For weeks and weeks the anticipation for my holiday to Zanzibar had been building. After the stresses of final exams, dissertations, job interviews and my sister’s wedding, some time in the sun was long overdue. We had planned out our trip and the guidebook had been read cover to cover in advance. June and July is meant to be the best time of the year to visit Zanzibar but weather reports were crushing my meteorological optimism with stormy forecasts and bleak predictions of rain and black clouds. Nervous of money spent on travelling half way across the world just to sit under an umbrella I was anxious to arrive.
Never having been to Africa before I was more than excited by my first glimpses of the beautiful continent…
…cotton wool over the Sahara.
We landed in Tanzania and found our way to the domestic departures. Men and women sat in flannel trousers, smart shirts and traditional dress fanning themselves whilst their children wandered round making friends with air hostesses and ducking under ‘no entry’ barriers. As our boarding time beckoned the information screen still displayed a message declaring that the system was still, I quote, “scrambled”. We asked staff when our flight would be announced and it became apparent that the plane was already on the tarmac and we were free to board whenever we were ready. We boarded the tiny little plane, where there were more dead flies than air hostesses, yet still more air hostesses than passengers and within five minutes it had taken off! Twenty minutes early! The airline may be ‘precision’ by name but not quite by nature it seems.
After a rather brief fifteen minute flight time we were finally (after 24 long hours) in Zanzibar! The tiny little airport consisted of one room and a man with a clipboard. After signing our names we grabbed our case as it was thrust through a literal hole in the wall and we went to meet our driver. We were greeted by the embrace of barmy evening heat, a firm handshake, the smell of petrol and the sound of crickets. And so the journey began….
First stop was going to be Stone Town. They say that Stone Town is the soul of the island and the hub of activity, culture and no better place to stay than right in the thick of it in Dhow Palace Hotel.
Surrounding a beautiful turquoise and terracotta courtyard its imposing walls are lined with wooden shuttered windows and balconies, their stained-glass windows projecting kaleidoscopic patterns. A secret haven of tranquility, lovely well-mannered staff and botanical wonders it is the perfect place to ease you into the bustling town life. And the views from the roof weren’t too shabby either!
Beneath us the town was mapped out, the buzz of mopeds skidding through the dusty narrow streets, swerving chickens, map-reading tourists and coconut-sellers alike.
After a quick power-nap and a much needed shower it was time to explore the wonders of Stone Town. With a cloak of darkness falling there was only one place to be….the night market! Hold tight and I will tell you all about it…