A Travellerspoint blog

Flying into London

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 14:38 Comments (0)

England: Stonehenge: Breaking Rules Not Budgets!

August 3-4, 2014

sunny 65 °F

We flew into London and headed straight for. . .
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. . . the cheapest hotel in London--- 35 British pounds per night. . . at the Earl Court Gardens. After a night from hell trying to sleep at what we think was a crack house above a train station we started our drive south to Stonehenge. The roads are a little confusing and if you follow a sign to a castle (Windsor) it may turn into a two hour mission almost back to the Heathrow airport :)

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We finally arrived at the visitor center for Stonehenge. It isn’t exactly at Stonehenge. . . it’s actually a mile or two away. It’s a pretty pricey endeavor at 15 pounds per person or $25 US pp. So we decided that we would take in the view from the barbed wire fence enclosing the ruins which isn’t that much farther away than the viewing platform you pay to use. Check out our photos and you can be the judge if it’s close enough for you :)

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The visitor center is free and there's some pretty neat exhibits on the size/weight of the stones, the classic architecture from that time. . and of course you can actually touch one of the actual stones!
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I went back to my skateboarding trespassing days and jumped two fences and crossed a field to get a closer look. Got some good shots at dusk and then at sunset before a security guard spotted me! You can also get a great view on the drive by :) That night we stayed in Salisbury at the Red Lion Inn in Salisbury, just about 20-30 min from Stonhenge which is super nice and arguably the oldest purpose-built hotel in Europe!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 8/4/14 16:10 Archived in England Comments (0)

Iceland: Reykjavik: Last Day at the Blue Lagoon

August 3, 2014

all seasons in one day 60 °F

We have made the most of the 17 hours of daylight in this country and boy are we exhausted. We have burned the candle at ALL ends—not just both! Even though the Blue Lagoon is a classic tourist trap. . .today it sounded very appealing. . soaking our weary muscles for hours and applying mud masks to our faces in the thermal hot springs.

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We went, it was expensive $60+ per person not including any beverages. It was a germaphobe’s nightmare. . with the sulphur smell, and tons of people in the water. Did the hot water feel good? Yes. Would we do it again? No.

On our next trip to Iceland we would recommend hiking up an hour or two to a natural hot spring in the middle of the mountains. . . just ask a local to direct you to one! Next stop: London!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 8/3/14 14:16 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Iceland: Glaciers, Puffins and More Glaciers!

August 2, 2014

semi-overcast 65 °F

We headed straight for Jokulsaron this morning. The glacier lake is pretty amazing. There are icebergs floating around in a lake and every now and again if you’re lucky you’ll spot sea lions playfully poking their heads out of the water.

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There are also lots of birds for those twitchers out there.

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It was a gorgeous sunny day for most of our time there but started pouring down minutes before we left. Luckily some of the ice still glowed blue in the sunlight.

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Then back behind the wheel, we took Route 215 from the Ring Road. We stopped along the coast in Vik for some stunning views. We spent about 3 hours walking along the to the viewpoint looking west toward Mýrdalsjökull and the Dyrhólaey promontory, which you can see easily, it’s an enormous natural arch of rock.

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We strolled along the black sand beaches and loved the striking Reynisdrangar sea stacks which reminded us a bit of the stone pillars in Southeast Asia.

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Then of course we went up a windy road to these huge sea cliffs at Reynisfjall and which were spotted with puffins and LOVED every second of it. We got tons of amazing puffin shots— these birds are so photogenic!

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No trip to iceland would be complete with walking on a glacier, so we took a road leading towards Solheimajokull.

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Once there we ended up meeting a nice family from Syracuse, Kris and Jim and their son. Jim was nice enough to take the first step onto the glacier since Ruby was too chicken to do it herself! How crazy that there were no guards or safety ropes etc. . . in place. We literally drove up to a glacier and started walking on it crevasses and all!

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On the drive back we stopped to take some Icelandic pony glamour shots at sunset LOL!

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Getting pretty exhausted this night we stopped in Selfoss and found a little guesthouse $95/nt owned by Vladmir, the same guy who owns the main hostel in town. He really wanted us to come for drinks at the bar with him but we were pretty tired so Tony went alone and had some local Gull beer with Vladmir and his brother.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 8/2/14 04:29 Archived in Iceland Comments (2)

Southern Iceland: Land of Rainbows and Waterfalls

August 1, 2014

semi-overcast 62 °F

Eeeeewww!!! The hot water in our guesthouse smelled like sulphur. Try bathing in that?! Apparently this is common in Iceland but from here on out we were going to try and avoid this! We got on the road pretty early heading along the Southern Coast today with a goal to make it Jokulsaron which is about 4 hours away if you drive direct. With 17 hours of daylight you think we would get there no problem but of course, there were too many amazing stops along the way and we didn’t make it all the way there. We ended up stopped in at a cute guesthouse in a small town called Svinafell for $105/nt about 45km short of our destination.

There aren’t words to describe the beauty of Southern Iceland so we’ll just share photos:

Seljalandsfoss was unique because of the way the rock formations jut out you could walk BEHIND the waterfall!

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Even the drive is picturesque with rolling hills and sheep grazing :)

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Skógafoss is one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland. It is the end result of a long river and 20 smaller waterfalls. Stunning to see in person. There’s a really long set of stairs on the site and it’s definitely worth the hike all the way up to the top to see it from all angles.

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Yup, that's Ruby under a double-rainbow!

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There’s even another hike following the origins of this waterfall that goes on for miles at the top of it.

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We made a quick stop in Vik for some grilled lamb— YUM! They definitely know how to cook meats and soups here!

A huge storm was coming through so we decided to keep heading towards Jokulsaron instead of stopping in Vik for the night. Most tourists stop traveling in the early evening but we are glad we kept going because the long drive along volcanic terrain, old lava flows surrounded by glaciers is much prettier with a nice sunset than without it!

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TRAVEL TIP:***We will say that this is not a place to come with your young children. They are not concerned about safety or liability here. . . you can walk right up to the edge of 200 foot rock face, glacier crevasse, or waterfall and there is no guard, safety fence, rail or rope in sight!?!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 8/1/14 13:12 Archived in Iceland Comments (2)

Iceland: Reykjavik and the Golden Circle in One Day

July 31, 2014

semi-overcast 58 °F

So we have started our second Around the World Trip and are super excited to share our photos and experiences with you all! So here we go . . . .

Iceland wasn’t even a blip on our must-see radar…we only booked a 3 night stopover because it was cheaper than going direct to Europe. . . little did we know that this country would blow us away with it’s natural beauty, friendly people and delicious hearty food.

After a sleepless red-eye flight all we wanted to do was take a nap but unfortunately for us the Tunguvegur Guest House $75/nt we booked would not let us check in until 5pm…YES 5PM! So of course we did the next best thing. . .start exploring the city! We rented a little rental car. . not cheap at $85/day + fuel cost and headed straight for downtown Reykjavik. We found free parking on a residential street just a few blocks down from the Hallgrimskirkjha Cathedral (yes that is how you spell it). Reykjavik is a cute little city that is very walkable and many of its sites and museums are only blocks away from each other.

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It was windy and cold outside so the first thing we did was get some hot and spicy noodles (yum) to warm up and started exploring the shops. Of course at the beginning of our trips our bags are always overstuffed with needless items we’ll get rid of along the way but for now we pretended we had room in our luggage to buy something!

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Our must sees in Reykjavik are 1) the Harpa Concert Hall with it’s crazy geometric lines of glass and mirrors

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. . .and 2) the great city views from inside and outside the Hallgrimskirkjha Cathedral.

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The waterfront was also very pretty with a cool stylized metal sculpture of a viking ship.

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We wished we hadn’t booked a non-refundable room when we finally got into the Tunguvegur Guest House. . . it was like staying in a college frat house complete with mismatched furniture, random sheets and towels that may have been made of cardboard? Not a good way to start the trip. . perhaps the next night will be better?

After checking into our room Ruby said “it’s still light out so let’s do a little of the Golden Circle tour”. . . . little did I know that this would turn into a full on golden circle tour! Of course this is a must do in Iceland and we only had three nights here. We drove along the gorgeous countryside and started up in the rift valley where the continental shelfs divide.

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Tþingvellir park has big skies and gorgeous lakes.

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We continued driving on until we got to the Geysir, the geothermal hot spot that lends its name to ALL geysers. WOW! The Stokkur erupts every few minutes and it was so cool to watch the pressure build up, we watched several eruptions that were as high as 120 feet! Check out the sequence we took below and look closely for the little people in some of the shots that can help give you an idea about how high up the water spurts!

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By this time it was getting very late although sunset isn’t until about 10:30pm this time of the year so we grabbed some delicious warming mushroom soup (they do make great soups in Iceland!) and headed off to the last stop: the beautiful Gulfoss waterfall. All we can say is prepare to get a little wet because there’s a lot of mist! It’s amazing the power of flow of the water at this site.

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We ended with a pretty sunset over the snow capped mountains as we contemplated our long journey ahead on our drive back to the guesthouse that night.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 7/31/14 15:13 Archived in Iceland Tagged waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises mountains buildings water Comments (4)

Belize: Awesome Scuba Video! Underwater in Belize

February 2014

sunny 88 °F

Sharks, Stingrays and Moray eels everywhere! We thought we would try something new since sometimes words and photos just aren't enough! Our scuba/snorkel experience in Belize was phenomenal- some of the best diving we've done to date was just off of Caye Caulker. Check it out. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to SHARE!

Also can check out more awesome photos at TonyandRuby.com

Tony & Ruby

Posted by Tony.Ruby 2/1/14 10:11 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

Guatemala/Belize: Beautiful Jungles, Caves and Wildcats

January 25-30, 2014

sunny 85 °F

Hey everybody!

If you're going to visit Belize/Guatemala anytime soon-- Check out our latest travel video!

This one highlights the 10 day trip to Guatemala and Belize including some of the most beautiful wildlife and places to visit in both countries. There's images of the stunning ruins at Tikal in Guatemala, St. Herman's Cave, the inland Blue Hole in Belize and the awesome animals at the Belize Zoo!!!!

For more info- feel free to leave a comment/question! Also feel free to SHARE on youtube!

  • ****Sorry, if the Link below isn't working -- can check out the video at:

TonyandRuby.com

along with for some other awesome photography from this location :)

Enjoy!
Tony and Ruby

Posted by Tony.Ruby 1/25/14 16:01 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Belize: Um. . . What the Heck is a Mennonite?

January 25, 2014

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So we didn’t have any reservations on arrival into Belize and hadn’t decided on jungle, beaches or ancient ruins. The weather was terrible— a rainy downpour with a blanket of humidity hugged us upon landing. The choice was easy at this point so we headed for Guatemala. We hopped in a rental car and headed west.

We had some fresh delicious nachos and the quintessential chicken with rice at a place in Belmopan and tried the first of our many Marie Sharps hot sauces!
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It started to get dark which. . . is not a good time to attempt a border crossing so we decided to stop for the night! Ruby found a home-stay in our guidebook in the San Ignacio area that sounded amazing: The Cool M Farm— what our guidebook stated had “two lovely cabanas with sun porches overlooking the valley”. In the dark Ruby didn’t notice the tiny detail stating this was actually a Mennonite Farm. . .we both had no idea what to expect but we knew it would be nothing like our apartment in Brooklyn and probably an adventure!

On arrival we met the mom and her daughters Janet and Avril who came and cleaned our room while we watched and talked to them about growing up on a farm in Belize. Very interesting stuff- they were originally from Europe but had settled in Belize. They are basically like the Amish also with strict religious values. You can tell them apart when walking down the street because the women wear bonnets and long dresses while the men wear denim overalls and hats. We learned that if you go to a Farmers Market in Belize— the products are most likely from a Mennonite Farm since they are big into agriculture and dairy farming. The group of Mennonites we met were more progressive and thus they used cell phones, technology and cars!

The cabana we slept in was basically a big wooden cabin that was clean but simply furnished. Thick woolen blankets kept us warm that night. The hot running water and electricity were also a huge plus in terms of our happiness.

Travel Tip: Crystal Rental Cars is the only car rental company that will allow you drive your car into Guatemala. It takes 2 days for the paperwork so reserve ahead!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 1/25/14 05:50 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

Madagascar: Antanarivo: Last Day For An Open Air Market Day

November 23, 2014

sunny 85 °F

Ruby was craving some fresh lychees on this last day in Madagascar and the front desk girl at the hotel told us that there was a market just “up the road” so we started walking in a generally “up the road” kind of direction.

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People were staring at the two of us just walking down the street but we didn’t really care- it’s kind of fun.

Tana Transport

Tana Transport


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The market was bustling with people and animals and had everything from hunks of meat hanging on hooks to piles of rice.

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As we lazily meandered our way back to the hotel we stopped for some great pastries and coffee before being picked up and whisked away to the airport.

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This trip to Madagascar was filled with so many unexpected surprises. . . we thought we would do some hiking and encounter some lemurs but we had no idea about how rich the landscapes, wildlife and culture of the people of Madagascar would be. This is definitely one of our favorite destinations to date. If you plan to come to Madagascar, just know that it would be hard to see all of Madagascar in one trip. . . we definitely plan on coming back!

The worst part of the trip is always the long flight back home . . .

Posted by Tony.Ruby 11/23/13 05:14 Archived in Madagascar Comments (0)

Madagascar: Nosy Be: Pure Island Paradise

November 22, 2013

sunny 90 °F

The soft white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of Andilana is where we wanted to spend our last day in Nosy Be. We were sad to be leaving so we made it a day of pure indulgence. We woke up early, hopped on our motorbike and headed straight there. Ruby finally got to use the red sarong that she was given as a gift by her fellow volunteers in Kenya!

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WOW! Is all we can say, relaxing under the shade of palm trees with beautiful water and a mild ocean breeze to cool us off.

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We splurged on hour long massages (costing about $20/pp including a generous tip)…not too shabby of a way to spend the morning.

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After a quick dip in the warm shallow water we headed back to the hotel and thanked Benjamin for all his excellent recommendations. We grabbed a bottle of the local pineapple “Rhum Arrange” (local rum infused with fruit) to enjoy at home and headed to the airport for our 1 hr flight back to Tana. We relaxed at the IC hotel which is conveniently located close to the airport ($50/nt). It was another standard bland meat and rice Malagasy style dinner for us that night since Malagasies like their food to taste "natural" without excessive seasonings. Of course this goes completely against Ruby's Indian background and our piles of spices back home!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 11/22/13 07:25 Archived in Madagascar Comments (0)

Madagascar: Nosy Be: Almost Eaten By a Whale Shark!

November 21, 2013

sunny 92 °F

It was whale shark season and we were hoping to swim with these massive but gentle creatures if we got lucky! Not to worry --- we were okay! Whale sharks DON’T eat people, they love plankton and are actually FISH not sharks!! They are the largest fish in the world, reaching lengths of 40 feet and more. The photo just below is from National Geographic with the diver in the background- not our own!

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We were up early loading the boat and getting our gear ready for our two dives. After a short ride out our captain spotted something at the glassy water surface and immediately stopped the boat. He told us a whale shark was directly under our boat and to jump in NOW! Ruby — being extremely efficient (and excited) was the first to be ready with her wetsuit and gear completely on. . . but she hesitated. Looking over the edge of the boat into the dark blue water, and land far away in the distance, she was scared to go in alone. Our captain yelling from one end of the boat; Go, Go, Go!!! and Ruby on the other end yelling No, No, No!!! Our dive master grabbed his mask and jumped in and Ruby instantly followed. This is when we got our first glimpse of a whale shark swimming just underneath the boat. So amazing to watch it gracefully slowly fade into the depths.

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The way to spot a whale shark is by all the activity on the water surface…the water begins to bubble, fish come jumping out of the water and birds start diving down for the fish. The best time to look for whale sharks is early in the morning when the water is completely calm and glassy.

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Now that we knew what to look for we could see another one in the distance and raced over. Everyone on our boat got excited and jumped in too early but our captain told us to wait and we jumped into the water at the perfect spot. WOW! We were face to face with the whale shark! It came out of the blue swimming straight towards us. We swam out of the way and swam over it-- amazing he was only about 6 feet under us and we watched it until it decided to dive back down into the deep water. It was an absolutely amazing experience and one we will never forget! We are very careful not to touch these animals, only watch :)

Our underwater camera battery had died so we tried to take photos from the boat but the whale sharks were actually so close that all we could capture were the characteristic white spots on the body!
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After that excitement we moved onto our first dive at an outcrop called Bon Louis. The sea life was amazing and the coral looked nice but the current was so strong that we practically had to drag Ruby along the bottom so she wouldn’t get blown away. I think it was a good dive but I was so concerned that someone would be taken by the current that we couldn’t actually relax and enjoy the dive. The best thing about this dive was when we were hovering at our 3 minute safety stop and an Eagle Ray decided to swim in a circle around us to check us out. :) The photo below is just off the web— not one of our own.

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Getting back onto the boat the current was so strong that Ruby dropped a fin and it was like a feather in the breeze. After the exhausting strong currents of our first dive and only having one fin we decided to skip the second dive today. We relaxed on the boat and talked to our boat captain…that didn’t speak any English while we don’t speak any French. It was like a crazy game of Pictionary. :)

Unfortunately for us we got charged for two dives at Scuba Nosy Be even though we only did one…and yeah we had to buy a set of fins. . . that sucked but other that that we liked our dive master Louick, the boats were clean and we got to swim with whale sharks!

After a quick shower back at our hotel we were off on our motorcycle. We rode up North and watched the sunset from the top of Mt. Passot. We had stunning views of the island and enjoyed until just moments before the sun fully set.

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We had heard rumors about muggings and theft on the mountain so we were careful to leave before it was completely dark. We rode the motorcycle along the curvy road back down to the beach.

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We had dinner at Chez Angeline in the rain. . the highlight was AMAZING beignets de crabe (crab cakes) with literal crab claws poking out of the cake.

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It stopped raining and we pulled up a seat at one of the most popular outdoor spots, Taxi-Be. We had a great time people watching, guessing who was from what country. Sadly though, prostitution is a huge problem in this area and seeing the old French guys picking up the local girls was really upsetting. The culture of prostitution is much different in Madagascar than in the U.S. - the women are actually somewhat empowered and even hire local men to be their "wives" at home, taking care of the housework etc. . . Here’s a link below to an article discussing the different classes of prostitution in Madagascar—pretty fascinating stuff if you’re curious to learn more about the problem.

http://fimizore.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/classes-of-prostitutes-on-nosy-be/

We walked back to our bungalow and quickly passed out after all the excitement of the day.

Posted by Tony.Ruby 11/21/13 07:50 Archived in Madagascar Comments (2)

Madagascar: Nosy Be: A Day at Nosy Tanikely

November 20, 2013

sunny 92 °F

Up early in the morning, we opted for some easier dives today, given that our last dives for about a year and a half ago in Puerto Rico. At 8am we met up with Louick our dive master and a father-daughter pair of Germans. It was a pleasant 30 min speedboat ride out to Tanikely island, with great views of the local fishing boats.

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This dive site is great refresher because the shallow waters around the picture perfect island are clear and filled with a vast kaleidoscope of colorful corals, starfish, anemones, tiny fish and even crystal clear jelly fish. We also saw several Hawksbill turtles gracefully swimming by us to snack on some algae, too bad the GoPro we had was malfunctioning!

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In between our two dives, we took a barefoot walk up to see the lighthouse and ran into some more lemurs and lizards. You could clearly appreciate to gorgeous reef and shallow waters from up on top. Anther shallow dive with warm water and great fish and we were on our way back to Nosy Be.

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We were both exhausted but not too tired for a few drinks and a lobster lunch! :) It was so cheap to get a whole lobster (about $12 US).

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After, we walked from our lovely bungalow at Hotel Benjamin about 10 minutes from our dive boat and just one block off the main road.

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We mentioned to Benjamin that we would like to rent a scooter…he had a small motorbike ($10/day+fuel) and you know Tony wanted that instead of a scooter! So off we were riding the motorbike north to catch the sunset at the beautiful Hotel Gran Bleu. We grabbed a few sundowners by the pool and talked about how Grand our life can be!

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We carefully made our way back to Baobab and had another gourmet dinner :) Notice the pill bottle in the shot--- Doxycycline-- our favorite for malaria prophylaxis. It keeps your skin free of acne too! Remember: always take it with food and wear your sunscreen!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 11/20/13 05:27 Archived in Madagascar Comments (0)

Madagascar: Nosy Be: Was That a Furless Madagascar Kitten!?

November 19, 2013

sunny 90 °F

Ruby was on a mani/pedi mission today. Her hands were starting to look like those of a lemur after all the hiking in the rainforests! We woke up, ate a delicious breakfast of ham and swiss on authentic French baguette and headed straight for the Balneoforme Colbert spa just a few short blocks away from our hotel La Varanague.

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We had enough time for a drink at the hotel while admiring the vintage car collection and hurricane lamps before heading for the airport with Haj our driver. . . everything was running smooth until he pulled over and opened the hood. The next thing we know, he was rebuilding the carburetor with a flat-tipped screw driver and siphoning gas out of the fuel line! Luckily drivers in third world countries also function as mechanics! We finally got the car running and headed for TNR airport.

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At the airport, on our way to Nosy Be which is an island paradise in Northern Madagascar well-known for scuba diving, Tony struck up a conversation with a guy named Chris from South Africa, turns out he has a huge yacht on Nosy Sakatia and invited us over for drinks. Hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze in a visit with him!

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Upon landing in Nosy Be we were greeted with a warm blanket of humidity which we would soon get accustomed to. We hopped in a taxi (approx $20 and 30 min) to take us to the town of Mandirokely to meet up with Erwan, a French expat, and the owner of Scuba Nosy Be. On the way the driver stopped to pick some fresh Ylang-Ylang for Ruby to smell— it is grown here on these crazy crooked looking branches.

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The drive was beautiful and we enjoyed watching the sunset over the city and fields.

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At Scuba Nosy Be. We talked to Erwan about our dive plan for the next few days (it would 68 Euros each for 2 dives and we were planning on doing at least 4)—Ruby told Erwan that a MUST for this trip was to swim with whale sharks! We have been chasing them all around the world and were finally hoping to encounter them here. . .

After that we headed to a place that Erwan described as “a backpacker hotel”. We followed a local Malagasy man carrying our roller bag on his shoulder, down a dirt alley, through a field and into the “local” part of town. When we arrived to our sketchy guesthouse we quickly discovered we are no longer “backpacker” people…the flying beetles, the bars on the windows, and lack of a working ceiling fan were too much to handle. We must have looked like quite a spectacle walking out of the hotel onto a pitch black street with no idea which direction we were going, what the name of the beach was and no grasp of the local languages…somehow we were able to find our way to Hotel Benjamin $45/night in adjacent Ambatoloaka! This hotel is a cute group of gated individual bungalows complete with hammocks, screened windows and working fans, located in an unlit dirt alley just off the main road from town.

Benjamin was certainly a sight for sore eyes, he spoke perfect English and he made our night all better by recommending the Baobab Café for dinner. We had the most delicious and flavorful meal we’d had the whole time we’d been in Madagascar. Many places in Nosy Be have adorable stray cats/kittens walking around, and Baobab café is no exception. At one point, Ruby thought a little kitten walked over her bare foot in flip flops. . . only to realize it was a giant cockroach!? She survived to tell Benjamin about it. . . and he said “that’s the beauty of Madagascar. . . it is alive!”. He went on to tell us that these are “clean” cockroaches, not like the kind in NYC. . .we’re not sure about that but definitely want to believe him!

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We slept well after the long day of travel. . .even the sounds of the party in town going on past three in the morning couldn't keep us up!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 11/19/13 01:24 Archived in Madagascar Comments (0)

Madagascar: Tana: Monday Market with Milne-Edwards-- FOODIE

November 18, 2013

sunny 90 °F

Argh! We had the “continental breakfast” of Madagascar hotels. Which consists of some fruit juice, toast with jam and fresh fruit. Ruby hates the sweetness and no protein! Next time we need to order an “American breakfast” with some eggs and bacon :)

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We would have a long drive all day with a few key stops to get back up to Tana today. We stopped at a local waterfall and then Haj, our driver, took a shortcut down a dirt road through villages and rice fields.

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We were mesmerized by the beautiful colorful clothes of the villagers. It was a Monday Market Day so everyone was dressed in their “Sunday Best” This was an amazing opportunity to compare some of the different tribes in the region— we saw members from the Betsileo tribe (usually wear Fedora type hats) as well as other tribes. Our driver Haj comes from the Merina tribe which actually is the most powerful and several important politicians are Merina.

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There are actually 18 different tribes in Madagascar as you can see depicted on this obelisk that we saw later in Antsirabe.

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On our drive back up the RN7 we could also see how important rice is to the Malagasy people. There were rice terraces for miles and miles. Apparently locals eat rice with every meal of the day!?!

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Our next major stop was the Ialatsara Forest Camp for a nature walk…a long walk! It was another brutally hot day and our guide/camp owner Daniel was like 6’ 8” and taking giant steps. Ruby looked like a chihuahua being dragged down a New York city street in summer! After a long hike up and down hills, though fields and over streams we finally made it to a beautiful lookout point. Luckily there were some pretty sights along the way.

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We continued the hike and spotted a lazy chameleon and kept on going. . .

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At long last— some Milne-Edwards Sifakas! They were jumping through the trees and munching on some vegetation. We didn’t hangout for long though because they quickly jumped out of our line of sight!

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Walking back, Daniel our guide told us that it would be easier to hike over and up the road rather than go back through the hills in the forest. We walked this never-ending hill back to camp and Ruby kept saying “go get the car and I’ll wait for you here on the side of the road”! Meanwhile Tony would keep saying “the car is just around the next corner” knowing it probably was not!

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We got back on the road and spotted some more locals carryings supplies on their long walks along the highway. . .

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We stopped for a unremarkable lunch in Ambositra (home of the wood carvers)— we refused to buy any precious woods here for fear of promoting deforestation which is a huge problem on this beautiful island. It was also a very touristy spot with a dance performance and all the normal cheesy attractions.

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On the long drive, the only thing that kept Ruby from having a total meltdown was a roadside stop for lychees and the thought of those delicious tropical drinks with Madagascar vanilla sticks in Antsirabe! When we finally made it to the Couleur Guest House— the owner Aina remembered us and refused to let us pay for our cocktails even though we wouldn’t be staying another night! How sweet! We will definitely be back and recommend this as a stop on the way to Southern Madagascar :)

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After our unofficial happy hour we explored Antsirabe and watched the ubiquitous pousse-pousses carry locals to their desired destinations. Looks like a great workout!

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After a few more hours of driving through the rain and into the dark we finally arrived at Hotel La Varangue in Tana. We had a great romantic gourmet dinner (La Varangue is one of the best restaurants in Madagascar) and called it a night!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 11/18/13 05:30 Archived in Madagascar Comments (0)

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