Take for example the ...
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 ...
The former route of the Berlin Wall around the outer edges of West Berlinis now marked a cycle way and footpath. Much of the route is leafy and green. Along the way there are markers that highlight episodes in the history of the Berlin Wall. This one recalls the death of Christoph-Manuel Bramböck on 31 August 1990 (photo © hidden europe). Detail from the marker on the Berlin Wall cyle way that recalls the death of Christoph-Manuel Bramböck, the last victim of the Berlin Wall (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Flashback: tragedy in Berlin

  • 29 Aug 2010
Twenty years ago this summer, each new week seemed to bring another momentous political event as the two German States edged towards Union. But a tragic incident overshadowed the Unification Treaty signed on 31 August ...
Letter from Europe

The politics of heritage

  • 23 Jul 2010
Albi, Downe, Bikini Atoll and the Putorana Plateau are all in competition with each other next week as UNESCO gears up to announce a new round of World Heritage Sites. Securing a place on the World Heritage List can lead to a big boost in tourism ...
DB Autozug car train (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Southbound: Europe's car trains
  

In the early days of train travel, landed gentry and the well-to-do made arrangements with local rail companies to convey their horses and carriages on board the trains. Europe's car trains are the modern day incarnation of the same arrangement, a ...
photo © Keith Gentry / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

The strange case of an expanding Europe
  

The compensation culture encourages delayed passengers to seek redress for the inconvenience they have suffered. Air carriers and rail companies have a neat little way of reacting to the new generation of passengers well aware of their rights. They ...
Magazine article

The Mixdorf maze
  

Full marks to the Ragower Mühle, a mill in the beautiful Schlaube valley near Berlin, for having created what we think is the first maze in Europe explicitly designed with wheelchair users in mind. Would only that the access route through the ...
Magazine article

Urban matchmaking
  

Two towns, neither of them well known beyond their local regions. Herten in Germany and Dudley in England. Both are so very similar, that they seem to be places made for each other. Indulge us, while we engage in a little ...
Letter from Europe

From Austerlitz to Solferino

  • 11 Jul 2010
A name seen or heard out of context can be a powerful provocation. Travelling through the hinterland of Munich a while back, our train paused at Dachau. At one level this was just one more railway station serving commuters in a rather overcrowded ...
Letter from Europe

The ark in the park

  • 21 Jun 2010
Zoos evoke all manner of reactions. Some commentators see them as playing a key role in maintaining biological diversity, others dismiss them as cruel and inhumane. We take a look at European zoos in their social and historical ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

Deutsche Bahn summer rail pass

  • 11 May 2010
We see that this summer the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) are offering rail passes that give unlimited rail travel anywhere within Germany. The passes are valid for use for either 175 hours or for a full month in the period from 13 June until 31 ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

No care in customer care with Air Berlin

  • 22 Apr 2010
Airlines all over Europe are proclaiming how zealous they have been in looking after their passengers over the past days. Yet well do we all know that many European airlines have behaved in a quite despicable manner towards their ...
hidden europe note

Culture capitals

  • 21 Mar 2010
We have been taking a look at which cities around Europe have enjoyed capital of culture status. Including this year's trio of cities that hold the title, there have thus far been over forty cities which have received the European ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Painted churches
  

The UNESCO World Heritage List features many ornately decorated churches across Europe. The List includes the painted monasteries of southern Bukovina (described elsewhere in this issue), as well as murals on churches in Switzerland, Bulgaria and ...
hidden europe note

Music for the nation

  • 7 Mar 2010
Quite how we came to spend yesterday afternoon listening to a score or more national anthems from across Europe is a long tale - and one that need not detain us here. But it made us realise just how uninspiring is the music that accompanies many ...
hidden europe note

New flights to northern Europe

  • 17 Feb 2010
A look at two carriers and their new routes to northern European destinations: Atlantic Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Atlantic offers links to the Faroe Islands and Norwegian is launching new routes to ...
Letter from Europe

The Buchenhorst brigade

  • 14 Feb 2010
You have surely never heard of Buchenhorst. Nor had we until yesterday. It is a tiny community deep in the forests of western Pomerania. And it was here that our train ground to a halt en route to the Baltic port of Stralsund ...
Letter from Europe

Winter in eastern Germany

  • 28 Jan 2010
The temperature was still around minus fifteen when we alighted just after midday from the slow train at Grunow. It was a bitterly cold winter morning, sunny and clear, with a numbing east wind. The countryside east of Berlin has a delicate ...
hidden europe note

Code-sharing between DB and Eurostar

  • 26 Jan 2010
Today saw an interesting new development on the Deutsche Bahn (DB) website. Suddenly a handful of new trains have appeared - they all bear the prefix EST, suggesting a Eurostar ...
Letter from Europe

The demons of Sylt

  • 1 Jan 2010
Sylt is a place apart. It is one of the most accessible of the North Frisian islands. Frost demons have cast a spell of hard rime over the island these past days. But neither the bitter cold nor the capers of New Year's Eve deter the walkers who ...
hidden europe note

New 2010 train timetables

  • 13 Dec 2009
Europe's new 2010 train schedules take effect today, opening up lots of glorious new travel opportunities. Faster trains from the Kent coast to London are the highlight in England, while in Italy there is a veritable revolution as the 'missing ...
hidden europe note

Plans for simpler train ticketing in Europe derailed

  • 1 Dec 2009
Back in the summer of 2007, a number of European rail operators founded Railteam, a promising new alliance that proudly announced that it would transform international rail ticketing in Europe - offering through fares at the press of a button ...
hidden europe note

European rail fares: best prices

  • 23 Nov 2009
This piece is one we researched and first published in June 2009. But its message is still as valid today, which we why we think it deserves a place here. Some travellers, especially when they purchase rail tickets in North America for European ...
hidden europe note

Conservation versus community in Potsdam (Germany)

  • 3 Nov 2009
There has been a intriguing debate rumbling on in Potsdam (Germany) these past weeks which nicely captures the dilemmas associated with heritage and conservation. We have been following events in Potsdam's Russian community. Just north of the ...
Letter from Europe

Orbiting Berlin

  • 2 Nov 2009
We took a day out on Friday to orbit Berlin. In truth we have never really been fans of motorway driving, but a gorgeous frosty autumn morning with clear skies tempted us out of suburban Berlin onto the motorway that encircles the city. At exactly ...
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 ...
The Giardini Botanici Hanbury at La Mortola in Liguria is a possible future UNESCO World Heritage Site (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Shortlisted for UNESCO
  

There are the sights which already feature on UNESCO's World Heritage List. And then there are the wannabes. We take a look at sights around Europe that are angling for one of the coveted places on the UNESCO ...
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 ...
Budapest Keleti station (photo © Attila Vörös / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Hungarian rhapsody
  

Sometimes we travel to really get somewhere. But occasionally a journey is worthwhile merely for its own sake. Sit back, relax, and from the comfort of a corner seat watch all the world go by on the train from Berlin to ...
Letter from Europe

Day of German Unity

  • 3 Oct 2009
It is a holiday here in Berlin today - and indeed throughout Germany. It is the Day of German Unity, a public holiday on 3 October each year that recalls the unification of the two German States in October 1990. It is unsurprisingly a day that ...
The exhibition in the Karl-Marx-Haus in Trier very successfully brings alive a potentially rather dry topic (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

In spite of Trier

The birthplace of Karl Marx is, a little improbably it might seem, in the Moselle city of Trier. It is a place that nowadays seems irredeemably bourgeois. Yet Marx' legacy is superbly documented in Trier's ...
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 ...
Statue of St Peter in front of St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City (photo © Gards / istockphoto.com).
Magazine article

Ecclesiastical geographies
  

Church bureaucrats divide the world into dioceses. The process throws into prominence places that figure little in the secular world. Bishops preside over territories like Gor, Ombi and Sodor. hidden europe takes a look at some unusual geographical ...
Letter from Europe

Bohemian borderlands

  • 16 Aug 2009
The first town over the hills, on the Czech side of the border, is Domazlice. Just twenty minutes on the steam trains that this weekend shuttle between Furth and Domazlice. The Czech town has a fabulous elongated main square that during these ...
Letter from Europe

Return to Wissembourg

  • 30 Jul 2009
The River Lauter bubbles happily through the town, nature is taking possession again of ancient ramparts where once the French kept watch for invaders and now this border town is a favoured destination for day trippers from Germany. But for me ...
Letter from Europe

Bridge over the Moselle

  • 7 Jul 2009
Remich is one of those spots where it is easy to linger. It is a relaxed sort of place on the bank of the Moselle river in Luxembourg. Just across the river from Remich lies the German village of Nennig. Life in Nennig and Remich is economically ...
Letter from Europe

Where to buy rail tickets for travel in Europe

  • 18 Jun 2009
hidden europe reviews options for purchasing rail tickets for travelling in Europe. We selected a basket of five hypothetical European rail journeys, specifying precise dates, routes and class of travel. Then we cast around on the Internet, and ...
Magazine article

People's palaces
  

Many central and eastern European capitals boast 'palaces' that were constructed in the socialist period. While Berlin's Palace of the Republic is being demolished, other capitals are finding more creative ways of rehabilitating their 'people's ...
Magazine article

In the ghetto
  

on the margins of Berlin, several thousand Russlanddeutsche (Russian-Germans), migrants who arrived in Germany in the mid 1990s, live as an ...
Magazine article

Taking the high road
  

France's Cime de la Bonette road is often feted as "la plus haute route d'Europe". But is this really true? We drive some of Europe's highest roads and track down the real record ...
Letter from Europe

Tallinn's last Soviet soldier

  • 9 Jun 2009
Tallinn's Bronze Soldier highlights the difficulties of rendering recent history. Visitors to Potsdam, a city in the former German Democratic Republic very close to Berlin, will find many informative notices that unravel the story of the old ...
Magazine article

Protected by the peacock angel
  

hidden europe explores one of Europe's most remarkable diaspora communities, the Yezidis who live in the northern German town of Celle. And from Celle we travel to the Yezidi homeland in Armenia full article available in pdf ...
Magazine article

The way to Philadelphia
  

Philadelphia is decidedly un-American! Because this Philadelphia is not the great city on the Delaware river; instead, it lies in a very rural part of eastern Germany, close by the Turkish Mountains and just a stone's throw from New ...
Magazine article

Gnome world
  

Gnomes of Europe arise! You have nothing to lose but your shackles. hidden europe checks out the sanctuaries where liberated gnomes, freed from enslavement to oppressive gardening cultures, can live in dignity and ...
Magazine article

The freedom train
  

The legendary Akropolis Express, a train much used by migrant workers, used to run daily from Munich to Athens, passing through Kosovo. hidden europe recalls journeys on the Akropolis Express, and checks out rail travel in Kosovo today, where ...
Magazine article

Zeitz stopped and stared
  

On a summer's day in 1976, Oskar Brüsewitz left his home village of Rippicha shortly after breakfast, drove to the nearby market town of Zeitz and set himself alight. Zeitz stopped and stared at the pastor's protest. A sombre tale from the former ...
Magazine article

Taking the slow boat
  

A few words in praise of slow coastal shipping services that hop from port to port. Surely a more romantic way to travel than to endure the thud, thud, thud of a modern ...
Magazine article

Checkmate or knockout: chess boxing
  

Discover the weird and wacky world of chess boxing, the fusion sport which creates an improbable pas de deux. Guest writer Adam Daniel Mezei meets Iepe Rubingh, the Dutch performance artist who is the enthusiastic promoter of chess ...
Magazine article

Autobahn affairs
  

Motorways come and motorways go! Yes, some routes really do disappear - like the A862 in Germany. And there are rumours that the days of the M10 in southern England are ...
Magazine article

Potsdam's hidden history
  

Amid the parks and palaces of Potsdam (near Berlin) is an area known as the Neuer Garten ('New Garden'). For almost fifty years, part of it was an extraordinary 'forbidden city' - a place reserved for the Russian military and the KGB. hidden europe ...
Magazine article

Island in the sun

Fidel Castro once gave an island off the coast of Cuba to the German Democratic Republic. We unravel the tale of Cayo Ernesto Thaelmann, a wee dot on the Caribbean map that might plausibly be the last remaining piece of land belonging to the ...
Magazine article

Belgian border business: Moresnet

The easternmost parts of Belgium are home to a linguistic minority that rarely gets a mention in the Flemish-Walloon debate. For here the lingua franca is German. The border region is full of curiosities as we find when we visit Moresnet and the ...
Magazine article

Europe's fading borders
  

With the expansion of the Schengen zone to encompass nine more countries, Europe's borders are fading fast. Communities once divided by international frontiers are happily united. But there is a downside, for fading borders within the European ...
Magazine article

Slow travel: Europe by train
  

Had you realised that it is not compulsory to take the fast train? Comb the timetables, and you still find the lazy slowcoach of a train that dawdles from one country station to the next. We celebrate the delights of the slow ...
Magazine article

New Jerusalems: European sacri monti
  

With Eastertide in mind, we explore some devotional itineraries that led to New Jerusalems all over Europe. From Portugal to Poland, sacri monti (sacred mountains or calvaries) often offer very local interpretations of classic religious ...
Magazine article

A time for gifts
  

An assassin's gun in a museum in the Albanian capital, a fireplace in the Bavarian Alps and some oak trees with pure Nazi pedigree are among the more unusual gifts that we uncover in this quirky perspective on ...
Magazine article

Lost at sea: a Frisian tale
  

There are two sides to Sylt. The east has soggy edges as tidal flats and salt marshes separate Sylt from the German and Danish mainland. The other side can be wild and treacherous, a place where shrapnel spray pounds the beach and bodies are washed ...
Magazine article

Expo architecture
  

Expo is back in the news with Milan having just been selected to host the 2015 World Fair. At their best, Expos have served as a boost to imaginative urban regeneration. We look at the Expo legacy in various European ...
Magazine article

An island outpost: Helgoland
  

One tiny island, a mere fleck of land in the North Sea! And yet so laden with history. Helgoland (often called Heligoland by English speakers) has been both Danish and British. Nowadays it is surely one of the most extraordinary parts of Germany. ...
Magazine article

Hidden europe 21: threads
  

A chance to pick up the threads of earlier issues of hidden europe. From chess boxing to the knotty question of what folk from the Greek island of Lesbos should call themselves. Lesbians, ...
Church at Jelenia Góra (Poland) on the via scara (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

The Via Sacra
  

The Via Sacra is an inspired initiative that foregrounds the religious heritage of a particularly beautiful part of central Europe - the area where Bohemia (Czech Republic), Polish Silesia and the German State of Saxony ...
The old German cathedral in Kaliningrad, with the white “House of Soviets” in the background (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

From Prussia to Russia: Kaliningrad
  

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Baltic port of Kaliningrad found itself strangely isolated from the rest of Russia. Hemmed in by the European Union, the city of Kaliningrad is rethinking its role in the modern world. It is a ...
Magazine article

City credentials
  

Is Tromsø really the Paris of the North? Or does the title more properly belong to St Petersburg? And the Rome of the North: Is that Cologne, Prague or the Glasgow suburb of ...
Magazine article

Of cabbages and kinder

Golzow seems like an insignificant village on the plains not far from the German-Polish border. But it is much more, for Golzow has an important place in the history of documentary film. Bryn Frank introduces us to 'the children of ...
Magazine article

Form and function: Dessau
  

The Dessau Bauhaus was the creative focus for a galaxy of talented artists, architects and designers, among them Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Mies van der Rohe. We explore the small town of Dessau in eastern ...
An early experiment in surrealism, this extraordinary 'palace' graces a garden in the French village of Hauterives. It was built by the local postman (photo © Milosk50 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Architecture of deceit
  

A new book called 'Follies of Europe: Architectural Extravanganzas' inspires us to explore Europe's architecture of deceit. We find buildings conceived with no purpose at all, and others where exterior design deludes as to the real purpose of the ...
Magazine article

Lakeside strategies: Bad Saarow

The hinterland of Berlin encompasses some of Europe's finest forest and lake landscapes - too often missed by visitors to the German capital. hidden europe makes an excursion to Bad Saarow, a lakeshore spa town east of Berlin, which was until 1990 ...
Magazine article

Focus on fish

Many a coastal community, and even one or two inland spots, have realised that there's no better way to promote trade and tourism than through a colourful display of freshly landed fish and other ...
Letter from Europe

Slow train to Rheinsberg (Germany)

  • 28 Apr 2009
On a beautiful spring day, the forty minute train journey from Löwenberg to Rheinsberg has to be one of the prettiest on the planet. And it was a beautiful spring day. We trundled through birch woods bursting with spring flowers, the morning ...
Magazine article

Streetwise in the middle of Europe
  

So where does hidden europe actually come from? From a garret in Reykjaví­k perhaps? Or a basement in Kiev? No, hidden europe is produced in the very middle of Europe just a stone's throw from the erstwhile border between West Berlin and the former ...
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

Abkhazia - the Adler connection

  • 5 Mar 2009
If Abkhazia were more secure and better promoted, it would surely be a holiday paradise to match anywhere in the Mediterranean. It was a favourite with Soviet leaders. The area is spectacular with serene beaches backed by meadows, orchards and ...
Letter from Europe

11 November: a date to note

  • 11 Nov 2008
While some nations have marked Armistice Day today, in many European countries the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month has a very different symbolism. At mid-morning today the Carnival season started. Now Carnival is something ...
Letter from Europe

South Jutland (Denmark)

  • 7 Sep 2008
Visit Jutland in Denmark and listen out for the local dialect, Sønderjysk or South Jutlandic, which some in the region feel should have the status of a minority language. In some schools in this part of Denmark, Sønderjysk is part of the regular ...
Letter from Europe

The Elbe valley and Dresden

  • 24 Jul 2008
The energy and ingenuity which underpinned late nineteenth-century industrialisation in Saxony is beautifully preserved in the suburbs of Dresden in eastern Germany. Visitors flock to the city on the Elbe for its feast of baroque architecture: ...
Letter from Europe

New links across Schengen borders

  • 14 Jul 2008
The benefits of having open borders across most of Europe are beginning to influence the pattern of weekend excursions made by Europeans living or taking holidays in frontier areas. The burden of having to show a passport at a border was never an ...
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

Western Europe by train

  • 6 May 2008
Mid-morning saw hidden europe on the train that trundled west from Breckland across to the Fens. When the late eighteenth-century author William Gilpin travelled through Norfolk and Suffolk, he described Breckland as "an absolute desert" - this ...
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

Schengen expands

  • 20 Dec 2007
Since 1945 the Neisse valley has been split between two countries: on the west bank Germany and on the east bank Poland. History has scarcely been kind to the villages of the Neisse valley. Hard on the west bank of the river, nestling below what ...
Letter from Europe

Strangers churches

  • 20 Nov 2007
In the heart of the City of London, there used to be all manner of Strangers Churches (as churches for foreigners are commonly termed). There was a Spanish church, a Scots church and a Lutheran church from Hamburg. The Dutch community at Austin ...
Letter from Europe

Cultural landscapes in the Veneto

  • 6 Nov 2007
Venice may come with a constellation of superlatives, but head out into the Veneto to find a world apart. The country around Treviso, just a dozen miles inland from Venice, is classic città  diffusa territory. As if in retort to Venice's urban ...
Letter from Europe

Railway schedules: a look ahead

  • 8 Sep 2007
It is years since the blue and white sleeping cars of Russian Railways (RZD) have been seen in the Netherlands, Switzerland or Bavaria but all three look set to feature on a daily basis in the RZD schedules for 2008. A major revamping of east-west ...
Letter from Europe

Designing identity

  • 28 Aug 2007
Albanians have not lost their way with clothes, as anyone walking the streets of Tirana's business district at lunchtime will quickly notice. Forget notions of an obscure Balkan nation, and look more for the same stylish chic that you might see ...
Letter from Europe

Kidnapped in Berlin

  • 8 Jul 2007
Fifty-five years ago today, Lichterfelde was very much in the news on account of the fate of Walter Linse, a local lawyer who was kidnapped at his front gate - destination Moscow. Linse had made a reputation for himself in exposing abuses of the ...
Letter from Europe

Estuaries

  • 24 Jun 2007
Europe is full of fine estuaries, oftentimes ethereal spots where the waters of silty rivers mingle with the sea. Estuaries are liminal zones, places that do not quite belong to the ocean. Some of our favourite European estuaries are those ...
Letter from Europe

DDR nostalgia

  • 18 Jun 2007
For many older Germans who grew up in the DDR, the new order is associated with uncertainty in the labour market, consumerism and rising prices, and many look back with evident affection on some aspects of life in the DDR. Not all of course, and ...
Letter from Europe

Pioneer railways

  • 7 May 2007
Yesterday saw hidden europe in Dresden, where we joined the Sunday exodus to the city's main public park. Just an easy stroll east of the city centre, the old Volkspark (People's Park) is a classic of its kind - a place for simple pleasures, with a ...
Letter from Europe

Shrovetide frolics

  • 20 Feb 2007
Consider a journey that starts in the Swiss Alps and ends in an abandoned city in the south Caucasus region. To be more precise, we'll start at Pontresina, just over the hill from St Moritz. It's a place where poets and philosophers used to come ...
Letter from Europe

Celebrating Christmas

  • 23 Dec 2006
Christmas generates its own extraordinary traditions across Europe - but they differ greatly from country to country. Even the date on which the celebrations reach their apotheosis varies across the continent. In Germany, Belgium and the ...
Letter from Europe

The road to Petsamo

  • 19 Sep 2006
Early European travel was hugely driven by Christian virtue. Those of the truly devout who had the resources would try to visit Rome, Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela. The fifteenth century English mystic, Margery Kempe, managed all three, and ...
Letter from Europe

Dark tourism in Berlin and beyond

  • 13 Aug 2006
Many of Berlin's prime attractions evoke the darker side of the city's past. The new monument to the murdered Jews of Europe just south of the Brandenburg Gate is the latest addition to Berlin's dark tourism repertoire. Just a short walk away is ...
Letter from Europe

Lost communities: France, Russia and more

  • 27 Jul 2006
Many are the European communities that have been lost to warfare, natural disasters or other agencies. The old town of Tocco Caudio in southern Italy was abandoned after an earthquake in the 1980s, as was Poggioreale in western Sicily a few years ...
Letter from Europe

By bus to Moldova

  • 9 Jul 2006
hidden europe has been in the North Frisian islands this past week. The island of Gröde is one of ten communities known collectively as the Halligen, tiny islands that lie off the west coast of the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein. This ...
Letter from Europe

Minorities around the Black Sea

  • 19 Apr 2006
The Black Sea region bristles with diaspora curiosities, and, in an earlier issue of hidden europe magazine (in July 2005), we explored Estonian villages in the breakaway province of Abkhazia in northwest Georgia. In the upcoming issue of the ...
Letter from Europe

International Women's Day

  • 8 Mar 2006
While Saxony's womenfolk were treated to coffee and cake afloat, indulgence of another kind was evident in the industrial city of Perm, just west of Russia's Ural mountains. Light snow fell this afternoon on the thousands of couples gathered in ...
Letter from Europe

Terminalia: a day for borders - no tram to Poland

  • 23 Feb 2006
Today, 23 February, is the Festival of Terminalia - not a date that features prominently in any modern ecclesiastical calendar, but one that was laden with meaning in the Roman world. For Terminus was the deity who presided over boundary stones and ...
Letter from Europe

The train to Siberia - a Kraków curiosity

  • 12 Jun 2005
Walk the royal road south from Kraków's magnificent central square and you cannot miss the great hill of Wawel with its palace and cathedral overlooking the Wisla river. Walk up to the cathedral in the quiet of night, or at dawn on a summer ...
Letter from Europe

Corpus Christi - Karelian babushkas

  • 26 May 2005
Across much of Europe, today is a public holiday on account of the Catholic solemnity of Corpus Christi. It is a feast that comes with a heavy helping of curious cultural customs. Wander through many small towns in central Europe this afternoon, ...
Letter from Europe

Ny-Ålesund (Spitsbergen) - Sealand update

  • 27 Apr 2005
Spring may have eclipsed winter here at hidden europes Berlin home, but elsewhere across our continent conditions are very different. Across a large part of inland southern Spain this afternoon, temperatures topped 30ºC, yet this morning at ...