Travels in 2003

In the scope of the bilateral China-Flanders cooperation, I had the opportunity to visit some of the highlights in and around Beijing, Shanghai and Xian. Succumbing to illness in fearsome times of SARS, I did not lose my enthusiasm for this charming destination.
Posing on China's landmark #1
Our easter 2003 travel plans for Syria were crossed out when the dreadful war in Iraq broke out. Instead, we travelled with Mondi Reizen to Morocco, following the route of the "Royal Cities": Rabat, Meknes, Fez and Marrakech. The journey proved a very rewarding cultural and culinary experience.
Magnificent sunset over Casablanca
Approaching a conference by bicycle is one of my favourite ways of combining work and pleasure. Starting out from the cliffs on the island of Moen's edge, I made my way westward along the Danish isles. When the weather turned against me, I resorted to trains to complete my journey to Aalborg in North Jutland.
Cruising the gently rolling Danish landscape
Regions like Central Asia, about which most people have only the most fragmentary knowledge, have an immense appeal on me. With Koning Aap Reizen, we set out for the secluded world of the "Stan republics": Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (Turkmenistan, whimsically closing its borders to foreigners, had been scrapped off the list). What we encountered was a real treasure trove. Especially the magnificent mosques, madrasa's and palaces by Tamerlane, head of the Mongol empire, were visually stunning.
Friendly merchants in southern Kazakhstan
(The Former Yugoslavian Republic of) Macedonia is an easy sidetrip from Bulgaria, where I was in the scope of our cooperation with the Academy of Sciences, and has two obvious tourist destinations: the capital Skopje, with its tense ethnical mix of muslims and slavs, and the scenic lake of Ohrid on the Albanian border.
Floating around lake Ohrid
To sample some of the authentic English college atmosphere was the purpose of this short trip to Oxford. We had to brave foul weather, but had a great time just the same.
Oxford in fog
With Air Lithuania initiating a direct flight service from Brussels, we headed out to this unobvious holiday destination for Christmas. We visited the historical cities of Vilnius and Kaunas, took a nature trip to the Aukstaitija National Park and marvelled at Trakai castle on a chilly Christmas Day.
Picturesque Trakai castle across a frozen lake

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