Atomium – Brussels, Belgium

This odd looking structure (the strangest in Europe in fact) represents an iron crystal molecule and is the tallest structure in Belgium, offering great view of the city from the various observation levels.  It was built for the 1958 World’s Fair and now contains galleries and observation rooms within the “atoms” and stairs within the connecting tubes.  Touring this structure was one of my major highlights in Belgium, and we had no clue it existed before driving in town and seeing it on a hill.  Sometimes the best thing to do when traveling somewhere is to not use a guidebook and just explore the city on your own.  You never know what gems you might stumble upon that you may have missed otherwise.

Taken on February 16th, 2008 with my Canon PowerShot A560 (and an older Fujifilm FinePix S602)

Copyright Atomium (

Where have we REALLY been?

In the process of picking what country I was going to write about for my first post I got to thinking, how many countries have I travelled to…  I named off 15 that I could pick from; the United States, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Vatican City, and driven through Luxembourg (without not stopping).  That being said, this number could fluctuate up or down by one depending on what definition of a country is used.

And that brought me to my first topic.  I decided to write about how I am going to define a country to more effectively describe where I have been and in turn convey my travel insights to you.  The CIA World Factbook states there are “195 countries and 72 dependent areas and other entities”, but the United Nations only has 193 members, though a few others have Observer Status.  Other nations, like the United Kingdom, are made up of a union of countries, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the UK’s case, meaning I could count my trips to both England and Scotland as separate blog entries.  Here is a great youtube video about the breakdown of the UK and the British Isles as well as a breakdown of Holland vs. the Netherlands.

Union Jakc



Also, Vatican City is known popularly as the world’s smallest country, but it sits on a few city blocks within the city of Rome and relies greatly on Rome for many of its everyday functions and has only a few permanent residents.

Finally, there is some debate amongst my family and friends as to whether you have to leave the airport and/or car to have visited a country.  This affects my having visited Luxembourg or not, as we drove though the entire country on the highway (all 30 km of it) but never left the car.

Thus, if we count the Vatican, Scotland, and England as separate sovereign nations, and say that I have travelled to Luxembourg (not just through) my total number of countries visited jumps by 1, to 16.  If we don’t count any of these as officially visited it drops down to 13.  However, we also have to take into account that I have travelled around some counties to a much greater extent than others, as an example I have been all over the US, Canada, New Zealand, France, and Scotland, but only to the far western section of Germany, Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and the northern most region of Guatemala.

So!  This brings me to my question for you all…

Would you like to hear about an entire country each week (which could greatly vary in length) or would you like to more in depth information on a particular city, country, or some other political body each week… this could also include trips to US States and Canadian Provinces as well.


Thanks all and have a great week!




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