With the weather getting warmer and warmer, the holiday season is fast approaching. And what better way to spend your holiday if not in Europe? Statistics show that more than 26 million trips are made from the U.S. to Europe. I mean… guys, you really like the old continent!
On the other hand, I get it… the oldest things happened in Europe. Wars and democracy were born on this continent, so it’s rich in history, events, and mystery. I am not so aware of its popularity because I live here, I’ve learnt its history and all the drama. The funny thing is that I don’t travel that much. I know it’s a pity since I’m just a few hours away (by plane) from the most wanted places to see and visit.
So… visiting Europe sounds all nice and exciting, right? Well, as it will probably be as you expect it, there are some things that you might not know about Europe and its culture.
Here are some things you might not know about Europe, that might help you during your next trip.
1. European Union and Europe are two different things
I know that this might sound really basic or even dumb, but I’ve seen a lot of people confusing the terms (ehem… UK!).
Europe is a continent. well, as some will say, Europe could safely pass as not a continent, but we’ll discuss it later. So, Europe is a whole continent all the way from the UK to half of Russia.
The European Union, on the other hand, is a political and economic union between states based in Europe. This means that not all European countries are members. There are only 28 (for now) countries that are part of the European Union. European Union is part of different international agreements that allow trade, free travel and other benefits to its citizens. Unfortunately, these benefits are not available to the people/countries outside the union.
2. Euro is not the universal currency
You probably know the UK has Great British Pound as its currency and not Euro.
Only 19 out of the 28 EU members use Euro
Anyway, the good news is that you’ll be able to exchange Euro for the local currency quite easily.
3. Not all of us speak English
I was shocked when I realised this. I thought that people – especially young and business people – will be fluent in English.
We don’t do that here.
I think that’s what happens when you double all TV shows, including supermarkets brands.
So be prepared for some locals to ignore you if they hear you speaking English. The safest thing to do is to learn a few basic words to catch their attention. We are very proud of our native languages so we’ll be impressed if we see foreigners trying to speak the local language.
4. Europe and Canada could be twins
… when it comes to the entirety. Europe is just 2% larger than Canada.
Europe has approximately 10.2 million km2, while Canada approximately 10 million km2. Crazy, huh? I always thought Canada was much larger.
5. From Spain to Africa in half an hour
The most south point of Spain is around Gibraltar (someone paid attention to the geography classes, apparently).
Spain and Africa are separated by the Strait of Gibraltar, which can be crossed in about 30 mins by ferry. I hope Spanish people from the south spend their weekends in Marroco.
6. Croissants are not from France
The infamous croissant was actually invented in Austria. So strudel is not their only amazing baked goodie, apparently.
It’s said that a couple of Viennese bakers opened a pastry shop in Paris, where they sold croissants.
Another legend says the croissant was invented by the Ottoman Empire, in Istambul. Crazy, huh?!
Whichever of these legends are true, we know two things for sure:
- it’s not from France
- at least it was invented in Europe
7. Vive la vie
According to a Disney Corporation report, Disneyland Paris was visited by more than 14 million people in 2014. Which made the dreamy venue the most visited spot in Europe.
8. The smallest country
The smallest country in Europe is Lichenstein.
They are Catholics, speak German and they are a constitutional democracy. All these within 160 mk2 – and I did not miss any extra 0s.
9. The oldest country
Surprise, surprise, apparently the oldest country is Bulgaria.
While some argue that France is actually the oldest country in Europe, Bulgaria hasn’t changed its name since 681 AD.
10. Big, old Russia
There’s no secret that Russia is a gigantic country that spreads among two continents. It also takes a lot of space from those two continents.
40% of Europe is actual Russian territory.
11. Europe is not a continent
You’ve probably noticed that while all the continents are surrounded by water from all sides, this rule does not apply to Europe.
Apparently, Greeks had the idea to divide the Eurasia continent, therefore giving birth to Europe and Asia.
Did you know all of these things about Europe? Which one is the most interesting to you? Let me know in the comments below!