hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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On the last Sunday before Lent, the busós cross the Danube in traditional wooden boats before gathering for a procession through the town (photo © Rudolf Abraham).
Magazine article

Dancing by the Danube

In the town of Mohács, on the bank of the River Danube in Hungary, the single most important cultural event of the year is the Busójárás, which is part of a wider European Shrovetide tradition. Rudolf Abraham stopped off in Mohács to report on this ...
The Caspian Sea — the world’s largest inland body of water (photo © Alexandr Malyshev / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Drawing a Line in the Water: The Caspian Sea

Is the Caspian a sea or a lake? Aristotle averred it was certainly a lake. Pliny and Strabo suggested it was a sea. No other trans-boundary body of water throws up quite the same issues as the Caspian. We take a look at international frontiers that ...
Jyrgalan village and the valley seen from an alpine meadow above (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

Another Switzerland: The Road to Jyrgalan

Rustic and homely, albeit perhaps a little frayed at the edges, the village of Jyrgalan brings to mind a parallel universe Switzerland where life has just gone a little feral. Enjoy this report from Kyrgyzstan by hidden europe author ...
The Hotel Verbano is at the southernmost tip of Isola dei Pescatori (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Life on the Lake: The Isola dei Pescatori

Late afternoon, the day trippers are leaving Isola dei Pescatori. Come sunset, the island in Lake Maggiore becomes a quieter, gentler place as the hum of motorised vessels on the lake is hushed for the day. Join us on a trip to the Borromean ...
Magazine article

Boundary Lakes

A whistle-stop tour of some of Europe's trans-boundary water bodies, from Lake Peipus to Lake Prespa and ...
Chasselas vines, with a characteristic red tinge at the top of the stems, on the Guyot vine management system at Lavaux (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Lakeside Tradition: Exploring the Lavaux Vineyards

The Lavaux area in Switzerland is one of Europe's oldest winegrowing regions, a distinction which has earned for Lavaux a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The Lavaux vineyards drape the north shore of Lake Geneva at the western end of the ...
Belle époche paddle steamers ply Lake Geneva, connecting the villages along the lakeshore. Here, the historic steamer ‘La Suisse’ arrives at the station in Cully. The vessel has been in regular service for over 100 years (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Lake Geneva By Boat

From the Bodensee in the north to Lago Maggiore in the south, Swiss lakes are blessed with a wide range of scheduled boat services. We take a look at services which ply the waters of Lake Geneva, serving over two dozen ports across the ...
Lviv’s opera house was opened in 1900. Its construction meant that the River Poltva had to be channelled underground (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Reclaiming Our Rivers: Europe's Lost Waterways
  

Do not the rivers which once powered urban economies deserve more visibility in a post-industrial age? Clean rivers should surely not be hidden away in subterranean culverts. Let's bring them back to the surface and let them help with the ...
The Lavaux vineyards on the shore of Lake Geneva, viewed from the lakeside promenade at Cully (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Cully by Lake Geneva

  • 1 Jul 2018
Travelling east on the steamer from Ouchy , we are struck by how vines dominate the shoreline of Lake Geneva. At Cully we hop ashore to explore this small town in Switzerland's Lavaux region. It is the area from which Switzerland's acclaimed ...
photo © Joshua Wanyama / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

Winter games on a soft border

  • 2 Mar 2018
Winter skating on the River Doubs, which marks the frontier between France and Switzerland, is a common seasonal pastime in the Jura region. As Switzerland and France are both party to the Schengen Agreement, this is a classic "soft" border, one ...
Strolling along the riverside promenade of Novi Becej, a small town on the shores of the River Tisa in Serbia’s Vojvodina region (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

A River Town out of Season

Bicycles outnumber cars in Novi Becej, a small town on the east bank of the River Tisa in the flatlands of the Vojvodina region of northern Serbia. Laurence Mitchell catches the changing moods of Novi Becej as autumn slips into ...
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 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 ...
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 ...
Byron's visit to the Château de Chillon in 1816 set the agenda for generations of subsequent travellers. This hugely popular castle on the shores of Lake Geneva is in the premier league of Swiss visitor attractions (photo © Pavalache Stelian / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The Prisoner of Chillon

  • 5 Dec 2016
200 years ago, on 5 December 1816, the Scottish publisher John Murray published The Prisoner of Chillon, a poem in the romantic idiom by Lord Byron. It was inspired by a visit which Byron and Shelley had together made to the Château de Chillon that ...
The view from the tower of the University Church on The High in the heart of Oxford reveals how the countryside nudges up close to the university city (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Escape to Hinksey

  • 24 Aug 2016
One of the many charms of Oxford is that the countryside is never far away. Indeed, seeing folk from Oxfordshire villages tumbling off the buses as they arrived in St Giles this morning, I had a sense of the country coming into ...
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 ...
Ilya Repin's famous painting entitled 'Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire' in the collection of the State Russian Museum, St Petersburg.
Letter from Europe

Ilya Repin and the Cossacks

  • 5 Mar 2016
A picture, so they say, is worth a thousand words, and perhaps the most famous letter in art is that which the Cossacks allegedly sent to the Turkish Sultan in 1676. If you like the work of Ilya Repin, then you'll probably share our enthusiasm for ...
This tower in Lago di Resia (Reschensee) in Italy’s Alto Adige region is all that remains of the old parish church of Graun-im-Vinschgau (photo © hidden europe)
Magazine article

Silent witness
  

Discover the extraordinary story of how an Italian village was sacrificed to provide hydro-electric power for Switzerland. The evacuation of Curon Venosta (or Graun-im-Vinschgau in German) was a tragedy. Today the church campanile rises serenely ...
An aerial view of the Zambezi River (photo © Luca Santilli / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The art of flying

  • 10 Jan 2016
Flying is rarely a bundle of fun. Even leaving aside the generally horrid nature of airports with their essential (but inevitably unpleasant) security checks, modern aviation practice makes few concessions to the poetics of the journey. The ...
50 years ago, the village of Capel Celyn in North Wales was sacrificed to make way for a new reservoir (photo by Velela).
Letter from Europe

Remember Tryweryn

  • 20 Oct 2015
The Welsh phrase Cofiwch Dryweryn (Remember Tryweryn) recalls the fate of the Tryweryn Valley which was flooded to provide water for the English city of Liverpool. The new reservoir, officially opened in October 1965, meant the end for the village ...
Looking north up Glen Dee towards the Lairig Ghru
with Devil’s Point on the left and the snow-covered slopes of Ben Macdui in the background on the right (photo © Alan49 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Revisiting the Cairngorms

Nan Shepherd's book The Living Mountain is often acclaimed as a prescient example of the genre now often known as New Nature Writing. We take a look at a classic text on Scottish landscapes which was first published in 1977 - more than 30 years ...
Letter from Europe

The view from Ankerwycke

  • 1 Jun 2015
So you know, Ancient Yew, of all that came to pass in 1215? You shivered for more than a thousand winters. You gave shelter for more than a thousand summers. Did you gaze in those days over the Thames to the meadows at ...
Letter from Europe

Liberland: Bring your wellies

  • 26 Apr 2015
Have you applied for Liberland citizenship yet? Probably not. Though by all accounts lots of folk have been begging the Liberland government to give them passports.Liberland may yet turn out to be merely a publicity stunt, but President Jedlicka ...
Letter from Europe

Remembering Taras Shevchenko

  • 9 Mar 2015
Grab your coat and come with us. This walk we'll make together is important, and this week is the time to do it. Important because, if we want to understand Ukraine, then we need to know the poetry of Taras Shevchenko. And there's no better place ...
Loch Lubnaig near Callander, Scotland, on an afternoon in early March (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Loch Lubnaig

  • 5 Mar 2015
We love real weather. And we had real weather aplenty on a journey through Scotland this week. Clear blue skies at Carsaig Bay with glorious views west to Jura. Great spreads of grey-white snow over Rannoch, the hills all hidden in mist. A lone ...
Letter from Europe

Wealden diary

  • 26 Sep 2014
The equinox has passed and now a hint of frost dances by dawn on the more sheltered meadows. Restless stonechats are busy on the high heaths, where we stand and gaze on distant Wealden ridges fading into misty morning sunshine. This is one of ...
View from Calton Hill over the city of Edinburgh (photo © Shaiith / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Divided Islands and all things Scottish

  • 9 Sep 2014
Just imagine, for a moment, that Scotland really does vote yes to independence next week. Scotland will then become a new nation state, bidding for a place in European league tables of size and status. We reflect on border issues and look at how ...
Magazine article

Hiraethog: the hills of solitude
  

The Wikipedia entry for Mynydd Hiraethog is slim. So minimal in fact that, acre for acre, this Welsh wilderness must be the least interesting place in the British Isles. Philip Dunshea knows Mynydd Hiraethog well, having grown up in the shadow of ...
Letter from Europe

Hidden Devon

  • 24 Oct 2013
We wandered through Devon byways, passing Kingdom's Corner to reach the River Dart at Worthy Bridge. From there it was an easy stroll down the valley towards Bickleigh. John Lean farms a handsome herd of White Park cattle here. He has 150 head of ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Into the Great Unknown: Rannoch Moor
  

The Moor drags itself out to the distant horizon, a great brown smudge studded with little black lochans. Guest contributor Philip Dunshea, writing for hidden europe for the first time, invites us to brave the weather on Rannoch Moor. Maps of the ...
Stephansplatz in the centre of Vienna - an architectural medley of ancient and modern (photo © Pixcom / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Retrospect 1873: Salzburg to Vienna
  

There is a prevailing view in Salzburg that Vienna is halfway to Asia. And that is certainly the perspective with which 19th-century travellers from western Europe approached Vienna. We retrace the itinerary followed by Thomas Cook's clients in ...
Letter from Europe

Leaving the Tatras

  • 14 Feb 2013
I discovered yesterday that the traveller wanting to take a train out of Zakopane is hardly spoilt for choice. Early birds can opt for the 03.27 to Kraków. Then the next departure from the resort in the Tatra mountains of southern Poland is not ...
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 ...
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 ...
Sunset at the coast at Ilfracombe in Devon, England (photo © Ruth Lawton / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A dozen nautical miles

  • 9 Sep 2012
Only once past Foreland Point does Devon reveal her secrets. The squat lighthouse, with its distinctive round white beacon, presides over the northernmost point of Devon. From Foreland it is a dozen nautical miles of easy cruising along the coast ...
The city of Ohrid, on the shores of the eponymouslake, is Macedonia’s premier tourist destination (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Quo vadis Macedonia?
  

Protecting the national narrative is a fine art in Macedonia, the south Balkan republic which neighbouring Greece insists should be referred to only as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (or FYROM for short). Join us as we try and unravel ...
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

Macedonian variety

  • 30 Jun 2010
It takes less than four hours to cross Macedonia by train. It is just 250 km from the border with Serbia at Tabanovce to the Greek frontier at Gevgelija. Of course Macedonia deserves more than merely four hours, but that short train journey affords ...
Letter from Europe

Glimpses from the train

  • 6 May 2010
Are not the finest parts of many long train journeys those fleeting glimpses of a city or a country that you get just prior to arrival at your destination? There is a superb moment on the train journey through Slovakia towards Budapest, a view ...
Curves dominate the memorial to the Slovak Uprising at Banská Bystrica (photo © Kordoz / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Slovakia: a foray into modernism
  

Slovakia boasts some of the finest modernist architecture anywhere in Europe, though you would hardly know it from the guidebooks. There is something distinctly Slovakian about these buildings which, during the years that Slovakia was linked to the ...
Letter from Europe

Celebrity tourism in the Trossachs

  • 19 Oct 2009
Celebrity tourism is nothing new. In 1847, Queen Victoria had journeyed to the Hebrides from the Clyde, using the Crinan Canal to avoid the long sea journey around the Kintyre peninsula. In so doing she encouraged thousands of other travellers to ...
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 ...
Flocks of lake birds swoop down from their protected dominion, the white cli!s of Golem Grad (photo © Christopher Deliso).
Magazine article

Border zone: around Lake Prespa
  

At the point in the southwest Balkans where Macedonia, Albania and Greece converge lies Lake Prespa. It is an extraordinary place - brackish waters, fill of bulbous weeds that pull at your feet. In the middle of the lake is Golem Grad, an island ...
Magazine article

Kaliningrad conundrum

The Königsberg problem: start and end at the same place, and walk through the city, crossing all seven bridges once and no more. A mathematical puzzle from the Russian city of ...
Letter from Europe

The Hogsmill Valley (southern England)

  • 26 Aug 2008
The Hogsmill is scarcely one of Europe's great rivers, yet even this diminutive stream that trickles through London's southern suburbs bubbles with history. Cheam and Nonsuch were villages on the road to chic Epsom, famous nowadays for its ...
Letter from Europe

Tykocin (Poland) - Belmonte (Portugal)

  • 4 Aug 2008
Tykocin is a gem, a town that graciously captures the awful history of a thousand former Jewish shtetls across central Europe. This was a community, like so many in the region, that was Jewish to the core. Tykocin had its heart ripped out in August ...
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

Heritage centres in Ireland - the Danube delta in Romania

  • 23 Apr 2006
The capacity of Ireland to create 'heritage centres' is unbounded. In a month that marks the ninetieth anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, it seemed good to check out the memorial to Eamon de Valera in the village of Brú Rí (Bruree in ...
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

Andorra landscapes - uncertainty in Montenegro

  • 6 Feb 2006
Walkers heading for Spain on the footpath over the 2,500 metres col at Vallcivera come up the Madriu valley during the summer season, but few notice the remains of the old forge on the bank of the river that, with its characteristic Catalan design, ...
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, ...