3 Things I've Learned About the British Isles

We're deep into the planning stages of our upcoming vacation to the British Isles - the stages of spreadsheet tabs upon spreadsheet tabs and breaking things down to the kilometer so we can see how much we can comfortably squeeze in. Around this time, I start following current news in detail via Google News and seeking out more information on the places we'll be visiting. I've already learned a lot along this journey

1. While I probably couldn't have told you before where in Europe England or any of these countries were in the past, I can now illustrate in a drawing just how much I have learned. Please see below for a very accurate depiction of all of these countries. And no, I'm sure it is no accident that Ireland looks like a potato since potatoes were such an important part of their history.

United Kingdom = Northern Ireland + Scotland + Wales + England
Great Britain = Scotland + Wales + England
2. Once I got over my surprise that hey, there's two Irelands, I was even more surprised that the Republic of Ireland is the only one of the five countries that uses the Euro. To me, Euro = the currency of Europe, and what is more quintessentially European than England? But no, the UK uses the British Pound. BTW, the exchange rate right now is abysmal. We pick the best times to travel. :P
3. In following current news, I started seeing a few stories about the Brexit, i.e. the UK's exit from the EU.  A referendum will be held next month to decide whether Britain should remain in the European Union. This definitely seems like a really big deal. I like the idea of Europe breaking down boundaries among their countries, but of course nothing is that simple. Just a couple years ago, I was following the news about Scotland leaving the UK.  Spoiler alert: they voted against it.  I find it interesting that a continent that I tend to think of as united - whether as part of the United Kingdom or in a larger sense as part of the European Union - is actually still very fragmented.

I always love the part of vacation-planning that really opens your eyes up to what's going on in the rest of the world!


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