Printed Matters: Europe by Rail


Long-time readers of Elsewhere: A Journal of Place will know how much we love rail travel. In the pages of the journal and here on the blog we have never been slow to admit that it is almost certainly our favourite mode of transport,  challenged only by our joy of going for a walk. It is a love that we share with a couple of close friends of the journal, Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries. Nicky was a very early contributor to Elsewhere, with a short essay appearing in the very first edition of the journal, and together with Susanne, is the editor of the wonderful hidden europe magazine.


Last month, Nicky and Susanne’s latest project hit the shelves: the 15th edition of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. As both editors and now publishers of the guidebook, Nicky and Susanne have brought their trademark attention to detail to all aspects of the new publication, and as always it is an absolute pleasure to read. With routes from the Atlantic coast of Portugal in the west to the Carpathian Mountains in the east, there can be few more pleasurable ways to spend a cold and windy winter’s afternoon than to be curled up on the sofa with this book, reading about and imagining the different journeys contained within these pages, growing ever-more inspired for the next journey to elsewhere.

Nicky and Susanne have been kind enough to send us some sample texts from the book, to give you a sense of what you can discover between its elegantly designed covers, and we can highly recommend it either for yourself, to plan a trip, or as a Christmas present for that rail-loving friend or member of your family.

Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide

For the 15th edition of the guide there are a number of new routes. One of which takes us from Zagreb through Serbia and Bulgaria to Thessaloniki in Greece. As befitting a book written, edited and published by strong proponents of Slow Travel, the routes are not ones where anyone is in a rush. Here’s how things get started, around Zagreb station in Croatia:

Take a look around the vicinity of the station before leaving Zagreb. The north is the posh side of the railway tracks. The distinguished Croatian writer Miroslav Krleža wrote a damning essay on social (and spatial) divides in Zagreb in 1937. To the north of the station, he found “hot water, roulette, lifts, on parle français, Europe, good!” Over on the south side of the railway there were “open cesspits, malaria… Balkan, a sorry province.” To Krleža, those quarters of Zagreb beyond the railway were “the back of beyond, Asia.” That from a left-leaning writer who was keen to shock the Zagreb bourgeoisie – all by definition residing north of the railway – out of their complacency.

Nowadays, the cesspits south of the tracks are long gone and the district between the railway and the river, while not pretty, is an edgy part of town where activists protest against real estate speculators. Even Zagreb has its rebel zone. If you incline towards more sedate cityscapes, stick to the north side of the station where the Esplanade Hotel still has uniformed bellboys and the Paviljon restaurant attracts an affluent elite who like elaborate cakes and seem not to have noticed that the Habsburg Empire disappeared a while back. Both the Esplanade and the Paviljon are visible from the front of the station. It’s also impossible to miss the statue of good old King Tomislav and his horse which arrived here in 1947 and commemorates the tenth-century monarch who is credited with having created the first coherent Croatian state. Whatever you make of Tomislav, the statue was a good way of recycling old cannons which were melted down to secure the bronze needed.

As the journey from Croatia to Greece continues, the emphasis, as with all the routes in the book, goes beyond practical information to give the reader a sense of the appeal of the journey. Here are a couple of further snapshots of the route to Thessalonki:

From Slavonia to Srem

The train to Belgrade rolls on across the dark plain to reach Tovarnik, a village which would barely warrant a stop bar for the important fact that it’s the last community in Croatia. Just over the fields lies the border with Serbia. It’s not so many years since minefields in this border region continued to pose a major danger. Today, all is calm and the border formalities, conducted at Tovarnik and at Šid on the Serbian side are invariably civil and often even good-humoured.

Beyond Šid, our train doesn’t rush. This is pleasant, undemanding country: the Sava flatlands drifting away to the southern horizon on the right side of the train, while to the left there are the distant ripples of the forested hills known as Fruška Gora. The first stop is at Sremska Mitrovica, the biggest community in Serbia’s Srem region and a relaxed riverside town which traces its history back to the Roman settlement of Sirmium. The town’s claim to be ‘the glorious mother of cities’ may raise a few eyebrows, but it’s a nice enough spot for a first taste of Serbia.

Towards the Bulgarian border

Leaving the main line at Niš, there is immediately a sense of entering another world. We’ve swapped a double-track electrified railway for a humble single-track rural line where trains are hauled by an ancient blue diesel engine which was once reserved for use on the luxury plavi voz (Blue Train) which ferried Yugoslav leader President Tito around the country. But there is no hint of luxury on the slow train to Dimitrovgrad. The railway follows the Nišava Valley up into increasingly rugged hills, along the way passing through Bela Palanka and Pirot, the latter newly raised to city status and still noted for its fine traditional woven carpets. From Pirot it is just a short hop onto Dimitrovgrad, the last station before the Bulgarian border, and a community where ethnic Bulgarians outnumber Serbs by two to one. The language spoken in this border region is Torlak, a South Slavic transitional dialect which has elements of both Serbian and Bulgarian.

Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide is published by hidden europe publications. Alongside the guidebook, there is a dedicated website that includes regular updates and news on European rail travel. The book is available on Wordery, Amazon or via a number of different outlets, which are listed on the Europe by Rail website

Printed Matters: The Line Between Two Towns


We are really excited about this place-related project from our friend and Elsewhere contributor Laura HarkerThe Line Between Two Towns is a new zine that explored the Esk Valley line between Middlesborough and Whitby in northern England, bringing together writers, poets, artists and photographers who have all been inspired by the different destinations on the line between the two towns. Here is Laura's introduction to the zine, and you can order your copy online here.

The idea behind this zine came from wanting to explore the differences between Whitby and Middlesbrough, and all the unique nuances and cultures that set them apart from one another. Though there are such stark differences between the two towns, there is still one thing that brings them together: the Esk Valley Railway.

It clocks in at only 36 miles long, but the Middlesbrough and Whitby line was once part of a larger network of railways that covered the area until many lines were closed after Dr. Beeching’s cuts. Thankfully, the line remained open due to its popularity. Originally intended to serve the mines and quarries across the region, the Esk Valley line quickly became a hit with Teessiders who realised that it placed the North Yorkshire seaside just over an hour away.

Over the past few decades, the area’s industry has disappeared, Brits have set their sights on sunny European beaches, and the line is now rarely busy except for Bank Holiday weekends. But it continues to be an important lifeline for many in the villages it passes through, connecting them to Middlesbrough and Whitby.

I was born in Middlesbrough but we moved to Glaisdale, just outside Whitby, when I was 11. Carefully picked up from my urban childhood, I was transplanted to the countryside where most other kids were members of the Young Farmers and thought my Boro accent came from Ireland. Even though my childhood so far had been spent less than 30 miles from Whitby, I realised there was a large gulf between these two locations – industrially, culturally and aesthetically.

This isn’t something that bothered me that much until I moved to Berlin and I was constantly asked the same question: Where are you from? When Germans and other non-Brits asked, the answer was easy – I went with North Yorkshire. But when Brits asked, expecting a more specific pinpoint for their mental map, I couldn’t bring myself to give just one answer.

I couldn’t just say Whitby and ignore Middlesbrough or that would be turning my back on my first decade, family ties, and roots as a Teessider. But I couldn’t simply say Middlesbrough, as I’d spent 15 years on the moors by this point. My Boro accent is long gone and my Middlesbrough geography gets hazy whenever I step off Linthorpe Road in the centre of town – I can’t quite stomach saying I’m a true Teessider. And so I thought about writing a personal essay on this identity crisis and the towns that sparked it, using the Esk Valley Railway to bind it all together. When I realised there was just too much for me to say, I decided to make this zine and open it up to submissions to try and create something of a printed tapestry of the area.

The zine includes works from local writers, poets, artists and photographers, all of which have been inspired by stops along the line. Threading together their work along the context of the Esk Valley Line, I wanted the zine to explore the cultural and landscape shifts that can be found taking this particular train journey, from starting in Middlesbrough surrounded by tired factories and ending in Whitby just steps from the beach. And it might actually help me figure out what to say whenever someone asks me where I’m from.

Printed Matters: NANSEN Magazine

As small independent publishers of a small independent journal, we are always interested in the work of like-minded folk, especially if the subject matter relates to our own investigations of people and place. NANSEN Magazine is a new project from an old friend of ours and tells the story of migrants of all kinds. Their first issue was published yesterday, and we caught up with editor and publisher Vanessa Ellingham to find out more.

Hi Vanessa! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what inspired this new magazine?

I’m a journalist and editor, originally from Wellington, New Zealand, now living in Berlin. I’ve been here for four years, but before moving to Berlin I lived in Copenhagen for a year with my partner, who’s Danish.

My year in Copenhagen didn’t go very well. I was struggling to settle in, find work, make friends and feeling pretty lonely. One of the things I did was go and volunteer at a refugee camp, where I met other newcomers in a very different situation to myself - for one thing, if I was so fed up I could just move home again, which they absolutely could not. It got me thinking about all the things we had in common as newcomers to Denmark and the solidarity to be found between different kinds of people living far from home but all giving it their best shot.

What is it about the topic of migrants and migration that interested you?

Migration has always been part of human life on earth and it certainly isn’t going to stop. I think the events of 2015 only highlighted the need for us to better understand why people leave home in search of a - hopefully - better life.

I first had the idea for a magazine about migrants a couple of years before the “refugee crisis”, when I was standing in IKEA in Berlin, having just shopped for new furniture in a new country for the second time in a year.

With NANSEN Magazine we want to introduce our readers to all kinds of people on the move and explore the personal experiences of migration that other migrants can relate to and non-migrants probably will, too.

Because migrants aren’t just refugees. We’re also doctors and artists and lovers and diplomats. Some migrants are better known for being movie stars than for their immigration status. But they likely have many shared experiences with other people who’ve upped and left home.

That’s why we focus on one migrant per issue, to go deep into their experiences so that, after reading the magazine, you feel like you’ve really gotten to know that person.

What can we find in issue #1?

Issue 01 centres on Aydin Akin, someone many Berliners will know, although most likely not by name. Aydin is a 78-year-old Turkish-German man who cycles across the city each day, demonstrating for migrant rights.

It’s an endurance protest - his trip takes three hours each way - and he’s been doing it for 12 years. But if you spot Aydin on his bike, decked out with his handwritten protest posters, his two megaphones blasting music and his protest chant, and the annoying whistle he bleats on as he rides, it can be hard to see him as anything other than totally crazy.

Turns out Aydin has some great ideas for how to better welcome newcomers to Berlin and Germany. He’s spent almost 50 years now living in Germany and advocating for equal rights for all of Germany’s migrants. He believes that giving newcomers equal footing from the get-go is the best way to prevent the anger, hate and violence that occurs when people are excluded from the societies they live in. I think Aydin’s someone worth listening to, whether you live in Berlin, Germany or somewhere else.

So Issue 01 is about Aydin and his life in Berlin. But because he’s so focused on others, and the broader migrant community, this issue spins out to explore what it’s like to be a Turk living in Berlin today. We spend a day waiting in line at the Ausländerbehörde, we chart the history of Turkish guest workers in Germany - another large group of migrants who arrived en masse by train, decades before the 2015 “refugee crisis” - we talk about Willkommenskultur and we meet the next generation of Turkish-German Berliners.

What is next for Nansen?

We plan to make future issues of NANSEN about migrants of all kinds living all over the world.

And we promise they won’t all be people working in the area of migration, Aydin just seemed like a great subject to start with. We like to be bold and a little playful - you can expect us to go beyond the melancholy of traditional migration reporting. Because there’s plenty of joy in being a newcomer, too.

But making future issues really depends on how Issue 01 sells. So we’d love to sell you a copy of our mag!

Can you also tell us a little bit about the Give Something Back to Berlin project?

At GSBTB I work in communications. I edit and manage the online magazine, which is by and about Berlin's newcomers.

GSBTB started as one answer to the gentrification taking place in Berlin neighbourhoods like Neukölln, where hip young newcomers were moving in and pushing up the cost of living, to the frustration of the locals, both Germans and other, more established migrants. GSBTB offered a platform for newcomers to be matched up with volunteer opportunities, enabling them to give back to their new home city.

We started with a Facebook post in 2012. Today GSBTB runs many of its own projects, from cooking groups to social meet-ups to art therapy, that support newcomers to get settled in Berlin. At any of our events or projects, you’ll find locals, expats, refugees and people somewhere in-between all mucking in, invested in the idea of doing something good for the city together.

NANSEN Magazine website
NANSEN Magazine on Facebook
Give Something Back To Berlin website

The stories in the ruins: St Peter's, Cardross

Just outside the city of Greifswald, on the German Baltic coast, stand the ruins of the Eldena Abbey. Construction began in the early 13th century and was completed by 1500. In 1535, however, the Abbey was dissolved and over the centuries fell into dereliction. Eldena has been a ruin then for far longer than it was ever operational, and in the early decades of the 19th century, became a key inspiration for the painter Caspar David Friedrich, whose images of the ruin helped cement its place in the German cultural imagination; a place it holds to this day.

What is it about ruins that fascinate us? Undoubtedly there is some aesthetic quality to be found in a crumbling building, something which has inspired many explorers, artists and other wanderers over the years, from Friedrich picking his way through the grounds of Eldena to the 21st century Urbexer, climbing through a broken window to capture high-resolution images of abandoned swimming pools, factories and cinemas.

Ruins also give us a link to the past, helping explain the stories that got us from there to here; the changes in politics, religion, society and culture in general. What led this building to be built? What led this building to be abandoned? What does it mean today? All these questions, that hover above the peeling walls and collapsed roofs of ruins, can help us tell the story of a place.

The ruins of St Peter’s College has stood on a hill above the village of Cardross in Scotland for over thirty years. Built as a seminary, St Peter’s fulfilled its original role for a mere fourteen years, from 1966 to 1979. From the beginning, the design of the building made it difficult and expensive to maintain. It was a striking example of Modernist architecture, one that would be simultaneously lauded as one of Scotland’s finest 20th century buildings and derided as one of its worst, and from the most of its abandonment developed “a mythical, cult-like status among architects, preservationists and artists.”

Today, fifty years after it opened its doors, St Peter’s College is in the process of a renovation that will allow its renewal as a cultural space, to be ready sometime in 2019. To celebrate the anniversary of St Peter’s, and to reflect on its history and its story, the architectural historian Diane M Waters has traced this story of an architectural failure which morphed into a tragic, modernist myth in St Peter’s, Cardross: Birth, Death and Renewal. Within the pages of the book, published by Historic Environment Scotland, is also an image essay by Angus Farquhar which tells the story of Hinterland, an event that was intended to re-introduce St Peter’s as a place of creativity and inspiration.

With plenty of images and illustrations to help tell the story, St Peter’s, Cardross is a fascinating look at the history of a building, and how the dynamics of the world around it have shaped its story, both as a seminary and, later, as a ruin that inspired generations of artists and dreamers. Farquhar writes, close to the end of the book, of the cleanup process at the site:

I was worried whether the site clearance would ‘ruin the ruin’. What if the powerfully desolate character which had attracted so many people to visit and make work there over the last two decades was erased? What if, in becoming safe, it would also become bland? But week by week the original lines of the building were rerevealed, showing the experimental and sculptural qualities of the design to startling effect. As it was cleared of debris a new clarity and lightness pervaded the different spaces.

In Eldena, just outside Greifswald, the University of Greifswald hold concerts, theatre performances among the ruins of the Abbey during the warmer months of the year. As well as inspiring buddy artists and photographers, who wander through the red brick ruins, it has become a place of continuing art and culture; it may have been built as an abbey, but its legacy is centuries of artistic and creative inspiration. St Peter’s, standing above Cardross, is another “beautiful ruin” of a very different time and place, but one which looks as if will become an inspiration for years to come.

SPECIAL CHRISTMAS OFFER: buy St Peter’s, Cardross now for £20 (RRP £30) with free UK P&P using the code STPETERS20. (Offer valid until 20 December 2016). Buy online here.

Caught by the River: An Antidote to Indifference

A personal reflection by Paul Scraton:

I can remember the moment I ‘discovered’ Caught by the River very clearly. I was sitting in a café in Berlin with my friend Paul Sullivan and we were discussing bits and pieces to do with his Slow Travel Berlin project. As we talked, he tapped on the keys of his laptop and said to me, “here, have a look at this. I think you’ll really like it…”

I made a note of this website and that evening spent some time taking a closer look. It can be hard to describe exactly what it is… a collection of writing, films, music and more, that are somehow connected and yet are eclectic enough that each visit to the website brings you into contact with something you may have never discovered otherwise. On the about page of their website they tell their story in more detail, but at its core, Caught by the River was “conceived as an online meeting place for pursuits of a distinctly non-digital variety: walking, fishing, looking, thinking. Birdsong and beer. Adventure and poetry. Life’s small pleasures, in all their many flavours. It was – and still is – about stepping out of daily routines to re-engage with nature. Finding new rhythms. Being.”

Beyond the website, Caught by the River has grown to encompass a print fanzine and books; music releases under their own Rivertones record label; appearances at festivals and events of their own, and all along they have kept their core philosophy intact. I feel extremely proud to have been published on Caught by the River, but more than that I have enjoyed being part of this community of folk who follow and support the website and that have provided me with a key link “back home” from my actual home in Germany.

Along the way I have made friends through Caught by the River, many virtual and some in “real life.” Jeff, Andrew, Robin and Diva have also been a great support for Elsewhere from the very beginning, promoting our crowdfunding campaign, running extracts on the website and competitions through their newsletter. Last week, Caught by the River published their fifteenth edition of their print fanzine An Antidote to Indifference, which – disclaimer alert – features a piece I wrote early this year about the Magnetic North and their album Prospectof Skelmersdale.

As well as some previously published work from the website such as my essay on music and place, An Antidote to Indifference also includes original prose and poetry created especially for the fanzine. Including work from, among many other talented folk, Rob St John, Luke Turner, Melissa Harrison, Martha Sprackland and Keshia Glover, the issue has been lovingly put together by Diva Harris, strikingly designed by Louise Mason and deserves a place on the shelf or rolled up in the rucksack of anyone who, despite everything, sees this “world full of endless discovery, innovation, poetry…”

If ever we needed an antidote to indifference it is now. 

An Antidote to Indifference costs six British pounds and can be ordered directly here.

The Joy of Old Maps

By Paul Scraton:

A love of maps is something that all of us share here at Elsewhere, and I suspect that goes for a good many of our readers as well. On a personal level, there is nothing I like more than sitting down with a collection of maps to plan a route or a journey. If is a place I have never been to before, it is a moment where imagination takes over as I attempt to picture the lie of the land or the streetscape I will soon be passing through. If it is a place I known well, the map will stimulate memories of previous travels and trips, or the everyday journeys from here to there when it was a different place, the place on the map, which I called home.

Something of a traditionalist, I prefer my maps on paper, although Amy Liptrot’s essay in Elsewhere No.02 that featured Google Maps as a stimulus to memory and imagination persuaded me that there can also be much value in exploration via a glowing screen. If it is a map of the here and now, I think it is the possibility that they represent that most appeals: Is that a footpath along that abandoned railway embankment? Is that a river in my neighbourhood, one that had somehow passed me by? What is in that patch of grey space in the edgelands of the city, between the residential districts and first of the farmed fields in the surrounding countryside? Maybe I should go and find out…

There is another subset of maps that have long fascinated me, and they are maps from the past. Whether found in second hand bookshops or reproduced and reprinted, old maps are a great starting point for anyone interested in understanding the history of a place. In Elsewhere No.04 we highlighted two projects that have old maps at their heart: the reproductions of city maps by Pharus here in Germany, and the London Trails walking tours by Ken Titmuss, using old maps as guiding documents. Inspired, we decided to launch the fourth edition of Elsewhere by taking a walk, following a route from Friedrichstraße station in the centre of Berlin to the Vagabund brewery in the old industrial district of Wedding. Using a Pharus map of the city from 1902, we attempted to bridge the gap between the Berlin on paper and what we could see with our own eyes.

The map offered us clues to the history of the city. The location of synagogues on the map suggested where the centre of the Jewish community in the early 20th century Berlin could be found. The market halls and bathhouses, theatres and factories, all diligently marked down, spoke to the everyday reality of life in the rapidly industrialising city in 1902. The destinations indicated for each of the main-line railway stations hinted at very different borders for the Germany of then and the Germany of now. Where the Vagabund brewery now stands, the streets are marked but not yet named, and in between them only an empty space. The map of 1902, with a good number of these planned but unbuilt neighbourhoods circling the city centre, showed us that the expansion of Berlin, laid out by James Hobrecht in 1861, was still very much a work in progress. 

As we walked a steady rain fell and the water on the ground shimmered under the streetlamps and headlights of the cars as darkness swallowed the city. In the half-light of an autumn evening we searched out the links between 1902 and now. The theatre still standing. The railway station. The market hall (now a supermarket). And we spotted what was missing: some of the synagogues, the bathhouses and a department store, huge factory complexes and a circus tent. As we walked we could also trace other moments in Berlin’s history, things that in 1902 were still to come. We walked by open spaces levelled by bombs that fell over 70 years ago. We crossed the path of the Berlin Wall. We finished up on a street that now had a name and was now lined with houses.

Old maps will only ever tell part of a story, but they offer up clues that help lead us to some of the fascinating tales of the city. They help us understand what was here before and provide us with a guiding document to imagine what has been lost. Indeed, all maps are – to some extent – “old”. From the moment they are finished they are immediately out of date. A new building erected here. An old one gone there. Streets re-routed and renamed. But in their inaccuracy, maps whatever their age are invaluable for those of us interested in the story of a place. 

Elsewhere No.04, with our map special featuring essays and interviews can be found on our online shop here. Elsewhere No.02, featuring Amy Liptrot’s essay ‘A (near future) Google Maps tour of the heart’ can be found here. For the historic map tours in London, offered by Ken Titmuss, visit London Trails website. You can search the archive of reprinted maps from Pharus via their online shop here. 

Printed Matters: On the Grass When I Arrive

Read by Paul Scraton:

We were extremely pleased to recently receive a copy of the fascinating collection of new writing from Northern Ireland On the Grass When I Arrive. Edited by Leon Litvack, this new book published by Guildhall Press is an anthology of poetry and prose that deals with ideas of place, home and belonging. The introduction by Litvack is a fascinating essay on place and literature that would be worth the cover price alone, and what follows is a diverse but always interesting collection by writers both new and established.

Having discussed in his introduction a number of ideas and theoretical approaches to the literature of place, Litvack turns his attention to how they link with the works collected in the anthology and specifically the place and places about which those works are written:

“Many pieces are set in Belfast: a place which has been… difficult to characterize effectively, because it is a complex, multi-layered, multi-classed space with a burgeoning and diverse population… The range of places treated in this collection extends far beyond Northern Ireland to include the United States, the Caribbean, South Africa, the European continent, and even (albeit tangentially) outer space. We may search in vain for an all-encompassing definition of place which will suit everyone’s needs; but the fact that the writing has moved from the local towards the global is in itself significant.”

I have family living in Northern Ireland and have spent a lot of time in Belfast over the past decade. What strikes me often both before and after each trip is the extremely one-dimensional view of the place many outsiders still have. Despite the many changes in Northern Ireland over the past couple of decades, many still see the place through the prism of what went before. The power of this collection is that in a variety of voices and a variety of styles, the multi-faceted nature of the place and each individuals understanding of their own place in it shines through in the writing. On the Grass When I Arrive is not only a valuable addition to the literature of Northern Ireland but to the literature of place in general.

Laura Cameron

I stand firm on Royal Avenue
to witness the parade.
Meanwhile, at the City Hall gates,
two women
in Union Jack wellies
kick against the erosion
of their cultural identity.

Infectious music,
thousands of spectators
swaying to the beat;
two grannies in the front row
jiggle toddlers in buggies.
I let rainbow waves
wash over me.

I can't believe we've got here!
Belfast, twenty-thirteen.
My mind wanders...
In years to come
when school peers ask,
'Are your parents a mixed marriage?'
will a child respond,
'Yeah. My Da's a man
and my Ma's a woman'?

On the Grass When I Arrive, edited with an introduction by Leon Litvack, is published by Guildhall Press and is available now.

Elsewhere No.04 will be published on the 28 September 2016 – Click here for more information and to order your copy.

Printed Matters: Europe by Rail

In Elsewhere No.02 we reviewed The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt, a collection of essays reflecting on his life and experiences at different times and places, and “the one place where all these others originate: his mind.” It is a wonderful book, and it is the description of details and of his favourite things that resonate long after you have returned it to the shelf. One of those favourite things is something all of us at Elsewhere share - a love of trains:

I was never so happy as when I was going somewhere on my own, and the longer it took to get there, the better. Walking was pleasurable, cycling enjoyable, bus journeys fun. But the train was very heaven.

Two friends of ours who also share this love are Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, editors of Hidden Europe magazine and the co-authors of the Europe by Rail guidebook. As a disclaimer – and the reason we are presenting the book under ‘Printed Matters’ rather than writing a review – our editor Paul worked on previous editions of the book with Nicky and Susanne and had a small involvement in this new edition, a much re-vamped and (dare we say it) improved version of something that was already pretty good in the first place.

Europe by Rail is subtitled ‘the definitive guide for independent travellers’ and there is certainly a wealth of practical advice within the pages for anyone interested in exploring the continent by train. But the real strength – and heart – of the book are the 50 suggested rail journeys, beautifully written, that give you a real flavour of the possibilities out there for crisscrossing Europe and what you might discover along the way.

As the editors write on the book’s website, the variety of the routes and the detailed descriptions offer the would-be traveller numerous options and sources of inspiration: 

Some journeys are sufficiently long that you could easily build an entire holiday around them (eg. from Amsterdam to Oslo or Hamburg to Budapest). Others are more modest in scope - such as a scenic wander through the Harz Mountains of eastern Germany or a rail cruise along the French Riviera. 

Just flicking through the book so many ideas and possibilities jump out at the reader, and it is a testimony to the work of Nicky and Susanne that this is a book that begs to be read, curled up on the couch, as much as it is a guidebook to be stuffed in your rucksack along with your European Rail Timetable before heading off to the station. Ultimately Europe by Rail is a reminder of the truth that Tony Judt himself understood – sometimes it is not about the destination, but the journey you take to get there. See you on platform 5… 

Europe by Rail, by Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner is published by the team behind the European Rail Timetable, another publication that is indispensable for the dedicated European rail explorer.

Europe by Rail website
European Rail Timetable website

Elsewhere No.02, which features our review of The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt, can be purchased via our online store here.

Printed Matters: Writing Maps - Write Up Your Street, Writing The Love, Writing People

Writing Maps by Shaun Levin
Words: Marcel Krueger

These days, a good map is hard to find. With a variety of location services installed in smartphones, cars, and even glasses, it seems to me that the art of appreciating and even reading a map is slowly but surely dying. But then maps have never simply portrayed landscape in reality - just look at Tolkien’s self-drawn maps of Middle Earth or Martin Vargic’s Map of the Internet. Maps have always enabled us to understand abstract and imagined facts and ideas, so why not take this up a notch and release maps from their traditional purpose completely?            

Enter Shaun Levin, writer and creative writing teacher. Shaun has published short stories, novellas and non-fiction, and is the founding editor of the literary journal Chroma and the director of Treehouse Press. He also publishes the literary magazine The A3 Review (also as a folded map-like publication) and a series of notebooks featuring writing prompts, with so far three volumes out: City, Food and Family. In 2012, Shaun launched the first in a series of “Writing Maps”, illustrated creative writing prompts to inspire writers on the go. As Shaun states: “Together with some exceptionally talented illustrators, my aim is to create a source of inspiration that draws on my love of writing and the ways it enriches and intensifies our engagement with the world.”

For Elsewhere I’ve reviewed three different maps with city writing as overall topic, named Write Up Your Street (illustrated by Andy Carter), Writing The Love (illustrated by Isik Bagraktar), and Writing People (illustrated by Andrew Sutherland). Each map has a distinct individual style, ranging from monochrome images of buildings in Write Up Your Street - my personal favourite - to the city represented as a colourful beating heart in Bagraktar’s map. All maps contain at least 12 extended writing exercises that will help a writer explore the city and the writing process, plus a reading list and quotes befitting the topic of the respective map. According to Shaun: “Writing Maps are created to suit writers of all genres and levels, and have been devised with adult writers in mind.” Overall 18 writing maps have been published so far, with locations ranging from beaches to art galleries to the body itself.

What I like about the maps is that while they might not lead you to a specific location in your city or neighbourhood, they enable everyone to use every-day surroundings and encounters as writing prompts. One might argue that this is just standard creative writing course material wrapped in fancy paper, but I might beg to differ: for me, any reason to leave the house and go for a stroll is a good one, and if I have a map with me that makes me write - even better. These maps are not the latest in cutting-edge abstract cartography, but lovely little things for anyone who can do with nudge towards creativity on the go. Bring them with you if you are ever stuck with a piece of writing and, to paraphrase Nietzsche, need to conceive some great thoughts while exploring your city.

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Printer Matters - Fireflies, The Reader and Round not Square

On the 28th November we are hosting Printed Matters #1 - a celebration of Berlin’s indie publishing scene that we are very proud to be a part of. We are also very much aware than many of our readers are not in Berlin, and so we want to use the opportunity to present some of our friends here on the website. Here are three more very different publishing projects based in Berlin:


With two homes, Fireflies is a print film magazine with one foot in Melbourne, Australia, and the other with us here in Berlin. Each issue brings together an international group of writers, artists and critics to celebrate the work of two extraordinary film directors through personal essays, creative responses and exclusive interviews with the filmmakers. Fireflies passionately expands the possibilities of film criticism, inviting audiences to discover and explore treasures of world cinema, and past issues have explored Pier Paolo Pasolini, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Béla Tarr and Abbas Kiarostami. The upcoming Issue #3 celebrates the cinema of Claire Denis and Jia Zhangke.

The Reader Berlin

We have known Victoria Gosling and The Reader Berlin for a long time, have benefited from her editorial advice, been involved in The Reader’s workshops and seminars, enjoyed the results of the short story competitions, and are now really pleased to be able to present the Streets of Berlin anthology at Printed Matters. This collection of ten award-winning short stories was published in September 2015 and it showcases the distinctive voices of ten emerging talents. United only by the city that inspired them, they bear witness to one of the world’s greatest, most mutable cities: Berlin.

Round not Square

Of all the projects we have presented on the blog over the past week or so, it is Round not Square that makes us most sad for the people that won’t be able to experience the project in person. Round not Square is devoted to the reinvention of scrolls, reviving a format that was the main means of reproducing content back before the invention of bookbinding and other publishing methods we take for granted. Why do they do this? Well the good folks at Round not Square argue that this allows them to eliminate pagination and create a real flow of storyline, allows them to print imagines larger than book formats would allow, and of course, because of the aesthetic quality of such a striking object. If you can join us in Berlin on Saturday, you can see for yourself!

Printed Matters - SAND, mikrotext and GIER

On the 28th November we are hosting Printed Matters #1 - a celebration of Berlin’s indie publishing scene that we are very proud to be a part of. We are also very much aware than many of our readers are not in Berlin, and so we want to use the opportunity to present some of our friends here on the website. Today we bring you three very different publishing projects from Berlin:

SAND Journal

With twelve issues under their belt, SAND is something of an institution in Berlin’s English-language literary scene. Published twice a year, SAND features prose and poetry as well as translations, art and photography. At the same time, they collaborate with musicians, literary festivals and artists cooperatives - and now us! - to hold regular events in the city. Their stated aim is to offer a printed space for art and literature in Berlin’s international community and beyond. Not only will the good folks from SAND be at Printed Matters with copies of their journal, author Lucy Renner Jones, who appears in issue 11 of SAND, will be joining us on stage for a reading


Every three months mikrotext publishes two ebooks that are thematically linked, focused on literary texts that comment on contemporary questions and offer insight for the future. The texts reflect global debates and are published in German, with selected titles also available in English. But what is an ebook publisher doing at Printed Matters? Well, they are also moving into print and will have some printed versions of their books available at the event. We are also extremely pleased that they will also be reading for us: Wie man mit einem Mann glücklich wird with Ruth Herzberg, and The Smartest Guy on Facebook by Aboud Saeed, read by Nikola Richter.

GIER Magazin

The brainchild of Diana Arnold and Natalie Stypa, who met in Berlin in 2003, GIER Magazin is a bilingual publication (German and English) that is dedicated to “opposing oppositions”, a cultural studies magazine interested in art, gender and feminism (among other topics) that intends to question binary thinking. In the words of their manifesto: Binary oppositions – e.g. Mann | Frau (man | woman) – function as categories that are filled with texts, images etc. which question or deconstruct the opposition. GIER starts with 3 such opposing pairs. More pairs will be added. Each pair will be filled with new contents (i.e. the categories aren't limited to only one text, image etc. each). We are extremely pleased to be welcoming GIER to Printed Matters, and we are sure there will be some interesting conversations to be had on Saturday afternoon!

Printed Matters - Slow Travel Berlin and Readux Books

On the 28th November we are hosting Printed Matters #1 - a celebration of Berlin’s indie publishing scene that we are very proud to be a part of. We are also very much aware than many of our readers are not in Berlin, and so we want to use the opportunity to present some of our friends here on the website. Today we bring you two projects that are very close to our heart:

Slow Travel Berlin

What is Slow Travel Berlin? First of all it is a website, filled with incredibly informative content that over the last five years has become the indispensable resource dedicated to a deeper and more intelligent exploration of the city, not only for the inquisitive visitor to the city but for locals alike. Second it provides a guide to what’s on in the city, and guides to different corners of Berlin via a series of walks, tours and workshops. And third it is a publisher, producing a number of books and other print projects including 100 Favourite Places, Mauerweg: Stories from the Berlin Wall, and recently Stories From The City, an anthology from the first five years of Slow Travel Berlin

Elsewhere and Slow Travel Berlin are strongly linked. Marcel, Paul and Julia have all contributed to various parts of the project, from articles for the website, work on the books, and leading tours through the streets of the city. So there was no question that we would approach Paul Sullivan, the founder and guiding light of Slow Travel Berlin for Printed Matters #1, and we are really looking forward to seeing him and many other members of the Slow Travel community on the 28th November.

Readux Books

There were many inspirations when it came to launching Elsewhere: A Journal of Place, and Amanda DeMarco was certainly one of them. With energy and commitment, as well as good taste, Amanda founded and runs Readux Books, a publisher of short works of (mostly) translated literature. These tiny books fit in your pocket, cost the same as a beer and are better for you. Published in sets of four, the first set was released in October 2013 and recently the sixth series was released. Titled ‘Weird Sex’, the four books explore the essential strangeness of sex and offer their seductive genre of literary pleasure.

Over the course of six series Readux have also published a number of titles related to the city of Berlin, including David Wagner’s Berlin Triptych, Arthur Eloesser’s Cities and City People: Berlin, 1919, Annett Gröschner’s City Spaces, and The Idea of a River, by Elsewhere editor Paul Scraton. At Printed Matters #1 Paul will speak with Amanda about the project and another Berlin book published by Readux, In Berlin by Franz Hessel. Amanda translated the Hessel book herself, and after the conversation will share with us a reading from the work.

Printed Matters - archiv/e, Heimat Zine and No Dice

On the 28th November we are hosting Printed Matters #1 - a celebration of Berlin’s indie publishing scene that we are very proud to be a part of. We are also very much aware than many of our readers are not in Berlin, and so we want to use the opportunity to present some of our friends here on the website. Today we bring you three very different publications from our home city:

archiv/e magazin

Bring digital to print. That is the philosophy behind archiv/e, the first edition of which was published this September following a successful crowdfunding campaign. The idea of this German-language publication is a relatively simple one: to turn a particular blog into an object you can hold in your hands. The editors take the words and images from the blog which are in turn arranged and connected in new ways, and the whole thing is introduced by the blogger themselves. For the first issue of archiv/e, which you will be able to hold in your hands at Printed Matters #1, the focus was the blog stepanini, her thoughts, book reviews and recipes.

Heimat Zine

The German-word Heimat is of course interesting for us at Elsewhere, dealing as we do with the concept of place. Heimat is often translated into English as ‘homeland’, although that is not completely accurate as it misses the sense of belonging attached to this specific connection to place. Heimat Zine is an independent, handcrafted magazine with a small print run that aims to relocate the reader through its pages. The first issue deals with the idea of Heimat itself and what emotions the word can provoke (from the kitsch to the sepia-toned), while the second issue deals with the link between food and heimat, and the third is dedicated to secrets.

 No Dice Magazine

This English-language magazine is also firmly rooted to the idea of place, being as it is dedicated to football and football culture within the city of Berlin. Eleven issues old, No Dice explores Berlin’s football scene from the Bundesliga in the Olympiastadion to the local fixtures watched by one man and his dog (plus the intrepid reporter) and through the articles uses sport to get to grips with many of the issues of our city, from immigration to troubled history, as well as of course the thrill of the last-minute derby winner and the melancholy of a nil-nil draw in Lichterfelde. The team from No Dice will also be hosting a reading at the Printed Matters event and we are looking forward to hearing them talk about Berlin football culture… and if you see them, don’t forget to ask them where the name comes from.

Printed Matters - hidden europe magazine


On the 28th November we are hosting Printed Matters #1 - a celebration of Berlin’s indie publishing scene that we are very proud to be a part of. We are also very much aware than many of our readers are not in Berlin, and so we want to use the opportunity to present some of our friends here on the website. First up, hidden europe magazine:

It is not really surprising that we are fans of hidden europe. Not only is this magazine an inspiration - published three times a year they have just released their 47th edition - but the editors Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries have been a great source of support over the past year as we have tried to get Elsewhere off the ground. And beyond that, there is a philosophical link as well, for the writing contained within the pages of hidden europe is intended to conjure a sense of place as they probe “the curiosities of the continent’s diverse cultures.”

The current edition, released last week, is no exception. As you might be able to guess from the name, hidden europe is a travel magazine in the best sense, taking the reader to the corners of Europe that perhaps you have never heard of. In issue 47 this includes the Saxon villages of Transylvania and the mountain bothies of Scotland, but they also delve into the secrets of more familiar haunts, such as a Berlin suburb or a Vienna train station. What this means is that hidden europe is a journey of discovery each time it arrives in your letterbox, thanks to the editors and their small band of contributors.

Sometimes it is possible to spot a thread running through the articles of any given issue, although this is not always made explicit. For issue 47 however, the editorial gently points us in the right direction, and it could not be more timely:

Displacement is the word of the moment. And the refugees who have moved in their thousands across Europe these past months compel us to reflect on the experience of the displaced. The most compelling images of migrants on the move have actually been devoid of movement: the remarkable patience of refugees trapped at Budapest Keleti station in late summer, and more recently the hapless situation of refugees stranded in driving rain on the border between Croatia and Slovenia.

Exile and displacement feature in various ways in this new issue of hidden europe. We consider Geneva, a classic city of refuge. We examine a suburb of Berlin which has, over the years, received refugees in tens of thousands. And we explore villages in Transylvania to discover what happens to these places when everyone leaves. We also explore the question of links severed through past or present strife and conflict. What happened to all those trains which once ran between Zagreb and Sarajevo? And why has it now become impossible to take a train across the Perekopsky Isthmus to Crimea?

And this is the key to hidden europe, and why they are proud to claim to be “more than just a travel magazine.” This is writing that informs, entertains but also leads you to ask questions. Questions about specific places or moments in time, but also about our own relationships with place and their stories. This is similar to what we are trying to do in the pages of Elsewhere, and it is no wonder then that not only has Paul written for hidden europe and will do again soon, but Nicky Gardner’s short essay on Mitrovica appeared in Elsewhere No.01.

This exchange of ideas exists not only in the pages of our respective journals, but on a personal level as well, at a favourite table in Berlin’s Joseph-Roth-Diele. We are looking forward to more conversations on the 28th at Printed Matters, and many more future editions of hidden europe.

hidden europe 47 is available now through the online shop on the hidden europe website. Make sure you sign up on the website for their regular Letters from Europe email newsletter that, like the magazine itself, is always worth a read.

If you are in Berlin, you can get a copy of Hidden Europe, Elsewhere, or one of the other wonderful indie publishing projects in the city at our Printed Matters event.