Day 4: Zanzibar

Sunday 3/16/08

This morning (7am) we caught a 2-hour ferry to Zanzibar. Although Zanzibar belongs to Tanzania you still need a passport (unless you speak fluent Swahili). We had a great time on a boat – conversing, taking pictures and making various plans for the island.

Images: Palace Museum - wooden staircase, building and a furniture room.

We took a tour of the Palace Museum, once a residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar. The palace is located in the historic Stone Town, a UNESCO’s World Heritage site. Despite the rich history the building and the nearby cemetery are neglected and in poor conditions mostly due to the lack of sufficient funding (a destiny of many other beautiful buildings on the island). The inside d├ęcor features carved furniture, crystal chandeliers and portraits of Sultan and his family. To my surprise they also displayed portraits of Sissi and Franz Joseph (the Austrian Empress and Emperor).

There is a book - Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar - an autobiography by a true Zanzibari princess Sayyida. I just ordered it.

We passed by the House of Wonders, where supposedly people were sacrificed and buried in the tall pillars; and continued walking further into the Stone Town. It’s full of shops, restaurants and pubs (one praising Zanzibar’s native Freddie Mercury which is ironic considering the 25-year punishment for being gay.) Not sure if it was the hot weather or street vendors attacking us to buy the local spices and arts or the views of the turquoise waters but we all wanted to go to the beach.

Image: House of Wonders; Zanzibar's local food market.

Before leaving for Dar, A'Lynne, Rob and I went to the local food market for spices (I got some cardamon and vanilla coffee, and also colored red curry powder) and some gift shopping. I couldn't resist some of the local fabrics.

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