What a wonderful phrase, and not just in childhood memories – it is a pretty common occurrence to hear the laid back locals of Stonetown telling us ‘no worries’! A fascinating city: full of vitality and vibrant colours, yet with a darker personality twisting through the back street alleyways that wind in every direction. Getting deliberately lost on our hired sit-up-and-beg bicycles was our preferred way to sightsee; sampling street food, dodging the locals and admiring the architecture without a care in the world. The ornate doors of Stonetown are internationally renowned, with whole novels dedicated to them: there are over five hundred spectacularly carved doors, many centuries older than the houses they now belong to. It’s easy to let your imagination run wild with what mysterious happenings have occurred behind those closed doors and the secrets the worn wood holds.
Meandering down Gizenga Street is an experience in itself; luckily we are experienced hagglers by now (or like to think so, at any rate), so are fiercely prepared to meet the many market sellers that haunt this popular strip head on. A must-do trip whilst in Zanzibar is a spice tour – who knew that curry powder starts off as a bright orange succulent fruit? It’s fascinating to see the plants in the spice forest before they are harvested, chopped, dried and packaged unrecognisably.
Prison Island is a thirty minute boat trip off the coast of Zanzibar and was used to segregate victims of influenza during the epidemic – now it houses an endangered species of Giant Tortoises in a sanctuary well worth the visit. From tiny tortoises that would fit in the palm of my hand, the oldest is 189 years old and about the size of a small car!
The evenings should be spent at the Fiordhani Gardens where you can watch the sun set spectacularly over the ocean, whilst your choice of freshly caught seafood is hauled in, skewered and cooked before your eyes.
If you’re not that keen on lobster or octopus tentacles, alternatives are available in the form of meat, naan or coconut bread, pizza and fresh fruit. The atmosphere makes it worthwhile even without the delicious (cheap) food: old men sit on the sea wall playing Bau or draughts, local women gossip about the day past and all the young boys dive into the sea from ridiculous heights while they wait for fish or crabs to take their lines.