my samsung galaxy europa seems to sync ok with my google account. but the contacts do not appear in my google account on the web [whereas updates to calendar and email do]. any advice appreciated.
By default the contacts you see on the web are your most used contacts. You have to choose all contacts to see everyone.
Is your phone configured to sync contacts with your Google account?
To verify this go to Settings --> accounts & sync, tab on your account and verify that the Sync Contacts option is checked.
If this option is checked then the contacts are synced to your account but you are probably using a configuration in your gmail web account that only shows you the most used contacts instead of all contacts.