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Travels in the life of Laila

Did I tell you about the clear blue waters and pure white sands of Zanzibar?

TANZANIA | Saturday, 24 November 2007 | Views [1085]

I did say I would write later about Zanzibar...I didn't think it would be when I was back in rainy London. But here I am, sat on my sofa at home with rain lashing down outside (well its not ACTUALLY raining right now but it makes for a better story) - apparently its going to be minus 3 degrees tonight. I have barely ventured out of the house since I got back as I am struggling in the cold. And then I decide to write about Zanzibar. This blogging thing has gone too far.

So here we go. The overland trip ended with 5 days in Zanzibar. We had a few days in Stone Town, the main town on the island and the historic part, and then a few days at the beach. Stone Town is really picturesque and fascinating. It is filled with beautiful buildings and architecture, amazing carved doors at every turn and lots of narrow little alley ways teeming with shops and stalls. If you have been to Marrakech it would seem very familiar, which makes sense with such a strong Arab influence.

The most amusing part of our time in Stone Town was the tour we did of the city, with our very own Ali G as a guide. Yes, Ali G from da hood in da UK. I don't do the accent as well as he did but oh my god it was hilarious. We thought he was joking with the way he spoke but no, he wasn't putting it on. When he told the boys in the group that they could buy beautiful shawls for "ya julies" if they wanted, the Brits in the group fell over laughing. It turns out a really nice, helpful cockney guy came to Zanzibar and taught Ali (his name is actually Ali) how to speak English - accent and all. It put seeing the palace ruins, the slave chambers and the historical buildings in a whole new light!

We also saw Freddie Mercury's house, we had drinks at Africa House which is a very trendy hotel with a bar that overlooks the sea and you can sit and watch the sun set acoss the harbour, and OF COURSE I went shopping in the little markets and bargained for some seriously cool trinkets.

Oooh - how could I forget the food?! We also visited the night market which is a long row of stalls near the waterfront, with people selling the most amazing food. Sticks of bbq-d chicken, lamb (moshkaki), prawns, squid, lobster, zanzibar pizzas which are filled with meat, egg, cheese, tomatoes and onions, coconut bread, sugar cane juice, mogo, corn on the cob...we ate for 4 hours straight, wandering around from 8pm-midnight. It was heaven!

We also did a spice tour which was really fun and v interesting - we got to try all the spices we saw growing and had a fresh fruit lunch afterwards with mangoes, pineapples, custard apples, papaya, lychees, jack fruit, bananas (bit boring compared to the rest of them but the little ones are v tasty)....YUM-EEE.

And then on to Nungwi, a beach resort on the North-East coast of the island. I was expecting Zanzibar to be relatively tacky and touristy but it really isnt. There were obviously tourists in Nungwi (loads of Italians for some reason) but it didn't feel overcrowded or busy or tacky at all. It was so laid back and had a real traveller feel to it. The Dragoman group tends to stay at Amaan Bungalows whenever they go so our driver Zoe knows all the staff and the local bars- so we were welcomed warmly. There is a bar in Nungwi (should you ever go) that is called Cholo- which is wicked. Hammocks, tables in the shape of boats and comfy seats on the beach, and a bar in the middle. We sat around for hours there talking nonsense.

It was all the more exciting as we got to stay in ROOMS, with BEDS and a decent toilet. I KNOW! So exciting. It felt like a little treat!

Nungwi is tiny mind- a stretch of about 6-7 hotels, bungalows and resorts along the beach. There are more being built but for now its very quiet and laid back. I mainly bummed around on the beach - though it rained the first day we got there! Evenings were drinks at sunset and then dinner on at a restaurant on the beach, and then more sitting around the bonfire/ in a bar. You get the idea I am sure- a lot of relaxing and not a whole lot of activity. I did go snorkelling and dolphin watching one day which was really fun.

I don't know my fish too well (Gus, expertise please) but the non technical description is many pretty coloured fish, and the water is really clear and warm. We then got taken to another island where we had lunch of fresh grilled tuna and red snapper. The theme of this trip should be food!

I saw loads of dolphins on the way back, swimming along side the boat. They are such graceful things....swimming with them must be amazing but it isn't recommended on this side of the island.

So that is Zanzibar...laid back living and a great way to end a really amazing trip. Writing that has brought back some top memories but its a bit sad that the weather is so different here :-) Sorry if I have depressed any of you.

Tags: relaxation



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