Feb 172015
 

After my evening wandering the streets of Stone Town trying to find my way to and from dinner, I had a nice relaxing morning. Breakfast was included in the hotel restaurant, which was on the top floor and had a nice view out over the roofs of Stone Town. As an added bonus, the breakfast buffet spread was pretty good and service was quite good as well. Nice relaxing start to the morning.

Checked out, and had the hotel call a taxi for me, which took about 10 minutes to arrive. While waiting, I saw this table in the hotel lobby. I loved it…nine little compartments on top, each filled with a different spice. Something like this would be a great souvenir from the spice island!

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Taxi came in about 10 minutes, and the fantastic hotel staff insisted on carrying my bags to the tax, which was maybe a 100 meter walk from the hotel. Many of the streets in Stone Town (including the one the hotel is one) are so small and narrow that no vehicle traffic is possible, so cars just come as close as they can.

Got to Zanzibar Airport, and found out that domestic flights depart from a different terminal, which is just one room with one x-ray machine. There were maybe 50 people waiting when I got there, for an assortment of flights in tiny planes to Dar, Arusha, and possibly some other destinations. There was one check-in counter, with no real signs/indication of where to go for which airline…of which there were at least five different airlines. I just went up every 10 minutes to ask, and eventually, yes, they were checking in my flight lol.

Boarding was five minutes before scheduled departure time, and we started walking to the plane. There were a couple of dozen small plans scattered around the tarmac, so I was curious to see which one we would get. View of the airport:

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This little guy turned out to be our plane. Pilot plus room for five passengers, one of which sat in the copilot seat. Smallest plane I’ve ever been on.

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ZanAir flight 105
Zanzibar, Tanzania (ZNZ) to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (DAR)
Depart 11:00, Arrive 11:20, Flight Time 20 minutes
Cessna 207A Stationair, Registration 5H-ARD, Manufactured 1980

It was getting hot out. Very hot. So what do you do if you’re the pilot? Hold the window open to get a good breeze going during taxi…of course!

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View of the apron at ZNZ just after takeoff:

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Flight was a total of about 40 miles, and lasted just over 20 minutes. Soon, we were in Dar es Salaam at the domestic airport:

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The domestic and international terminals at Dar are quite a way apart, and all of the other passengers on my plane were connecting to international flights so ZanAir gave them a ride in a company car over to the other terminal…how nice! There were plenty of taxis for me, and prices were posted, so there was no question what a fair price to the hotel would be. ¬†Traffic was horrendous, and it took well over an hour to get to the DoubleTree hotel located in the neighbourhood of Oyster Bay.

Was given a very nice upgrade to a suite upon check-in:

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I was exhausted from several days of go-go-go traveling, and it was mid afternoon by this point, so I decided to relax for a bit and just enjoy the afternoon by the pool…where I was the only person for most of the afternoon:

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Sunset near the hotel:

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A friend had recommended I get dinner at the Cape Town Fish Market restaurant, which was located near the hotel. I asked for directions from the bellman, who seemed terrified that I was considering walking there. After convincing him I was serious, he gave me directions, and it was an easy 10 minute or so walk. The neighbourhood didn’t feel the least bit dangerous, even after dark, so I’m not quite sure what the big deal was.

The restaurant itself was fascinating people watching. It was packed with various expat types as well as what appeared to be lots of middle and upper class locals. There were clearly lots of regulars, because the staff were greeting everyone by name. It was a nice warm evening, although there was a breeze, so sitting by the ocean and having dinner was perfect. They tried to sell me on a salmon entree (seriously? salmon? in Africa?) but I passed and asked for something local. Ended up with a red snapper which was quite tasty. Wanted to get dessert as there were several tasty looking options on the menu, but wasn’t all that hungry. I’d later find out the next day that I was getting sick and that’s what had killed my appetite.

Not feeling great headed back to the hotel and early to bed to hopefully sleep it off before heading to Uganda in the morning.

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!

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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:

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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:

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

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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:

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…and other storage carts from Air Littoral:

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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:

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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!

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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

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

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Walking along the corniche:

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

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