Brit Andy Pardy quit his job to undertake an epic odyssey across Europe in order to write ‘Stop Brexit’ with the resulting GPS route. Having recently concluded his more than 35,000-kilometre journey across 27 European nations, The Local caught up again with ‘The rogue consultant’ and his ode to freedom of movement.
When we last spoke to Andy Pardy, he was in Greece and about to continue driving north, a route that would eventually spell the word ‘Brexit’ when displayed on a map with GPS coordinates.
“For the letter ‘X’ I drove from Mt Olympus to Berlin, then onto the outskirts of Warsaw and back down into the Croatian mountains,” Pardy, now back in the UK, told The Local. The ‘X’ alone required a 3,036-kilometre drive.
Pardy had already driven the route that would spell the word ‘Stop’ through the UK, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the Baltic states.
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The curious story of why this British management consultant decided to throw in his job in the UK and undertake a last European tour, armed with nothing but a Volkswagen van, a GPS tracker and a passion for Europe, has captivated the minds of media worldwide.
“After the Brexit vote I felt powerless. I haven’t been able to participate or assist and I just wanted to do something,” Pardy told The Local in September this year.
So Pardy decided to traverse the continent he has known since he was a child (he grew up in Germany) for what he labelled a ‘last European tour’ to highlight the privilege that is freedom of movement.
The man with a van, who was joined by his girlfriend Katy for the latter part of the journey, saw mountain ranges in Scandinavia, Slovakia, Slovenia, France, Spain and Croatia, “so it was nice to see Mt. Blanc, Europe’s highest peak,” says Pardy. Katy was subjected to equivalent beauty. Her three-day birthday trip took in Lake Bled in Slovenia, Lake Iseo in Italy and Chamonix at the feet of Mt Blanc.
Yet the highlights were so many, says Pardy. Romania was “a hidden gem”; mountain ranges in Slovenia and Croatia revealed landscapes Pardy “had never imagined”; Scandinavia was full of charm too. He even managed to stop in Munich for Oktoberfest.
Pardy is the captain of the story although his van may well be the unsung hero. “It never broke down and never didn’t start,” says Pardy, even though the vehicle covered more than 900 kilometres on rough roads on tough days.
Pardy’s journey took him through most of Europe’s mountain ranges. “I feel like I know Europe better,” says Pardy, who has criss-crossed 26-EU nations in the last three months, with some understatement. “I thought I knew Europe. Seeing some of the farthest-flung corners has shown me what Europe has to offer. Even though we don’t know to what extent freedom of movement will be curtailed, it is very clear what we stand to lose,” adds Pardy, whose journey has filled more than nine pages of Google with media clips, including this Arte documentary.
His journey may appear inherently political but Pardy says more than anything it was personal. “It wasn’t to stir division,” says Pardy, who has received hundreds, if not thousands of messages of support along his route. Despite sleeping in a tin van and living on a diet of tin cans, Pardy says every corner of Europe was worth it.
Would he be willing to do it again if he’d made a typo? “I would do it all again tomorrow,” says Pardy, adding the caveat that he’d like to top up on fresh fruit and a few good nights of sleep before ever trying such an odyssey again.
And the main lesson learnt? “The adventure has highlighted what is at stake,” says Pardy.