Feb 142015

Somewhere in the middle of the night the aircon in my room decided to crap out, so woke up nice and early a sweaty mess. Lovely. I would have enjoyed the sunrise, except it was super hazy, so there wasn’t really anything to see. Oh well! Might as well check out what the all-inclusive breakfast has to offer.

It was a pretty poor selection, and honestly a step below almost every hotel breakfast I’ve ever had in a major hotel. It was pretty disappointing…there was enough to eat with the fruit, breads, etc, but it was far from exciting. Well, I may not have enjoyed it, but the guest who joined me for breakfast sure wanted some!


My taxi showed up right as promised, 2 minutes early actually, but he apologized up and down for being two minutes late. I informed him he was early, and he was relieved, lol. I don’t know why so many taxi drivers in the developing world are unpleasant and try and cheat you…it kind of goes contrary to the idea of providing good service and making money. Is the concept of service really that foreign? That said, this driver was fantastic and I really appreciated the effort he made to me more than “just” a taxi.

No line to check in at the airport, and off to the departures lounge.which involved going upstairs. Apparently, in Mombasa, knowing how to use an escalator doesn’t go hand in hand with flying:


There was as lounge in the airport which was nice and air conditioned, but apparently my Priority Pass card had expired three days prior and they never bothered to send me the renewal. Sigh. Service from AmEx goes downhill further and further every year. At least I had less than 30 minutes to go until it was time to board.

Walking to the plane:


My big orange ride for the trip to Zanzibar….anything goes!



Fly540 flight 105
Mombasa, Kenya (MBA) to Zanzibar, Tanzania (ZNZ)
Depart 10:50, Arrive 11:30, Flight Time 40 minutes
Canadair CRJ-100, Registration 5Y-BXC, Manufactured 1997, Seat 12A

Not that this plane was a throwback or anything, but they even had borrowed beverage carts from TAROM:


…and other storage carts from Air Littoral:


My boarding pass said “open” for seating, but apparently they’d assigned seats to everyone else. Oh well! For some reason, despite the plane being booked 42/50, there was nobody at all in the last two rows. So I moved back there and had a whole row to myself. Go figure!

Plus, the inflight magazine came with free fashion tips:


Quick flight, no food served, just a bottle of water handed out upon boarding…which was more than enough for barely 30 minutes in the air. Soon, we were landing on Zanzibar!



Visa on arrival was an unpleasant $100, but it came with a full colour sticker and was good for multiple entries for a full year, so I suppose it wasn’t awful. The ATMs in the airport were all broken, so my next task was to find a taxi who would take me to the hotel and accept Euros or US Dollars. I’d been told to expect roughly $30, so when a driver offered me a ride for $10 I jumped on it…20 minute or so ride, and I was at my hotel, the Doubletree Stone Town Zanzibar.

This hotel is almost a small boutique hotel right in the heart of Stone Town, and has maybe 60 rooms spread across 6 floors. I received a Diamond upgrade to a “deluxe king” room which was very nice…and freezing cold! I was in Heaven! The decor felt “very Zanzibar” to me, and for the price paid it was a fantastic room.

My first mission was to go on a long walk and enjoy stone town, but first I needed a coffee. Delicious double espresso at a little cafe right next to the hotel. Price? Less than $2


After rejuvenating thanks to the magic of coffee, it was time to begin my walk through Stone Town:


Walking along the corniche:



The tree known, appropriately, as “the big tree”


Next stop was Mercury’s Bar on the beach for a small snack and a drink. One of the more famous people to come from Zanzibar was Farrukh Bulsara, aka Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. Now there’s a bar named for him on the beach, with drinks such as the “Monica Lewinsky” – fittingly blue!


Ironically, this boat was parked right next to the bar…


…and this one with a bit happier message.


After grabbing a bit to eat I continued my walk…but I was beginning to fade quite badly. I was following a walk that I found online, and fortunately it actually said “if you’re feeling in need of a bit of energy at this point, stop at the Zanzibar Coffee Company for a coffee. Don’t mind if I do!


Next stop was the Anglican Cathedral, built over the site of the former slave market. Got a tour of the chambers under the cathedral where they used to keep the slaves before they were sold, and like most such sites it was rather sobering and depressing.


The cathedral:


Inside the cathedral:


Strolling through town, one of the more fascinating features of Stone Town is the old wooden doors. Many of them have Koranic verses carved above the door, and brass spikes on the door. It’s thought the brass spikes may have at one time been used in order to prevent the doors from being rammed by war elephants. Seriously! Stone Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the doors are one of the very prominent features. There are over 500 doors in the old town, but a few of the neat ones I saw:





It was late afternoon at this point, and caught a large group of local children playing football on the beach:


Stopped at the Serena Hotel right on the water, because it had a great view for sundown drinks. Love this shot, especially the way the bird got caught mid-flight:


Dhow sailing along the shore at sunset:


Zanzibar is also known as the Spice Island, so fittingly I decided to walk to the House of Spices for dinner. Maybe walking there wasn’t the greatest idea, because walking through all the tiny winding alleys in the complete dark – many of them have no lighting at all – I got lost several times. Eventually I found it, but it wasn’t easy! The view of the stars was amazing on Zanzibar, so it was a really nice walk.

For a starter, the calamari with a saffron balsamic sauce:


Zanzibari beef stew, with cardamom and curry…delicious!


Chili chocolate mousse for dessert – had quite a kick to it, but was also delicious!


The price for three courses and two beers? Barely $30. I was seriously loving how inexpensive East Africa was in general!

Now, the walk back through the dark streets:


Deserted and rather sketchy looking square:


Made it back, no problems, and I was absolutely exhausted. A view of the room, with the Zanzibari style. Note the lamps hanging from the ceiling, plus the ones next to the bed, which actually had stained glass panels on them:


Then it was off to bed, next stop was Dar es Salaam in the morning!

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