Sunday, 17 September 2017

On our way home again

Travelling home is always more tiring and less welcome than travelling out. When the holiday is over, you just want to get home as quickly as possible but it is rarely the case. We were allowed to keep our room until 12 noon and therefore were able to spend our last morning at


Breezes enjoying the sun and the view and then having checked out, our usual light lunch.

Our taxi arrived on time and within an hour, we were at Zanzibar Airport which we would say, is not one of the most comfortable or modern airports we have ever been to - very hot and humid sums it up. But it worked and eventually we boarded our on-time departure.

Screen Shot 2017 09 25 at 19 36 18

Unfortunately it was an old plane taking us to Doha with no seat back entertainment. There then followed a very boring five hour layover in transit at Doha - it really is not as good an airport for transit passengers as Changi.

Screen Shot 2017 09 25 at 19 42 12

Then an Airbus A380 with lots of leg room and fairly poor food took us back to Heathrow and after a rather long wait for one of our bags and a train which broke down a few miles from our station, we were home at 12 noon UK time or 26 hours after we had left our hotel in Zanzibar. I realise that the account of the journey back reads a bit negative - it was long and was not the highlight of the holiday but there was not much anyone could do to make it more enjoyable !

Overall, we thought this was a superb two weeks which gave us all that we had wanted from a safari and then a very relaxing week by the sea. We thought the people of Tanzania were very very welcoming, nearly always smiling and we left the country with a very positive view of it as a holiday destination. Thank-you Zoe of Audley Travel for sorting it out.

Friday, 15 September 2017

A visit to Stone Town

Krt map stonetown2

Stone Town is the old capital of Zanzibar and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spending some time wandering around is something which many tourists do when they visit the island and we were no different. We chose to ask our hotel to arrange for a guide to take us around and explain to us what we were seeing.

It is as pretty, interesting; rambling; and unusual as most old towns. However what is does have, we thought was rather nice and have not seen elsewhere, was many old doors. In fact historically it was known for its doors and years ago there were about 800 doors of note, but now only about 200 are left. There are very good websites giving far more information about the doors than I intend to write here and here.

We started our tour in some gardens adjacent to the sea in front of the House of Wonders.

Fishing Boat

The fishing boats moored in the harbour showed both a rudimentary design and nice faded colours. 

House of Wonders

House of wonders

The nearby House of Wonders was built in 1883 by Sultan Barghash bin Said as a palace and got its name because it was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity and also the first in East Africa to have a lift. It was connected to two adjacent palaces and this allowed females to move between the palaces without being seen. Now it is a dusty museum housing art and artefacts spread over much of Zanzibar’s history.

Entrance HallSultan Narghash bib Said

As you climb the grand stairs to the first floor, you are surrounded by large portraits of previous rulers including Sultan Barghash bib Said.

British Furniture

On this floor were a number of rooms displaying furniture from different periods. This room had British Imperial furniture (the Royal Insignia are on the throne)


and also a picture of the Queen presented to a Sultan on her Coronation in 1952.

Sultan size bed

Extra rooms were added to the palace in the 1930s to enable the Sultan to sleep with one of his wives and contain this “Sultan Sized Bed"

Ebony Love Seat

and an ebony Love Seat surrounded boy local furniture with intricate carvings.

Formica Table

One of the later Sultans had a thing for Formica Furniture and so there are a number of pieces scattered around the museum of a design and style we remember from our early childhoods.

Door Surround

It was here that we got a foretaste of the carvings to come with this lovely elaborate door surround.

  Stone Town StreetStone Town Street 2

Like most of the best “old towns”, Stone Town is full of picturesque alleyways with colour and atmosphere. 

Stone Town Building 

I particularly liked the faded blue on this building.

 Spice Balcony

It is said that the more ornate the carving, the wealthier the owner. This carved balcony is on the first floor of what is now the Spice Hotel,

Market Balcony

and this was on a less elegant building near the market place.

Stone Carving

I could not work out what this carving portrayed but it was at the bottom of a pillar on a ruined building next to the House of Wonders.

Manhole Cover 001 

The manhole covers have a nice engraving on them featuring aspects of Zanzibar history and culture.

The Doors of Stone Town

The Doors of Stone Town are famous for their variety, craftsmanship and simple beauty.

 Door 6

Doors are usually fitted into one of a number of design families but I start with a door which does not fit into any of the families because it was the Cathedral front door, shaped perhaps a bit like a Bishop’s Mitre.

Door 9  Door 8

Turning to door families, doors with Brass Studs on them are Indian because in India, the studs protect the doors from elephants trying to push through with their heads.

Door 11  Door 12

Another aspect of Indian doors is that they have an arched framed above the door. The door on the right has a padlock chain attached to the door and the step. We were told this was evidence of a Royal connection to the building.

Door 5  

Arabic Doors are usually rectangular

Door 10  Door 7

Usually private house doors would have only one side open.

Door 10 Closeup

The door frames portrayed intricate carving often showing chains around the edge (a historical reference)

Door 1  Door 2

Door 3

and sometimes include quotations from the Koran.

Door 4

Merchant Doors were usually double doors with both sides open at the same time. There is no one place where doors will be found, they are scattered throughout the old town.

Stone Town Market


The main market in Stone Town was built by the British and opened in 1904. 

Market 1

As is usually the case, the market was full of fresh vegetables, spices, meat and fish plus noise and atmosphere.

Market 2

The fish on display was certainly fresh but to a vegetarian and a Scuba Diver, 

Fish 1

seeing some of the fish on display

Fish 2

was a bit distressing. 

Fish 3

None of it was on ice and therefore it was catch it, buy it and eat it within a very short period of time before it would go off.

Meat 1  Meat 2

The smell in the meat hall was unforgettable !

The Slave Trade

Zanzibar played a key role in the slave trade and when we were there, we felt that it was important to learn about its history and impact.

Slave Market Sign

The City Cathedral is built on the site of the former slave market. Incidentally we got a very strong impression that the island copes peacefully with a variety of religions with Islam as the predominant religion.

To get into the Cathedral / Slave Market we first went through an area where the slave trade (both historical and current) was described in detail. Back in the early 1800s, the original traders were from the Gulf Region and many of the local suppliers of slaves were local chiefs who would sell anyone they could capture into slavery.

Church Inside

The inside of the Cathedral is cool and quiet, complete with an Organ.

Slave Post

In front of the High Altar is a round spot said to be the exact position where a whipping post was positioned in the slave market.

Livinstone Crucifix

Next to it is a crucifix made from wood from the tree under which David Livingstone’s heart was buried in present day Zambia. 

Just outside of the Cathedral are a set of statues which describe the slave trade very powerfully.

Slave Statues Sign

Slave Statues

We thought they were remarkable images 

Three slaves

which said far more than words could.

Slavery on the island was forcibly abolished by the British in 1873 following a threat by the British of a total blockade of Zanzibar unless the ruling sultan closed all slave markets, liberated all slaves and protected them. Reluctantly, he agreed.

Hindu Temple

We also visited a Hindu Temple which was tucked away up a side street.It was typical of such temples and we were welcomed in by those who were there.

Hindu Entrance

Hindu Door

The door frame showed evidence of the local skill in carving

Hindu Leaves

and above the door were dried Mango leaves which an old tradition says help to ward off evil spirits or negative energy.

Hindu inside

The temple inside was in the standard format and colours

Hindu Elephant God

with a number of gods present including Ganesha (the Elephant God)

Hindu Cow

and Kamadhenu whom I have not met before - a divine bovine goddess described as the "mother of all cows”.

Freddie Mercury’s House

I shall end this blog entry where we ended our walk - at what is said to have been Freddie Mercury’s House.

Freddie Mercury House

Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar and (it is said) lived here until he was 8 when he moved to go to school in India.

Mercury SIgn

 He came back here briefly in 1962 and migrated to the UK in 1964. The rest is history.

Mercury Door

Here we came across two hot and tired travellers who were impressed with Stone Town 

Two Travellers

and were looking forward to a well earned rest back at Breezes.