hidden europe 12


by Nicky Gardner


The finest arrivals are moments to savour. hidden europe recalls a few memorable arrivals: by train in Istanbul, by boat in Venice, by plane in L'viv (Ukraine) and by car in Newmarket (England).

A good arrival is a fine thing. Few modern travellers will ever manage to arrive at Manaus with quite as much panache as Edward Elgar, who travelled on a single ship all the way from Liverpool to the Brazilian city on the Amazon. But even today there are moments to savour - arrivals that appeal to the soul.

The approach to Istanbul's Sirkeci Railway Station is a classic among evocative arrivals. Approaching the city from the Greek or Bulgarian border, Istanbul's western suburbs seem to go on for ever, and then suddenly the train pierces the wall of the old city. The train slides past mosques and hamams, with glimpses of little courtyards where women sit in the shade and suddenly, on the right, the waters of the Bosphorus. The train makes a great loop around the Topkapi Palace, the one-time political hub of the whole Ottoman world, and then comes sedately to a halt in Sirkeci station.

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