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Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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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 ...
Magazine article

The Spinetta Report

In the future it may not be so easy to take the slow train from Sospel to Tende. Or from Clermont-Ferrand to Nîmes. Jean-Cyril Spinetta's February 2018 report to President Macron is not good news for regional rail routes in France. It may be ...
Old cemetery on Barra's west coast (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Barra connections

  • 16 Jan 2018
Islands breed patience – among both the living and the dead. Especially in mid-winter in Barra, when the storms can be relentless. For us, however, there is a rare pleasure in being at the mercy of the elements. One feels connected with nature in a ...
Lufthansa looks set to become more dominant in German skies following the demise of its rival Air Berlin. Air Berlin operates its last flights on Friday 27 October 2017 (photo © Radarman70 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The slow demise of Air Berlin

  • 27 Oct 2017
This evening, as the prosecco glasses clink and the water salutes cascade, anyone might be forgiven for thinking that Air Berlin had just notched up some great commercial success. What is in fact being marked is the demise of an airline with flight ...
The station at Schaanwald is on the Feldkirch to Buchs railway line that cuts through Liechtenstein (© hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

A month without trains

  • 1 Jun 2017
A new month, and the sun shines. It's summer! And guess what? One European country has just closed down its entire rail network. For the whole month of June, not a single train will operate in ...
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 ...
The Afsluitdijk is a symbol of Dutch engineering ingenuity. It connects Friesland with northern Holland (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Exploring the dyke

  • 3 Apr 2017
We crossed the Afsluitdijk last week on a long journey from Berlin to the island of Barra in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. Most other vehicles on the Afsluitdijk road sped along close to the speed limit. Instead of dashing over the dyke, we stopped ...
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 ...
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 ...
Flybe is one of the operators which applied for support from the UK Government's Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF) to set up new air routes (photo © Richair / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Funding regional air services

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

Short hops by plane

  • 9 Jan 2017
Short hops by air over water are of course very common, generally relying on non-jet aircraft and providing lifeline air services to island communities around the coasts of Europe. A review of old airline timetables reveals that there used to be ...
The extension of the Midland Railway to St Pancras necessitated the demolishion of Agar Town. At the same time St Pancras churchyard was reduced in size. Many of the tombstones which were removed were gathered together around the oak tree pictured above (photo © David Edgar licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0).
Letter from Europe

150 years after Agar Town

  • 28 Dec 2016
It is 150 years since the Midland Railway, which in 1866 was extending its tracks south into St Pancras, demolished a poor, working-class community which inconveniently straddled the company's proposed route to its grand new London terminus. Agar ...
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 ...
CalMac's MV Loch Alainn (seen here at Eriskay) plies the Sound of Barra (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

New CalMac Contract

The network of car ferries operated by Caledonian MacBrayne is part of the fabric of island life in Scotland's Western Isles. No trip to the Hebrides is complete without a journey or two on a CalMac ferry. The company has just secured a new ...
All aboard the Sargan Eight Railway in western Serbia. The train is at Sargan Vitasi station (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

The Hills of Western Serbia

There are many visions of Yugoslavia's past. Laurence Mitchell visits the hills of western Serbia to learn how heritage and history fuel the imagination. It's a journey that starts and ends in Uzice and takes in the famous Sargan Eight narrow-gauge ...
Magazine article

Bosna-gauge Railways

Had the Balkan region narrow-gauge rail network survived, it would surely today be a cherished asset in promoting tourism over a wide region - in much the same way as the narrow-gauge Rhaetian Railway network has been important in attracting ...
Private Italian operator NTV Italo offers a new weekend service from Milan to Rimini this summer (photo © Eqroy8 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Summer excursions by train

  • 8 Jun 2016
New summer train timetables kick in across Europe this month, ushering in many new rail links and interesting changes in rail services across the ...
Magazine article

Scottish ferries
  

The ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has always had a dash of Scottish spirit. But this spring CalMac is facing a challenge with a rival company bidding to take control of the lifeline ferry routes in the Hebrides and Clyde ...
Explore the Scottish islands and the Clyde coast with Caledonian MacBrayne. A CalMac ferry at Largs in the Firth of Clyde (photo © Robert Flynn / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Ferry links: Britain and Ireland

  • 19 Feb 2016
There is much ado in British and Irish waters these days, with so many very appealing ferry routes, but also a few services slipping from the schedules. In this Letter from Europe, we give an overview of some interesting new ...
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 ...
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 ...
Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia & Herzegovina, is served by just one international train each day (photo © Dejan Vekic / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Slow train to Sarajevo
  

Twenty years ago this autumn, the Dayton Peace Accord brought a measure of peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Join us as we take the train from Zagreb to Sarajevo, travelling through a region which still bears the scars of ...
Magazine article

Ukrainian-Russian links
  

The tit-for-tat posturing between Ukraine and Russia benefits no-one trying to travel to and from Crimea - or for that matter anywhere in the border regions between the two countries. In late October 2015, air links between Russia and Ukraine were ...
Magazine article

All change at Westbahnhof
  

Big changes are afoot at the Westbahnhof in Vienna, a station which these past months has seen crowds of refugees from Syria and elsewhere. Vienna-based writer Duncan JD Smith takes a look at how the station has changed over the ...
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 ...
Longyearbyen Airport on Svalbard - the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic - is celebrating its 40th anniversary (photo © Splosh / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Longyearbyen Airport, 40 years on

  • 2 Sep 2015
Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the official opening of the airport at Longyearbyen on 2 September 1975. It was an event which dramatically changed this polar outpost, making it far more accessible to the scientific community and ...
End of the line for the slow train from the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary: Marianske Lazne (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Bohemian therapy

  • 2 Aug 2015
Eight times each day, even on Sundays, a train leaves the Czech town of Karlovy Vary for the 80-minute journey through the hills to Mariánské Lázne. Both communities are celebrated stops on the European spa circuit. They both flourished in Habsburg ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Pity the poor horses

Thomas Tilling revolutionised bus transport in London. Among his pioneering ideas was the notion of having regular bus stops along a route. But the company that bore his name was not always in the forefront of developments. In 1914 Thomas Tilling ...
An 1877 Monet painting of Paris Saint-Lazare station. The original painting is in the collection of the Musée D’Orsay.
Magazine article

A station in the shadows

The Gare Saint-Lazare attracted the artists. Yet Paris Gare du Nord has a grittier atmosphere. This busiest of Paris' railway termini is ultimately a station in the shadows. And therein lies its enduring ...
Letter from Europe

150 years since Staplehurst

  • 12 Jun 2015
A Friday afternoon. The second Friday in June. As is today. The tidal train left Folkestone just after two in the afternoon. Charles Dickens was on board the tidal train on that Friday afternoon in 1865. It should have been a routine journey ...
London's new gateway to the Mediterranean: new direct Eurostar service from St Pancras to Marseille starts on 1 May 2015 (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

From London to the Med without changing trains

  • 30 Apr 2015
If you visit St Pancras tomorrow morning, cast your eye over the departure boards. For at 07.19 tomorrow morning something remarkable will happen. The first ever scheduled passenger train will leave London for the shores of the Mediterranean: the ...
Letter from Europe

The centre of the universe

  • 13 Apr 2015
It was 50 years ago that Salvador Dalí completed his celebrated La Gare de Perpignan. It is a huge oil painting which now hangs in the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. It celebrates Perpignan as the very centre of the ...
Eurostar trains waiting at the platforms at St Pancras station in London (photo © MorganOliver / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Europe by rail: spring news

  • 1 Apr 2015
It is that time of year when rail companies across Europe tweak their schedules for the upcoming summer season. Here's an overview of some of the noteworthy changes for this ...
Widerøe flight 702 prepares to leave Trondheim for
the two-hour flight to Bodø — with stops at Brønnøysund
and Sandnessjøen along the way (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Real flying: Norway by plane
  

The consensus is that flying has become boring. But fly on small planes offering a web of scheduled services up the Norwegian coast to discover a very different take on civil aviation. Travel by plane can still be immensely enjoyable. We review ...
The E22 Holyhead to Ishim road crossing the Afsluitdijk
in Holland (photo © Chrwincan5dm2 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

The road to Ishim
  

The Edinburgh Castle is a pub in the Welsh town of Holyhead (Caergybi in Welsh). The roundabout just outside that pub looks unremarkable. But it marks the very start of the road to Ishim, a route of over 5000 kilometres that spans seven ...
Letter from Europe

Food for thought - Expo 2015

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

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 ...
Letter from Europe

New rail services across Europe

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

The Talgo tale
  

The story of the Talgo trains of Bosnia reveals a quite stunning waste of money. This is a country which invested in a new fleet of trains which are simply incompatible with its antiquated rail ...
The Forth Rail Bridge (photo © Ian Whitworth / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Setting Forth
  

One firth: three bridges. Each of the three bridges over the Firth of Forth was built in a different century. There is the 19th-century rail bridge, a 20th-century road bridge and now the new Queensferry Crossing road bridge under construction. ...
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 ...
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 ...
Letter from Europe

Vienna’s new railway station

  • 10 Oct 2014
Shortly after ten o’clock this morning a priest stepped forward to the podium and blessed Vienna’s new railway station. There were speeches aplenty with the statutory votes of thanks to those who have presided over planning committees and ...
The restaurant on the Hurtigruten ship Kong Harald - the restaurant is used for breakfast, lunch and dinner (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Hurtigruten: dinner on board

  • 15 Sep 2014
Dinner menus on Hurtigruten boats reflects the local cuisine of the particular region through which you pass on that day of your journey. It’s a great way of exploring both the cultural as well as the culinary accents of the communities along the ...
Salted cod bound for Angola being loaded onto the Hurtigruten ship MS Kong Harald at the Norwegian port of Havøysund (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Hurtigruten ASA: business and brand

  • 11 Sep 2014
Our focus in the notes on Hurtigruten on the hidden europe website is very much on the Norwegian coastal voyage. But that is just part of a wider portfolio of activities undertaken nowadays by Hurtigruten ASA, the company founded in 1912 ...
The Hurtigruten vessels which ply the Norwegian coast provide essential links to ports along the way. This is a shipping service that connects remote communities with the wider world (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Hurtigruten: frequently asked questions

  • 10 Sep 2014
Readers of hidden europe often ask us about details of the Norwegian coastal voyage. On this page we have gathered together two dozen such questions with our answers. A lot of general information on Hurtigruten is available in brochures. ...
The Hurtigruten vessel MS Kong Harald in Kirkenes harbour, getting ready for its southbound journey on the Norwegian coastal voyage (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Hurtigruten: the Norwegian coastal voyage

  • 10 Sep 2014
To our mind, the Norwegian coastal voyage is one of Europe’s finest slow travel adventures.The Hurtigruten vessels which ply the Norwegian coast provide essential links to ports along the way. The pure simplicity of the timetable allows travellers ...
Unusual motive power: the 18.08 train from Salzburg to Vienna is powered by Austrian lawyers (photo © Tomnex / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A new deal for Austrian lawyers

  • 23 Aug 2014
Europe is full of trains with oddly inappropriate names. At least the Alhambra goes to Granada. Not so the Wawel, which nowadays does not run to Kraków at all but only to Wroclaw. Some of the most bizarre train names are actually found in Austria. ...
No trains to Nowy Lupków. This remote railway station in south-east Poland was closed in 2010 when an important cross-border rail link from Slovakia was axed (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Cross-border links in the Carpathians

New cross-border roads have enhanced communications across the Polish-Slovakian border, two countries which have greatly benefited from becoming part of the Schengen region. The new roads are good news for private motorists, but those who rely on ...
100 years old this summer: the funicular railway to the Café Diana in Karlovy Vary (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Escape from Carlsbad

The funicular railway to the Café Diana on the hills above the spa town of Karlovy Vary marks a birthday this summer: it was opened to the public in 1914. It remains the easy way to get a bird's-eye view of Karlovy Vary (the town often referred in ...
Letter from Europe

Ship Talk: From the Kattegat to the Crimea

  • 19 Mar 2014
Many travellers through Denmark this summer will be sorry to discover that the long-standing direct ferry from Kalundborg (on Sjælland) to Aarhus (on Jutland) has been axed. This is just one of many routes to disappear in the latest round of cuts ...
Magazine article

Tales from the A39
  

Forget the Maserati centenary celebrations this year. 2014 marks the centenary of the Mendip Motor. Chewton Mendip was never destined to become a Detroit. But one hundred years ago this month this small Somerset village saw the launch of the Mendip ...
Magazine article

All points east
  

The new rail schedules for 2014 kick in across Europe in mid-December. Big changes are afoot as Russia rethinks its strategy for passenger services from Moscow to principal cities in the European Union. There are changes to night train services, a ...
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

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. ...
Ports in northern Norway are looking to challenge Murmansk (pictured here), the Russian port on the Barents Sea coast (photo © Tupungato / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

New ports for the Far North
  

The harbour front at Kirkenes could be transformed if the Norwegian port became a major transit point for freight to and from Russia. The key to this happening is getting Russian-gauge railway tracks to Kirkenes. But other ports in northern Norway ...
Magazine article

Hitting the buffers
  

Does the European Rail Timetable, published by Thomas Cook since 1873, have a future with a new publisher? Plans are afoot for the relaunch of a book that has defined horizons for generations of ...
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

100 years of buses

  • 13 Jun 2013
If British buses had a golden age, it was in the years just prior to the First World War. Motorised buses were changing British streetscapes. New routes were being launched every week, and suddenly a ride on a bus was an option even for those of ...
Letter from Europe

First plans for a Channel Tunnel rail service

  • 25 Mar 2013
Just think how good it would be if you could board a train in Milan and wake up next morning in Manchester. Forty years ago this spring, civil servants in London and European rail planners were sketching out the first tentative ideas for just such ...
Letter from Europe

The Aix Factor

  • 17 Jan 2013
The departure boards at London's St Pancras station are regaining their eclectic character of yesteryear. Cast back half a century and St Pancras had its share of trains to fire the imagination. Perhaps the most distinguished morning departure from ...
Letter from Europe

End of the line for the peace train

  • 9 Dec 2012
Europe's railway geography was reshaped last night. New timetables kicked in, bringing a host of novel travel options. Newly-built rail routes opened in Holland and Austria. A new high-speed service now links Amsterdam and Brussels. And northern ...
Passing Hoops Inn on the A39 bus (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Cruising the Atlantic Highway

If roads have personalities, then the A39 in south-west England is certainly one of the most memorable. It meanders from Georgian Bath to the south coast of Cornwall, taking in some of the most engaging scenery in England. For part of its length ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Hartland connections

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

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 ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

Slow is better: the real value of InterRail

  • 17 Jul 2012
“InterRail isn’t the same as in the early days,” came the cry after our 40th-birthday bouquet in honour of InterRail published in hidden europe 37. Several correspondents have contacted us with stories of how InterRail and Eurail have lost their ...
Magazine article

The Schengen factor
  

Schengen is more than just a village on the banks of the River Moselle in Luxembourg. The Schengen programme of free movement across borders helps shape modern Europe geographies. It explains why trains now rumble by night through Hodos and why ...
Magazine article

Ticket to ride: 40 years of InterRail
  

InterRail is far more than just a train ticket. Cast back to the nineteen seventies, and the rail pass was feted by a generation of young Europeans as the ultimate 'ticket to ride'. InterRail appealed to the wanderlust of travellers who took weeks ...
Magazine article

Swiss connections: the city of Basel
  

The station departure boards at Basel are nowadays not quite so exotic as once they were. True there's still the occasional train to Minsk and Moscow, but no longer are there direct trains to Spain, Romania and England. Yet Basel's Swiss and French ...
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

Flying can still be fun

  • 11 May 2012
Flying has generally ceased to be fun. The only certainty about much modern air travel is that it will be boring. Gone are the days when Dakotas battled against headwinds and made unscheduled landings at rough airstrips in offbeat parts of Europe. ...
A feast of Victorian Gothic at London’s St Pancras Station. The building houses the reopened station hotel, the St Pancras Renaissance (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Sanctuary: in the shadow of St Pancras
  

In 'A Tale of Two Cities', Dickens recalls the work of bodysnatchers in St Pancras Churchyard. The graveyard is in the very shadow of London's magnificently restored St Pancras station. We reflect on how the railways have reshaped the St Pancras ...
Letter from Europe

West to Reading

  • 12 Feb 2012
The fast trains from London to Reading take a mere twenty-four minutes for the journey. And First Great Western (FGW), successor to Brunel's celebrated Great Western Railway, happily still name some of their trains. Scanning the current FGW ...
Letter from Europe

Letter from St Pancras

  • 2 Dec 2011
There is something quite exquisite about grand railway termini. Folk fly through them, the dash for the train diminishing the status of these great cathedrals to travel. But these are not places through which one should rush. So we lingered at St ...
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 ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

Plymouth to Portsmouth by boat

  • 11 Nov 2011
Devotees of unusual ferry routes will find a few gems tucked away in Brittany Ferries’ winter schedules. From next week until the end of March 2012, there will be a seasonal Plymouth to St Malo service. The service kicks off next Monday with a ...
Letter from Europe

Branding the skies

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

Train services of yesteryear

  • 30 Jun 2011
There is much talk today about how we live in a new age of the train, and that many journeys around Europe are now much more sensibly undertaken by rail rather than air. Only too true, but such rhetoric does imply that rail travel in Europe was ...
Letter from Europe

The 313 to Botany Bay

  • 8 May 2011
We were having difficulty being enthusiastic about Enfield. Jack, an amiable octogenarian who is Enfield born and bred, is more positive. "Heavens," he exclaims. "You've no idea. Enfield has been important for centuries. Do you remember the Lee ...
Assertive modernism in Birmingham city centre. But the suburbs reveal another side of England’s second city (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Orbiting Birmingham
  

Birmingham's Outer Circle bus route is a veteran among urban bus routes, dating back to the nineteen-twenties. How many Brummies who ride the Outer Circle realise that this is Europe's longest urban bus route? Probably very few. But this ...
Mosque and minaret in Baščaršija, the Old Town of Sarajevo (photo © Xseon / istockphoto.com).
Magazine article

Europe by Rail: Balkan images
  

hidden europe editors Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries showcase a new book which they have edited. Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers was published in March 2011. This well-established title from Thomas Cook Publishing ...
Visa-free visits to St Petersburg are now a reality: the cathedral of St Isaac in the Russian city (photo © Renewer / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

By ferry to Russia
  

There is one very good reason for travelling by ferry to the Russian city of St Petersburg. For a short stay, ferry travellers are generally exempt from Russia's otherwise strict visa rules. So no surprise perhaps that St Peter Line, which already ...
Letter from Europe

Birmingham silences

  • 20 Dec 2010
Head out along the Bristol Road and you get an eyeful of Birmingham's suburbs. Leaky ipods and restive mobiles mix with discarded newspapers and chip wrappers on the upper deck of Bus 61 that runs all the way out to Frankley. An empty Red Bull can ...
Letter from Europe

Lost maritime links

  • 5 Sep 2010
Boulogne has always knocked spots off Calais as a port-of-entry into France. The city has a particularly attractive Ville Haute (Upper Town). But sadly, not a lot of travellers from England will be visiting Boulogne this winter, for today sees the ...
Letter from Europe

Now the dust is settling

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

On a wing and a prayer
  

Are we too tolerant of the aggressive new generation of low-cost airlines that are too footloose to show any real commitment to a particular airport? We look at some examples of community support for local airports that has not always reaped ...
The extensive ruins of the Roman civilian settlement of Aquincum were uncovered in Óbuda during the late nineteenth century (photo © Duncan JD Smith).
Magazine article

Budapest: beneath the Hungarian capital
  

Guided by Duncan JD Smith, we dive below the streets of Budapest to unravel the history of the Hungarian capital. No other capital city in the world is so riddled with caves as Budapest. We find Roman ruins, a labyrinth from the Ottoman period and ...
Magazine article

A matter of Principalities
  

A pot-pourri of railway-related facts that you would never have guessed could ever be so interesting. We leap from Wales to Monaco, from Liechtenstein to Vatican City in search of a few railway records. Not just for ...
hidden europe note

Portoroz airport reopens

  • 21 Feb 2010
The little airstrip at Portoroz in Slovenia has never featured prominently in Europe's flight schedules. The airfield is south of the town of Portoroz, and built on water meadows near the Dragonja river. But Portoroz airport is back in the news, as ...
Magazine article

Cyprus links
  

A range of new shipping links now gives Cyprus new status as a stepping stone to ports in the eastern Mediterranean. We report on new services from Cyprus to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and ...
The Norröna at the Icelandic port of Seyðisfjörður (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Northern waters: Iceland by boat
  

It is surprising how quickly Denmark recedes into nothingness, and then the Norröna is alone among the waves. We travel on Smyril Line's flagship as she sails from Denmark via the Faroe Islands to the eastern fjords of ...
Letter from Europe

Airport links

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

Hidden charges
  

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

On the night train
  

After the last of the daytime express trains have left, Europe's mainline railway stations play host to night trains. These are the trains which are the stuff of poetry. We explore some of the very best which the continent has to ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Britain's weakest links
  

What do the English railway stations at Denton, Reddish South, Pilning and Teesside Airport have in common? The answer is that they have virtually no trains. Ghost trains, ghost stations and more as we review Britain's weakest ...
A Silja Line ferry docked in Helsinki harbour (photo © Dennis Dolkens / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Sea fever
  

When one time English poet laureate John Masefield extolled the lure of the ocean ("I must down to the seas again..."), he clearly didn't have Cunard's luxury Queen Elizabeth II ship or the same company's new super liner Queen Mary in ...
Letter from Europe

Across Iceland's interior

  • 3 Jun 2008
Iceland's central highlands are no cakewalk. At least that's the way Andrew Evans puts it in the Bradt Guide to the country. "Iceland's interior feels more a cross between the Gobi desert and Antarctica," writes Andrew. It is that time of year when ...
Letter from Europe

Across Siberia by slow train

  • 16 Jan 2008
Some of our most productive moments are while we are travelling. And Botton is surely right. A slow train that meanders around forests and lakes of Pomerania, stopping off at tiny wayside halts every few minutes, breeds a quite different set of ...
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

Night sleepers

  • 13 Nov 2006
Enthusiasts for European train travel, we have noticed, sometimes get a little edgy this time of year. It is that season when train timetables, which have served us well - or sometimes less than perfectly - for almost twelve months are suddenly ...
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

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

New hidden europe issue - Iceland colour

  • 20 Oct 2005
Some places make their mark through colour. Picture the urban landscapes of Hungarian artist Csontváry: assertive shades of crimson in his depictions of Mostar in Bosnia, vivid turquoises in his scenes of Castellammara di Stabia on the Bay of ...