With wide open arms, he ran and gave us an emphatic hug,
“Karibu!” he exclaimed in Swahili with a dazzling smile.
Truly the friendliest taxi driver, we’ve ever met.
After our African Safari in South Africa and a long plane ride, we landed in Stone Town to a cheerful greeting on the tropical island of Zanzibar, a paradise in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago off the coast of Tanzania consists of the islands of Unguja, commonly known as Zanzibar, and Pemba.
Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, chock full of East African history, and a melting pot of African, Arab, Indian, and Europen cultures. Here are a few postcards of our wanderings in the city. Hopefully, they provide a sense of its vibrant and appealing diversity.
Cannons along the seafront, remnants of early Portuguese rulers ready to protect the city from invasion. Starting with the well-known city landmark, the House of Wonders, a former palace for the sultan of Zanzibar. Being that it was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity and an elevator, made it wondrous.Nearby, another Sultan residence, the Palace Museum gives one a peek into the past of the Zanzibari royal family. Strolling through the captivating narrow streets and winding alleyways, one can observe Zanzibaris go about their daily activities.
The focal point of community life revolves around the barazas, or benches that line the outside of the Swahili homes. Although there are various faiths in Stone Town, the overwhelming majority of the citizens are Muslim, and the call to prayer reverberates through the streets five times daily.
The chaotic Darajani market is the central bazaar for all kinds of smells and goods, including exotic fruits, colourful kangas, and a wholesale fish market where you can bid on the seafood as it comes in off the boats.Children bring life to the streets and giving them a soccer ball always brings smiles.Anyone who follows our post knows we love old doors, and Zanzibar has its fair share. Two styles define the unique wooden carved doors; arched transoms are of Indian influence, many with large brass-stud adorning the mahogany and teak doors, and the squared tops are of Omani Arab influence.
Be sure to visit the Anglican Cathedral of the Christ Church which is built on the former grounds of the biggest open slave market in Zanzibar. A heritage centre on the site has an excellent and informative presentation on the four-hundred years of the dark and regrettable chapter of East Africa’s history.The slavery memorial serves as a reminder of the atrocities suffered by the men, women and children who were captured and sold into slavery. The historic quarter has various bazaars, shops, and stall offering plenty of shopping temptations from vibrant African fabrics, wood carvings, leather sandals, Tinga Tinga painting, to traditional handicrafts.Gord showing off the new addition to his growing T-shirt collection. By late afternoon, retire for cocktails or mocktails at one of the many rooftop terraces for happy ‘hour’ and watch the sun as it slips into the ocean. Two of our favourite spots; the Swahïlï House and Emerson Spice Hotel offer stunning panoramas over the city.
View of the Hindu temple, tin-roofed homes, and the blue Indian Ocean. After sunset, head to the Forodhani Gardens to for a taste of local cuisine, fiery samosa, and meat or seafood cooked up on the charcoal grills. The evening food market buzzes with activity, and there is a multitude of vendors who will compete for your business.Finish off with a famous Zanzibar Pizza.Stone Town is one of those places in the world whose precise character is hard to put a finger on. Tropical sunshine, aromatic spices, sultry nights, delectable seafood, Nutella pizza, happy people, azure waters, and breathtaking sunsets are a few reasons you’ll fall in love with the fascinating cultural and historical capital.