hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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

Bag Tag

Frequent flyers know that it's perfectly reasonable to fly from JFK to WAW via AMS. Just as they appreciate that it makes no sense at all to fly ARN to HEL via CDG. Those innocuous codes on airline baggage tags are the key to the geography of air ...
Magazine article

Reading Matters

Russian Railways (RZD) have launched their Library for Young Travellers programme with a selection of books for kids on trains to holiday destinations across Russia. Hop aboard for fairy tales, classic novels and a wide choice of poetry by Russian ...
The Swiss village of Samnaun is a duty-free haven (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Keeping loyal to Samnaun

  • 12 Jan 2018
We had assumed that the practice of diligently recording and publishing the name of visitors had long since died out until last summer we visited Samnaun. This really is one of Europe's most oddball communities. It is tucked away in the hills on ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Bradt Guide to Serbia

Laurence Mitchell has written a number of Bradt Guides, including titles on Norfolk (where he lives), central Asia and the Balkan region. We have been thumbing through Laurence's latest Bradt book, the 5th edition of his 'Bradt Guide to Serbia', ...
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 ...
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 ...
The royal palace in Bucharest (photo © Marian Mocanu / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

Through Romanian eyes

  • 19 Jun 2017
The Romanian aristocrat, traveller and writer Dinicu Golescu deserves to be better known outside his home region, for he rates as one of the finest travel writers of the early 19th century. His 1826 book 'Account of My Travels' is an important ...
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 ...
A little short on character development, and the plot is thin, but the Czech Republic's annual railway timetable is always a good read.
Magazine article

Bookmark: Jízdní Rád

Now here's a really remarkable book. The Czech national railway timetable for 2017 may not be great when it comes to plot structure and character development, but it is nonetheless an engaging read. Trust ...
Visitors to Warsaw can chase the ghosts of the city's Jewish past by exploring the boundaries of the former ghetto (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Out of the Shadows

Władysław Szpilman’s remarkable book The Pianist (made into a film by Roman Polanski) reveals the devastation of Jewish life in Warsaw in 1945. To accompany our feature on Jewish Warsaw we look at the city's Jewish community in the ...
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 ...
Image © Boscorelli / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

Tales from the East

  • 17 Feb 2017
With mention of fairy tales and film, thoughts often turn to Disney. The cinematic adaptation of fairy tales is often judged in the west to be a peculiarly American prerogative. But central and eastern Europe have a very fine tradition of ...
Duchcov Castle in the Czech Republic, where Giacomo Casanova spent the last 13 years of his life looking after the library of Count von Waldstein (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Cashing in on Casanova

  • 30 Jan 2017
Were it not for a librarian, we would surely never have ventured to Duchcov. We have always held librarians, and indeed libraries, in high regard. We're of one mind with Dervla Murphy who once described Heaven as an infinite library and Eternity as ...
Monument to Nikolai Gogol in Vevey on the Montreux Riviera in Switzerland. Gogol was just one of many artists who enjoyed a sojourn by Lake Geneva (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Montreux connections

  • 31 Dec 2016
If you've eaten too much over the holidays and fancy some exercise, why not join us on a walk around Lake Geneva. Let's focus on the Montreux Riviera, which sweeps softly around the north-east part of the lake. It is densely settled with ...
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 ...
One of Robin Stam's 'euro bridges' in Spijkenisse. This bridge is a copy of the design featured on the ten euro banknote (photo © Roel van Deursen, licensed under CC BY 2.0).
Magazine article

Improbable Places

The last year or two have seen a flood of new books which invite readers to engage on a virtual journey exploring our planet. We take a look at a new volume called 'Atlas of Improbable Places', just published by Aurum ...
The Spine of Russia is a high quality, hardcover photo book by Paul E Richardson and Mikhail Mordasov, published in July 2016. The book is a vivid portrait of modern Russian life.
Magazine article

The Berry Seller

Two new books arising from the Spine of Russia project afford a look at everyday life in the Russian Federation. In this preview of one of the books, Paul Richardson swaps notes with Igor, who is selling berries on a roadside in ...
From great novels to vintage romance, the whole world of the printed word is traded in Redu, a book town in Belgium (photo © Katrin Schönig).
Magazine article

Redu: that novel idea
  

Tucked away in the hill country of southern Belgium is the town of Redu. On the face of it, Redu is much the same as other towns in the Ardennes region. Except that, in Redu, the printed word is especially cherished and valued. Paul Scraton invites ...
The front cover of Skylines – a new book from Aurum Press (cover courtesy of Aurum Press).
Magazine article

The makings of a city
  

'Skylines' is a book to make you think. This new title by travel writers Yolanda Zappaterra and Jan Fuscoe is a celebration of the iconic buildings which shape the skylines of some of the world's most interesting cities. We take a look at the ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Russia’s eternal winter
  

They have fiddled with the clocks in Moscow. Not just in Moscow, but right across the Russian Federation. Russia has decided to move to perpetual winter – at least when it comes to time. For the clocks shall stay henceforth on winter ...
Lakeside setting of Mantua in Italy's Lombardy region (photo © Karol Kozlovski / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Travelling with Shakespeare

  • 31 Jul 2014
Hot summer days... and we've been meandering through northern Italy. Virtually, with Shakespeare by our side. Remember Lucentio who, in The Taming of the Shrew, leaves his home city of Pisa in Tuscany? Lucentio's servant Tranio accompanies his ...
Image © Pkappa34
Magazine article

The current state of travel writing

Travel writers have traditionally been fiercely independent spirits, and it was that independence which helped build trust and credibility with readers. But times are changing and a new breed of English-language writers seems to act as handmaidens ...
Letter from Europe

Farewell Madiba

  • 15 Dec 2013
Rolihlahla was born in Mvezo, moving when he was still a young lad to another village called Qunu which is further north, a little closer to the town of Mthatha. Until he went to school, Rolihlahla wore only a blanket. But on the day before school ...
Letter from Europe

The Orkneys and more

  • 5 Nov 2013
There will be no boat to the remote island of North Ronaldsay this coming Thursday. The ferry from Kirkwall, the main community in the Orkney Islands, runs out to North Ronaldsay just once a week at this time of year - and that on a Friday. So the ...
The 'old town' recalled in Jacob Riis’s memoirs is Ribe in Denmark, seen here in early autumn (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Remembering Jacob Riis
  

The social reformer and documentary photography Jacob Riis, author of 'How the Other Half Lives' (1890), was born in the town of Ribe in Danish Jutland. Understanding Ribe is the key to understanding Jacob Riis. We take a look at how Riis described ...
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. ...
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 ...
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

Britain by bus — could you write for us?

  • 11 Oct 2012
Let's speak of buses. Can we set you a challenge? Could you pen some words for us? Britain benefits from a fabulous network of local bus routes. True, there are worries in many communities about how government cuts may affect subsidies for bus ...
hidden europe note

The warm shadow of Isabelle Eberhardt

  • 4 Aug 2012
Many years ago, I spent a long hot summer in and around a sleepy ksar on the edge of the Sahara. I read many books that summer, but it was 'Dans l’ombre chaude de l’Islam' that tugged and tugged again, urging me to return to its pages. That book ...
Magazine article

Zagreb street art
  

When you paint something on the street, it is no longer your own. It becomes public property. Street art demands of artists that they 'let go', that they have the courage to relinquish ownership of their work. Rudolf Abraham takes a look at the ...
Landranger Sheet 57 sweeps from the Trossachs (above) east to the Ochils (photo © Dennis Dolkens).
Magazine article

Of maps and men: Landranger sheet 57
  

With place names like Pendicles of Collymoon and Nether Easter Offerance, Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheet 57 fires the imagination. Maps tell stories, as do old men in pubs. Like the Tartan traveller we met in the Tyrol who tried to persuade us ...
Letter from Europe

Slow travel with hidden europe 35

  • 15 Nov 2011
Slow travel can be quite hard work. It takes time of course, but it also requires a certain mindset. And we have tried to bring that mindset to every page in the latest issue of hidden europe magazine which is published today. hidden europe 35 is ...
Urban style with a modern double-decker cruising through the middle of Birmingham (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Celebrating British buses
  

Buses are experiencing a happy renaissance in Britain. The advent of concessionary bus passes to senior citizens has tempted many diehard motorists onto the top deck. In a special two-part feature for hidden europe, we look at a new book that ...
The world clock on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz (photo © Patrick Poendl / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Timing matters
  

Russia's decision this year to abandon seasonal changes of clocks has prompted much media comment. Belarus has followed Russia's example. Ukraine, after much prevarication, has opted to stick with alternating winter and summer time. In this short ...
Magazine article

The lure of the local
  

An innovative series of guidebooks to European cities and regions, produced by the Versailles-based publishing house Jonglez, prompts us to reflect on the quest for authenticity in ...
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 ...
Countdown to a news bulletin at Roj TV, the Flanders-based television station that broadcasts to Mesopotamia and beyond (photo © Karlos Zurutuza).
Magazine article

Flanders: good evening Denderleeuw
  

The homeland of the Kurdish people is bisected by many international frontiers. But Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and beyond are united by their affection for a TV station that broadcasts news and entertainment to the Kurdish people. Karlos ...
Letter from Europe

The Togliatti syndrome

  • 24 Dec 2009
Journalists in Togliatti (sometimes transliterated as Tolyatti), a town on the banks of the Volga, know all too well about the dangers of reporting in Russia. Tolyattinskoe obozrenie (Togliatti Review) was a minor star in Russian provincial ...
Letter from Europe

Hidden Argyll

  • 25 Jan 2009
It was exactly a hundred years ago that Patrick Gillies published his perceptive account about Argyll in western Scotland. Gillies looked at the finer details in the Argyll landscape. He visited outposts like the Slate Islands, then as now rather ...
Letter from Europe

A new atlas

  • 3 Sep 2007
It was a talented Scottish cartographer, John Bartholomew, whose cartographic skills gave so much character to The Times Atlas of the World. Over more than one hundred years, successive editions of the atlas have been used by governments, ...
Letter from Europe

The Shetland Islands

  • 14 Apr 2007
Take Da Böd, a café at Hillswick in Scotland's most northerly island group, the Shetlands. This really is the end of the road, a tiny fleck of a community on the shores of Ura Firth. There was a time when Hillswick was an outpost of the Hanseatic ...
Letter from Europe

'no music day'

  • 21 Nov 2006
Tomorrow, 22 November, is the Feast of St Cecilia, a saint surrounded by a strong music cult. By the time Raphael painted his L'estasi di Santa Cecilia (around 1515), musical instruments had become associated with St Cecilia. The iconography runs ...
Letter from Europe

The Selwyn swastika

  • 23 Oct 2006
hidden europe has been on the road - or more correctly 'on the rails' - this past week meandering through Europe on a journey that has seen us sleeping on a Russian night train, speeding through the Channel Tunnel on Eurostar, eating pierogi in ...
Letter from Europe

Airports by night - April Fool's day

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

Swedish Lapland - racism in Russia - a tale of two ships

  • 16 Jan 2006
Minority language radio broadcasting takes a step forward in Sweden today, when a new dedicated Sámi language radio station hits the airwaves in the Lapland region of northern Sweden. The Sámi minority has always benefitted from some local language ...