A Travellerspoint blog

Norway: Svalbard Archipelago- Search for Polar Bears

August 2015

all seasons in one day

Watch Our Most Recent Travel Video from the Arctic in search of Polar Bears here:

Your text to link here...

Ever wonder what it would be like to cruise through the sea ice in search of polar bears in their natural habitat? One of the main reasons people travel to Svalbard is to see polar bears in the wild. This video takes place far north in the Svalbard archipelago and through the sea ice in search of Polar Bears. We were aboard the icebreaker ship Plancius on the August 2015 trip with Oceanwide Expeditions.

Glaciers, rugged coastal mountains and snowy landscapes offer the perfect backdrop to seeing polar bears. We encountered lots of other amazing wildlife including walruses, whales, seals, Svalbard reindeer and tons of seabirds including puffins, kittiwakes and skuas among others.
We visited glaciers, research stations, historical sites with lots of shore landings with chances to hike in the unique landscapes.

Hope you enjoy and let us know if you have any questions!
Tony and Ruby

Posted by Tony.Ruby 23:27 Archived in Norway Tagged animals wildlife travel bears polar blog Comments (0)

Lapland: Finland: Winter Wonderland with Northern Lights

Nov 28-December 5, 2016

snow -10 °F

Lapland, Finland is absolutely one of the most stunning places we have ever visited. Ruby had to be dragged kicking and screaming on our last day heading back to the airport. It is truly a winter wonderland with so many fun activities including dog sledding, snow-shoeing, snow mobiles, fancy arctic resorts and of course the NORTHERN LIGHTS aka the Aurora Borealis. We highly recommend visiting. Here's a few pics and a GoPro video of our time in Lapland including several time lapses of the awe-inspiring Northern Lights!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 15:57 Archived in Finland Tagged snow nature lights sunrise northern Comments (0)

USA:California:Huge Pod of Dolphins and some Gray Whales!

January 15, 2017

sunny 53 °F

Wow! What an incredible day on the water! Sunny gorgeous weather and HUNDREDS of dolphins and sea lions along with humpback and grey whales! Moss Landing is one of our favorite local places to visit and is just outside of Monterey California, about 2 hours south of San Francisco.

Close up of a beautiful humpback tail fluke

A long- beaked common dolphin takes a breath near the water's surface!

Beautiful Common Dolphins reflecting on glassy water
Beautiful Common Dolphins reflecting on glassy water
A Gray Whale shows off it's tail fluke
The back of a Gray Whale- it looks completely different from a Humpback's back! Notice they white markings.
Another beautiful close up of a humpback tail fluke

Check out the video and pics below!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 21:14 Archived in USA Tagged animals water wildlife travel whales dolphins tourist whale watching humpbacks Comments (3)


September 2015

sunny 68 °F

Hi all!

If you're looking for a fun activity near San Francisco, CA. . . this is definitely one of the best! During the summer months through September there are tons of humpback whales coming to feed on anchovies near Monterey in Moss Landing, CA. You can see whales up close, seals, dolphins, and adorable otters. Check out this extended version of the video to see just how close you can get and look out for the insider travel tips at the end!

Tony & Ruby




Posted by Tony.Ruby 21:22 Archived in USA Tagged animals wildlife california dolphins tourist whale watching seals otters humpbacks Comments (0)

Maldives: LUX South Ari- Adventures in Paradise- VIDEO

April 11-18, 2016

sunny 90 °F

Swimming with whale sharks and mantas in pristine turquoise waters with stunning views in the most luxurious of settings is what you will find at LUX* South Ari - check out our video of one of the most ROMANTIC vacation destinations ever!

We stayed at the LUX* South Ari resort on the far Western part of the Maldives. They can help you coordinate a seaplane transfer (about 30 min--approx $500 per person round trip) from the international airport in Male, Maldives (the capital). We flew from San Francisco direct on Emirates to Dubai and then you can connect directly in Dubai to Male (although we went to India and Sri Lanka first). The Maldives are only a 1hour flight from Sri Lanka.

April was hot and sunny with no rain during our time there and we were able to see whale sharks, dolphins, turtles, a manta ray, squid and lots of tropical fish on our snorkeling trips!!

The best sunny rain-free weather/ high season is between December and March. Room rates can be at their peak during this time- although they were very reasonable during our dates in April. The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking around June. Better to splurge on the higher prices in the dry season than to be stuck inside on rainy days. There were no mosquitoes during our time there- the resort apparently fumigates the island every day with natural mosquito repellants.

LUX* South Ari is phenomenal, the restaurants have a huge selection of fresh seafood and fruits and vegetables every day. The surroundings and facilities are truly luxurious and the service is very personalized! We did not opt for the all-inclusive package as we are not heavy drinkers but would have if we drank a lot of alcohol. They made us feel like celebrities~ looking forward to a return visit! The resort also seems to be very kid friendly with special areas and activities for kids all over the resort (separate from the adults without kids of course).

Hope that helps and you enjoy the video! Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.

Tony & Ruby




Posted by Tony.Ruby 21:00 Archived in Maldives Republic Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises beaches animals water wildlife scuba Comments (0)

Antarctica: VIDEO: Camping in the Snow and Ice

January 2015

snow 20 °F

Check out this fun Time Lapse Video showing us setting up camp in Antarctica along with some of the stark natural beauty of this special continent!




Posted by Tony.Ruby 09:20 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

Antarctica: VIDEO: Kayaking with Whales and Penguins!

January 19, 2015


Ever wonder what it would be like to kayak in Antarctica? We can't stop thinking about it! This was one of our absolute favorite experiences of our entire Antarctica cruise.

Check out this amazing morning kayaking amongst icebergs in Antarctica. Watch the bubble feeding humpback whales and penguins around us.

Posted by Tony.Ruby 19:58 Archived in Antarctica Tagged animals birds wildlife whales Comments (0)

French Polynesia: Scuba Diving Video with Sharks in Moorea

January 3, 2015

sunny 98 °F

Check out our latest travel video from scuba diving in Moorea (Tahiti)-- what an awesome experience we saw tons of black tip and lemon sharks, beautiful tropical fish and even a sea turtle :)



Posted by Tony.Ruby 20:01 Archived in French Polynesia Tagged fish water diving beach scuba sharks Comments (0)

Turkey: VIDEO: Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia

September 2, 2014

sunny 95 °F

Turkey was one of our FAVE destinations on our last Around the World Trip! The landscapes and beaches are stunning! Check out this short video from our trip :)



Posted by Tony.Ruby 09:13 Archived in Turkey Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches balloon air hot Comments (0)

Turkey: Pammukale: Cleopatra Swam in These Thermal Waters

September 5, 2014

sunny 93 °F

This night bus from Nevsehir to Pammukale on the Nevsehir bus (has been our favorite in Turkey so far) it was $25 pp, took about 8-9 hours total with fewer stops.

Cris Sneider our Italian friend that we met in Istanbul, highly recommended visiting these Roman ruins and ancient mineral water spas. She had Ruby convinced when she said “imagine Cleopatra and Marc Antony bathing in these same thermal heated waters so many years ago”.


This place is definitely worth the side trip. WOW, there are so many insane ruins of the old city Hierapolis. and the coliseum ruins rival any other we’ve seen before!


We stayed at Hotel Goreme, a really awesome budget option at 29 Euros/nt with a great breakfast and sparklingly clean swimming pool (which we definitely took advantage of in the summer heat). They picked us up from the bus station and let us check in super early. The owner recommend we wait until 3 pm in the summertime to visit the terraces and he was right because otherwise it is too blindingly white and hot! You can easily catch a shuttle to the North Gate of the Hieropolis from the hotel.

We had another incredible sunset overlooking the bright white travertine terraced pools filled with aqua blue thermal water.


We enjoyed soaking our feet in the warm waters.


Little did we know. . . we would soon be carefully walking down these steep, slippery terraces in the dark to get back to town. (We figured out that this is apparently the only way to get down after searching for another option). We are glad that we had a flashlight with us and that we are doing this when we are young and healthy because we could see how easy it would be to slip and break a hip on this otherwise! At least we did enjoy the fireworks in the sky from our high viewpoint on the walk down.

Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:27 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Turkey: Cappadocchia: Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride to Caves

September 1-4, 2014

sunny 90 °F

We were so excited to get off that horrible night bus (fly if you can) and arrived in Cappadochia in the morning. Goreme is a small town with tons of options of place to sleep including inside cave hotels. Given Ruby’s tendency towards claustrophobia we opted for a stone walled room at the awesome Karadut Cave Hotel for 45 Euros a night including an amazing breakfast on the gorgeous patio with a views of the town below. It’s just a short walk from the bus station (uphill of course). The room was large and pristine with a nice sitting area. This time of the year is pretty hot so we definitely recommend an A/C. The owner Alican Faydali was super nice and helped us arrange everything we could possibly want to do in the area.
That night we walked up to Sunset Point and were treated to a phenomenal sunset overlooking the town of Goreme. You can see the tan colored cave structures . . .


Dinner was great at Koy Evi just a short walk down the hill from sunset point and we loved watching the women in the kitchen make delicious turkish bread in the stone fired oven.

That night Ruby got word from home that she had passed her Dermatology Board Exam!!! We decided to celebrate with a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Cappadocchia. Definitely a must-do while here! This was our first hot air balloon ride so we didn't know what to expect. We used Rainbow balloons and the cost was about $145 USD pp. We were picked up at the hotel at 4:30am and taken to the office to get some breakfast. Our balloon had a total of 16 people in it but the basket is larger than it looks so it didn’t feel too crowded. We did bring light jackets but it wasn’t super cold up there on this morning. Our pilot Ferhat was super professional and we were up in the air, first in the dark but then it got slowly brighter as the sun came up. The ride was about an hour of gently soaring high and low over Love Valley with it’s strange naturally formed phallic and fairy chimney rock formations below.


We watched the sunrise over the mountains and the best part was definitely seeing all the other colorful balloons up in the air with us!


The pilot made a perfect landing directly onto the truck bed that was waiting on the ground WOW!! We touched the ground and celebrated with a glass of sparkling wine.

This was definitely an unforgettable experience that we recommend to anyone who isn’t afraid of heights of course! :)

We loved the balloons so much that we got up super early again the next morning just to watch them take off and see them in the air just one more time! Hiking through Love Valley was also pretty impressive :)


Feeling adventurous and after having seen this area from above we decided to rent a car and explore on own own (approx $50 USD/per day). It’s easy to drive in Cappadocchia with good roads and signs posted. . as long as you can read a map! We visited Derinkuyu, one of the famous underground cities which are a collection of tight underground tunnels and rooms going down 7 or 8 stories deep!! Mind your head when walking (see how tall Tony is compared to the doorway) and if doing a self-guided driving tour don’t bother paying for an extra guide, there are signs explaining the different underground rooms! Obviously we don't recommend this if you're claustrophobic :)


We drove through Ilhara Valley and found some of the the Rock Churches hidden inside little caves just along the road with some of the oldest frescos of Christianity in the world. It was amazing that there wasn’t a single other person there- anywhere else you would see a line out the door to see these things and they’d be roped off!?!?


We are suckers for a good sunset so we headed back to Sunset Point again where we enjoyed some beer and wine with some new friends, Brazilians Hugo and his girl who live in Cerrado Barra do Garcas! The best part of travel is meeting new friends for sure! We hope to visit them in Brazil or have them come for a visit to the US :)


Somehow Ruby convinced me onto another night bus and we were off to Pammukale. . .

Posted by Tony.Ruby 15:13 Archived in Turkey Comments (4)

Turkey: Istanbul: Even the New Mosque is Old!--FOODIE ALERT

August 29-31, 2014

sunny 88 °F

  • ****Sorry guys, we are sad to report that our back up hard drive crashed when we came back to Orlando in Sept/October and have lost a lot of photos from the rest of Germany, as well as Dubai and Nepal so we are posting any photos that we could recover from our iPhone and/or GoPro :) *****

Au Feiderschein Germany! Hello Turkey! The minute we arrived in Istanbul I knew we were in for a treat. The sounds, the smells, the colors and of course the friendly people! We immediately felt the fast moving energy of the city and couldn’t wait to explore. . . the only downside was all the crowds on the trains because of peak tourist season.

We hopped on the train into town and decided to stay in Sirkeci “the tourist quarter” walking distance to most of the famous historical sites and after circling a few blocks we arrived at the Yeni Hotel. The location is great, they have a working A/C and internet but there’s only one shower on each floor!?!? Can you believe that, ten rooms one shower?

We were happy to get some local recommendations and headed out. First stop: Kebabs! Hocoposa street is lined with kebab shops but we must say that by the end of our time in Istanbul the best place was still the first one we tried! Kardesler kebab . . . . pure deliciousness, fresh bread and veggies and the most flavorful meats. While eating we met a lovely family from Turkey now living in Florence Italy. Murat Guezzler, his wife Cris and their adorable daughter Vitorria. Murat’s uncle owns the shop which has been around since—— so he helped us pick out some deliciousness. . their white bean stew is famous and runs out quick and the kebab with yogurt was to die for! We had fun talking with them and hope to meet again on their trip to California and Hollywood!

Ruby is a sucker for massages and tries to get one in every country we visit. . . so we went in search of a hamam (Turkish bathhouse). There are two famous ones in the Sultanhamet area but they are very expensive ($70+ for use of the facilities and a 30 min oil massage) we were looking for something with a little more local flare and of course affordable. The receptionist at Yeni recommended Mihrimah Sultan Hamam and we were off on another mission. This time we took the local bus to the Edinnekapi area and on the way we discovered the remains of an old city wall.

We also found the local hamam she had recommended . . . oh boy, first Ruby and I accidentally walked into the wrong entrance (the mens side) and got all kinds of stares and then when we finally made it to the women’s side Ruby could hear blaringly loud Turkish music and went in to find women smoking cigarettes in their bras and panties while dancing in circles. . . uh not exactly the relaxing experience she had imagined so we gave up on the local bathhouse idea!

Instead Ruby opted for Cemberlitas bathhouse, a bit expensive at $70+ for the bathhouse and massage experience. . . the brochure makes it look amazing! It’s not quite as polished as it looks in their ads but it is still quite impressive. It’s hundreds of years old and it’s easy to imagine why a sultan would come up with the idea of a bathhouse for his harem of women. . . just picture a huge room filled with scantily clad women being washed down with soapy bubbles by other scantily clad women . . yup that’s right straight out of any man’s fantasy. Of course due to past experiences I opted to skip the men’s version. . .and after that description from Ruby I have absolutely no regrets about that decision!

In the evening we enjoyed the stunning views of fireworks over the city from the panoramic deck over the Bosphorous River at the rooftop Golden Horn Sirkeci Hotel. The only thing that would have made it more perfect is if they served alcohol! We settled for a delicious glass of turkish tea and baklava instead.

We spent the next couple of days exploring the beautiful Sultanahmet area. This city is one of the oldest in history and it's hard to believe that some of these buildings are still standing after all these thousands of years. We visited the Hagia Sophia which is incredible. . can’t believe it has been rebuilt at least 3 times already?! The Blue Mosque is a site to behold (sorry we don’t have any recovered photos of it)! Bascially we drank Turkish tea and sat in cafes enjoying the scenery passing us by.


On our last day in Istanbul we headed over to the Taksim area via tram and walked down the cable car street of Istikal Caddesi. At the end of it, we went up to the Galata tower for the panoramic views of old Istanbul from across the water. . WOW! Quite an impressive city, never have I seen so many gorgeous mosques in such a small space.


We wanted to visit Cappadochia next and while sitting in traffic I just keep thinking “how did Ruby talk me into another night bus (Suha bus $37 pp)?” There was a crying baby most of the night (AKA Ruby birth control) that wasn’t too helpful with our desire to sleep, but we did manage to get some good rest anyway. 

Posted by Tony.Ruby 22:01 Archived in Turkey Comments (4)

Germany: Munich: Augustineer, Sausage and Castles

August 24-29, 2014

all seasons in one day 68 °F

  • **** Sorry guys we are sad to report that our back up hard drive crashed when we came back to Orlando in Sept/October and have lost a lot of photos from the rest of Germany, as well as Dubai and Nepal so we are posting any of the photos that we could recover from our iPhone and/or GoPro :) *****

The distance between Berlin and Munich can be covered in a short six hour roadtrip but the difference between the culture of the two cities is tremendous. Munich is the epicenter of Bavarian culture and we loved every second of it. . . the beer, the sausage, and the awesome outfits. We are just sad we didn’t stay for Oktoberfest which actually starts in September! Aaaaah there’s always next time :)

On the way down to Munich we made a quick stop in Nuremberg with it’s beautiful red-roofed buildings for some famous Nurnberger Bratwurste which tasted like Jimmy Dean grilled sausages LOL. I think next time we’d like to spend a little more time there exploring the castle and grounds.
Just like our time in Stuttgart and Hamburg, we would have some local friends helping us explore this area. King and his wife Meschtildt, (friends of our friend Doc from Kenya), greeted us at their house with German baked goods and tea mmmmm. We’d like to think that we’ll be like them when we grow up :) They are fellow adventurers who hitch-hiked from Kenya to Munich together in their younger years. King is Punjabi but born in Kenya and she is German - so much fun getting to know them.

King spoiled us with a personalized tour around the nearby German alpine lakes and small cities like Garmisch and Mittenwald . We also got to check out his super modern office (he owns a coal freight business). They also generously put us up at Hotel Seehof, a very nice place nearby since Meschtildt was feeling a bit under the weather and didn’t want to get us sick. Schupfnudeln (cooked mashed potatoes formed into finger-thick noodles that are then pan fried in butter until crispy and golden brown) were our favorite part of the meal at their favorite German restaurant. Mmmmmmm Ruby definitely preferred this to the Spätzle we had before.

Munich is beautiful and there’s no better way to explore it than on foot. We took a free walking tour and found the stories about Hitler and his history in Munich to be fascinating. We ended the tour in the main square watching the clock tower while drinking Augustineer (our fave German beer) and having some bratwurst :)


Just a short drive away from Munich is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle built by King Ludwig II and of course we had to stop there. This is also known as the “Disneyland Castle” as Walt Disney was inspired by this place. We had a great time exploring Neuschwanstein castle although we skipped the interior (having seen tons of castles already). It was a gorgeous sunny day so we hiked up to the Marienbruke bridge. There were tons of tourists since August is the peak of the summer season and we wondered if possibly busier than Disneyland?


We ended our time in Munich with a wonderful Italian dinner with King, Meschtildt and their daughter Rasna and a crazy humongous dessert!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 03:52 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Austria: Salzburg: Mozart's Home and Delicious Chocolate

August 27, 2014

rain 58 °F

  • ****Sorry guys, we are sad to report that our back up hard drive crashed when we came back to Orlando in Sept/October and have lost a lot of photos from the rest of Germany, as well as Dubai and Nepal so we are posting any of the photos that we could recover from our iPhone and/or GoPro :) *****

Ruby and I have a saying at it seems to be true in Germany…”we bring the rain”. What a wet and rainy European summer we’ve been having. It also seems that all of Germany is under construction right now and every place we drive has BAD traffic!!! Apparently we learned that summer is when they do all their public works projects. . .

Despite all that we made it to Salzburg after a two hour drive from Munich. It’s a very walkable city on the Salzach river. It’s beautiful with gorgeous views of a castle overlooking the city (so sad we lost our photos that we would otherwise share!)

The cute aldstadt (old town) is where you can find Mozart’s home and lots of delicious chocolates. You can hear classical music playing all over the city and the sound of horse drawn carriages is everywhere. Just across the river is a flower garden fit for a king and we even spotted a unicorn…no it was only Ruby! :)

I also need to apologize to our friend Kim Fields Shah aka my dentist for eating a Sacher Torte—so sweet that I think I have a new cavity!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:07 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Germany: Berlin: Uber Cool Artsy Alternative Walking Tour

August 22-24, 2014

sunny 70 °F

  • **** We are sad to report that our back up hard drive crashed when we came back to Orlando in Sept/October and have lost a lot of photos from the rest of Germany, as well as Dubai and Nepal so we are only posting photos that we could recover from our iPhone and/or GoPro :) *****

It’s only about 300 km to Berlin from Hamburg but today it felt much further with gridlock traffic and construction. . . remind us to never drive into the largest city in Germany on a Friday afternoon in the peak of summer season :)

Phew! We finally made it there — 48 hrs in Berlin is perfect for a first trip. This city is old, dirty, gritty and bursting at the seams with culture, music and art. It reminds us a lot of New York and London and like those other cities, this one can be a bit overwhelming at first. We took our friend Ross’ sage advice and joined a free “Alternative” Berlin walking tour. We hoofed it around the neighborhoods of Mitte, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain for several hours. It was terrific to get an insider’s view on the street art around the city and visit some super cool undercover spots. We even made it to a Jamaican beach party on the river! Friedrichshain is a hip area and central for getting around on the train so that’s where we decided to stay.


It was great to learn about what the people of this city have lived through and how it reflects in their attitudes towards personal privacy, video cameras, companies tracking your credit card purchases etc. . . It also made us realize how we as Americans are nowhere near as sensitive to these issues and even offer up tons of free information about ourselves to these companies via social media, our own blog, and the use of credit cards. Definitely food for thought. . .

Did you know that there are lots of Turkish people in Germany? We didn’t know this either but we learned that the Turks were encouraged to immigrate during reconstruction of cities after WWII but instead of leaving when the job was finished they chose to stay and brought their families over. We could still feel a friction, similar to how some Americans feel about Mexican immigrants.

We also visited the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie and we were both sobered by the horrific things that went on in this country . . .but to forget about that for the night we ended up at a party called the Hoffest at the Schwarzenberg art house. This place is covered in beautiful graffiti, it was full of musicians and artists who were smoking too much for our lungs to our lungs to handle so we ended up at a crazy play going on in a nearby park. This play appeared to be a version of Shakespeare meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show in German! Interesting to say the least. . .LOL
The cool thing about Berlin is that anything can and probably will happen: we had so much fun walking around town and on museum island. These were some of the most impressive buildings and sculptures we’ve seen to date! Somehow we ended up watching a silent movie accompanied by classical music at the Pergamon museum.

Another highlight was finding Burrito Dolores, a Mexican food restaurant…YES good Mexican food in Northern Germany! There was something so familiar about Burrito Dolores that we had to stop. . . then we noticed that it’s a San Francisco restaurant, what a coincidence! :)


We most definitely could have spent more time here in Berlin. . . but we have to save something for another trip!

Posted by Tony.Ruby 16:09 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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