Welcome to Slow Travel Europe
Robert Louis Stevenson and Freya Stark both travelled with donkeys. They were attentive to every turn of the road on their journeys through France and Arabia respectively. But us? We pack ourselves like sardines into fragile aluminium tubes and speed through the sky at hundreds of miles per hour. Come now! That is not real travel.
The anticipation of arrival undermines the pleasure of the journey as we make haste to get to this or that resort, conference or meeting. But it need not be so. We have slow food, slow cities and now is the time for more attention to slow travel.
The journey becomes a moment to relax, rather than it being a stressful interlude between home and destination. Of course slow travel is much more than just that. It is a whole way of looking at the world. Slow travellers explore communities along the way, dawdle and pause as the mood takes them and check out spots recommended by the locals. Slow travel is downbeat, eco-friendly and above all fun. Travel like it used to be, but without the donkeys.
"The art of living," says Carlo Petrini, the charismatic founder of the Slow Food Movement, "is about learning to give time to each and every thing." And that, most surely, should include travel.
by Nicky Gardner
co-editor of hidden europe magazine
Over the last few hundred years there has been a subtle shift in how we think about travel. Dante's journey through the three realms of the dead can be read as an intriguing piece of travel writing. Homer's Odyssey is an equally fabulous travel narrative. Yet travel has somehow slipped out of fashion. True, we fly hither and thither, but travel is rarely valued for its own sake. Instead it is recast as a minor inconvenience that somehow intervenes between our point of departure and our intended destination. The pleasure of the journey is eclipsed by anticipation of arrival. To get there fast is better than to travel slow.
It is not for us to prescribe how you should travel. But we offer some thoughts which might appeal to those interested in exploring slow travel options as they explore Europe. Here are our ten suggestions for slowing down.
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. Read excerpts of articles from hidden europe that capture the spirit of slow travel. Slow boats, slow trains and travel that engages with local communities.