A man, a van, a GPS tracker: This Brit is writing 'STOP BREXIT' across Europe
Englishman Andy Pardy is traveling 18,000 miles (30,000 km) across Europe this summer to make a continent-sized political statement
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
On 29 March 2019, the UK is leaving the European Union. Which means that this summer may be the last in which British citizens can travel restrictions-free across much of Europe, Andy Pardy realized.
So the 28-year-old from Exeter quit his job as a digital consultant and mapped out a tour that would take him from the Arctic Circle to the south of Spain, and from Ireland's Atlantic coast to Estonia's border with Russia.
Mr. Pardy is calling it, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, 'The Last European Tour'. But it's more than a farewell trip, it's also a political statement—it's a call to halt Britain's seemingly inexorable slide towards its exit from the EU.
Mr. Pardy is bringing his GPS tracker, and he's using it to spell out a continent-sized message across the map of Europe: STOP BREXIT. It's a statement short on words but big in size—in fact, a good candidate for the largest political slogan in history.
The trip began on 16 July at Loch Lomond in Scotland. Hopping over on the ferry from the Port of Stranraer to Northern Ireland, Mr. Pardy drove his van south into the Republic of Ireland, then east towards Dublin, crossing over to Wales in order to reach Trebarwith Strand in Cornwall. After 846 miles (1,522 km) and 30 hours on the road, that was the 'S' done.
A rare white reindeer on the road near Arvidsjaur in Swedish Lapland, while completing the letter 'O'.
With a parcours of 2,250 miles (3,621 km) to complete over mountainous terrain, the second letter was a bit tougher than the first. But on July 31, in the Norwegian town of Snåsa, Mr. Pardy finished the 'T'.
Following a circular trip with start and finish in Mosjøen (also in Norway), Mr. Pardy at the time of this writing had just finished the 'P' in Leipivaara, Finland. That's a lot of effort for just four letters, but the point of the trip is the journey itself as much as the message Mr. Pardy is splashing across the map.
"Freedom of movement is something I'm passionate about (…) I'm making the most of our last summer inside the EU by embracing the concept of free movement and embarking on a farewell tour," he told Sky News.
Coming soon: the 'B' in Brexit, or a drive around the Iberian peninsula starting and stopping in Bilbao. The 'R' will be mainly in France, while the 'E' will see Mr. Pardy also visit the Benelux countries, Germany, Italy and Austria. At 3,200 miles (5,150 km), the 'X' will be the longest trip, from Albania north to Berlin and then from Lodz in Poland south again to Nin Beach in Croatia. The 'I' will also take in a number of countries in Eastern Europe, and the final 'T' will be crossed in the Baltic states.
A rainbow on the way to Storjord, Norway.
Strange Maps #930
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
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