hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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Interrail passes can offer great flexibility when travelling - and can be a cheap alternative to point-to-point tickets in countries that do not charge a supplement, like Switzerland (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

New Interrail Passes

Train fares are getting cheaper. As retailer Loco2 launches split tickets in the British market, travellers on longer journeys across the continent are discovering that judicious use of an Interrail pass can undercut the cost of a regular return ...
Promenade architecture and the Kurhaus in Binz on the shore of the Baltic island of Rügen (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Hidden europe 57

  • 14 Mar 2019
We have this year visited the Baltic twice already. It's a region of Europe that's at its best in winter, we find, and sedate Binz was the perfect place to pen the editorial for issue 57 of hidden europe which is published tomorrow. Let's ...
photo © Rhallam / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

Rewilding the Wolf Border

Time was when cartographers embellished their maps with warnings to unwary readers. "Here be dragons," was one such advisory notice. For today's travellers, many of whom rarely venture beyond the reach of broadband, there's little chance of ...
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 ...
Lock on the Grand Union Canal - this major English canal was used by John Hollingshead on his way from London to Birmingham by boat (photo © Cpphotoimages / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

On the Canal

  • 25 Feb 2019
John Hollingshead's account of his 1858 journey on a cargo boat from London to Birmingham is a fine narrative celebrating slow travel; its beauty resides in the manner it captures that sense of wonder at navigating so slowly through ...
Paddington station is the departure point for over 200 trains a day which speed west on Brunel's classic railway to Ealing and beyond. Just one train each day follows a different route out of Paddington - the New North Line (photo © Jonkio4 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Farewell to a London Ghost Train

  • 7 Dec 2018
This is the story of Paddington’s ghost train which runs for the last time today. The 11.35 to High Wycombe uses the New North Line out of Paddington towards the Chiltern ...
Library of the University of Leuven (photo © Ivan Vander Biesen / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

For the Love of Libraries: Leuven

Libraries are much more than bricks and mortar, as Caroline Mills discovers during a visit to Leuven in Belgium. The vandalism of war has twice struck Leuven, with its university library set ablaze by marauding German troops in 1914 and again in ...
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 ...
Atlantic Airways Airbus A319 landing at Copenhagen Airport (photo © Jens Fiskbaek / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Flights to the Faroes

Are the Faroe Islands perhaps thinking of emulating Iceland's success in attracting North Atlantic stopover traffic? Might travellers a few years hence stop off in the Faroe Islands en route from North America to the European mainland? We take a ...
An exotic spot in western Scotland: the gardens at Crarae (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

By the shores of Loch Fyne

  • 30 Apr 2018
In Victorian Scotland, the public took great interest in technology, and so the detonations at the quarry of Crarae on the west shore of Loch Fyne became something of an attraction. The regular steamer from the Clyde to Inveraray would pause at ...
Sicily seen from the window of the slow train, with Mount Etna in the background (photo © Serjio74 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A tangle of detail on the rails

  • 8 Mar 2018
The art of travel writing is not about giving an overview of a country in a recitation of bland generalities. It's about capturing the essence of a place through attention to detail. Tim Parks' book Italian Ways does this ...
image © Gorodok495 / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

Mind the ice

  • 5 Mar 2018
There was talk, as we all waited to leave the overnight ferry from Hoek van Holland in Harwich, as to whether there would be any trains. "It was like the blitz here last week," said one woman, who had evidently escaped the wild English weather by ...
Sinn Féin victory parade, probably after the East Clare by elections of July 1917. Countess Markievicz is shown prominently, wearing a white coat (photo: from the Keogh Photographic Collection, National Library of Ireland on The Commons).
Letter from Europe

Votes for women

  • 4 Feb 2018
Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first woman ever elected to the British House of Commons. Constance Georgine Gore-Booth was born into an Anglo-Irish family in 1868. Her stand on rights for women is just one dimension of the wider ...
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 ...
The rain goose or red-throated diver is often spotted in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland (photo © Mikelane45 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A time for birds

  • 26 Dec 2017
We have had still days over Christmas - even halcyon days for those who know their Greek mythology. It suited the rain geese. The birds are more commonly known as the red-throated diver. Elegant in water, but ungainly on land, the rain goose is ...
Sustenance at half time, as the Bangla Bantams tuck into samosas on the terraces at Bradford City’s Valley Parade Stadium (photo © Emma Levine).
Magazine article

Samosas on the Terraces

Britain's Asian communities are woefully underrepresented in professional football, whether as players or on the terraces. Emma Levine returns to her home city of Bradford to report on an initiative to promote diversity on the terraces at Valley ...
The Semmering Railway (Austria) is listed on UNESCO's World Heritage list. It traverses the Austrian Alps to link Vienna with Graz and Klagenfurt (photo © Fritz Hiersche / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Railways and World Heritage

  • 29 Sep 2017
Railways have long been a component of successful World Heritage applications. In 1986, Britain made its very first successful application to UNESCO and Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire was inscribed on UNESCO's List. Yet it was not before 1998 that ...
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 ...
James' View, a great base for exploring the island of Barra (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

James' View: a stunning holiday home in Barra

  • 10 Aug 2017
James' View is stunning. You'd barely credit that the building was once no more than a simple Hebridean dwelling. It has been transformed by owners Marion and Will into a very welcoming holiday home on Barra. It makes a perfect base for exploring ...
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 ...
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 velvety landscapes of the Cotswolds in summer have long been a magnet for poets and writers (photo © Davidmartyn / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Willow-herb, meadowsweet and steam

  • 12 May 2017
Edward Thomas' achievements as a poet and essayist were only fully recognised posthumously. For many, it is his poem about Adlestrop which sticks in the mind. But there's more to Thomas than that poem - indeed he was a very accomplished nature ...
Shades of the past in the Hebridean blackhouse at Arnol on the Isle of Lewis (photo © hidden europe)
Letter from Europe

The Hebridean Blackhouse

  • 17 Apr 2017
For many visitors to the Hebrides, the traditional blackhouse is a symbol of these islands. Yet rarely is vernacular architecture so freighted with emotion, nostalgia and even ...
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 ...
John Henry Newman was admitted to Trinity College Oxford (pictured here) in December 1816 (photo © Julian Fletcher / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Christmas 1816

  • 24 Dec 2016
One day, a learned and able writer will surely pen a spiritual geography of England, looking at the relationship between faith and landscape in that country. It is a book that just waits to be written. The story of John Henry Newman should figure ...
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 ...
The Augustinian abbey on Inchcolm - an island in the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh (photo © Creativehearts / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Buying a Scottish island

  • 1 Dec 2016
Would you ever consider buying an entire island? This autumn has seen a couple of Scottish islands on the market. For a mere two million pounds, you might consider Tanera Mòr, the largest of the Summer Isles just off the coast of north-west ...
Magazine article

Catholic Oxford

December 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of John Henry Newman's admittance to Trinity College, Oxford. Almost 30 years later (in 1845), Newman was accepted into the Roman Catholic Church. We take a look at Catholic ...
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 50
  

Welcome to hidden europe 50. We live and work in a city where foreign nationals make an immense contribution to the local economy, to society and to the arts. Berlin is in that respect very typical of many places in Europe. In hidden europe, we ...
The crofting settlement of Northton on South Harris in Scotland's Outer Hebrides (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Only Fit For Wild Ducks

Catch the spirit of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides with Gaelic psalm singing at a country church in Lewis or Marian devotions on the Isle of Eriskay. We explore an island archipelago that has a complex mix of landscapes, of which the most distinctive is ...
The Neolithic standing stones at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis attest to a long history of human settlement in the Outer Hebrides (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Hebridean Narratives

Peter May's novels set in the Outer Hebrides communicate a strong sense of Hebridean landscapes. May is the latest in a long line of writers who have helped inscribe the islands on the public imagination. We take a look at a number of Hebridean ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 49
  

Welcome to the 49th issue of hidden europe magazine. In this issue we visit the Ukrainian town of Odessa, explore western Serbia, witness the vanishing art of cowbell crafting in Portugal's Alentejo region and attend the matanza in the Spanish ...
photo © Radius06 / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

After the referendum

  • 4 Jul 2016
For millions of Brits of my generation, the EU gave an exit route, a chance to escape. It gave me a chance to feel truly European, to be truly European. It has given me the opportunity to explore other languages, other faiths, other freedoms, that ...
Professor Doreen Massey
hidden europe note

In honour of Doreen Massey 1944-2016

  • 13 Mar 2016
We have this weekend heard the sad news of the death of Doreen Massey, the distinguished geographer whose ideas powerfully influenced our work at hidden europe. Her ability to challenge everything is a model for all socially committed ...
A CalMac ferry approaching the jetty in the harbour of Castlebay, Barra (photo © Donaldford / dreamstime.com).
hidden europe note

Armadale to Ardrossan – the slow way

  • 13 Mar 2016
Here is the answer to the Scottish Slow Travel Challenge we posted in the hidden europe Notes section on 19 February. The heart of the challenge was to tell us the latest possible date on which it would be possible to leave Skye in order ...
A classic piece of communist architecture: on its completion in 1952, the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building on the Moskva River in Moscow was the tallest building in Europe (photo © Leonid Andronov / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Welcome to hidden europe 48

  • 13 Mar 2016
Today's Letter from Europe reviews the contents of hidden europe 48. Publication of this new issue of the travel magazine is 15 March 2016. Copies are already available for ...
Magazine article

Playing the Welsh card
  

Welsh settlers landed on the Patagonian coast in 1865 to create Y Wladfa (literally 'the colony') in the Chubut Valley. Within little more than a generation, most of the Welsh migrants had moved inland or left South America altogether. But a veneer ...
Magazine article

From Austerlitz to Waterloo
  

So where is the Trafalgar which gave its name to the Battle of Trafalgar? And where is the Blenheim after which Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is supposedly named? We look at a few European place names which feature larger-than-life in the ...
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 ...
Destination Ardrossan - and we need to be there by Sunday 1 May (photo © Pierouge / dreamstime.com).
hidden europe note

The Scottish Slow Travel Challenge

  • 19 Feb 2016
Take part in the Scottish Slow Travel Challenge and win a subscription to hidden europe magazine. Devise a route from Skye to Ardrossan relying entirely on scheduled ferry and boat services. Read more about the specific travel conditions ...
On three weekends in February 2016, the port of Oban on the west coast of Scotland will have a direct overnight sleeper train to and from London (photo © Georgesixth / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The Oban Sleeper

  • 11 Feb 2016
Over the next three weekends, the overnight sleeper from London which would normally run to Fort William will instead run to Oban — travelling out Friday night from London and returning from Oban on Sunday night. It is a rare experiment, but let's ...
The former home of Gilbert White in Selborne, England, which now houses an exebition on his life and work (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Selborne, naturally

  • 7 Dec 2015
For anyone with an interest in the natural world, Selborne is a place which touches the soul. Cast back 240 years, and the naturalist and writer Gilbert White was busy exploring the hollow vales and hanging woods which surrounded his home village. ...
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 ...
Image © saniphoto / dreamstime.com
Letter from Europe

Travel planning: choices... choices

  • 24 Jul 2015
The notion of pre-purchasing train tickets was generally unknown to Victorian travellers. It is only in the last generation that rail operators have started to use dynamic pricing, offering handsome discounts for travellers willing to re-purchase ...
Magazine article

Railway ghosts

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

Editorial hidden europe 46
  

Welcome to issue 46 of hidden europe travel magazine. In this issue we walk through Lisbon and take the ferry to Iceland's Vestmannaeyjar. We also explore the Suffulk coast of England and visit the Danube wetlands and the Scottish ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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

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 ...
Letter from Europe

A grand tour of Europe

  • 11 Mar 2015
A new issue of hidden europe is published tomorrow. Not just any issue of hidden europe, but one which marks our tenth birthday. Yes, it was way back in March 2005 that we published the first-ever issue of the magazine. For ten years, we have been ...
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 ...
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. ...
Letter from Europe

Edwardtide

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

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 ...
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 ...
Letter from Europe

Financial architecture

  • 21 Jul 2014
Well do we know that modern pieties demand that one speaks only ill of banks, but here at hidden europe we often say nice things about bankers - or, to be more precise, about the good judgement exercised from time to time by bankers as they ...
Letter from Europe

Local heroes

  • 20 Jun 2014
'Ronaldo is certainly a big shot round here,' said the man on the slow train to Inverness. His comment distracted us from the scenery unfolding beyond the window as the train dropped down from Drumochter Summit towards the Spey Valley. We had to ...
Letter from Europe

In search of Eden

  • 14 Jun 2014
There is something very pleasing about communities which display a strong architectural coherence. In some instances, the sense of order and unity might take its spark from one striking central feature. The Italian city of Palmanova is a good ...
Letter from Europe

Travelling via the Hook

  • 12 May 2014
Some journeys are full of ghosts. The 30-minute train ride from Rotterdam to Hoek van Holland (or vice versa) is in that vein. For a generation of English travellers arriving in Holland on the boat from Harwich, the journey by train along the north ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
St Anne's Church is now home to Exeter's thriving Orthodox community (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Of cats and creeds: an Exeter essay
  

In Exeter, the great Gothic cathedral certainly helps define the Devon city. But Exeter is also characterised by the threads of faith that criss-cross the city. We follow the call to prayer and make a pilgrimage through Exeter, along the way ...
Magazine article

Opting for the Dutch Flyer
  

The last remaining integrated rail-sea ticket between England and the Continent is the Dutch Flyer. We recall journeys of yesteryear as we set off from London and use the Harwich-Hook ferry to reach the ...
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

The Out Skerries

  • 11 Sep 2013
For the Out Skerries in Scotland's Shetland archipelago, the 'Filla' has been a veritable lifeline. This year, she marks thirty years of sterling service to the Skerries community. Launched in 1983, the Filla helped transform life on the Out ...
Letter from Europe

Delving into glacial history

  • 12 Aug 2013
Hoxne is one of a number of spots in England that are improbably prominent in Quaternary history. Big cities like Birmingham and London count for nothing in this narrative. One day an enterprising tour operator with an interest in geology might ...
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. ...
Magazine article

Miss Jemima’s Swiss journal
  

In 1863, Jemima Morrell participated in the first ever escorted tour of the Alps organised by Cook. Her diary of that journey is a remarkable piece of writing - one that slices through Victorian formality. The story of what happened to that diary ...
Letter from Europe

The North begins inside

  • 17 Jun 2013
"There is not much to be said for Reykjavik." That, at least, was the opinion of WH Auden when he arrived in Iceland in June 1936. A few weeks later, Irish poet Louis MacNeice joined Auden and the two men took to the hills of Iceland's wild ...
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

136 minutes of theatre

  • 24 May 2013
I like the 11.31. It departs at a civilised time. While others slip into communion with their laptops and smartphones, I watch. We glide gently out of St Pancras. As the track curves to the east, eyes right for a view back over St Pancras - one of ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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

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

Through the Rhodopes

  • 13 Jan 2013
Septemvri might have been a railway town like Swindon. If Isambard Kingdom Brunel had not built a carriage works at Swindon on his Great Western Railway, the place would probably have remained an insignificant dot on the map halfway between London ...
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 ...
Letter from Europe

A place for newly-weds

  • 12 Nov 2012
Where were we? Ah, yes... Contemplating the western horizon as October slipped into November. So we travelled west, just as we promised. We saw white horses and chalk downland, slipping through geology to reach a land of gorgeous place names. We ...
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 ...
The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, England (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Just like Elba

Antony Gormley's dramatic sculpture, The Angel of the North, has done wonders for south Tyneside. Will Verity do the same for Ilfracombe? But Verity's stay in the north Devon port is limited to just twenty years. And who then might take her place ...
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 ...
Magazine article

England and Europe

Given our interests, you might have thought that we'd have pounced on The Smell of the Continent the moment it was published in 2009. The book is a witty and well-researched account of how the English discovered continental Europe in a decades ...
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 ...
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 ...
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

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. ...
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

Across the Channel

  • 16 Mar 2012
The stretch of coast north from Boulogne (in the direction of Calais) is a good place to reflect on England. We took a local bus along the coastal road last month, and it made for a fine ride on a perfectly clear, crisp winter day. Beach ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Agar Town
  

We remember Agar Town, an area of London that simply disappeared from the maps when in 1866 the Midland Railway edged south towards St ...
Magazine article

Sailing to the big island: Mingulay
  

Although the island of Mingulay in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides is long bereft of any inhabitants, it is still an evocative place. Laurence Mitchell, a regular contributor to hidden europe magazine, takes us on a tour of 'The Village' - the remnants ...
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

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

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

Church etiquette

  • 9 Jan 2012
Over the recent holidays, a friend and fellow-traveller popped the 'church question'. Is it okay to slip into Mass or Evensong to enjoy the splendours of Venice's Basilica di San Marco or York's magnificent Minster when the principal intent is not ...
Letter from Europe

To nothingness and night

  • 31 Dec 2011
Poems enliven the passing of the old year. Germans might reverently recite lines from Goethe this evening ('Zwischen dem Alten, Zwischen dem Neuen') while the English might favour Tennyson ('Ring out the old, Ring in the new'). We opt for John ...
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

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 ...
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 Whaligoe steps in Caithness, Scotland (photo © Paula Fisher / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Unforgiving stone
  

The poetry of Paul Hadfield has featured before in hidden europe. When he sent us a poem on the Whaligoe Steps in north-east Scotland, it set us thinking about some of the iconic stairways that we have encountered on our travels around ...
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 ...
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

Remember, remember

  • 5 Nov 2011
Many English readers will know the rhyme that recalls the failed terrorist action in 1605, when Guy Fawkes and a group of Catholic conspirators tried to blow up the English Parliament. But the majority of those who gather at bonfires across England ...
Letter from Europe

From Dutch tornadoes to Sussex avalanches

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

Sharing sacred space
  

The clean lines that we think divide religions often become very blurred in the Balkan region. Thus shrines may be claimed as sacred by adherents of more than one religion. We look at the phenomenon of syncretic ...
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

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 ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Scotland: fast ferries
  

Kintyre Express, the shipping offshoot of Scottish bus company West Coast Motors, has an ambitious plan to create a new fast ferry link between the Mull of Kintyre and the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. We take a closer ...
Rodin’s statue ‘The Burghers of Calais’ (photo © Tpungato / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Out of place, but not out of mind
  

So why does a statue of Rocky Balboa stand in a small town in northern Serbia? And why did citizens of Mostar (in Herzegovina) decide that a statue of Bruce Lee could unite their troubled town? We take a look at statues that seem improbably out of ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

The demise of Wrexham and Shropshire

  • 8 Feb 2011
Looking back at rail journeys we made in 2010, we would say a December journey with UK operator Wrexham and Shropshire really was one of the highlights. We travelled north from London's Marylebone station on one of W&S' sleek silver and grey ...
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

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

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 ...
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 ...
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

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

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 ...
hidden europe note

A matter of class: changes at Eurostar

  • 29 Aug 2010
There are a few changes on Eurostar this week with the introduction of a new Standard Premier class on services linking London with Brussels and Paris. Standard Premier replaces Leisure Select as the middle tier of the three class service on ...
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 ...
The curves which were so much a feature of Berthold Lubetkin’s architecture are very evident in his design for the entrance to Dudley Zoo (photo courtesy of DZG).
Magazine article

Of apes and men: the Dudley story
  

Many people visit zoos to see apes, wild cats and okapi. But some visitors to Dudley Zoo in the English Midlands are drawn by quite another reason. Dudley Zoo boasts a fine collection of Constructivist buildings designed by Berthold Lubetkin and ...
Magazine article

Slow England
  

It takes a lot of courage to re-engineer our relationship with time, to realise that we have been seduced by speed. But a new series of books from Bradt Travel Guides encourage us to do just that by focusing in on the local. Slow travel comes of ...
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

Shipping news
  

Ferries in European waters are usually ultra-reliable, but from time to time there is the odd mishap. Cruise ships and cargo ships are more prone to misadventure than regular ferries but no ship is immune. We take a look at a few journeys by ship ...
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

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

Slow England

  • 30 May 2010
Cut off the main highway to Norwich, dive into the countryside through meadows full of deep green grass and you will reach Quidenham - a cluster of cottages and uneven lanes that were never meant for fast cars. Across England there are a thousand ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

Iceland update

  • 27 Apr 2010
While flights across much of Europe are getting back to normal after the delays of last week, we should not forget that over parts of the North Atlantic air travel still depends very much on the whim of that Icelandic ...
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

A cloud with a silver lining

  • 19 Apr 2010
The news that about seven million air travellers across Europe have had their travel plans disrupted over the last five days has captured the headlines. But let us get this in perspective. Well over one hundred million journeys are made every day ...
hidden europe note

The demise of Highland Airways

  • 13 Apr 2010
A couple of recent airline bankruptcies highlight the economic vulnerability of small airports in Europe which are not served by a wide range of carriers - and indeed the social vulnerability of remote communities that depend on lifeline air ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

Martin's dream: the end of Varsity Express

  • 15 Mar 2010
Young Martin wanted nothing more than to fly. Five years ago he launched Alpha One Airways. In 2005, the media were seduced by Martin's youthful entrepreneurialism and rag to riches appeal. But Baby Branson's first venture was a flop - and so was ...
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

False starts and flying starts

  • 1 Mar 2010
Today's the day. 1st March. St David's Day. And the day on which three start-up companies were due to launch new transport links in or around the British ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

The Eurostar review

  • 12 Feb 2010
The independent review of Eurostar's less than perfect performance in the pre-Christmas period makes for interesting reading. It was published this morning. Apparently, some journalists, commenting on the review panel's conclusions, are getting ...
hidden europe note

Polish tremors

  • 9 Feb 2010
At breakfast time this morning, an earthquake shook the town of Jaworzno in Polish Upper Silesia. Now in the general scale of seismic events, this was a mere shudder that measured 3.4 on the Richter scale. But clearly there is some subterranean ...
Letter from Europe

Geography matters!

  • 8 Feb 2010
It was way back in 1879 that a witness, testifying before a Select Committee of the House of Commons in London, declared "Geography is ruinous in its effects on the lower classes." If there is one discipline which has informed our writing in hidden ...
hidden europe note

Passing Brompton Road

  • 31 Jan 2010
The phrase "Passing Brompton Road" was as familiar to users of the Piccadilly Line tube trains in London a hundred years ago as is the announcement "Mind the Gap" today. But why Brompton ...
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 ...
hidden europe note

The Euroferries saga

  • 22 Jan 2010
In the middle of last month we reported in our regular e-brief about Euroferries, the would-be cross Channel shipping operator that has yet to make a single crossing on its much publicised Ramsgate to Boulogne route. Now the saga ...
hidden europe note

Varsity Express - a new regional airline in the UK

  • 20 Jan 2010
The news that a new air carrier called Varsity Express is due to launch scheduled air services from Oxford to Edinburgh in March will evoke memories of ill-fated Alpha One which five years ago promised to launch another Varsity link - from Oxford ...
hidden europe note

I don't care what the weatherman says

  • 4 Jan 2010
Much of northern Europe has endured some pretty wintry weather these past couple of weeks. Last night, temperatures plummeted to below minus 30 degrees Celsius over a large area of northern Scandinavia and northwest ...
Letter from Europe

A trio of cat stories

  • 16 Dec 2009
Catamarans are in the news. Spanish operator Transcoma this week launches its new fast catamaran service between Gibraltar and the Spanish port of Algeciras and in the English Channel the Euroferries saga ...
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

Christmas shopping - Faroese style

  • 2 Dec 2009
It is not so very often that one hears Faroese accents in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in northeast England. But the streets of the Tyneside city echoed to many voices from the remote North Atlantic islands yesterday afternoon as a friendly invasion of folk ...
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 ...
Letter from Europe

The new age of the train

  • 13 Nov 2009
The French TGV train is nothing new, but the afternoon service from Strasbourg to Paris last Thursday happened to feature the very engines that two years ago broke the world rail speed record. Back in April 2007, the specially modified train ...
Image of Cerise Penguin covers reproduced by permission of Penguin Books Ltd (photo by Duncan JD Smith).
Magazine article

Cerise diversions
  

Before being quietly consigned to literary history in 1959, the Penguin Cerise series brought some of the very best of the world's English language travel writing to a huge readership at affordable paperback prices. We remember an icon of ...
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 ...
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

Ferry updates

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

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 ...
The Logos Hope, docked in Dublin in May 2009. Once a car ferry, the ship is now the world's largest floating bookshop (image courtesy of GBA Ships. Photographer: Thomas Brouwer).
Magazine article

New lives for old ships
  

The 'Logos Hope' was once a car ferry that connected the Faroe Islands with the wider world. Now it is the largest floating bookshop on the planet. See how old ferries are redeployed to new ...
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 ...
Magazine article

Loch Fyne histories
  

Prose and poetry evoke echoes of the past on the shores of Loch Fyne in western Scotland. hidden europe walks the loch shore to the ruins of the old powdermills at Furnace, while Paul Hadfield weaves a web of family ...
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

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

Remembering Cheryl Summerbee
  

Cheryl Summerbee deserves to be better known. hidden europe takes a sideways look at one of the more intriguing characters to have emerged from a campus novel. Conceived by David Lodge in Small World, Cheryl works at London's Heathrow Airport. Or ...
Magazine article

Rest-stops for the soul
  

There is little that is religious about modern mass travel. But seaports, railway stations, airports and even motorway service areas have chapels and churches that address the needs of ...
Magazine article

Mapping routes: some unusual waymarks

We take a look at the European places that don't figure on regular maps. They may be nodal points of railway geography, air navigation beacons or just part of local folk geography - like a roundabout just outside London called the Scilly Isles. ...
Magazine article

Beckoning rocks: the Elie chain walk

The coast of Fife, just over the water from Edinburgh, is scarcely wild country. But it is home to one of Britain's most engaging coastal excursions - the Elie chain walk. More a scramble than a walk, the route allows the sure-footed to skirt the ...
Magazine article

Squirrel shades
  

Most of Europe has red squirrels. But there are exceptions. In England, squirrels are generally grey - and just occasionally black. We report on the black squirrels of ...
Magazine article

Make believe: the geography of films

Film directors often morph real world geographies to suit their own purposes. Docks on the River Thames stand in for Venice, and Granada in southern Spain suddenly is given new life as a Turkish port. We look at a few examples of transposed ...
Magazine article

The road to Abergwesyn
  

The tides in the Mawddach estuary never come too early. Nor too late. The rain never beats too hard on the road to Abergwesyn. hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner celebrates the communities in rural Wales where she once ...
Magazine article

Train times
  

A good train timetable is a book to cherish. So when the British authorities decided that printing a national train timetable was a waste of time and money, we were distraught. Fortunately, a latter-day Bradshaw has stepped in to fill the ...
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

Temples of pleasure
  

Many modern shopping centres are parodies of the elegant glazed arcades that were, in many nineteenth-century European cities, focal points for shopping and relaxation. From Brussels to Milan, Cardiff to Genoa the arcaded gallery became a byword ...
Magazine article

City of illusions: London
  

The City of London - the very heart of the English capital - has long been a melting pot for cultures and religions. And today the area has striking contradictions in wealth and social status. We report from the city of ...
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

Snickelways
  

What were once back streets of iniquity in the English city of York are now important elements in the cityscape - little lanes and alleys that, for those in the know, provide valuable short ...
Magazine article

The heart of nations
  

"We may no longer be officially the centre of England" says a lady in Meriden in the English Midlands. "But we are undoubtedly at the heart of the country." Join us as we ponder on the heart of ...
Magazine article

A Pennine portrait
  

Heptonstall is a place where gritstone ledges and neat green fields play backdrop to the moods of Pennine weather. This is Yorkshire. We visit gritty moodscapes populated by folk whom poet Ted Hughes described as "bleak as Sunday ...
Magazine article

Flying to Fair Isle
  

To fly to the Scottish island of Fair Isle (midway between the Shetlands and the Orkney Islands) is to have one of the most extraordinary flying experiences on offer in ...
Magazine article

Eurostar: connecting the continent
  

Had you realised that you can leave London by train this afternoon, and with just a single change of train in Paris, be in Berlin, Barcelona, Venice or Munich by tomorrow morning? Crossing the English Channel today is a whole lot easier than it was ...
Magazine article

In her element

There has been a paucity of women writers celebrating the Welsh landscape. For too long the narrative has been dominated by English writers - mainly men! A new book restores the ...
Magazine article

An English Eden: Tresco

Join us as we visit an archipelago of islands in the Atlantic off the southwest coast of England. The Isles of Scilly are a remarkable outpost - lush, verdant and, at their best, almost Caribbean in ...
Towers that symbolise the power of finance and commerce at Canary Wharf in London (photo by hidden europe).
Magazine article

Of turrets and towers
  

From radio towers in Moscow, to the ancient pigeon towers of Isfahan, towers are things to be celebrated and explored. We look at some of Europe's finest, and take a close look at towers along the route of the Great Western Railway from London to ...
photo © Anthony Hathaway / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

The search for Franklin
  

About twenty clairvoyants, mediums and spiritualists were closely involved in the search for Franklin's lost expedition. The ghostly tale of Louisa Coppin is just one part of this improbable ...
Magazine article

Northern palms
  

Scourie Lodge in northwest Scotland may claim to have the most northerly palm trees in the world, but we think they are wrong. We travel north up the Norwegian coast in search of palm trees that seemingly defy ...
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 ...
Saint-Exupéry railway station at Lyon airport, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava (photo © luSh / istockphoto.com).
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 ...
Magazine article

Shipping news

There are new shipping routes aplenty for the 2009 summer season. We take a look at what's new in the world of European ferries, with many developments in the North Sea, Baltic and Mediterranean ...
Magazine article

Night boat to Holland

To walk aboard the Pride of Rotterdam as she prepares to leave Hull for the overnight crossing to Holland is to engage with a piece of maritime history. The flag of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company still flies on the ships of ...
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 ...
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

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

Channel crossings

  • 1 Jan 2009
Calais' modern port is a model of efficiency. We travelled with P&O Ferries across the Dover Strait, enjoying the considerable comforts on board the Pride of Burgundy. Channel crossing by boat can be a great ...
Letter from Europe

Santa Lucia

  • 12 Dec 2008
Santa Lucia is patron saint of Siracusa, the island fortress city on the Sicilian coast, where Lucia was born in the late third century. The story tells of her being martyred in her home city at the tender age of twenty. Of course, Santa Lucia's ...
Letter from Europe

Changing horizons for Silvertown (London)

  • 29 Oct 2008
Rathbone Street market in Canning Town, just two stops up the train line from Silvertown, was the furthest most Silvertowners ever ventured. A Saturday special. Pie and mash at Mrs Olley's café followed by ice cream at Murkoff's were Canning Town ...
Letter from Europe

The Isles of Scilly (Tresco)

  • 23 Sep 2008
In the Isles of Scilly, the spectacularly beautiful scatter of islands off the coast of southwest England, equinoctial tides often make for some formidably complicated schedules for the inter-island ferry service. We visit the Isles of Scilly and ...
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

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

Yorkshire (England)

  • 7 Mar 2008
The populous county of Yorkshire, hemmed in by hills and the sea, is a wonderful part of England. hidden europe was away exploring the county last week. We watched in awe as a field of gulls swooped over Whitby, we trembled with cold as a bitter ...
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

'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

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

Cabris (France) - Shetland links

  • 23 Jun 2006
The small hilltop town of Cabris in Alpes-Maritimes is not, we would concede, normal hidden europe territory. Cabris is the archetypal French holiday town, beautiful in the winter season, but a little too crowded on these summer days. That is not ...
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

Estonian ice routes - Icarus Reincarnate

  • 23 Nov 2005
A full week of cold weather over much of northern Europe has brightened the winter prospects for Scotland's ski resorts and for inhabitants of some of Estonia's offshore islands. Where winters are cold enough - by no means every year – some of ...