My Passport Stamps

I've travelled around quite a bit, partly due to work and partly due to my liking for a good vacation. Herewith a list of stamps I've collected on my travels. There seems to be no agreement on exit stamps; some countries don't bother with them, some do, and some are haphazard. The US collects a little piece of paper off your passport. They'd have you believe this is correlated with your entry, but I have my suspicions about that - the piece of paper isn't even collected by an INS official; rather, the airlines are supposed to do it when you check in. And they don't always do it, hence my suspicions.

Passport #1

Arlanda (Stockholm airport), Sweden; August 15, 1992
My first flight. Yes, I got past my nineteenth birthday without getting on a plane - all my previous trips abroad had been on a ferry, and in the company of my parents on whose passport I was listed. So this is also my first passport stamp, and, in fact, the reason I got the passport. This was a business trip - I was working for Motorola in Cork at the time, and they needed someone to go perform emergency "non-vital component removal" on a customer machine to make more room for the log files.

Arlanda, Sweden; July 11, 1994
Another Motorola business trip, this one in my new capacity as a developer on a network layout tool.

American B1/B2 Visa, valid from February 1995 to February 1996
I got this not very long before the US waived visa requirements for us Irish folk. As I recall, the reason for the waiving was that we had stopped shooting at each other somewhat.

Chicago, USA; March 5, 1995
Actually making use of the above visa. A Motorola business trip to the head office in Arlington Heights, essentially to install our product for the test folk.

Shannon, for Boston, USA; August 9, 1995
We have had our own US INS stand at Shannon airport for quite some time. There's now also one at Dublin airport, incidentally. This was my flight to get me to HOTT.BOB.

Shannon, for Boston, USA; March 16, 1996
My bank ran a promotion in late 1995; take out a loan, and we'll give you a buy-one-get-one-free deal for flights to selected US cities. So I availed of the offer and went to Boston with my Dad for St. Patrick's Day in 1996.

Boston, USA, May 5 1997
This was an interesting one. The trip itself was a vacation - I spent two weeks with my brother doing as little as possible, attended a talk.bizarre gathering in Bilerica and did a job interview - but the fun part was my soon-to-be-cancelled passport.

See, it's like this: I had just recently discovered the phenomenon known as "Pheromone Boy" and was thus constantly prepared to give my phone number to any fine young thing that caught my eye. That is to say, I had a notebook in my pocket, and a pen. And I was at a club one night, talking to and dancing with what I thought might be a likely prospect, so come the end of the night I offered to give her my number. I didn't want to pull out the notebook, so instead I reached inside my jacket, located the notebook, ripped out a page, and wrote my number on it.

You can see where this is going, I'm sure.

"Blessed" as I am with youthful looks, I had taken to carrying my passport as indisputable proof that I was old enough to get into over-18s venues. And in my haste to supply this girl with my digits, I had reached into the wrong pocket and ripped half a page out of my passport. Oh boy. I found out when I got home, and worried about it for a bit, and then tossed the passport back wherever it was I kept it and forgot about it.


I was heading for the US, and realised I'd not get a replacement passport in time. I decided to brazen it out, somehow. I got to the INS desk in Boston, and the guy took the passport and started flipping through it. "Phew", I thought, "he's not going to see the ripped page." And then he found it. Stared at me. Asked me what had happened to it. I stared right back, doing my best innocent puppy look, and said, "I have no idea. I only found out this morning as I was getting on the plane, at which point I couldn't do anything about it." He stared at me some more, and I thought, "Crapola. I'm going to get turned back. At BOSTON." Then he finished staring at me, told me it was very serious, I'd have to have it seen to, and stamped the lot. Woah. Relief.

The girl never called, either.

Singapore Airport, Singapore; September 14, 1997
Singapore Airport, Singapore; September 20, 1997 (exit)
Another business trip, this one for Cognotec. We spent a week in Singapore on a sales pitch to a large bank, which entailed lugging a rather heavy DEC Alpha-based laptop - apparently worth something like $15,000 - around the place. I still had the crash-damaged passport, but the Immigration guys were less stringent so no awkward questions.

Passport #2

San Salvador Airport, El Salvador; December 14, 1997
Roatán, Honduras; December 19 1997
Roatán, Honduras; December 28 1997 (exit)
San Salvador Airport, El Salvador; December 28, 1997
Las Chinamas, El Salvador; December 29, 1997 (exit)
(Las Chinamas), Guatemala, December 29, 1997/January 6, 1998 (exit)
Cancún, Mexico; January 6, 1998
My biggest trip to date. My girlfriend of the time and I spent a month in Central America, setting down in San Salvador on December 14th and departing from Mexico City on January 12th or so. In between, we followed approximately this course: San Salvador (El Salvador), Roatán (Honduras), San Salvador, La Antigua Guatemala (Guatemala), Panajachel (Guatemala), La Antigua Guatemala, Tikal (Guatemala), Isla Las Mujeres (Mexico). Along the way I got sunburnt, earned basic SCUBA qualifications, learned a little Spanish, drank a lot of beer, and generally had a whale of a time.

Sydney, Australia; March 2, 1998
Melbourne, Australia; March 7, 1998 (exit)
I'll say one thing for Cognotec, I got some pretty decent airmiles as a result of working for them. This was a sales trip to Yet Another Big Bank (don't even ask why there's a techie on a sales trip) which happened to wind up the day the qualifiers for the 1998 Australian Grand Prix was on. Alas, by "wind up" I mean I was flown out of the country while I could hear Schumacher and co. doing warm-up laps. I had to be content with having met some of the Benetton guys at a restaurant and purchasing a team jacket from them. I have some notes on this, and I'm sure I'll eventually write 'em up fully. *cough*.

Narita, Japan; November 14, 1998
Narita, Japan; November 21, 1998 (exit)
My friend Sheila moved to Japan after college and stayed there until recently. After four years, I finally got myself into a situation where I could afford to go visit, and then couldn't persuade my boss to give me more than a week off. GAH.

Miami, USA; November 22, 1999
La Ceiba, Honduras; November 24, 1999
Roatán, Honduras; December 5, 1999 (exit)
Miami, USA; December 5, 1999
I liked the place so much, I went back! The first Miami stamp is because I was staying with Rocco on my way out, and the second is because the Americans can't even run you through a transit lounge without making you fill out one of those wacky I94 forms ("No I am not here to perform terrorist activities"). La Ceiba's a coastal town, the nearest to Roatán on the Honduran mainland. I had photos from this that I managed to delete when rearranging the website last year; I also have a list of what I did each day which I might or might not expand.

Oslo, Norway; June 19, 2000
Oslo, Norway; June 25, 2000
Oslo, Norway; July 2, 2000
More work, this time for Stepstone. Technically a breach of my contract, as it happens, since it had things to say about duration of time spent at home between trips abroad, but I wouldn't be picky about that sort of thing.

San Francisco, USA; November 29, 2000
My big vacation for 2000. There's a full writeup of this in the holidays section of the hairballs page, and here's a page of photos from San Francisco.

Newark, USA; February 01, 2001
Dorval (Montreal Airport), Canada; February 01, 2001
Newark, USA; February 05, 2001
More form-filling in order to pass through the US. This was the FROST.BOB II trip and may well turn out to be my big vacation for 2001.

Passport #3

Passport #2 expired in time to cause me to miss out on a meeting in Stockholm; Passport #3 didn't get stamped when I passed through Arlanda, probably something to do with the European Union.

Dublin, for USA; June 08, 2006
My trip to the corporate mothership in Seattle in June 2006.
Seattle; August 31, 2008
Back to the mothership. No writeup, currently.

Unstamped visits

Places I've been without collection any passport stamps: UK, several times between 1995 and the present; France, 1983, 1986, 1987, and 2001; Belgium, 1983; Luxembourg, 1983; Germany (West), 1983; Spain, 1995 and 1997/8 - the latter as a stopover on the way to and from Central America; Thailand, 1998 (stopover), Monaco, 2001; Switzerland, 2002; The Netherlands, 2002; Copenhagen, 2000 and 2001 (stopovers); Stockholm, 2002; Helsinki, 2002 (stopover); Barcelona, 2004; Iceland, 2006

; Rome, 2007; Prague & Cyprus, 2008
Waider can't get there from here.