A Stop Off in Stone Town

 

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Cocktails on the Balcony. Stone Town. Zanzibar

If you don’t have a friend willing to pick you up from the airport or Stone Town, there are a number of ways to travel to Pingwe Beach. Taxi – at least 40 – 50 dollars, the most convenient and expensive way. Shared van – 10,000 shillings each (about $6.50) to Pajae then a dalla dalla (local bus) from Pajae to Pingwe – you should pay no more than 500 shillings each. Two dalla dallas all the way – no more than 15000 – 20000 shillings in total or hitching (not to be recommended).

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Wash Day.  Stone Town Harbour. Zanzibar.

Bearing in mind that we were on a budget, a taxi was out of the question and having been in dalla dallas before we decided that a walk to the bus station, catching a bus to the central market (about 3 km out from the centre) then catching another bus to Michamvi Kae, with luggage, in the heat, was too hard. So we booked into the Princess Salome in Stone Town for a couple of nights and organised a shared van. The Princess Salome is a good budget option, nice people, substantial breakfast included, a rooftop sitting area and, because we have stayed there on a number of occasions, an upgrade at no extra cost.

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Watching the Football. Old Quarter. Stone Town.

 

 

Stone Town is worth exploring for a few days. The old quarter consists of a maze of narrow alleys lined by shops, bazaars, spice houses, mosques, schools, markets and coral stone houses. The seafront has wider streets, more hotels and gardens where a seafood night markets takes place every day. Arab, Persian, European, Indian and African culture influences the architecture. A prominent feature of many of the old multi-storied buildings are the elaborately carved Zanzibarian doors and verandas protected by wood carved balustrades.

 

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Streets of old Quarter, spice house and a Zanzibarian door

Stone Town also has many historic buildings some of which are the former palaces of the sultans, an old fort, the old dispensary, churches, the slave market, churches and mosques, Turkish baths and many restored spices/tea houses. Stone Town is also the starting point for trips to Prison Island and the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Park. If you plan to stay a few days, a word of advice. Zanzibar has a prodominently Muslim population. Short skirts, spaghetti strapped tops, crutch hugging shorts, see through clothing are OK for beach/muzungo areas but wear something more appropriate for towns and villages. Not only will you feel more comfortable but you will get a much more welcoming reception from the locals if you respect their culture.

eu (4)vThe Old Ford and The Dispensary

After two days sightseeing, hitting up the atms (none on the East coast that I know of) and balmy nights drinking cocktails whilst watching the sun set, we left our excess luggage with the hotel, caught an early van and headed up to Pingwe and our friends Ame and Phil.

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Sun Set on the Beach.  Stone Town.  Zanzibar

 

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