On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!


Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice






First up today, some gorgeous from Nancy M.

“These photos are from Ujue, Navarre, Spain. The church here, Santa Maria de Ujue, is from the 12th century and stands at the highest point in town. They call it a fortified church, which in this case means they built a fort that completely encases the church. The streets are very steep and narrow – some of them have handrails embedded in the walls of the houses. The view was amazing.”


Wow, love that street. I bet the locals have great legs and tighter butts than nearby “flatlanders”!


Next up, Ghent, Belgium from Sloane Ranger:

This is St Nicholas Church in Ghent town centre.


This is a view of the river in Ghent


My brother tweeting, as usual.


Our watering hole in Ghent – The Waterhuis. It has a beer menu five
pages long!


Looks like a nice place to be a regular. I have family in Wavre, on the opposite site of Brussels, about an hour’s drive. Although my visit was many years ago, this is what I remember things looking like – friendly, clean, nicely painted, serious about hospitality. Back then, though, in the alleys and behind facades, the echoes of WWII were still noticeable. I expect that it’s much rarer now to find bullet holes in the bricks like I found behind their home. Even though that was almost 40 years later, the shadow of the conflict was still around. Let’s hope that intra-European war is truly a thing of the past!

The Castle of the Counts, Ghent with tram passing it.

Wow – that’s a serious castle! Just amazing, and with a nice cafe to enjoy the view. And I love the tram – like many here, I’m a fan of public transportation and wish we had more of here in the States. Great stuff, thank you!

We’ll be running more of her pictures later in the week.

Don’t forget Tuesday and Thursday for parts 2,3 and then 4,5 of JRinWV’s fantastic collection from Tuscany and environs.

Have a great day everybody – travel safely and enjoy this June, as a dear friend assured me, before we know it, September will be part-through, and we’ll be planning Thanksgiving and Christmas. Before that part of the year takes over, get out there and enjoy these months!






14 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:


  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    Great pictures. Thank you.

  3. 3
    Sloane Ranger says:

    Alain – when we were there we noticed that a massive amount of building and rennovation work seemed to be taking place but down the back streets there were still plenty of old houses that looked untouched since at least the 19th century. We didn’t see any bullet holes but then we weren’t looking. Not sure about the amount of fighting there was to liberate the City.

  4. 4
    satby says:

    Very beautiful! I’d love to sit at that outdoor cafe and people watch for an hour or two with that castle in the background.

  5. 5
    Steeplejack says:

    I have been doing a lot of traveling lately, specifically road trips. I drove down to Rehoboth Beach (I always think “down” even though it is really about due east from Washington) for an overnighter on Friday the 9th, came back late the next day, and then the next day I drove to Charlottesville, VA, to drop off a friend at a week-long book preservation seminar. I drove back down there last Friday to pick her up.

    It’s about 135 miles from where I live to Rehoboth Beach, about 110 to Charlottesville. Good roads, non-interstate, most of the way in both cases. I particularly like driving through the Delmarva peninsula. The two-lane roads are well maintained, and you can do an easy 50-55 mph with slowdowns every little while for the small towns, occasionally for rampaging farm equipment. And the flat farmland and the little towns are scenic, in a non-spectacular way. After many trips I have discovered a particular route that has very little traffic (hint: Centreville, MD, to Viola, DE), so once you get over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge it’s very relaxing. And you can pick up some good barbecue at It’s the Pits (stupid name) in Stevensville, MD, just over the bridge.

    Route 29 to Charlottesville is different. It’s a divided four-lane highway most of the way, and they maintain the D.C./​NoVA tradition that the posted speed limit is merely an advisory number. So traffic was perking along at 65-70 mph. It’s also a very scenic route. I was struck by the large number of huge, stately trees, some even in the broad median of the highway. I ran into some heavy rain driving down last Friday, but that wasn’t too bad.

    After I picked up my friend we ate at La Michoacana, a tiny Mexican restaurant (six tables, great food) and then drove back to NoVA. I dropped her at Sighthound Hall, where she was staying on the friends and family plan, and then drove her to National the next day.

    In the middle of all this I splurged and bought a GPS unit for the car. I have always used Google Maps on my phone, and I like it a lot, but the display is a little small, especially when navigating some of the gnarlier interstate knots in the Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia region, and sometimes I have a problem with glare and my polarized sunglasses making the details on the screen a little hard to read.

    So I started looking at GPS units and ended up buying a Garmin DriveSmart 61. It’s not too big—about 4" by 7"—but the display is 6.9" (diagonal) because the bevel around the screen is very small. I gave it a workout on the last trip to Charlotte. I’m still getting used to it, but I think it’s a keeper. The screen is very visible, even in bright glare (and with me wearing the sunglasses), and the mapping and directions have been pretty good so far. My main problem is figuring out how it wants to do things vs. how I did them with Google Maps.

    An unexpected bonus was that the Bluetooth linking to my cell phone was trivially easy to set up, so I can receive phone calls, texts and e-mails on the GPS screen. (I turned off e-mails.) The GPS lady doesn’t show you the whole text, but she graciously reads it to you while you keep your eyes on the road, mister. And she don’t do emojis! Fair enough. Bottom line is that the doughty ’09 Kia has gotten a significant tech upgrade.

    That’s about it. Since the election I have been searching for things to keep me sane, and one thing that helps is to get out of my rooms in Threadkill Lane and go somewhere away from the Internet and away from the news. So I’ve been picking random places an hour or two away and hitting the road. I haven’t been doing it enough, but I’m trying to make it a weekly thing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take some pictures.

  6. 6
    Quinerly says:

  7. 7
    debbie says:

    Beautiful. That street could be straight out of John Singer Sargent’s sketchbook.

  8. 8
    raven says:

    @Steeplejack: I’ll be heading to LA for my BIL’s funeral. Maybe I’ll get some beach shots.

  9. 9
    Elizabelle says:

    @Steeplejack: Thank you for the great advice. Am with you. Roadtrips can be muy therapeutic.

    Happy Monday to all. Love the photos, Nancy M and Sloane.

    I was in Valencia for the first time this weekend. Gorgeous city. 3rd largest in Spain, with all manner of medieval and modern architecture, a dry riverbed in city center that has been turned into a gorgeous public park with bike and walking paths. With the medieval and modern bridges crossing atop. Cathedral has a portrait with Goya’s earliest known use of demons in it — mesmerizing, haunting scene, and darned hard to photograph well (oil paintings always reflect a bit of sheen from the overhead lights; better photographers no doubt know how to get around that …) Hot days, but the city was built with narrow alleys that are cool as can be. And a breezy city. Quite bearable. Plus, the beach. Cava. Paella.

    On the way home, and how odd, and sad: shortly before sunset our train struck two people on the railroad tracks. In or near Cunit (beachside town above Tarragona.) Killed them. We were stopped for about 30-40 minutes before a railroad employee told us, in Spanish, that two people had been injured [actually, he said “needed medical attention”] and an ambulance had been called. We could not tell if they were on or outside the train. Then word got out it had been a death, and we had to wait up to two hours for the coroner.

    There is some possibility it was one person (the tense an employee used later to discuss the incident). The employees, sadly, are used to this because it happens rather more frequently than we would like to think. They were nonhurried and the soul of professionalism, as were the local responders.

    Ended up being about a 2.5 hour delay. Passengers were patient; we just milled around outside the train. Met three young Americans, two of them young women here on a journalism abroad summer. Students at U Missouri/Columbia.

    Will try to find out what precisely happened. If it was two, wondering if it was a ghastly accident. We were not at a station.

  10. 10
    Elizabelle says:

    @raven: My condolences on your brother in law’s passing. And may a beach be in your future.

  11. 11
    Steeplejack says:


    Mmm, cava. My go-to cheap bubbly is Conde de Caralt Brut, about $10 around here. Please don’t tell me it’s export-only swill.

    And synchronicity: I went to J-school at Mizzou about a hundred years ago. Hope the yoots have a good summer.

  12. 12
    Elizabelle says:

    @Steeplejack: I see your favorite cava all over the place. In local supermarkets. For maybe 5 euros. Will give it a try.

    Yeah, the journalists in training did not seem like Foxbot wannabes. That was encouraging. Bright young women. They had not heard about the Fyre Festival. (Brought it up because the young man with us was heading for the Bahamas soon; he’s a recent high school grad and the Spain trip was a graduation gift.) Good kids all around.

  13. 13
    Steeplejack says:


    Five euros! Bargain of the century.

  14. 14
    Leto says:

    Our watering hole in Ghent – The Waterhuis. It has a beer menu five
    pages long!

    If you happen to stop by Brugge, visit Cambrinus. They have 400 beers to select from (their beer menu is approx 7″ thick), plus their Brewers Feast meal is f’ing delicious. Cheese croquettes, traditional Flemish stew, and creme brûlée all made from their house beer. Again, delicious!

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