I’ve been around

After hours poring over passport stamps, emails with flight, train and ferry details, another passport and even checking when photos were taken so that I can fill out a form saying when I’ve been out of the UK over the past five years, I’ve worked out that on 32 different trips over 279 days since July 2002, I have gone to:
Greece (Athens), Netherlands (Amsterdam plus ?), Italy (Milan, Rome), Denmark, Spain (Bilbao twice, Barcelona, Madrid), Finland, Estonia (Tallinn), Germany (Baden Baden, Berlin), Hong Kong, China (Shanghai, Shenzen), Macau, Australia (Melbourne), Turkey (Istanbul, Konya, Antalya), Slovenia, Hungary, Ireland (Dublin, festival, M’s dad’s place, Wexford, Cashel and Waterford), France (Paris), Poland (Warsaw, Krakow), Vietnam, Cambodia (Siem Reap, Angkor Wat), Russia (St Petersburg, Novgorod, Moscow), Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia (Bratislava), Austria (Vienna, because Ryanair landed us not only in the wrong city but the wrong country!), Portugal, Belgium (Brussels, Brugge), Morocco (Marrakech), Bulgaria (transit only, really, but it did take days and I did get out though it was probably illegal) Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Transndneistr, Laos. I think that’s 34 countries in total.
And yes, I did used to be very naughty about flights before I realised that carbon off-setting probably doesn’t do enough to make up for the damage flying does.

The top 100 travel sites?

From the Times Travel site, 100 best travel websites including Best for holiday bargains (cheap flights, insurance, etc) or Top-value rooms; Road, rail, ferry, cruise (including the fabulous www.transportdirect.info, seat61 (how to get anywhere by rail), deutsche bahn (train timetables across Europe)); Specialist travel (“Cook, dance, trek, surf, paint, go single or go green – these sites will guide and inspire, plus there’s some great tips for travellers embarking on a gap year adventure”) and Travel 2.0 (news and tips from other travellers, but see also Inside info).

Belgium… not that boring.

Travel tip for Bruge, Ghent, Antwerp or Brussels: pop into a youth hostel or bar and pick up a copy of the Use It map and guide for ‘young people’. Great tips on where to eat, sleep and drink and how to ‘act like a local’. Or check it out online at http://www.use-it.be/.
Just as well we went to Bruges when we did:

Internet auction website eBay today withdrew an unusual second-hand sale item, the country of Belgium, which had attracted an offer of 10 million euros ($A16.68 million).
“Belgium, a kingdom in three parts” was posted on the Belgian eBay site as offering “plenty of choice” despite the caveat that it comes with “300 billion of National Debt”.
Offered in three parts – Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia – the accompanying blurb said the kingdom “can be bought as a whole (not recommended)”.
The vendor also included as added extras “the king and his court (costs not included)”.

From The Age.

Woo! The Eurostar is faster *and* nearly at St Pancras

BBC: Eurostar is making its inaugural journey from Paris to London via Britain’s new high-speed line

Richard Brown, chief executive of Eurostar, said he hoped that by 2010 10m people would travel by Eurostar each year.
“Today marks Britain’s entry into the European high-speed rail club.”
He said journey times to Paris, even for people travelling from Yorkshire, would be broadly the same as for those flying due to lengthier check-in times at airports.
“It’s as quick and more frequent… and we will be matching airline prices.”