Tag: Zanzibar

Stone Town

After our three nights of luxury on the eastern side of the island, we headed back towards Zanzibar’s main city, Stone Town, to get more of a feel for the “real” Zanzibar. Historically, Zanzibar was a main hub in the slave trade in and out of Africa. Due to its past, it has long been a mixing ground of different people, cultures, and traditions. Today it is a predominantly Muslim population (~90%), however there is an undeniable Indian influence and the local East African culture is prevalent as well.

Stone Town

Waterfront Park

Though we were back to roughing it backpacker style, and though our place was kind of a dump, we were centrally located in the middle of the old city. There are hundreds of different winding alleyways and narrow streets to wander around. Sometimes you would turn a corner and see Muslim women in their burqas or kids walking to school in their school uniforms. Other times you’d find men sitting in their shops gathered around a TV smoking cigarettes, while others would play soccer in the street. Meanwhile there are people zipping around corners on mopeds and bicycles navigating these same obstacles. It was a magical place for people watching and though we normally had no idea where we were going, you eventually end up back at the water so it is impossible to get lost.

Stone Town's alleys

Life in Stone Town

Our most memorable meal was down at a waterfront park where dozens of food stalls serve up fresh catches from the day, Zanzibari pizzas and desserts. As you might imagine, the salesmen are quite good at their pitch and everyone wants you to eat at their stall. We finally picked a couple winners and squished in amongst the locals to eat our delicious seafood dinner.

Seafood Market

Zanzibar pizza prep

As we were finishing up, two young men sat down on either side of us and started chatting. After 6+ months of travel, we were welcoming but apprehensive because a ‘friendly’ conversation often turns into a sales pitch (for a taxi ride, a guided tour, etc.). However, this was not the case at all. They were simply talking to us just to practice and improve their English. The guy I was talking to was just about to finish up school and ultimately wanted to be in the tourism industry as a guide. He knew he would need to improve upon his English so he often visited the nightly market in hopes of finding people to talk to. How cool is that? Though I definitely didn’t catch everything he said, we did have a great conversation. He played me some Rihanna from his cell phone and I introduced him to YouTube and we talked about our families. All in all a great night and a wonderful way to wrap-up a visit to the fabulous island of Zanzibar.

Stone Town sunset

Traditional dhow boat at sunset

East Side

After an amazingly fast couple months in Southern Africa, our trip is taking us north to East Africa. Tanzania has a reputation of being a rockstar destination on the continent and we are looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about.

After a quick night in the busy, hot and humid, dirty, traffic-filled, over-crowded capital of Dar es Salaam, we took a ferry boat over to the island of Zanzibar. Zanzibar has always been one of those magical, exotic, far-away places that I wasn’t sure really existed. I can now confirm that it is indeed real, and we indeed loved it.

Dar Es Salaam from the ferry to Zanzibar

Arrival to Zanzibar's coastline - we're gonna like this place...

In connection with Adventures Within Reach (AWR), Ted and I headed over to the east side of Zanzibar Island to do some site research on the various hotels that they send guests to, which resulted in extravagant (and deeply discounted) stays for us! The east side is known for its quiet pace of life, nearly empty white-sand beaches, and high-end resorts. We got to stay a total of 3 nights at three different neighboring properties and have never felt so spoiled and pampered in our lives. Going from a cement block of a room in Dar to gorgeous sea-side bungalows, with manicured grounds, sapphire blue swimming pools, freshly prepared seafood, and the Indian Ocean at our doorstep was quite a treat. Two of the three places we stayed even had private plunge pools adjoining our rooms, and one had complimentary everything – ‘Why yes, we’d love the cocktail-of-the-day served to us while relaxing in our plunge pool overlooking the property gardens and a massage tomorrow by the Thai masseurs.’ :) Ted did some windsurfing, I did some oceanside reading and we both took runs on the beach (last minute training for Kili!)

Enjoying the coastal breeze

Best seafood of the trip (so far)

Private plunge pool, complete with complimentary champagne!

Ted's first ocean windsurfing

Unbelievable. I’m not sure what we did to deserve this good fortune, but Zanzibar is forever etched in our minds as a little slice of heaven.  Thanks AWR!!

Picture of the Week

Zanzibar’s white sand beaches and turquoise waters – this place is as cool as it sounds.

The white-sand beachs of Zanzibar's east coast

Ted wants to learn how to kite surf...in Zanzibar

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