Articles tagged:

Ferries and ships

Magazine article

Making waves: Havila style in Norwegian waters

by Nicky Gardner

Havila Voyages is a Norwegian shipping operator which is now bringing its own style to Norway’s coastal voyage – a very special slow travel adventure which until now has been run exclusively by Hurtigruten. With two Havila ships already in use, and two more making their debut on the coastal voyage in 2023, Havila Voyages is upping its challenge to the incumbent operator.

Magazine article

Bulgaria: cross-border links with Romania

by hidden europe

The Danube marks the shared border between Romania and Bulgaria. But, with just two bridges crossing the Danube to link the two countries, the Danube also separates Bulgaria and Romania. New ferries are however forging new connections.

Magazine article

Fast cats

by hidden europe

The current record for the fastest Atlantic crossing was set in 1998 by an Incat catamaran capable of carrying 600 passengers and 200 cars. That same vessel is still in day-to-day service as a ferry. We'll go in search of the Skane Jet.

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From Nero to the Habsburgs: the Corinth Canal

The isthmus at Corinth is one of the most celebrated isthmuses of the classical world. It connects the Greek mainland with the huge ragged-edged peninsula known as the Peloponnese. The Ancients portaged their small boats over the narrow neck of the isthmus as a shortcut between the Ionian Sea and the Aegean, so saving a long voyage around the Peloponnese.

Magazine article

An Essex backwater: Discovering Harwich

by Nicky Gardner

The old town of Harwich, a port in the county of Essex on England's North Sea coast, is tucked away on the end of a peninsula. Maritime connections have shaped the development of Harwich. It's a place for sea breezes, rock oysters and watching the ferries come and go.

Magazine article

The last poet: Farewell, Pushkin

by Nicky Gardner

The last of the Soviet Union's great ocean liners outlived the Soviet Union. The MS Aleksandr Pushkin made her first visit to Tilbury (in the lower reaches of the River Thames) in April 1966. For over half a century, this classic ship was a regular visit to Tilbury. Renamed the MS Marco Polo, she arrived in Tilbury the very last time in March 2020.

Magazine article

Adventures of the Jadran

by hidden europe

The Jadrolinija shipping routes of yesterday saw sailings from Venice to Piraeus with half a dozen stops along the way. It was possible to sail direct from Opatija to Corfu or from Venice to Rijeka. We take a look at inshore shipping down the eastern shores of the Adriatic.

Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 67

by hidden europe

In hidden europe 67, we go mountain hiking in Croatia's Kvarner region, ponder the relationship between mining and cultural heritage, take to the rails in Germany with a wonderful slow travel deal and discover a former Catholic seminary in the Braes of Glenlivet. We also visit both Hoek van Holland and Harwich and make tracks for an unsung delta on the Adriatic.

Magazine article

New Albanian bus routes

by hidden europe

So what is the best way to get from Dubrovnik to Athens? Take the bus, we say, at least for the first part of the journey. Improved bus and ferry services now make it very easy to travel from southern Croatia through Montenegro and Albania to Greece. It is a fine journey, especially if you can make time to stop off in Kotor, Tiranë and Corfu.

Magazine article

European ferry links: opportunities and challenges

by Nicky Gardner

Have you noticed that some ferry companies serving Britain and / or Ireland are now decidedly sniffy about carrying foot passengers? Must we really take a car with us to be permitted on some ferries? But it’s not all bad news on the ferry front since there are a number of new Baltic routes which are very pleased to take foot passengers.

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Watery diversions

Making time for creative journeys has been at the heart of our work with hidden europe. So in this issue of our Letter from Europe we highlight some longish ferry routes which even allow for some sightseeing. Here are some examples from this winter’s Mediterranean shipping schedules.

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From Bilbao to Murmansk: A Tale of One Princess

Large ferries often go through multiple incarnations and we developed a sort of vicarious attachment to the Princess Anastasia, a vessel which we saw in Bilbao in 2008, and which is now based near Murmansk where she has become part of the infrastructure for tackling the COVID pandemic.

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A village on the polder

There’s a village on the polder which we really like. It’s called Jisp. It is one of those long straggly places where you see cloudscapes just like those in the paintings of Jacob van Ruisdael - the Dutch artist who was born in Haarlem, which is only about a dozen kilometres away to the south-west. Nowadays it comes as a great surprise to discover that Jisp was once a whaling port.

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Free ports

The current plans to create free ports around the shores of the United Kingdom made us delve into the history of the porto franco. This year marks the 600th anniversary of the sale of Livorno - the Tuscan port which Genoa sold to Florence. It paved the way for competition between Genoa and Livorno and the development of the first free ports.

Magazine article

Scandinavian ferry news

by hidden europe

The downturn in travel is being felt in Europe’s ferry industry as service frequencies are trimmed on some routes and other links are axed entirely. We take a look at how services to Norway and Sweden have fared during the pandemic.

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For a privileged few: travel corridors and air bridges

We thought that the concept of the air corridor had been relegated to history until it popped up again this past spring, with the plucky English reviving the idea and giving it a new twist. We look at some of the privileged places that enjoy a special travel connection with the UK during COVID-19 times.

Magazine article

Beyond the Marais: Punting Traditions

by hidden europe

From the withy boats of the Somerset Levels to the gunboats used on the Essex coast, wetlands have often fostered ingenuity among boatbuilders. Navigating shallow waters takes skill and a special kind of vessel. We survey a range of boats from the punts of Cambridge and Lusatia to the double-ended barquet of the Albufera lagoon.

Magazine article

Social Isolation Hebridean Style

by Nicky Gardner

Kenneth Mackay, the one-time postman in the village of Rhenigidale is long retired. But he is happy to chat to visitors about the life of social isolation and material deprivation which was once the norm in remote villages in the Outer Hebrides. We look at how ‘wee Kenny’ and the Schools Hebridean Society championed the idea of building a road to Rhenigidale.

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The humble onion

Breton onion sellers set out from Roscoff to sell their harvest across Europe. But the preferred market was Britain where customers were prepared to pay well over the odds for the beautiful rose-tinged onions from Finistère. The Onion Johnnies, their bicycles laden with garlands of onions, were a familiar sight in southern England and Wales in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Storm Brendan

Brendan’s arrival had been much touted. He didn’t come as a surprise. Days prior to his arrival there was talk of Brendan. There was a run on lettuces and toilet rolls here on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. People like to stock up on the essentials when there’s a big storm coming.

Magazine article

Making Tracks for Sweden

by Nicky Gardner

As winter slipped slowly into spring in 1917, Lenin passed through Berlin on his journey back to Russia from Switzerland. His onward route from Berlin took him by train to Sassnitz, then on by ferry to Trelleborg in Sweden. These days it's still possible to follow the route taken by Lenin, using the occasional direct trains from Berlin to Sweden.

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Crossing the Water

There are three places in Europe where passenger trains are still regularly conveyed on ferries. One of them is the Scandlines ferry that carries the regular daytime Eurocity trains from Hamburg to Copenhagen. But the days of that rail-ferry link are numbered.

Magazine article

Butter Trips

by hidden europe
There once was a time when passengers would smuggle butter on trains running from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland. And more recently in Germany, budget-conscious shoppers would go one a boat trip to buy cheap butter. We take a look at the duty-free trade on ferries in European waters.
Magazine article

Plain Sailing

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

The Legacy of the San Juan

by Karlos Zurutuza
On the rocky shores of Labrador (in eastern Canada) is a remote settlement which features strongly in the Basque imagination. Karlos Zurutuza explains how the whalers of Euskal Herria (the Basque Country) once dominated the whale oil trade around Newfoundland and Labrador. Now a fine replica and a great Basque whaling vessel is nearing completion at Pasaia.
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On the Canal

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 England.

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Cully by Lake Geneva

Travelling east on the steamer from Ouchy , we are struck by how vines dominate the shoreline of Lake Geneva. At Cully we hop ashore to explore this small town in Switzerland's Lavaux region. It is the area from which Switzerland's acclaimed Chasselas wines originate.

Magazine article

Reel Fun: Scotland's Mobile Cinema

by Nicky Gardner
In the early days of the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks used mobile cinemas as a vehicle for political propaganda. These days, Scotland also has a mobile cinema, but here the purpose is pure entertainment. Everyone smiles when The Screen Machine rolls in, bringing mobile cinema to remote, rural communities far from any modern multiplex.
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Mind the ice

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 taking a weekend break in Rotterdam.

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Barra connections

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 way which is harder to discern in Berlin.

Magazine article

Two Peas in a Pod: Denmark's Eastern Edges

by Nicky Gardner
The Ertholm Islands (literally 'Pea Islands') are the easternmost fragments of Danish territory, even further east than Bornholm. Just two islands in this small archipelago are populated: Christiansø and Frederiksø. In the 19th century, Frederiksø served as a place of exile - a prison island.
Magazine article

Fishing stations

by hidden europe
A number of fishing stations around the coasts of the Baltic islands of Fårö and Gotland recall the heyday of the herring trade, when farmers would become fishermen for a few weeks.
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One shot from the Aurora

100 years ago, on the evening of 25 October 1917 (in the Russian calendar), a single blank shell was fired from the Russian cruiser Aurora. It gave the signal for the Bolsheviks to storm the Winter Palace. Was that single blank shot from the Aurora perhaps the most famous gunshot in European history?

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Notes from a Hebridean island

There is a special dynamic to island life. One meets the same people day after day - but often in different contexts. We bump into people in the most unlikely spots. On the east side of Barra, a number of rocky peninsulas jut out into the Sea of the Hebrides. Away to the north is Tràigh Mhòr, the bleached cockle strand where the daily plane from Glasgow lands.

Magazine article

Only Fit For Wild Ducks

by Nicky Gardner
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 machair - the rich grasslands on fragile dunes.
Magazine article

New CalMac Contract

by hidden europe
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 contract for operating links to some of the remotest communities in the Hebrides.
Magazine article

A Visit to the Old Country

by Nicky Gardner
Beside the River Elbe, just downstream from Hamburg, lies the Altes Land. It is one of Europe's most intensive areas of fruit cultivation. Apples, raspberries, cherries and plums aplenty in a region which owes much to early Dutch settlers.
Magazine article

The Best of Both Worlds

by hidden europe
On a lake to the east of Berlin is Europe's sole surviving example of a ferry which relies on an overhead cable to pick up electricity. The Straussee ferry is an unusual transport oddity.
Note

Armadale to Ardrossan – the slow way

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 to arrive at Ardrossan at or before noon on May Day.

Magazine article

Scottish ferries

by hidden europe

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 regions.

Note

The Scottish Slow Travel Challenge

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 that apply.

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Ferry links: Britain and Ireland

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 developments.

Magazine article

Eastern connections: rail links through Ukraine

by Nicky Gardner

At a very practical level, the difficult relations between Russia and Ukraine - and in particular their competing interests in Crimea - is playing itself out in train timetables. No trains have run from Ukraine's Kherson Oblast into Crimea for almost a year now. But the effects of the conflict have been felt much further afield, with rail services from Moscow to the Balkans being disrupted.

Magazine article

Amid the waves: Heimaey

by Philip Dunshea

The Vestmann archipelago lies off the south coast of Iceland. A ribbon of islands, all of volcanic origin, remind us that here is a part of Europe where landscapes are still rapidly evolving. Surtsey appeared almost overnight in 1963. Phil Dunshea reports from Heimaey, the only island in the Vestmannaeyjar with a permanent population.

Magazine article

Elbe excursions

by hidden europe

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 city.

Magazine article

Setting Forth

by Nicky Gardner

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. Long gone are the days when a trip from Edinburgh to Fife meant attending to the ebb and flow of the tides.

Note

Hurtigruten: dinner on board

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 Norwegian coast.

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The Nansen trail

A recent visit to the Arctic port of Vardø, on an island off the eastern extremity of the Varanger Peninsula, prompts us to reflect on Fridtjof Nansen’s visit to the same place in 1893. Nansen arrived in Vardø on the Fram. It was the ship's last port-of-call in Norway on the great voyage of exploration that was to take Nansen closer to the North Pole than any earlier expedition.

Note

Hurtigruten ASA: business and brand

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 to develop and manage the Norwegian coastal shipping route.

Note

Hurtigruten: the Norwegian coastal voyage

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 to create their own itineraries, confident in the knowledge that another Hurtigruten ship will be along in 24 hours.

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Travelling via the Hook

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 bank of the River Maas was a first glimpse of the continent.

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Ship Talk: From the Kattegat to the Crimea

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 to Europe's ferry networks. Meanwhile we have also been watching a Russian ferry operator who promotes a new Black Sea ferry route from Ukraine to Georgia.

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Into the desert

The monastery on the Isola di San Francesco del Deserto is a place apart, an island retreat in the shallow recesses of the northern lagoon well away from the hustle and bustle of Venice. It is an island where blessed solitude is punctuated by the Liturgy of the Hours. Franciscan monks have prayed on San Francesco del Deserto for eight centuries, their chants shaping a soundscape that otherwise is dominated by bird song, the breeze running through avenues of cypresses and the ripple of water.

Magazine article

Opting for the Dutch Flyer

by Nicky Gardner

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 Netherlands.

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The Out Skerries

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 Skerries by providing a reliable link to the Shetland mainland.

Magazine article

Maltese connections

by hidden europe

Virtu Ferries have until recently enjoyed a monopoly in the market from Malta to Italy, but a new ferry route launched this summer brings some competition.

Magazine article

Island hopping through the Balearics

by Nicky Gardner

To understand Menorca and its history, you have to arrive at Maó by ship. There is no better way to do this than by taking the weekly sailing from Palma di Mallorca to Menorca, along the way passing the island where Hannibal was born and another island where prisoners of war were held captive.

Magazine article

Life on a mound: visiting Hallig Hooge

by Nicky Gardner

At the eastern margins of the North Sea, in the shallow waters hard by the German coast, are a series of islands that are seasonally flooded. Human settlement on these islands is a fragile thing. These special islands (called Halligen in German) have their own distinctive cultural landscape. Join us on a day trip in deep mid-winter to Hallig Hooge – where it happens to be dustbin day.

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A time for blessings

Today is Candlemas Eve, definitively marking the end of the Christmas season in western Europe. Modern custom in secular Europe is often to dismantle Christmas decorations well before the Epiphany, but in many churches across the continent cribs and Christmas trees remain in place until just before Candlemas, the feast which falls tomorrow (2 February).

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A dozen nautical miles

Only once past Foreland Point does Devon reveal her secrets. From Foreland it is a dozen nautical miles of easy cruising along the coast to Ilfracombe. But there are choices. Due west of Foreland Point lies nothing but open ocean until the rocky shores of Newfoundland. Our skipper takes the tame option and hugs the English coast, Devon unfolding along the way. Shales and sandstones, reminders of an ancient desert, a land rent asunder by the oceans and crumpled like a concertina.

Magazine article

Islands of exile: Istanbul’s ‘Princes’ Isles

by Laurence Mitchell

Not quite Europe and not quite Asia, the Princes' Isles in the Sea of Marmara south of Istanbul have long been a place of sanctuary for exiles and minorities. Laurence Mitchell escorts us to the islands where Leon Trotsky lived for some years and wrote his 'History of the Russian Revolution'.

Magazine article

An Indian summer of passenger shipping

by Nicky Gardner

We have been taking a look at some ferry timetables of yesteryear. Forty years ago, there were still regular ferry services from the Scottish port of Leith to Iceland. This, and many similar routes in north European waters, was a slow travel experience par excellence. We cast back to the days when ferries still ran to Svalbard and flit boats were still in use at many ports.

Note

Plymouth to Portsmouth by boat

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 morning sailing at 11.30 from St Malo. The passage time is eight hours.

Magazine article

Scotland: fast ferries

by Nicky Gardner

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 look.

Magazine article

Crossing the lagoon

by hidden europe

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

Magazine article

By ferry to Russia

by hidden europe

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 operates ferries from Helsinki to St Petersburg, is now adding new routes from Stockholm and Tallinn.

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Lost maritime links

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 withdrawal of the sole remaining ferry link between England and Boulogne.

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A trio of cat stories

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 continues.

Magazine article

Northern waters: Iceland by boat

by Nicky Gardner

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 Iceland.

Magazine article

Timetable interludes

by Nicky Gardner

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 exist.

Magazine article

Cyprus links

by hidden europe

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 Israel.

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Ferry updates

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 leaner winter season ahead. Two car ferry routes in northwest Ireland are struggling with financial uncertainty.

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By ferry to Russia

The whispers from Moscow last week that Russia will sanction visa-free travel to the country for visitors arriving and leaving on ferries is good news indeed. Cruise ship passengers have long benefitted from just such a dispensation, but only if they take part in a fully escorted tour. Hence the crowds of day trippers that are herded around St Petersburg during the cruise season.

Magazine article

Svalbard links

by hidden europe

For travellers with their ice axes and crampons at the ready, Svalbard (Spitsbergen) is about to come a whole lot closer, with a Norwegian budget airlines offering flights in 2008 to the Arctic archipelago.

Magazine article

Wrong turn at Koblenz: the Moselle valley

by Nicky Gardner

If Mary Shelley's judgement is to be trusted, the Moselle possesses only "an inferior beauty". Which is a bit harsh on a valley that hidden europe views as one of the finest in all Europe. The Moselle valley boasts Karl Marx's birthplace, a village called Schengen and much more besides!

Magazine article

Sea fever

by Nicky Gardner

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 mind.

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Icelandic beer

This weekend a little more beer than usual will be downed at the Café Nielsen in Egilsstaðir. For Sunday 1 March marks the twentieth anniversary of the legalisation of beer in Iceland. Until then, Icelanders had to make do with very low-alcohol beer, though it was common practice in the days of beer prohibition to throw a shot of fiery brennivín into every glass of light beer to give the brew a bit of a kick.

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Channel crossings

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 pleasure.

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Across Iceland's interior

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 the highlands, known as Hálendið in Iceland, begin to open up for the season.

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Helgoland

Despite a biting north wind and some squally showers of sleet and hail, Helgolanders did what they always do on the evening of Easter Saturday: gather just before dusk for the traditional Osterfeuer (Easter fire). Helgoland (often still referred to by its erstwhile English name Heligoland) is an extraordinary place, an impressive lump of deep red sandstone that juts out of the North Sea.

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A new atlas

It was a talented Scottish cartographer, John Bartholomew, whose cartographic skills gave so much character to The Times Atlas of the World. Over more than one hundred years, successive editions of the atlas have been used by governments, businesses and academics - and, of course, by ordinary folk like us who relish nothing more, on a winter evening, than to engage in a little armchair travel.

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Estuaries

Europe is full of fine estuaries, oftentimes ethereal spots where the waters of silty rivers mingle with the sea. Estuaries are liminal zones, places that do not quite belong to the ocean. Some of our favourite European estuaries are those traversed by ferries. Take the Cromarty Rose, a beautiful little car ferry that carries just two vehicles at a time across the mouth of Cromarty Firth on Scotland's northeast coast.

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Cabris (France) - Shetland links

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 to deny its undoubted charm: purple bougainvillea tumbles over the garden walls, and in the lanes that lead off the Montée André Gide there are beautiful umbrella pines, twisted olives and heaps of wild lavender.

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International Women's Day

While Saxony's womenfolk were treated to coffee and cake afloat, indulgence of another kind was evident in the industrial city of Perm, just west of Russia's Ural mountains. Light snow fell this afternoon on the thousands of couples gathered in Perm's main square in pursuit of a remarkable record.

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

Minority language radio broadcasting takes a step forward in Sweden today, when a new dedicated Sámi language radio station hits the airwaves in the Lapland region of northern Sweden. The Sámi minority has always benefitted from some local language broadcasting in northern Sweden, often just a couple of hours daily, but commencing 16 January 2006, there will be 24 hour broadcasting in the Sámi language.

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New hidden europe issue - Iceland colour

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 Naples and the sand shades of Sicilian heat in his Taormina pictures. Some places need no artists to communicate a vibrancy of colour.