Articles tagged:

Media

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Two decades of thinking about Europe

As we reflect on two decades of researching and writing about unsung communities across Europe, we realize that we had a lot to learn about how to travel. It took courage in the early days of hidden europe to escape the tyranny of too much planning. Over time, we slowed down and came to value journeys in their own right.

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Exploring Europe by rail

by hidden europe

We never planned to write about trains. But it just sort of happened and then we developed a curious niche writing about railway journeys. Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries reflect on a serendipitous opportunity.

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Untold tales

by hidden europe

There were the journeys planned, the journeys made, and also the journeys never made. And our list of likely topics for hidden europe just grew and grew. Whatever will happen to the untold tales?

Magazine article

Colophon: last words

by Nicky Gardner

Colophon was a hilltop city of the Ancient Greeks, located on what is now Turkish territory. But there’s another kind of colophon, a sort of publisher’s endnote. Because we want to end on a high note, hidden europe 70 concludes with a colophon.

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There in spirit

by hidden europe

Isn’t intelligent voice radio something special? We recall a moment when it really seemed that Martin Luther might open the door and ask if he might drop in for a cuppa.

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Ireland's coasts

by hidden europe

We are quietly in awe of how the editors and publishers ever managed to bring The Coastal Atlas of Ireland to print. This is a magnificent volume, one that draws on geography, geology and cultural studies to present an encyclopaedic account of Ireland’s coastline.

Magazine article

10000 steps

by hidden europe

The EU-funded EXCOVER initiative reveals how lesser-frequented regions of the Adriatic coastline have real potential to alleviate pressure in tourist hotspots. One of the EXCOVER case studies is the Po Delta region of Italy.

Magazine article

Names to ponder: memory and place in the city

Take a look as the names of streets as you explore foreign cities. We’ve noted streets named after Stalin in southern England and a road named after Tito in France’s Champagne region. These and similar street name evoke important issues about place and memory, reminding us how historical narratives evolve through time.

Magazine article

Erasing the tsar

by hidden europe

In the Russian town of Pushkin, not far from St Petersburg, there’s a district called Tsarskoye Selo – a sweep of palaces and gardens which was once the summer home of the Romanov family.

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Terminus - a 1961 documentary

The film director John Schlesinger was largely unknown when in 1960 he was persuaded by Edgar Anstey to make a documentary for British Transport Films (BTF). Terminus went on general release in 1961 and provoked a very positive response from the public. Its setting was London Waterloo station.

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Issue 61 of hidden europe magazine

The experience of staying close to home during the Coronavirus pandemic prompted us to choose two key themes for this latest issue of hidden europe magazine: journeys and isolation. We kick off with a leisurely account of a wonderful Swiss rail journey and reflect on the future of night trains in Europe. We consider the loneliness of a remote village which for many years had only a single telephone and we touch on the isolation Marc Chagall must have felt as, one hundred years ago, he left his home town of Vitebsk for ever.

Magazine article

The Map-Maker: From Brockley to València

by Nicky Gardner

We explore the work of contemporary illustrator Mike Hall who, from his base in Spain, produces many very fine maps. Creative use of tints and fonts, often complemented by an elaborate cartouche, and a bold aesthetic underpin maps which are both practical and beautiful.

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Liturgical adventures during Coronavirus times

Across much of Europe, church services and other faith gatherings were very limited or non-existent at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. In many countries, churches remained open for private prayer, but there were some countries where churches were locked. For me, as perhaps for many others in these difficult times, the online services streamed by various congregations have been an unexpected blessing.

Magazine article

Mind the Gap: Georges Perec and the Art of Constrained Writing

by Nicky Gardner
From 1960, an unusual clutch of Parisian writers - known as the Oulipo group - played ingenious games with language. We take a look at the work of Georges Perec who once wrote an entire novel without using the fifth letter of the alphabet. Later he published a novella where the letter 'e' was the only vowel used in the entire book.
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Rewilding the Wolf Border

by Laurence Mitchell
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 dragons. But, as Laurence Mitchell discusses, it is still possible to get a touch of wilderness.
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For the Love of Libraries: Leuven

by Caroline Mills
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 1940. Caroline recalls the tale of how her great-grandfather took the initiative in helping restore the library after the first conflagration.
Magazine article

Reading Matters

by hidden europe
Russian Railways (RZD) have launched their Library for Young Travellers programme with a selection of books for kids on trains to holiday destinations across Russia. Hop aboard for fairy tales, classic novels and a wide choice of poetry by Russian and international writers.
Magazine article

Bag Tag

by Nicky Gardner
Frequent flyers know that it's perfectly reasonable to fly from JFK to WAW via AMS. Just as they appreciate that it makes no sense at all to fly ARN to HEL via CDG. Those innocuous codes on airline baggage tags are the key to the geography of air travel and some have a dash of history too.
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Keeping loyal to Samnaun

We had assumed that the practice of diligently recording and publishing the name of visitors had long since died out until last summer we visited Samnaun. This really is one of Europe's most oddball communities. It is tucked away in the hills on the north side of the Inn Valley in Switzerland's Lower Engadine region.

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High days, holy days and Christmas gifts

In a rare commercial plug for our products, we have some handsome Christmas gift ideas. For just 48 hours from the time stamp of this newsletter, we are selling signed copies of our Europe by Rail book, the fifteenth edition of which was published late last month.

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Exploring Europe by Train

by Nicky Gardner
New editions of Mike Ball's European Railway Atlas and our own Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide have just been published. We take a look at these two new additions to the rail traveller's armamentarium.
Magazine article

Bradt Guide to Serbia

by hidden europe
Laurence Mitchell has written a number of Bradt Guides, including titles on Norfolk (where he lives), central Asia and the Balkan region. We have been thumbing through Laurence's latest Bradt book, the 5th edition of his 'Bradt Guide to Serbia', which was published in September 2017.
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Ghosts on the Shore

Nicky Gardner, co-editor of hidden europe magazine, reviews 'Ghosts on the Shore' by Paul Scraton. The book was published in June 2017 by Influx Press. It gives rare insights into Baltic landscapes and history.

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The darker side of verse

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 War. We explore a lesser-known side of war poetry.

Magazine article

Motifs and Motivations: a Closer Look at Europe's Banknotes

by Nicky Gardner
The trend in European banknote design is to focus less on people who have shaped a country's history in favour of key themes which help define the national narrative. But that's not a trend favoured everywhere, and in this article we look in particular at a new Scottish five pound note which celebrates the life and work of the writer Nan Shepherd.
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Through Romanian eyes

The Romanian aristocrat, traveller and writer Dinicu Golescu deserves to be better known outside his home region, for he rates as one of the finest travel writers of the early 19th century. His 1826 book 'Account of My Travels' is an important piece in the canon of Balkan travel writing as an account of an early Romanian encounter with the west.

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Thoughts for the 8th of March

Today is International Women's Day (IWD). In the ecclesiastical calendar, Rome assigns 8 March to St John of God, who died on this day in 1550. He was, as it happens, a thoroughly decent guy who in the latter years of his life worked in Granada (Spain) as a printer, publisher and bookseller.

Magazine article

Out of the Shadows

by hidden europe
Władysław Szpilman’s remarkable book The Pianist (made into a film by Roman Polanski) reveals the devastation of Jewish life in Warsaw in 1945. To accompany our feature on Jewish Warsaw we look at the city's Jewish community in the immeditate post-war years.
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Bookmark: Jízdní Rád

Now here's a really remarkable book. The Czech national railway timetable for 2017 may not be great when it comes to plot structure and character development, but it is nonetheless an engaging read. Trust us!
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City without Jews

Speculative fiction can sometimes turn out to be eclipsed by real-life events. In Hugo Bettauer's 1922 novel, Die Stadt ohne Juden, fictitious Austrian Chancellor Karl Schwertfeger signs an executive order decreeing that all Jews must leave Austria by the end of the year.

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Tales from the East

With mention of fairy tales and film, thoughts often turn to Disney. The cinematic adaptation of fairy tales is often judged in the west to be a peculiarly American prerogative. But central and eastern Europe have a very fine tradition of progressive cinema and a vast store of fairy tales upon which to draw.

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Cashing in on Casanova

Were it not for a librarian, we would surely never have ventured to Duchcov. We have always held librarians, and indeed libraries, in high regard. We're of one mind with Dervla Murphy who once described Heaven as an infinite library and Eternity as a blissful opportunity to read forever.

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Montreux connections

If you've eaten too much over the holidays and fancy some exercise, why not join us on a walk around Lake Geneva. Let's focus on the Montreux Riviera, which sweeps softly around the north-east part of the lake. It is densely settled with communities like Vevey, Clarens and Montreux all nudging up against one another.

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Issue 50 of hidden europe magazine

Today is special. On account of an anniversary. Today sees the publication of issue 50 of hidden europe magazine. For a niche travel magazine which appears just thrice annually, hidden europe has punched far above its weight, often covering travel stories overlooked by mainstream media.

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Improbable Places

by Nicky Gardner
The last year or two have seen a flood of new books which invite readers to engage on a virtual journey exploring our planet. We take a look at a new volume called 'Atlas of Improbable Places', just published by Aurum Press.
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The Berry Seller

by Paul E Richardson
Two new books arising from the Spine of Russia project afford a look at everyday life in the Russian Federation. In this preview of one of the books, Paul Richardson swaps notes with Igor, who is selling berries on a roadside in Karelia.
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Redu: that novel idea

by Paul Scraton

Tucked away in the hill country of southern Belgium is the town of Redu. On the face of it, Redu is much the same as other towns in the Ardennes region. Except that, in Redu, the printed word is especially cherished and valued. Paul Scraton invites us to join him as he explores Belgium's premier 'book town'.

Magazine article

Hay fever: the story of European book towns

by hidden europe

What do Wünsdorf-Waldstadt in eastern Germany, Bellprat in Catalonia and Hay-on-Wye in Wales all have in common? They all style themselves as 'book towns'. Across Europe and beyond, small towns are discovering the appeal of 'the Hay model' as they jump on the bandwagon set rolling by Richard Booth in Hay-on-Wye.

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In from the cold: Britain’s mountain bothies

A new book by Phoebe Smith celebrates the simple British bothy. It appears as the Mountain Bothies Association marks 50 years of work looking after the bothy network which is so valued by hikers in the mountains of northern England, Scotland and Wales.

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The makings of a city

by Nicky Gardner

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

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The borders of reality: panoramas

by Nicky Gardner

Panoramas, often displayed in purpose-built circular galleries, offered virtual travel experiences long before cinema and the internet. Like all immersive technologies, panoramas raised important questions about the boundaries between subject and object.

Magazine article

Russia’s eternal winter

by hidden europe

They have fiddled with the clocks in Moscow. Not just in Moscow, but right across the Russian Federation. Russia has decided to move to perpetual winter – at least when it comes to time. For the clocks shall stay henceforth on winter time.

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Travelling with Shakespeare

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 master.

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The current state of travel writing

by Nicky Gardner

Travel writers have traditionally been fiercely independent spirits, and it was that independence which helped build trust and credibility with readers. But times are changing and a new breed of English-language writers seems to act as handmaidens of the tourism industry, weaving tales that read more like a PR blurb than dispassionate travel writing. Is there still scope for genuinely independent travel writing?

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Farewell Madiba

Rolihlahla was born in Mvezo, moving when he was still a young lad to another village called Qunu which is further north, a little closer to the town of Mthatha. Until he went to school, Rolihlahla wore only a blanket. But on the day before school started, Rolihlahla's father took a pair of his own trousers, cut them off at the knee and insisted that his son wear them to school. Clad in his outsized trousers next day at school, Rolihlahla met his teacher, Miss Mdingane, who insisted that, now the boy was old enough to be educated, he should have a new name.

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The Orkneys and more

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 crowds will probably not be flocking to North Ronaldsay on Thursday to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the island being connected to a mains electricity supply.

Magazine article

Remembering Jacob Riis

by Nicky Gardner

The social reformer and documentary photography Jacob Riis, author of 'How the Other Half Lives' (1890), was born in the town of Ribe in Danish Jutland. Understanding Ribe is the key to understanding Jacob Riis. We take a look at how Riis described his home town in his 1909 book 'The Old Town'.

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Fictional twins

by hidden europe

Do they have meerkats in Russia? Or in Market Harborough? And where exactly is Meerkovo? We go in search of Russia's most famous non-existent village.

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One journey, one Europe, one book

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. English travellers bound for Brussels peer out of the windows and are evidently surprised to find that Calais still exists. This is the tale of that journey. But it is also the story of one book that communicated a powerful vision of a networked, integrated Europe.

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That long, cold winter

The European winter that is now — all too belatedly — being eclipsed by spring has seemed painfully long. Yet curiously, it has not been exceptionally cold. Across much of Europe, March was chilly by the standards of the average March, but it broke very few records for absolute minima. And a biting north-east wind made some areas feel much colder than the thermometer suggested.

Magazine article

The Book of Hours

by Nicky Gardner

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 appeal of Bradshaw's guides and Thomas Cook's timetables and reflect on which of the two might claim the upper hand.

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Tartan tactics: creating a national brand

by Nicky Gardner

An image is worth a thousand words. France is represented as a land of soft-focus vineyards while Norway is captured in a fjord. Slovenia is distilled in one island in the middle of a lake, while Scotland is evidently populated by men wearing kilts. We look at how national brands have evolved over two hundred years.

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Britain by bus — could you write for us?

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. Last year, in a collaboration with Bradt Travel Guides, we edited a volume called Bus-Pass Britain. Over forty members of the public rose to the challenge of writing with passion and enthusiasm about bus routes in England, Scotland and Wales that are in some way special. Now, we are working with Bradt on a follow-up volume for publication in 2013.

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The warm shadow of Isabelle Eberhardt

Many years ago, I spent a long hot summer in and around a sleepy ksar on the edge of the Sahara. I read many books that summer, but it was 'Dans l’ombre chaude de l’Islam' that tugged and tugged again, urging me to return to its pages. That book was my introduction to Isabelle Eberhardt, a writer who — perhaps more than any other — has influenced my life and my thinking. This summer, so far from the desert and in a country where the most charming of all oases is my garden, I turned to Sharon Bangert’s English translation of 'Dans l’ombre chaude de l’Islam'. It appears under the Peter Owen imprint in a pocket-sized paperback.

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Zagreb street art

by Rudolf Abraham

When you paint something on the street, it is no longer your own. It becomes public property. Street art demands of artists that they 'let go', that they have the courage to relinquish ownership of their work. Rudolf Abraham takes a look at the street art scene in the Croatian capital Zagreb.

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Of maps and men: Landranger sheet 57

by Nicky Gardner

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 that Garibaldi had Scottish ancestry. From Baldy Garrow it is but a short step to Garibaldi.

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Slow travel with hidden europe 35

Slow travel can be quite hard work. It takes time of course, but it also requires a certain mindset. And we have tried to bring that mindset to every page in the latest issue of hidden europe magazine which is published today. hidden europe 35 is an adventure that takes in the nerve ends of Europe.

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Celebrating British buses

by Nicky Gardner

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 showcases fifty great bus journeys from across Britain.

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Timing matters

by Nicky Gardner

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 piece for hidden europe, we take a look at the politics and time.

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The lure of the local

by Nicky Gardner

An innovative series of guidebooks to European cities and regions, produced by the Versailles-based publishing house Jonglez, prompts us to reflect on the quest for authenticity in guidebooks.

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Amina unmasked

Perhaps you, like us, were enthralled by the tales from Damascus as Amina Arraf blogged about her adventures and misadventures in the Syrian capital. Amina has of course now been exposed as an American hoaxer with a very fine imagination and a gift for writing fiction. The world's media will dissect the Amina affair, and for a while it will make us all a little more attentive to sources. Can this or that blogger be trusted? Or, for that matter, this or that travel writer?

Magazine article

Flanders: good evening Denderleeuw

by Karlos Zurutuza

The homeland of the Kurdish people is bisected by many international frontiers. But Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and beyond are united by their affection for a TV station that broadcasts news and entertainment to the Kurdish people. Karlos Zurutuza, a regular contributor to hidden europe, visits the small town in Flanders (Belgium) where Roj TV is based.

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Banking on poets

by hidden europe

Nineteenth century poets often nurtured the flower of national consciousness; today they are rewarded with pride of place on many European banknotes.

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Hidden Argyll

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 off the beaten track and by-passed by most travellers and discovered hidden Argyll.

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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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The Shetland Islands

Take Da Böd, a café at Hillswick in Scotland's most northerly island group, the Shetlands. This really is the end of the road, a tiny fleck of a community on the shores of Ura Firth. There was a time when Hillswick was an outpost of the Hanseatic League, and the name of the café, Da Böd (The Booth in English) recalls the old trading post of the Hanse.

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'no music day'

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 deep, and from Verona to Oxford there are pictures, stained glass windows and statues of St Cecilia with musical instruments. Pipe organs seem to be her speciality, but we've spotted St Cecilia with everything from violins to flutes.

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The Selwyn swastika

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 Poland and croissants in France. There is something inescapably dramatic about a long train journey, especially if, as we contrived to do, one takes slow trains where at all possible.

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Airports by night - April Fool's day

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 production and breaks new ground for an experimental theatre company that has a penchant for unusual settings. Previous Grid Iron performances have been staged in Debenham's department store in Edinburgh, and in the old mortuary in the Irish city of Cork.

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Film museums in Berlin, Amsterdam and Lyon - and a lament for Moscow

One European museum of cinema to keep an eye on for the future is the Dutch Film Museum in Amsterdam which has just this week unveiled detailed plans for a stunning new building. Delugan Meissl's avant-garde essay in architectural geometry should come to fruition in 2009 when the new building opens on a fine riverbank site next to the landmark Shell building.

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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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A thousand Europes: local media from Andalucí­a to the Arctic

When we are not on the road, the hidden europe team keeps a finger on the pulse of European affairs. Local newspapers from the Arctic to the Aegean are grist to the mill of this endeavour. Few are better than Svalbardposten, arguably the world's most northerly local newspaper. This weekly account of all that's happening in the Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen is no new upstart.