Day 41 – Freddie Mercury House

Well friends my beach days seem to have come to an end for now, so this morning I decide to walk down to the water getting the lovely, and I have to add very clean, white sand between my toes one last time before I return to the mainland. I whisper my goodbyes to the beautiful ocean and the already moderate breeze carries them off to inform the rest of the island that “Mr Cheetah”, “The White Peddalling Lion”, good old “Jaybo” is off for good. For a moment I thought I felt a tear drop from the heavens as a sign of Zanzibar’s lamentation, and then as if in celebration the clouds parted and the sun shone across the beach, very funny I thought to myself, im sure if Paje could talk I would have heard a simultaneous “hooray!” but thankfully it remained mute.  Putting down my middle finger I strolled back for my last Teddys breakfast and then made my way to the Dala Dala bus stop.

10 Men Cramped in a bus Zanzibar Tanzania
15 Men cramped in a local bus – Zanzibar Tanzania

The local bus, if you can handle little to no breathing space for an hour, was a great experience and I happily bundled in the back of the pickup with another 15 Tanzanians and off we went. It was fun and the tourists passing in all of the air conditioned taxis that were leaving this morning found it highly amusing seeing the long limbed white man wedged in amongst the locals. I have to say though if you are a particularly tall person you may not want to attempt this mode of transport as all of the passengers in the rear cab are housed in, with a roof about 3 foot lower than it should be. Headroom is obviously a luxury that is unimportant over here? Once your in it was sufficient enough but being 6ft 1inch in height initially I was forced to almost crawl into my seat, very amusing for all of the other passengers though it seems! Haha yes very funny everybody.

Freddie Mercury House

The journey however was pretty good and felt faster than that of my arrival, and although I had lost the feeling in my left leg due to the tight squeeze of people we landed in Stone Town safe and sound.  
I headed down to the centre in search of Freddie Mercury’s house that was located here in town, and something I had promised to capture on film for my good friend Surya and had overlooked on my first visit! Sorry Surya I’m a douche what more can I say?  I really enjoyed my walk through the famous alleyways of Zanzibar city and looking at the variety of paintings and crafts on display as I went I found myself outside of Freddie’s house in no time at all.  The “Queen” singers house had actually been turned into some sort of hotel or guesthouse and now I was standing outside I realised I had already passed it a number of times on my previous visit but just didn’t know it.  I’m wondering at this point if my blinkers are switched off all of the time or if it’s purely selective?  I do have a problem remembering things now I think of it, don’t I? Do I? Uhhhhh what was I saying again?  Oh yeah Teddy Tertiary’s couch that was it, It was very comfy yes…

After my chores were completed (ha only joking Sozzer I wanted to see it too) I decided to go and sit in the almost as famous ‘Stone Town Cafe’ for a coffee and to do a little more chilling out, which I was starting to become accustomed to after almost a week of island chilledness and while I was being chill the shade helped to keep me quite chilled also which was lovely! The coffee was of course required in quantity at this point as a stimulant to balance me out and to prevent me from slipping into a coma and after 14 cups I felt just lovely!

With all of this sitting down I had worked up quite an appetite so I actually headed back the way I came after leaving the dala dala and towards a local restaurant called Lukmaan that had been recommended to me when I was here last. The place was absolutely rammed, which is always a good sign, and both locals and foreigners were jostling around the canteen style eatery trying to order one or many of the various types of food on display.  There was quite the choice of food here today but I was immediately drawn to the guy frying and preparing the fresh seafood and ordered a skewer of rather large king prawns that he cooked in front of me before perusing the other numerous pre made dishes available.  The service was pretty prompt considering the volume of people and after no more than 10 minutes I was sat down with my king Prawn skewer, a coconut prawn curry, some beans, and a nice plate of rice, bloody lovely! Everything was very tasty and for a grand sum of £5 I was very satisfied, it’s funny how my perspective had changed now that I returned to Stone Town as things felt expensive compared to the mainland on my arrival and now that I had returned from the more costly Paje I felt as though everything here in town was now a bargain!
After my meal and not wanting to deny the many other hungry people waiting for a seat in this bustling restaurant I decided that I would take a slow walk to the ferry port where I was due to depart at 4pm this afternoon.  It was now 1:15pm.
Again just walking through the intricate network of narrow lanes was very enjoyable and after passing a number of paintings that I thought were nice I finally decided to purchase one for a memory of Tanzania regardless of the distinct lack of space I have in my pannier bags.  I always enjoy a good bit of bartering and so long as you follow the rules the fun of it all is almost as good as the item your buying.  

J’s Barter Rules

Follow these rules and get yourself a bargain. The rules of engagement are as follows;

  1. You have to be truly intending to buy before you engage in the barter, DON’T give them false hope, that’s not fair is it?!
  2. Always do it with a smile and NEVER get angry (it’s meant to be fun remember).
  3. NEVER pay the asking price (unless you are just feeling like you want to help them out of course), I always aim for a maximum of half of the initial price and that’s generally about right.
  4. Remember to smile and joke with them, it’s a game after all and if they like you the barter becomes easier.
  5. ADVANCED BARTER TACTIC – If the vendor is a stubborn bugger you can attempt the “well thanks anyway” and walk away method. This can however leave you not getting the thing you want oh so much, so be prepared for that, but more often than not you get called back before you have barely passed back out onto the street and the deal you wanted will be accepted. Whoooyeah if you manage this one you have now levelled up to “Master Barterer” but remember to stay strong that’s the key!
  6. Once the deal is done remember to keep smiling, give thanks, and be satisfied that you have paid the right price for the thing you have bought and DO NOT back track and try to get even more money off, again it’s not fair and you should have just driven a harder bargain in the first place.
  7. Oh I almost forgot don’t be fooled by the sob story that virtually every salesperson will give you, it’s a game remember so play as best you can!

So I shook on $15 for two Maasai paintings that were about 1.25 metres in length and 30cm wide that were initially priced at $30 each so I felt happy and thanked the salesman and the artist next to him before leaving giving them my best smile and slap on the back before continuing my journey to the ferry.  
I arrived at the port 2 hours earlier than my departure but noticed that there was a ferry about to leave, this was not on the 4 boat a day roster but I checked myself out Zanzibar via the immigration desk anyway headed down towards the jetty.  The two checking boarding cards confirmed that the ferry was due to depart for Dar and with only a little persuasion they let me board the soon to depart ferry.  This was great as the last time involved a lot of cueing and waiting around but today I was able to walk straight on and within only a few minutes the engines fired up and we were off. Goodbye Zanzibar and thanks for everything!

Back to Dar es Salaam

I slept immediately much like last time and woke a few minutes out from the port of Dar and was pleased at my slightly earlier departure as I needed to get to the Ubungo bus terminal that was a little way out on the western border of the city where I would arrange an early bus to Iringa (8am) and then find a hotel as close and affordable to the station as I was able.  I would have much preferred a night bus of course and to arrive by the morning but for some reason night busses don’t run so the early morning option was all that was available.
As you exit the ferry port there is a BRT station only a few metres away and I payed my 600 shillings (20p) and took the 002 bus all the way to the Ubungo terminal, it couldn’t have been easier!  And to think I payed the kind hearted Mr Yuma 35,000 for the same journey, bastard!  Still I suppose we were playing our own little bartering game and he absolutely kicked my arse!  You see even with all of the training I’ve had over the years a travelling veteran can still get screwed from time to time so don’t worry too much if you do/did pay a little over the odds.
Before I even got off the flyover pedestrian bridge to the Ubungo terminal the touts were on me and although I had been warned not to engage in an deal or even conversation with these guys what were they really going to do?  I had a playful chat with two of them and allowed them to lead me to the Sutco office which was the same company I had used to get here so I figured it was a safe bet and at least it was a bus that I knew actually existed rather than being sold a ticket for a pseudo carrier so I was happy to indulge the touts but I made it clear that I didn’t need their help and in turn was assured that I didn’t need to pay them anything but rather they get rewarded by the company instead, fine with me.
We located the Sutco office pretty quickly as expected and I bought my ticket for tomorrow at the same price of 22,000 shillings that I had paid when I left Iringa on week ago.  Next I headed for a hotel that I could see on my app which was a very short distance away and called the MIC hotel. I bartered the 50,000 shilling room rate down to 35,000 which was still a little more than I wanted to pay but my laziness got the better of me so I took the room without complaint.
Once I had put my bag in the room I grabbed my Garmin SatNav, Hard drive, and SD cards and made my way to the Internet cafe I had seen on the walk towards the hotel and was virtually directly outside. As I’ve mentioned before actual computers are rare these days and certainly on my journey through Africa thus far so I took the opportunity to update my maps and transfer some photos.
After a couple of hours I was ready to return to the hotel and after grabbing myself some chips from the street vendor opposite I traversed the few metres back to my hotel and had an early night in preparation for my long journey in the morning.

One Reply to “Day 41 – Freddie Mercury House”

  1. Thanks for getting that picture for me J. I didn’t want to put you under pressure. You are the champion. Your the best friend that I ever had! Sorry. I couldn’t help it.

    I was expecting it to be different. More of a shrine to Freddie rather than a guest house where you can sleep in a room Freddie might have slept in while he was a child. But I suppose the Island want to capitalise on the almost tenuous link they have with him. Shouldn’t it really be named after his parents, the Bulsara’s, shouldn’t it? He didn’t own the house.

    Regardless of my pedantic thoughts I am very grateful that you did that for me. Thank you.

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