22 April 2013

Bye Bye Tanzania
Hello Germany!

Leaving Zanzibar today.
An early start and for convenience sake we took a taxi to the airport instead of a daladala. The airport is only small, but they do cram in all the security measures of a big one. On top of it all they slap you with a 35US exit fee.. But we have no choice..
Airport
We are flying Condor today, an airline we have not flown with before.
Unfortunately we will not fly with them in the future either, at least not for a long flight. The tickets were fairly cheap, but we did not know that we were booking with a budget airline. No entertainment on board, except for a shared film screen where you have to pay for the earphones. Well, a fitting end to our Tanzania travels. We have been saying for a while now that Tanzania is a stingy country, and Condor is a stingy airline.
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But we arrive safe and sound in Frankfurt, Germany. Not as cold as expected and everything is sooo organised. It is almost freaking us out.. A train direct from the airport to down town. frankfurt-02The cheapest hotels and all the hostels are in walking distance in the red light district. The hostels are fully booked, so we go for a nice little hotel.
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Kebab with a white wine for dinner and an early night.

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19 April 2013

Booking ticket
chatting with Sissi
Fancy diner out

Deciding to leave Tanzania all together, we spend most of today finding a ticket online. The internet is shocking. Slow and unreliable, so it took us a while. We will be heading back to Europe. Cold and wet, but a bit of normalcy might be what we need.
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Back at the hotel we had a nice chat with Sissi. She is originally form Bulgaria, but has been on the island for 4 years, married to a local guy. In the beginning she was having (and is sometimes still having) issues with the Zanzibari. She does not get the tourist hassles anymore, as people know her now, but because she is not Tanzanian he will still sometimes get Mzungu (white) prices. Her husband does all the shopping 🙂 Must be frustrating though.
images17Well, after having spend a fortune on a ticket out of here, we might as well keep splurging. We went back to the nice cafe restaurant run by the Belgian, as we have not been able to get the menu out of our heads. Smoked salmon, prawns, creamy spinach.
It was really good and they gave us a free entre and little dessert! A bit of luxury!

Beach football, Stone Town, Zanzibar

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Taking it easy today.

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We went for a walk along the beach and spend a few hours making sand sculptures. The beach is nice and quiet with palm trees and little fishing boats going past.
Big fig trees and little ghost crabs.

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Sunset along the water again, with the kids and teenagers showing of their tumbling and acrobatic skills.

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21st
Last day and we wake up to heavy rain. It did not clear till midday and then went for a spiced coffee on the beach.

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Wandered the markets for a while looking for a nice kanga, but could not find one we liked. The markets are busier on a Sunday, but the rest of town is pretty quiet. Lost of closed shops.
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Strangely, now that we have our ticket to leave booked, we are liking the island more and more. Almost feeling sad to go..
Not sure if it is because we have been here for a while now and the hasslers are getting less. Or because we know we are going to cold Europe and are savoring the last of the sunshine and ocean views.

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Seafront Stone TownTanzania overall has not been the most successful country for us. It has prover to be very hard to travel if you do not want to do tours or hire guides everywhere.
We love the country side and the landscapes, the little we have been able to see of it. We are very disappointed with the people though and the attitude to tourists.

zanzibar267-stonetownOff course most of the Tanzanians are lovely people, we have just not been fortunate enough to get to know them. Many people will greet us on the street, but that is as far as the interest goes. Too bad, as we were very much looking forward to seeing something of East Africa and it’s cultures. The plan was always to make it through Tanzania to Malawi, but we do not want to travel here any more at the moment. Malawi, which we have heard is beautiful, might have to wait for a later trip.

AA

18 April 2013

Daladala to Jozani forest
Colobus monkey
Walk around
nice us back
beer and waiting
shoarma for dinner
ripped of by “friend”

We are taking a daladala to Jozani forest today. The only land park on the island. Jozani-Chwaka forest was protected in 1995 and is mostly known for it’s population of Red Colobus monkeys.
Negotiations for the daladala price. Mzungu (white mans) prices are much higher then local price, but they are trying for even more.. We settle on a reasonable price and wait to get going. It was supposed to be the express, but we stop right outside of Stonetown at another bus stop for about 30 minutes. More people are needed on the bus. We have 4 empty seats, so will not leave till we find 9 people with their luggage and shopping to come with us.

The bus driver and ticket salesman get out and harass people to convince them to take our bus. We watch the entertainment from inside. Our guys are having fun with the drivers from other daladalas and they try to steal each others customers. A few guys are pretty rowdy, and obviously drunk. Tanzania has a liberal drinking culture, but we are on a Muslim island, and it is not even 11.00..
Eventually we are all squeezed in like sardines, and we can leave, Unfortunately we seem to be switching drivers, and now have a drunk chauffeur, barely old enough to have a license. The other passengers don’t seem worried though and he turns out to be a surprisingly good drunk driver.

Colobus Monkey

Colobus Monkey

Dropped at the gate for Jazani forest. It is only about 40km from stone town, and along the way was not much to see. Small villages and lots of greenery. A few chickens and Brahmin cows. We had never seen these cows used to pull carts before!

Not scared of us at all!

Not scared of us at all!

Outside the gate lives a resident group of Colobus. These are supposed to be the easiest to find. They are. Just after coming off the bus, we see the trees move and the monkeys jump from branch to branch. This is all on the other side of the road to the park, so we wander over. Unfortunately we are not allowed to see these monkeys that live outside of the park and we can walk to on a public road, without first buying a park ticket, as we are quickly informed by the “ranger”. Typical Tanzanian, it’s all about the money..
So we have to leave the monkeys, walk into the park to find the ticket office, get overcharged because of our skin colour (12.000 shillings or 1.000 if your black) and then walk all the way back out again to finally see the monkeys. We declined on having the “free” guide (They expect a 10.000 shilling tip at the end and there wasn’t even one available then) and go on our own. We got all the warnings about the distance to keep, “do not look them in the eyes, they will bite” and all that. A bit unsettling, but this group is obviously used to people and take no notice of us.

Red Colobus monkeys turn out to be mostly black. A bit of white at the chest and eyebrows and red at the back, but only for the grownups. They are cute things, with long limbs and very active. As they have been isolated from the mainland Colobus monkeys, they have evolved differently and now have different feeding patterns and mating calls. They also do not have thumbs, but I don’t know if the mainland ones do..

Spot the baby monkeys flying about

Spot the baby monkeys flying about

After the monkeys we walk back into the park. As we don’t have a guide, we have had a look at the map. Pretty simple, there is one loop walk. Very different from our 6 year old guidebook, that mentions different walks, a boardwalk and even full day hikes.

We do like the mushrooms

We do like the mushrooms

We start off. The forest is tropical, with lots of ferns, but no creepers. Further along there are eucalyptus trees and mangrove. The scenery keeps changing which is nice. We spot some big snails again, a land crab, mushrooms, bugs and more monkeys. These are not so used to people, and do not hang around for photo’s.

but the snails are nice too

but the snails are nice too

The “path” is a bit confusing though. There are lots of other tracks going of, and nothing is signposted. We think we are partially following the boardwalk, although the boards have disintegrated. Another country that does not do maintenance. We are not to worried though, as this part of the park is not big. We enjoy being able to just walk for a few hours, without hassle, without having to worry about being robbed.. bliss.

and the crab was the highlight!

and the crab was the highlight!

Eventually we need to leave, as we are supposed to meet George for a beer back in town. We stick our hand up when we see a daladala come our way, but on arrival it looks more like a tour bus. They are willing to take us though, and doesn’t stop as much as the normal daladala. Perfect. It’s clean and not crowded and gets us to Stone town in no time!
J31postlizardWe walk over to the Livingstone to wait for George. We doubt the locals drinks here, as it is a very upmarket expensive place, but with a great view over the ocean. We enjoy a beer, watching sunset, but George never shows.
Over to the Night market for food again, this time we try the shaorma. Nice and spicy, but tiny. While debating whether or not to have anything else, we get the standard hassle. “What are you doing tomorrow? Why not take the shuttle bus/ snorkeling boat/ spice tour /etc.” In a lot of ways, Stonetown is quite pleasant, and the tourist shops don’t hassle much at all. Unfortunately the tour guys make up for it and then some! Non stop while we just want to quietly eat something, and most of them are drunk, and not much fun. After this we get the standard “Hey Rastaman! Want to buy some wiet/chocolate/hash?” Again we go through the “No thank you, don’t need any. No really, thank you but no” routine. Not sure what was wrong with the guy, but as it finally sinks in that we are not going to buy anything, he starts swearing at us. What the…? You can’t go swearing at us, only because we politely decline buying something illegal.(?)

Time for us to leave then. As we are heading back up to the hotel, George shows up behind us. He is in a foul mood and starts going of that we are bad people.. He thinks we stood him up. Explaining that we were where he told us to be, and that he was the one that did not show up, he came to the conclusion that is was our fault none the less, as we did not check inside all the beach huts (bandas) to look for him. That is where he was waiting for us.(?) It becomes clear very soon, that he is not upset that we did not meet up, just that he missed out on a free beer, and he now wants the money so he can get that beer.
So we are back at the same place : We still have not been able to talk to a Tanzanian, without them trying to sell us something, or demanding handouts..

AA

17 April 2013

Stonetown
market
New town
beer
night market pizza’s
Fisherman George

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an old church

an old church

and mosques

and mosques

Another day in Stonetown, as there is still plenty to see.

Today we head for the markets, to see if we can’t get some stuff to make salad sandwiches or many just some fruit. We stop by the supermarkets along the way, but none of them have any bread.

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The market itself is busy and noisy and colourful. Again the fruit and veg off course. The fish market on one side, the meat opposite.

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images9Outside the many many stalls of clothing and shoes and kitchen ware. A small street is dedicated to Kangas and another section to spices. This is the most touristy area and a bit of hassle, but we pass trough quickly. A few stalls on the outside have bread, but it is all white and stale.. So we go for some fruit. Banana’s at 5000 shillings and oranges at 4000.. Sometimes we wish we weren’t so white.. These are no where near what the locals would pay, and so we skip it. We’ll grab a few chapaties on the way back.

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We have spend all out time so far in old Stonetown. The area where all the big government buildings were built along the shore with the narrow winding alleyways behind. Stonetown-ZanzibarOn the other side of the main road, there is what is called “new town”. Not actually new, but where the poorer people were forced to move back in the day, when old town got too busy. Now it is where most of the people live, as old town is turning more and more into a touristy open air museum. You can really seen the difference after walking the streets of new town for a bit. It is livelier here, more people, normal shops. It has a good feel about it. Old town seems to be a lot of hotels and souvenir shops, but not as lively as less locals live there..
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New town is not the prettiest area though. Gone are the colonial buildings and here they have communist apartment blocks. Huge, grey monstrosities lining the streets. Apparently built by the East-Germans, back when Tanganyika was trying socialism.

Travel-Stone-Town-Zanzibar_20120327104833953139-420x0After a few hours stroll, we are dying for a beer. On the mainland, this was never a problem, as Tanzanians love to drink, but Zanzibar is Muslim. We have not seen any little bars about and are therefore reduced to the touristy beach front and a very overpriced beer, but it is lovely! Good beer, good music and amazing views! The place we have ended up is run by a Belgian, and looking at the menu, we will have to come back for some food. (Fresh pasta, Salmon, etc. All the good things we have not had for a long time)
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We hit the Night market again, this time to try out the Zanzibari pizza. As it turns out, it is the same as the Tanga pizza, but they have a lot more varieties here. Savory and sweet, so for dessert we have a banana and Nutella pizza. Sounds really bad, but is really tasty!

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images2Half way through dessert, we are joined by Fisherman George. At first we are stand offish, as we have been hassled enough tonight for tours and boat rides, but this guy seems to just want to talk to us. (In all of Tanzania we have not had one conversation with a Tanzanian, that has not ended up in a sales pitch or a hand out. Not one person has been interested in just talking with us. We feel we have not had much to do with the normal Tanzanians, as we only get approached by the people in the tourist industry.. Unfortunately we have also not been able to learn much about the country or how people feel about it.. We have had lots of great conversations, but none of these people were Tanzanian. Germans, Kenyan, Dutch, etc.)
Stone-Town-in-Zanzibar-006Happily surprised we chat away for an hour or so. He tells us that Tanzania is the opposite of the west. “Here we pretend to care about each other, but we don’t. The rich get richer, while the poor will never get a chance. The rich or the government will not help them. In the west you say you don’t care about each other, but you all pay to have a system that will look after the less fortunate.”
Finally some interesting insights.

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We agree to meet him again tomorrow for a beer. He does now mention that he has a boat and will be taking tourists out the day after, but we chose to ignore that sales pitch. He is a nice guy, and we might consider taking his boat if we want to go out on the water.

Later than expected we make it back to the rooms.

AA

16 April 2013

Stonetown
walk around
House of wonders
Fort
Coins shop
night market food

Our first day in Stone town, the capital city of Zanzibar. Zanzibar is the whole archipelago and the island we are on is actually called Unguja, but everybody calls it Zanzibar island.

Stonetown

Stonetown

Stone town is an old city, although most of the buildings are barely 150 years old. It was only a small village, until the Omanis came in and turned it into a wealthy trading post. They built a fortress in 1701, but did not built much else that lasted till the mid 1800’s. Then they started building with coral stone from nearby islands. For almost 60 years Stonetown was booming, making big money of the slave trade and the spices.

Like an old Moroccan Medina

Like an old Moroccan Medina

Things changed when the slave trade was banned and the British came in at around 1900. The Omanis still owned the land and the resources, there was even still a Omani Sultan, but the English took control. The African population was not happy, and it all came to a head a few weeks after they had gotten independence. The British had stepped aside, and now they would take it out on the Arab minority. In the 1964 “Revolution” more than 12.000 Arabs and Indians were killed in one night. Nothing here in Stonetown to commemorate this event though.

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The old buildings are stunning. The Dispensery, the House of Wonders and old post office.

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Strange mixes of Arab and European styles.

The old doors..

The old doors..

..lots of details..

..lots of details..

..and stunning!

..and stunning!

The most stunning part of the city must be the wooden doors though. The little winding alley, to narrow for cars, keep popping up with little gems. The doors are heavily decorated with flower patters, geometric designs and big metal spikes. All the carvings are symbolic and the doors were made to show of your standing in society.

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As Stonetown got Unesco listed a few years ago, a lot of the bigger nicer buildings are being done up. Hopefully they will also help to preserve the doors.

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We wander around and make it to the old fort. Easy to find along the water front. Quite a small fort though, and inside seems to be all tourist shops.

Walking the streets around, we come across a shop with a difference. The Coins shop.
Out side we admire the little display case with their wares, and are quickly ushered in by the girl running the place. Her and her husband have started this business. The coins are stunning. Old or new coins from around the world, but very intricately carved out. Very detailed work.stone-town-zanzibar

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We also find out that she has some rooms for rent upstairs and have a look. The place we are in at the moment is ok, but there is more style about this place. (And it is cheaper.) It is two adjoining rooms in an old traditional Zanzibari house.  Beautiful woodwork and a lot of space. The place is not finished yet though, as she is only just staring to rent it. We would be the first people staying. We will think about it.

Like an old Moroccan Medina

Like an old Moroccan Medina

For dinner we decided to try the famous Forodhani gardens at the water. Here they have an open air street food market every night after sunset, selling the catch of the day. The setup is beautiful with the last of the sunset and the light of the different stalls. Walking up, we are instantly grabbed by a local to have a look at his stall. The first one, so we do. Proudly he shows of his wares. Prawns, Crab, Shark, Red Snapper, Octopus, Oysters, Mussels and lost more seafood, mostly on sticks like sate.. Also chicken and for the vegetarians, bread, fried banana and different fried local fruits. The prices are not cheap though. From 3.00 shillings to 12.000 depending what is or the stick.images We thank him for showing us, and leave to have a look at the other stalls. This is our first time here, and want to see what is on offer.
As it turns out, all the stalls sell basically the same, for about the same prices. They are very competitive about getting customers though, up to a point where we are surrounded by men yelling at us that their food is better than the rest. This is not fun, and we try to escape to a quieter area. No such luck, as they all know we have not spend our money yet..

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the night food market

Eventually we lose them and we can catch our breath. Why do they make it such a struggle to just look around? From a distance we can see that there are other shops, beside the seafood places. Pizza, Shoarma, coffee and juices.
Hungry and determinate not to be intimidated again we dive back in. Heading for one stall in front of us, we make it there and go through the whole routine of showing of the wares again. Here they also do mega balls of falafel. Anna is happy! Falafel and garlic bread for her, while Andrew has some fish and chicken. All served with salad. We find a seat and share our goodies. Pretty nice!

AA

15 April 2013

15th flight to Zanzibar
Finding a hotel

Flying to Zanzibar today.

SharbourIt used to be a different country, and we are choosing to see it as different from the mainland, mostly hoping that it will be better.
We meet Helen again when checking out and hang around for another chat over coffee. Hopefully we can keep in contact with her.
We walk our bags over to the Fastjet office, from where we take a shuttle bus to the airport. The airport, flight etc is pretty standard and we land in Stonetown at about 14.30. There was supposed to be shuttle bus on this end also between the airport and down town, but that does not seem to be the case. As the taxi’s all want 10US to get us there, we decide to just grab a daladala. We have to wait for a few to go past, till we find one that is going in the right direction, and is willing to take us and our luggage.
Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania.  Street Scene.Sgirls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SdoorThe main daladala stand in Stonetown is next to the market, so we get dropped in all the hustle and bustle. Old Stonetown is pretty small, and we have decided to try to find a place in the cheap area near the harbour. We can easily walk there, but soon pick up a “guide”. We try to get rid of him, but even when he leaves, there is an instant replacement. We go around the different hotels and guest houses in this area, sometimes following our guide, and sometimes them following us. This is not a cheap town though, and some of the rooms are shockingly bad for the price they are asking. So we keep going. We have to leave the harbour area as we have run out of options here and with our new guide start heading towards central Stonetown. Our guide Said, is very nice and speaks some English, which is handy.Speople Now we can just explain that we do not want a guide to help us find a hotel, as we do not want to pay commission. A bit rude maybe, but that’s what it is.. He lets us know, that he does not get a commission, the Zanzibari just want to look after their tourists.
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Eventually we end up at Haven. A simple room with nets and fan, shared bathroom, for 25US after haggling. That is about 40.000 shillings and the most expensive room we have stayed in in this country. (The breakfast was nice though!) We only got the discount on the agreement that we stayed for two nights, so we have time to look around for maybe a cheaper option, but we doubt it is possible on this island..

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We feel like we have seen most of Stonetown already dragging our bags along. It sort of reminds us of Fez, but smaller, quieter and dirtier. It has a certain charm about it though, and is definitely different from the mainland. We head out for a meal, but have an early night.

AA