Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

The Princess Anastasia approaching the docks in St Petersburg (photo © Eugenesergeev / dreamstime.com)
Letter from Europe

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 ...
View of Fiesole with its small cathedral (photo © Henrik Stovring / dreamstime)
Letter from Europe

With its handsome villas, lavish gardens and sweeping views over the valley of the River Arno, Fiesole developed as a fabled spot. It was a place for political intrigue, a retreat to be creative and a spot to just relax. No surprise, perhaps, that ...
A Czech restaurant car was the perfect spot for breakfast on a winter journey from Berlin to Dresden (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

A chance reference on twitter this week to a Tajik restaurant car that runs all the way to Moscow has prompted us to recall some unlikely meals on trains. Join us as we recall such culinary delights as apéroplättli and svícková while riding the ...
Vineyards at Hunawihr in Alsace, France (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

hidden europe 63 is now available, featuring articles about Bulgaria, Alsace, rural Galicia and northern Italy. We also look at the prospects for slow travel in the post-COVID world. Single issues and subscriptions are available in the hidden ...
Vardø harbour in the Barents Sea, Norway (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Across southern Europe, and most particularly in Portugal, it is the season for bacalhau - the salted, dried cod which is a staple in the Portuguese diet. This much sought after version of cod is a strong Lenten tradition in many Catholic ...
Russia's booming commercial port at Ust-Luga at the head of Luga Bay (photo © Konstik / dreamstime . com).
Letter from Europe

Luga Bay of 50 years ago looked much the same as it would have done in centuries long gone. Fishing, forestry and the extraction of peat were local staples, and the only vessels using the bay would have been those belonging to local fishermen, some ...
Watery polder landscape around the village of Jisp, a community which once played a major role in the Dutch whaling industry (photo © Rudmer Zwerver / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

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 ...
The Tuscan city of Livorno thrived as an early example of a free port (photo © Duccio / dreamstime . com).
Letter from Europe

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 ...
A key element in the mountaineer's armamentarium: the ice axe (photo © Claudio Baldini / dreamstime . com)
Letter from Europe

Nicky Gardner, one of the editors of hidden europe magazine, reflects on all the good and bad things that can be done with an ice axe. Opening tins of pineapple is just the ...
Celebrating the Feast of the Theophany in Russia (photo © Tsargvidon / dreamstime . com)
Letter from Europe

This weekend sees the annual ritual of the opening of the ice in anticipation of the Orthodox Feast of the Theophany on Tuesday. Often this is done by creating a hole in the shape of a cross, allowing the faithful to totally immerse themselves in ...