Sunday, January 12, 2014


I flew from New York to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania via Emirates, a fancy airline known for its top notch service and cuisine on board. I have really good travel karma I guess, because I was bumped up to business class, which was pretty much as epic as it gets. When I first got on, I was offered fresh squeezed orange juice and champagne. I sat down and had a ton of space to spread my stuff around. The chair also fully reclined so that you could sleep if you wanted to. Women receive a beautiful cream colored Bulgari clutch with perfume, hand cream, and lotion in it. There was a full bar in the back as well with top shelf liquor. It was exactly how the Sex and the City movie depicted it and I was in traveler heaven.
Since I’m a big foodie, I’ll have to start off with what I ate on this flight, because it was pretty amazing. For lunch I had watercress soup, a delicious garden salad, seared tuna, chicken with green curry, and chocolate mousse. Everything was seriously cooked to perfection! The service was also amazing, with the hostesses constantly asking if I needed anything and being super friendly. It was pretty incredible. I felt like I was the luckiest person in the world.
Some fun stuff I learned from the hostesses while I was at the bar:
  • In economy there are only 8 stewardesses for 300 passengers
  • To work for Emirates, you must move to Dubai
  • Passengers are only bumped up if they are Skymiles members and are more likely to be bumped up if they have a connection to make after the flight


Appetizer: Salad, Soup, and Tuna

Red Wine with Chocolate Mousse

I arrived in the Dubai Airport wishing that my layover was long enough that I could go into the city and check it out. The airport is really interesting, because it is such an international hub there are advertisements for all demographics. It was the first time I had stepped foot in an Islamic nation and it was interesting to see how cosmopolitan it was. The airport itself was top notch and more like a giant mall than an airport.

Advertisements in the airport targeted a variety of demographics

I boarded my flight to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for the last 5 hour stretch of the trip. The plane was probably the most uncomfortable plane I had ever been on. Not fun. Somehow, I still managed to sleep the whole flight.

Arriving in Dar was literally at hot mess. Hundreds of people were jockeying to get a tourist visa in a very small, hot space. You have to give your passport to a guard with cash and the entry form and then eventually they will call your name out. Naturally, my name was the last name to be  called. 

I was living the plush night the first night, staying in the Holiday Inn (since I was on my own, I figured I'd be comfortable). I dropped off my stuff and took a shower, then arranged for a driver to take me around to see the "sights" of Dar. Before coming, everyone insisted that I need not see Dar, and they were all right. The driver took me to the National Museum, but it was closed for a wedding. We then drove to the fish market, which you definitely need a strong stomach to see, especially at the end of the day. In a way, there was a rugged glory in it, but I think most people would skip it. He then insisted I visit two craft areas, which is such a nightmare as they harass you to buy everything and I really wasn't in a shopping mood, just a looking mood. He then tried to bring me to the mall, which I politely told him I was ok with not seeing that. After, we stopped at a nice open air courtyard surrounded by shops and restaurants and where you can sit to have a drink. By this point I was tired, so I just had him take me back to the hotel. 

On the roof of the Holiday Inn is a hookah lounge and sports bar. I headed up there to get some food and a drink. There aren't small tables up there, so I ended up sharing some space with a bunch of girls, who all turned out to be Americans doing Peace Corps in Tanzania! They were all incredibly nice and interesting. They were getting juice in the hotel lounge so they could use the free internet and watch a little TV. They were staying in the YMCA across the street, which is incredibly cheap and very clean, so if you're ever looking for a hostel in Dar, that is the place to do it up.

They invited me to join them with their friends at a bar down the street. Naturally, we got lost and I was starting to think I should just head to the hotel and go to bed when we finally arrive. It was a simple local bar that reminded me a lot of a bar we went to a few times in Arusha. The bar was called Tanzanian Hotel, but we called it the Yellow Bar because the sign was yellow (funny enough, I think the bar in Arusha was called Blue Bar). Here I met a whole bunch more of awesome Peace Corps Tanzania volunteers. The whole lot of them is awesome-- they are all really fun, exciting, and easy going. I immediately felt like I was close friends with all of them. I left around midnight with a few other volunteers who were retiring early. Even though I didn't have a phone, I had a strong sense I would see all of them again in Zanzibar, especially since we were all heading to the same party.

The next morning I woke up and decided to quickly head to the National Museum that had been closed the day before. The museum is a little pricey, but nice. The grounds are really beautiful and if you didn't want to actually check out the museum, you could sit at an outdoor cafe there. The museum has a really nice collection of cultural and historical artifacts that really interested me. I'm definitely spoiled as I can visit the Museum of Natural History any time in New York, but it was at least nice to see how a museum looks in Tanzania.

Exhibit on Tanzanian Art

Historical Artifacts from Tanzania's Past

Cultural Artifacts

I hustled back to the hotel to take one last shower (my fourth since arriving!-- it's just so hot!) before heading to the ferry to meet my friend Claire to go to Zanzibar. The ferry was a zoo, but somehow I found Claire. In a very eventful way, we were able to get onto the ferry and underway. It's pretty important to go into the ferry holding area early so you can get a good seat. Don't sit inside the ferry-- it smells something fierce. Don't sit in the front deck-- there is no shade and it's too hot. If you go all the way to the top fairly quickly, you can get a shaded outdoor seat on the top deck. These are definitely the best seats in the house. The ride was calm and sunny, very enjoyable.

Dar es Salaam, as viewed from the ferry

Arriving in Zanzibar

Stone Town

Claire is a friend of mine through Oxfam who is currently doing Peace Corps work in Rwanda. She had been doing some really amazing work and I encourage you to check out her blog, Seeking Claire-ity. 

Beautiful Wooden Balcony in Stone Town
We arrived at the ferry and after collecting our bags and getting through customs (again, very eventful), we walked to our hotel, the Pyramid Hotel, which was right near by. Claire organized this hotel and it was absolutely beautiful and affordable (Zanzibar can be pretty expensive). The interior is beautifully decorated with all kinds of traditional tables and benches and doorways. The doorways of Zanzibar are particularly ornate and beautiful. The beds in our rooms were also wood with painted glass plates on them, apparently traditional furniture, but definitely extremely beautiful.

 The city we were staying in is known as Stone Town. Some people told me I didn't really need to visit her, but I totally disagree. Stone Town is actually a really cool city with narrow, windy streets, cool shops, refreshing bars, and nice restaurants. If you're looking for that beach retreat, head to the beach areas, but if you're like me and love a little culture and nightlife, this might be more suited to you.

Zanzibar is a hot island, and in Stonetown everything bakes. It's definitely worth the extra $5 per person to get a room with AC here. Stonetown is also really conservative with most of the population being Muslim. I am always amazed how the women are fully covered from head to toe in all black in the heat. It would make me crazy to be so warm all the time, but they don't seem to mind at all. For those of us who are not Muslim and aren't well adjusted to the heat, it is okay to wear t-shirts & long skirts/dresses. 

First things first after walking for a bit: lunch. Zanzibar is known for it's spices and the spice trade at one time had been very bustling in Zanzibar. As a result, there were many Indians who came through the port, and the Indian influence can still be seen today. We ate lunch at the delicious Indian restaurant, called New Radha or something. They have a sample platter that is really great and I had the chickpea masala that was really epic.

Claire browsing an antique shop
Afterwards, we took a walk, strolling through the streets to check out the shops. Like most cities and towns in Tanzania, they have the "curios" shops with Masai trinkets and what have you, but here they also had some really beautiful shops and boutiques I've never seen in any other part of Tanzania so far. Here there were also a lot of co-ops to help support local artists. I was impressed in a lot of stores by the quality of the clothes as well as the designs-- they were really beautiful clothes. In one boutique, it was almost like a boutique I'd see in New York City, but with all the clothes having a bit of a traditional African style twist to them. For example, a cotton dress like you would see on the racks in NY, but with beautiful hand beading you see a lot in East Africa. These kinds of shops are definitely on the high-end of price, even for New York standards, so I was mostly in the shops to ooh and ahh (I love beautiful, unique clothes). Also, unlike the small shops you normally see in Tanzania, these shops have their prices listed in US dollars and they are non-negotiable, which can be a bit of reverse culture shock if you've been in Africa for a long time or are traveling on a tight budget and are looking for steals.

A typical curios-type shop

Photo Claire Took of a Boy Jumping
Claire and I liked to spend a good deal of time looking at everything in each shop because it was all so fancy. When we finally pulled ourselves away from the shops, it was dusk. There is a nigh market by the sea, so we headed to that. Here, the town is alive. In the center, locals sell all kinds of local fare, such as BBQ meats on sticks (there is a word for this that escapes me now), "Zanzibari Pizza" (local rendition of a personal pizza that they make in front of you generally), and cane juice (they literally press the cane right there). As the sun sets and dusk comes on, all of the locals, especially local boys, congregate along the promenade walls overlooking the sea. There is a small beach in Stone Town, but at this spot the wall is high up and boys would run and dive into the water. They had to be pretty expert divers I think because the water was only about 5 feet deep and they were jumping from pretty high up. They boys were singing and clapping and swimming and cajoling each other to jump. The whole thing had a really great feel and Claire and I headed back to the hotel feeling good.

Pressing Cane Juice
When we stopped in the hotel, we figured we'd just rest for a bit before heading out, but in the end Claire & I fell asleep around 9pm, which was a big mistake. Claire slept through the whole night, but I ended up waking up at 3:45am and not being able to fall back to sleep. Around 5am I could hear the first call to prayer for the day, which was the day of New Years Eve. I eventually got up in the dark to write some postcards and wanted to wait until the sun was up to go for a walk. Around 6:30 I headed out and walked to the beach.


East Africa has the softest sand you'll ever feel


At the beach, I was surprised to see how alive it was. There were tons of people working out, something I just never expected to see in Tanzania. I saw young men, boys, older women, and even older men jogging along on the beach. There was a very large group of women doing stretches and warmup exercises. I watched them do this in their full, covering garb-- as always, head to toe in black (faces were not covered, just the top of the head and neck). I was so tempted to join them, but I wasn't wearing good clothing for it unfortunately. When they finished, they stood up and walked right into the water wearing all of their clothes! There was also a group of young boys next to me doing flips off an angled tire. This is all going on at 6:30am! It felt like a secrete time, a time before most mzungu are awake yet and the locals can enjoy the cooler temperatures.
Women doing stretching and exercises on the beach
A boy doing a flip off the tire while another is doing pushups

Women go swimming in the water wearing all of their clothes
A boy came over to me at sat down with me. He said his name was Michael, and that was about it because he didn't speak English. He was maybe 8 years old and very tiny. I was getting tired of the beach anyway, so I gestured, "lets get food," and he led me into the streets to find some breakfast. He was always really confused when I stopped to stare at the facade of a building to admire it. After I got him a small breakfast of bread (called chapati), he then didn't know what I wanted to do, so he tried to lead me to different hotels hoping one of them was where I was staying. Locals in the streets gave me funny looks as a I followed the small boy, but I thought it was definitely a different way of seeing the inner parts of the windy streets. Finally, he was getting exasperated that none of the hotels were mine, so I told him to take me the the "beachi" (if you add and 'i' sound to the end of most English words you have a Swahili word, like hotel is "hoteli." Pwani is the true word for beach, but beachi seemed to work well too.). Eventually the sweet boy led me to the beach and he got to enjoy his breakfast. After a pretty successful morning, I headed back to my hoteli to wake up Claire.

Crazy Colorful Pastas at the Market
Claire woke up after a lengthy sleep and we had breakfast on the roof of the hotel, which is included. At breakfast you get an egg (scrambled, omelet, or fried) with fresh fruit and toast. There is coffee or chai tea as well; the tea was delicious and is very common in the area. The view from the roof was beautiful-- I wish I had come up here to watch the sun rise! Big regret!

Swordfish Captured at the Market
We then headed to the market. Because spices are made in Zanzibar, a lot of the stalls sell spices. Stopping to smell the spices seems as natural as flowers. What did not smell so amazing was the fish hall, which is in the middle of the market. From the outside you don't really smell it, but as soon as you enter the concrete building you know it. There is some great game fishing at Zanzibar and many families make their living off fishing, which explains why the fish hall was much grander than any I'd ever seen before in Tanzania. Outside of it, I saw the fishermen cleaning off a giant swordfish and giant octopus. It was fun to see, but I definitely prefer the more tame stalls of fruit and spices.

Claire at the Market
A market can be really overwhelming if you're a traveler-- you stick out like a sore thumb and everyone wants a piece of your money. Here was not as intimidating or pushy as some places I've been to (I think Arusha's market was pretty tough if my memory serves me), but it was still a bit hectic. Still I was able to wander the isles and check out fruit I had never seen before. It's totally fine and fun to ask questions, the stall keepers don't mind. There are a lot of people milling around in the market who will want to "help" you; don't be totally put off by them, they can be really helpful especially if they speak very good English. On guy latched on to me and he was particularly helpful in answering lots of questions and keeping tabs on where my friends are in the market. You just have to accept that they are looking for a tip, which really will be the equivalent to less than $1, so I think it's worth it if you're just in town for a short while and want to find out more information and see more stuff.

At the end of the market, there was a juice stand, so I stopped to get fresh mango juice. All over Zanzibar you will have access to the most delicious fresh juice. Next to the stand, my friends grabbed some "Zanzibari soup" or rojoj. This soup is out of this world and only 1000 tsh (that's about 50 cents). You can sit on a bench and enjoy the soup with a bunch of locals and it was in this moment I really wish I spoke better Swahili so I could chat with the women around me. A few hundred feet away, on the corner of the main road, a man sells coconuts for 500 tsh, which he'll cut up right there for you. The coconut milk inside is divine and is great for keeping hydrated (they say coconut milk is better for re-hydrating than water, which also makes it a top hangover cure). If you finish the milk in front of him, he'll also cut it up so you can eat the pulp, which is pretty handy. Someone in our group later in the week came up with the grand idea of saving the coconut after you drink the milk and re-filling it with alcohol, similar to what we do with watermelon here in the US in the summer. I never got to try it, but I'm sure it was delicious!

The Crucifix in the Anglican Church
Next, we headed to the former slave market. I really enjoyed this site, though it was quite upsetting to me. You pay to enter and then they provide you with a guide, who you are expect to tip at the end. Our guide had impeccable English and was extremely knowledgeable. We first headed to the site of the Anglican church, which was symbolically built upon the site of where the slaves were sold. Dr. Livingstone had been extremely influential in ending the slave trade here and had a special request to have his heart buried in Africa. As a result, his heart was buried in Africa but his body was buried in Westminster Abby. In the church there is a cross that is made from the wood of a tree that grew above Dr. Livingstone's grave. Next to the church there is (in my opinion) a very powerful memorial sculpture in memory of the slaves who were put to market there. The memorial is of five figures, men, women, and children, whose bodies disappear into the ground and who are shackled by original irons from the slave trade. It was beautiful and powerful.

After that we headed to see the chambers where they held the slaves before putting them to market. According to our guide, the slaves were separated between men and women and children were often killed as they weren't cost effective. In the chambers, there was little light and many, many people were crammed in these small chambers, shackled together. In the middle there was a a trench that would fill with water during high tide, which doubled as a toilet. The slaves held here would not be fed or given water and they would be held here for days. If you did not die during this process (and many of them did) then they were strong enough to be sold in the market. It was upsetting to be there, but also it is important to remember these moments. Thanks in large part to Dr. Livingstone, the market here was closed in 1873. Unfortunately, the slave trade did not end completely and slaves continued to be secretly sold in caves further north on the island (which you can also visit). I was shocked and disturbed to learn that this slave trade did not officially end until 1907! (It's important to note that slavery does still exist today in many forms.)

We then had lunch at Cafe Lazuli, which you MUST go to if you are in Stone Town. It is a charming cafe-- dare I even say that it's hipster?! All of the food here is delicious-- we had a salad and a wrap and both were divine! I had the sesame chick wrap, which hand mangoes in it. They also have epic smoothies and shakes. The cafe is quite small, so sometimes getting a table can be chancy. They are also closed from 4-6pm, so be sure to come during lunch or dinner hours, not in between.

People hanging off the back of a dallah-dallah
Afterwards, we returned to our hotel to shower and catch a car to Nungwi, a pristine beach town at the north end of the island. If you have a lot of bags and don't want to take a dallah-dallah (bus), call Bonge (pronounced bahn-gay) at 0773 071 897-- tell him you want the party taxi! It should cost a little less than 10,000 tsh (less than $6) per person (compared to a dallah-dallah, which is less than $1 per person, but is really cramped, no AC, and can make many stops). In his party taxi, he blasted electronic music as we cruised through the "highway," passing through villages, careening past dallah-dallahs overflowing with people (literally: people were hanging off the back), and making the necessary police stops. The prospects of an exciting night for New Years plus Bonge's fun attitude was getting us more and more excited. After a little over an hour, we arrived at the Nungwi Paradise Beach Bungalows. Our hotel was about $30 per person per night (no AC) for massive rooms and beds and the hotel was right on the water. Breakfast again was included, and this time breakfast had a stunning view of the ocean.

We quickly changed into our swimsuits and headed into the Indian Ocean. The tides here are extremely varied. At high tide you can go swimming, but cannot walk too far along the beach before hitting the natural jetties made of huge slabs of carved out rock (the hotels and restaurants are built right on top of these). At low tide, you can swim but you will have to walk out very far and you need to beware of rocks and sea urchins (consider bringing water shoes with you!), and at this time you can walk for miles all around Zanzibar.

The beach right outside of our hotel room!

When it is fully high tide, you cannot pass through to the other side of the beach!

Me, Claire's sister, and Claire

Notice how the restaurant is built on the rock, which forms a natural jetty
The Last Sunset of 2013!

The view from the restaurant Mamma Mia

The beach at Nungwi was full of Millennials and I quickly spotted my Peace Corps Tanzania friends from my night in Dar. We swam and chatted and then had dinner at the hotel's restaurant, Mamma Mia. I would suggest only eating pizza there and only ordering beer. There is a reasonable happy hour as well from about 5-7, but seriously: only get the beers, the cocktails are subpar at best. You should also bring your own case of water to the hotel, as one bottle of water at the hotel is equivalent to a case in town (though the case won't be cold!). Only a one minute walk from the hotel is a "supermarket" where you can buy cold sodas and beer too. You should also bring your own liquor if you like mixed drinks-- bottles of alcohol are rare and expensive on the island because of the Muslim influence and the cost to import (the only local spirit is Konyagi, a type of cheap gin that is quite popular among volunteers).

Hundreds of people descend on Kendwa for NYE
That night would be the biggest party of the year-- the New Years Eve party at Kendwa Rocks. Several hundred locals and foreigners converge on this beach club for a massive dance party (costs 15,000 tsh, or about $10). We walked from Nungwi to Kendwa along the beach, taking about 45 minutes and arrived at the party a little after 11pm. By now the party was in full swing and we quickly learned that in order to buy a drink you needed to buy a drink card and fill it up. Of course, the drink line was terribly long at this point, so if you're thinking of going to this party, consider arriving much further in advance than we did.

At midnight fireworks were set off on the beach. Quite literally, we all crowded around on the beach and about 20-30 feet away from me they were lining up the rockets and setting them off. It was cool to be so close to them, and a tad bit scary. They had a decent show and I was impressed.

At the party we met people of all kinds of backgrounds. We met travelers and volunteers from abroad; people born and raised in Africa whose parents came to the continent as missionaries; ex-pats who own hotels or local businesses; and locals.

Claire and I on New Years Eve!
Claire and I danced the night away and even in the wee hours of the morning we were sweating from all the fun. At 6am we were basically kicked out and by 7am we were asleep. Because of the heat and the designated time for breakfast, we were up by 9:30am. At breakfast I once again saw the Tanzanian Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs). It felt like fate that I would continually meet them over and over again. The day was really beautiful and mostly spent swimming and cat napping in the shade by the ocean. Claire and I both got 30 minute aromatherapy massages for a mere 20,000 tsh ($12) in a hut by the ocean (I could actually hear the ocean during my massage loud as anything-- so relaxing!). You can even get massages for $5 for 30 minutes further away from the beach, but this was nice and close to the ocean so I liked it best.

That day we also walked all along the beach to the northern tip of the island. Along the way, women were collecting mollusks and small sea animals in the tide pools (this can only be done during low tide), men were returning from sea with their fish, children were playing, and we got to see boats being made. At the tip of the island is a small lighthouse as well as a turtle sanctuary. Our Peace Corps friend showed us how to see the turtles for free in the back, but if you have the money, consider giving to the sanctuary-- we were just on a budget. Here are photos from the walk:
Dhow Boat

A little boy carry another little boy on his back

Putting a fire under the boat to dry it out

Children dig out baby eels to sell & eat

Turtle Sanctuary

You'll see a lot of stray cats on Zanzibar

That evening, two of Claire's friends joined us and we headed to a restaurant right near our hotel for some fresh fish. There are restaurants all along the beach serving fresh fish every night so be sure to get some!

That night we were invited to a party at a bar that was a "rasta" theme. The island is majority strict Muslim, however it seemed that there is a small pocket of Rastafarians on the coast here (not the fake kind, the real kind). Rastafarianism isn't extremely popular in Africa, but it can definitely be found in pockets and Bob Marley is greatly adored. The whole thing was very interesting to me because, as far as religions go, Rastafarianism and Islam are pretty opposite in a lot of values (though they are both religions of "People of the Book").

The next day we booked a sunset boat cruise for $15. We cruised on a dhow boat, which is a wooden sailboat, these ones have a wooden top deck as well for shade that also doubles as a deck for sitting. For the entire week we were in Tanzania, the seas were pretty rough, so when we started off it was pretty rocky and one woman in particular looked really green. However, once we got around a bend, the seas were much calmer. Everyone chatted and passed the rum and cokes around and enjoyed the setting sun and the beautiful scenery. Because it was high tide, the ocean came right up to the jungle. We regularly spotted children jumping from the rocks or off of docks into the water (no parents in sight, naturally). My favorite part of the whole trip was when we could hear African drumming lifting out of the jungle. It was so perfect it seemed fake, like a gaudy ride at Disney World.

Claire's Friend Andrew on the Boat Cruise

The boat dropped us off at Kendwa and we had dinner at the restaurant Essence, which is a beautiful beachfront restaurant with an indoor bar and seating area as well as an outdoor lounge area with cool couches. I had the seafood gnocchi, which was fresh and handmade. Everything everyone had was absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend the spot if you have the budget for it (about $10-$20 per meal, depending on what you get).

The next day we went on a snorkel tour ($15). The boat cruise the night before had about 10 or so people on it, but this time we had about 20 and there were many boats. Because the seas were rough the whole week we were there, visibility underwater was pretty low the whole week. On this day, the captain told us he was taking us to a certain spot because of the reduced visibility and hopefully this would be a better spot. The big snorkel location for Zanzibar is a small island called Mnemba, which has multiple great dive and snorkel spots. We only got to go to one spot, but it was great. I saw a ton of fish, both that I've seen before and some that I'd never seen before. I recognized huge parrot fish, schools of angel fish, trumpet fish, puffer fish, and many more!

I spy with my little eye: a tiny clown fish!

Puffer Fish

With a brief hour snorkeling, I was the last person back on the boat for lunch. The crew prepared fresh grilled fish rubbed with lime, onion, and ginger (prepared right in front of me!), chapati, and fresh pineapple. This was possibly one of the best meals I had all week. After lunch we had the chance to snorkel again. I wish they would prepare people before snorkeling and tell them things like, do not touch the coral, do not touch the fish, be careful not to kick too hard because it churns up particles and affects visibility. At one point I watched someone standing on the coral to fix his mask, which is just not something you should ever do-- coral is a very fragile animal (It's not a plant!) that can die very, very easily. When the coral dies, the habitat for the sea animals dies and then the animals dies. So please, if you're snorkeling, be respectful of the environment!

Preparing Lunch

Note the grill in the background!

Motivated by the snorkeling trip, I looked into doing a scuba dive for the next day. The East Africa Diving Company was doing a local dive for $130 with equipment, which would have offered me the opportunity to see more local fish and there would have been less bustle and crowds. They, unfortunately, were booked. Divine Diving was also doing a dive for $130 with equipment and lunch to Mnemba, but they were booked too. If you're young and diving on your own, I would consider Divine Diving right off at the beginning of your trip because their crew is all young expats and they seemed like a really cool group. I met some French divers and they said by the end of their trip they were really tight with the Divine Diving group, which is cool too because then you get to know some people who live locally. Finally, Zanzibar Watersports were doing a dive with equipment and lunch for $110 to Mnemba. They had space on the dive but then (of course) I ended up getting sick the whole night before, so I couldn't do any dive at all. This just means I'll have to go back to do some serious diving and then zip over to Mafia Island to dive with whale sharks!

After spending most of the day in bed because I was sick, we headed to a restaurant called Cinnamon for happy hour and appetizers. They have a beautiful terrace overlooking the sunset and it was absolutely breathtaking. We got the two tasting appetizers: one with pita and hummus and other dips, and the other was a bunch of Asian and Spanish inspired tapas. It was a little pricey, but it was really good and filling-- you don't really need to eat dinner if you split these two between four people.

The next morning we took the Party Taxi back to Stone Town. We were excited to take a fun taxi back, but quickly realized this was not going to be a fun road trip since the vacation was almost over. We dropped our bags at the Pyramid Hotel and headed to the market for some rojoj (the Zanzibar Soup I spoke about earlier) for lunch. We then walked to Cafe Lazuli for smoothies but it was closed (I guess it's closed on Sundays). Around the corner we were rescued by some really amazing gelato at Gelattaria Italia. The gelato here is really legit and they have cool flavors like avocado and local fruits, as well as traditional flavors.

Across the street is a bookstore called Hot Spot. There is a great selection of books which they had recently expanded. The titles are all perfectly suited for the kind of traveler who would be in Zanzibar and would wander into a bookstore. They also have beautiful traditional tables and chairs and a small cafe with coffee, desserts, smoothies, and fresh juice. We spent a good two hours in there checking out book jackets, drinking juice, writing, and chatting. The books were a bit expensive, but as they say in Tanzania, "Looking is free!"

We wandered through the streets again. We passed this one hotel, the Tembo House Hotel, that was absolutely stunning, so we stopped in and had a walk around. They have a courtyard with a pool surrounded by an open air ground floor that is beautifully decorated. From the pool you can look out onto the ocean and there are plenty of lounge chairs. They have a pretty good deal on apartments for groups that it might be good to check out if you're in a group of 5 or more. It can be oppressively hot in Stone Town, so you may want to check out the pool here which you can use for a day for 10,000 tsh ($6).

The view at 6 Degrees South, plus misters!
Stone Town also has a lot of nice bars and restaurants. There is one floating barge that is a bar that apparently had a huge New Years Day party. We stopped at a fancy restaurant/lounge called 6 Degrees South. Zanzibari socialites can often be seen here. They have misters that you can sit by and they have multiple floors that overlook the sea and sunset. We ordered an appetizer of crostini and calamari on the ground floor which were really delicious and I had a juice-- with ICE in it!! That's when you know a place is fancy-- you get ice! At 5pm there was happy hour on the rooftop, so we headed up there to catch the sunset and enjoy cocktails. We tried a bunch of different ones and the best one by far is "The View"-- which is perfect while enjoying a view. The View is basically a gin and tonic with elderberry and giant ice cubes served in a really cool brass cup. It was the first and only decent cocktail I'd had in Tanzania, to be truthful!

Ethiopian-style Dinner
For dinner we headed to an Ethiopian restaurant called Abyssinian Maritim. You can choose a selection to share which is definitely shareable between three people (for the 2-3 person ones). Claire and her sister had a vegetarian one which I may secretly have liked better, and I shared with Son (a Tanzanian PCV) a meat one. There was so much food it was amazing! The platters are served up with this spongy, fresh, and light bread. The bread is rolled out on the platter and the 5 or so dishes are placed on the bread. You are then given extra bread to use to scoop up the food. It was a lot of fun and seriously so delicious. I was so full between the appetizer and all this food I couldn't finish. Then, Claire did the sweetest thing-- she had them bring out a banana split ice cream for me for my birthday! The day was Jan. 5 and my birthday was just around the bend at Jan. 12! It was so nice-- it was lovely!!! What a great way to end the trip!

Tiny Plane to Dar!
The next morning I took a puddle jumper from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam Airport. These flights are about $60 and, especially if you are travelling alone and just looking to get to the Dar airport, so worth it! It's a 30 minute flight, versus taking a ferry and then a cab, which is about $50 and hours of time (plus the stress of haggling for a fair cab price). I arrived really early to the airport, I arrived by 10am for an 11:30am flight, but I really did not need to arrive before 11am, and it's only 15 minutes to the airport from Stone Town. Be sure that you have plenty of time between your arrival in Dar and any connecting flights you may have. It's very common for flights to be delayed and the domestic terminal may be temporarily closed on the drop of the hat by the government to do some military flight testing. I left a ton of time between the two flights and it was pretty boring but at least there was no stress.
Flying Over Zanzibar

Because of bad weather in New York, JFK airport had been closed. If your flight was cancelled by Emirates, you were put up in a hotel in Dubai-- how cool would that have been? My flight was just delayed though, and I was greeted to New York with an arctic blast to the fact (literally, as soon as the doors opened to get out of the airport I was hit with massive winds that ripped right through my clothes that were meant for African weather!). It's good to be back, but I'm already dreaming of my next trip...

If I could do the whole thing over again, I would have arrived to Nungwi several days before New Years Eve to do diving and snorkeling and boat cruises, then done the NYE party at Kendwa Rocks, then headed to Stone Town where there is more nightlife, especially on the weekends. If I was really living the dream, I would have even flown to Mafia Island to scuba dive with whale sharks. Oh well, next year!

Special thank you to Claire Brosnihan, who booked all of the hotels and recommended most all of the amazing restaurants we ate at! It would not have been such a fun, delicious, and relaxing experience if it hadn't been for her!

More photos can be seen on Facebook here: