I made it! To Zanzibar and to my first holiday on my own. The latter was both a conscious decision and a coincidence at the time of booking. For some time, the thought of going on a holiday just on my own with as many books as I can possibly pack was evolving in my mind. When I received the newsletter with this amazing Zanzibar offer, I just couldn’t resist and no one was available to join me.. so I booked a nice looking holiday resort, I downloaded 5 audio books and I left! One of the best decisions I have ever made. Although, I am usually not a typical resort holiday maker, this was exactly what I wanted to do. Some well deserved and long needed R&R was in order. There were three resorts I could choose from and for the first time my decision was purely based on Trip Advisor reviews. Everyone who wrote a review was raving about the food served at the one that I then chose! It did not disappoint. I am rather critical about Trip Advisor reviews but I guess when travelling alone one is even more concerned about safety etc.. So, a full board accommodation was one of my top priorities.
Zanzibar itself was on the cards already a few years ago. So some reason it didn’t happen.. So finally, I made it there. It was exactly how I imagined it to be. Zanzibar is an extremely poor island, so starting from arriving at the airport, the drive to the resort.. Even though I live in Africa, Zanzibar is yet another kind of Africa, or should I rather say, South Africa, Johannesburg and in particular Sandton (my suburb) is not Africa?
So, I spend 4 days at the wonderful Ngalawa Beach Village. The resort is located on Zanzibar’s East Coast, at Chwaka Bay. The East coast is definitely the quieter part of Zanzibar, which is exactly why I chose it. Ngalawa is owned by a lovely couple. Joanne who is the master of the kitchen, is a qualified chef who used to own a restaurant in her native country Canada, she just creates the most wonderful dishes. I believe that for 21 days you will never have the same dish twice. Which means a lot of different dishes to create because besides the breakfast menu all other meals are set. Every day there is a 3 course lunch and a 4 course dinner. All home-made and very creative (Jasmin soup – I didn’t even know this would be possible, wow!)
There are plenty spots around the resort to just do nothing – hammocks spread around the pool area, the pool itself, the patio bar, deck chairs around the pool or on sort of a private beach one level up the actual beach and the beach of course. A paradise to do what I wanted to do: Nothing.
The highlight of my holiday was definitely a day trip to Stone Town. I have already seen so many pictures of this UNESCO world heritage site and all I wanted was to experience it myself. It did not disappoint either. As soon as I entered the old city I was taken back in time at least 100 years. Of course there is electricity and all today, yet nothing has really changed. It is a mixture of a place right out of 1000 and 1 nights as well as being in the middle of colonialism. Islam is the major religious orientation and the arabic touch and feel to it, reminded me so much of the time I spent in Saudi Arabia wandering through the souks as a teenager. If I had more space in my home, I’d have bought so many ornaments and other things to decorate my house. Especially those doors.. that’s what Stone Town is famous for.
My guide was organised by the owners of the resort. He was great. Very knowledgable. He grew up in Stone Town and knows the town in and out. I’d have been terribly lost on my own. Streets have no names, there is no structure how it was built. That’s exactly what made it so charming. In a random street you find the most amazing coffee-houses, a local craftsman selling his work in a little shop and in the next one is a grand hotel dated back to British colonial times. Lunch was served in a hidden little restaurant right at the edge of town, by the beach with a stunning view over the ocean. The Traveller Café. A bit of a calm spot in this buzzling town.
A day trip was definitely too short of a stay. I recommend to anyone going, to stay 2 or 3 nights in Stone Town. The vibe is mesmerizing and to watch the sunset from one of the many places that have roof top terraces must be a unforgettable experience.
So, Stone Town be prepared, I will come back, stay longer and take back one of your doors… OK.. maybe not a door, but a picture frame made of part of an old door frame.