I headed out from my hotel at my normal time, an hour that doesn’t really correspond with a person on holiday but here I find myself wandering the streets of Dar es Saalam at 6:30am where nothing is yet open and a strange cloud of calm hangs over the usually frantic city.
I find this time of day very special and it certainly gives a different perspective to the feel of the normal chaos. The few scatterings of used serviettes and the odd chicken bone are the only remnants of the horde of food vendors from the previous evening and I am able to walk down the centre of the once busy high street without risk of being run over. The modern metropolis of this place, once capital, is strangely captivating this morning and I walk in the direction of the port in a hope to purchase a ticket for the ferry to Zanzibar.
I was thinking of spending a day in the city and departing for the island tomorrow but I’ve had a change of heart today and decide to walk around for a few hours to acquaint myself with Dar before leaving at 12:30pm and getting over to paradise one day ahead of schedule, let’s be honest it’s the reason for me being here in the first place so why delay?
After my ticket had been confirmed I quick-stepped my way back to the hotel for the complimentary breakfast and then hit the mean streets of Dar Es Saalam.
Dar es Salaam
The city was not massively impressive but certainly the most modern place I had been to in Tanzania so far and I quickly realised that moving my departure forward by one day was probably the wisest thing I could have done. I’m not saying Dar is a rubbish city, although there certainly wasn’t a shortage of it from what I could see, but apart from the abundance of restaurants and cafes, I didn’t feel as though I was missing out on much.
I walked for a couple of hours amid the rising chaos of the city and eventually found the beach. It was nice enough, and clean, and fairly quiet, so certainly a place to consider taking a break from the mayhem of the interior but as I was heading to paradise later today I refrained from taking a dip. I was happy just to sit and watch the few people splash around in the waves.
I continued my self guided city tour for a little while longer but had managed to become sweat sodden in the process so I took a quick time out in an air conditioned coffee shop before heading back to the Econolodge to prepare my things for my trip on the ferry to Zanzibar.
Ferry to Zanzibar
The ferry was pretty full and I had been forced to pay for the slightly more expensive “business class” ticket in order to be able to leave today. This wasn’t a problem and only an extra $5 on top of the $35 for the economy ticket. The boat is new, well kept, and very fast. The gentle rock of the ocean, combined with my comfortable seat sent me to sleep almost immediately. My return to consciousness leaving only a very agreeable 15 minutes until the dock at the port of Zanzibar’s “Stone Town”. I think the journey time is usually about 1.5hrs.
I had to fill a form on arrival and received a new stamp on my passport in return and for the second time of the trip I was asked to present my yellow fever vaccination card. Once the immigration officers were satisfied that I was free of infectious diseases I was released into paradise. The centre of Stone Town is easily within walking distance but I decide to pay a motor taxi 3,000 shillings (£1) to take me the short distance and for the experience it was worth it. We hurtled through the intricate network of alleys managing to avoid the crowds of tourists that were casually strolling through the town bumping up and down curb stones without letting off the throttle at any point and surprisingly, my bags and I arrived outside of the “Ten to Ten hostel” completely intact.
The staff here were great and the room more than satisfactory; each dorm bed supplied with curtains for privacy and a personal light and plug outlet for each bed. The shower was hot and towels provided free of charge. On top of this there is a washing machine and dryer that was free to use and I’m now wishing I had brought my bag of dirty clothes that I had instead left to mature at the hostel in Iringa.
I didn’t hang around long and was soon out to explore the town and get something to eat.
I found a nice place by the sea called 6 Degrees South and settled down to a nice calamari dinner which by the time I had finished flowed quite nicely into the happy hour (which was 2 hours) so I joined the masses on the balcony to take part in the next two hours of cheap drinking and to enjoy my first Zanzibarian sunset, a nice introduction I thought. After a few more drinks than my previously teetotal brain would have liked I found myself in the company of a large Ukrainian fellow who smoked like a chimney and proceeded to give me a rundown of all of the exotic drinks that were housed behind the bar. He was actually a great laugh and although I may have preferred to talk to the more attractive lady sat on the other side of him I was kept entertained for duration or until my head decided that it was time to go back to the hostel while I still had the capability to find my way.
On my way home I stumbled across the night food market and couldn’t resist the opportunity to partake in a drunkards dream that was a kebab! Chance of getting the shits was 50/50 but at the time it was a gamble I was happy to take and gobbled down the nondescript meat happily.
I’m not sure what time I returned back to the hostel but it was definitely way past my bedtime so I collapsed into my bed feeling content and fell asleep immediately.