The next day, we set out to explore the ancient Stone Town, the urban heart of Zanzibar. Stone Town is a snapshot from the past. It has changed little in 200 years, and the city itself is even designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
the Beach Villa to Stown Town was half the fun. Instead of taking a
taxi, we decided to use the local bus service. These buses are mostly
Toyota pickup trucks with a specially constructed wooden back end,
consisting of two long benches, a roof over top, and lots of fancy
wallpaper. These trucks are known as Daladalas. A conductor
of sorts hangs off the back, and everyone gets packed right in, up
to about 20 people per little pickup truck. Cost? About the equivalent
of 20 US cents.
Stone Town is not a polished tourist destination. Real, working people inhabit the city. The city is crowded and has very narrow streets, most of which are inaccessible to vehicles (in fact, in many ways, it reminds me of a waterless and more run-down Venice). Some streets and buildings are very dilapidated, and some are in reasonably good shape. We walked through grungy meat markets, overflowing vegetable stands, kids running around in the streets playing with the simplest of toys (usually made of some discarded thing), and, of course, vendors hawking all manner of African souvenirs.
We spend most
of the day aimlessly wandering around through magically shoddy little
alleyways. We visit the grand old "House of Wonders", a grand old
Victorian-era building that is now a national museum. I also notice
many elaborate studded and carved doors on many buildings and dwellings.
After catching another Daladala back to the Beach Villa, a
casual evening with another fine but slowly-served meal at their restaurant
capped off the day.
Video: A Tour of Stone Town
A video record of our wanderings in wonderful old Stone Town, Zanzibar. (2 minutes, 9 seconds)