We woke up a bit early today so that we could make our way to a bank, explore the city a little bit and have breakfast. Breakfast is held at the rooftop café so we started our day there with coffee, eggs and cake. It’s a really nice and relaxed atmosphere up there since it’s an open concept room with waited service. Afterwards, we ventured out to try and find a bank that would accept our cards and got some half fast directions from the front desk.
Going to the bank was an adventure in itself since there are no road or street signs. We turned down a street and just kind of hoped for the best; we tried asking locals what street we were on but the language barrier is still present. We past a food market that seems to go on forever, dodged cars and pedestrians and then made a right turn down a street which seemed like a real street (everything that we had passed at that point was just little alley ways). Half way down the street, not knowing where we were we finally tried to ask for directions again. This time the guy we flagged down actually spoke English and told us that there was a bank about two blocks further. We thanked him, moved on and found it in about a minute of talking with him.
Once we were all ready to go we decided to continue down this street since it seemed to us that it would lead us back to the main stretch (where the ferry harbour is). We got to the end of the road and discovered that we were at a T in the road and that these were just back alleys not actual streets. Being the adventure types that we are, we decided to go to the right and continue on. The alley reminded me tremendously of Venice since it has a European pedestrian/ Vespa side street feel to it. While we were venturing, we came across a lot of little corner stores, souvenir shops, schools, apartments and other lovely looking buildings. I was really glad that we decided to make a full circuit instead of turning back and taking the long way to the hotel. We made it back onto the main road and made our way back to the hotel, just in time for our excursion.
We were given snorkeling equipment, fruit, and towels; then they sent us down to the beach where we got picked up in a canapé boat. It took about 20 minutes to make our way across the water to Changuu (Prison) Island which wasn’t too bad of a trek. When we got up the island a little ways we were directed to the Tortoise Sanctuary. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the second our tour guide told us we could go right up to them and touch them I was in heaven! I didn’t think we would be allowed to touch them but I basically just petted a bunch of them and held the babies for an hour. This is my all-time favorite animal interaction experience, and I think the only thing that could top this would be to work there or at another animal sanctuary.
It was sad to leave them, but it was time to go for a tour of the Island “prison”. This island was supposed to be a prison but during its construction the plague broke out and it became a quarantine area. People who had the plague were brought here to help stop the spread of the plague. This venue is now a restaurant and a hotel was built right beside it. Its a very beautiful location but there’s just something about knowing about all of the disease and illness that was brought here and buried. The only real good thing about this island with that history is that by making it a tourist destination, it will always be commemorated.
After the tour, it was time to go snorkeling so we took off towards the boat. I’ve never been snorkeling but I have always been around water so I wasn’t worried about anything. That is, until I put on my gear, jumped in, stuck my head in the water and had some kind of vertigo issue. I wasn’t so much scared of the vertigo itself as I was shocked at myself for having this little episode. Then to top it off I couldn’t get my breathing under control so that freaked me out more! After about 5 minutes of slowly pushing myself to take deep breaths and to stop freaking out I got the hang of it. It was such a cool experience and I’m so glad that I did it because some of the fish, animals and coral that I got to see were amazing. My only regret is that I didn’t bring an underwater camera… but at the same time that gives me an excuse to do it again!
We were in the water for about an hour before we decided to have a beach break and suntan. We got to relax and catch some sleep for about an hour in the sun before we had to start heading back. I was excited to get back to Stone Town so that we could have a real big lunch, I definitely worked up a big appetite after all of our activities.
When we got back to town we headed to a nearby restaurant and had some vegetarian birindi. And after we all ate we all decided to head back to the hotel for the most amazing nap ever. It was really hard to get up but knowing that I could just grab a coffee gave me enough motivation to get out of bed. I got myself a cappuccino to wake up and then we all headed over to the Mercury for happy hour for a few drinks. Afterwards we decided to head over to the Farodony Gardens where the fish market was to see what that was all about. We had already been warned by numerous individuals to not eat there since many of the vendors sell their left over fish from days before; which is not a good thing since it could make you very sick (obviously). So with that in mind, we kept our distance but got to see everything that they were selling; and honestly it was hard not to at least try one skewer of shrimp or calamari! After the market we were starving again and decided to try out a new restaurant at the Grand Palace Hotel, which was located on their rooftop. What we didn’t foresee was that they were a Muslim owned hotel and therefore didn’t sell alcohol. It was a bit of a bummer since it was our last dinner but we dealt with it and ordered our food.
The Grand Palace Hotel was literally a block or two away from our hotel so it was a nice little stroll back to Zenji. I do wish that we had a full week here to really explore the whole island, especially considering that I kept hearing about how amazing the North was; but I guess that will have to wait for when I can travel to Zanzibar again. Sad to think that tomorrow is our last day in Africa!