Tuesday, 8 May 2007

The Best treats in Stonetown

The Zanzibar Serena Inn (Tel. 024 223 35 87 or 024 223 30 19; e-mail: zserena@zanzinet.com) does an excellent breakfast buffet. Come early in order to get a table at one of the open windows facing the beach, to watch the incoming dhows from their night catch trips.

Excellent, even though pricy food is served in the Stone Town Inn in Beyt al Chai (Tel. 0774 44 41 11 or 0773 16 91 11; e-mail: reservations@stonetownin.com; www.stonetowninn.com) just opposite the Serena Inn. Try the Sea food linguine, and the chocolate mousse! If you then still feel like Italiann ice cream and coffee, go accross the road into the sea front Amore Mio Coffee place, and let spoil yourself by real Italien treats - the palce indeed is Italian run, and also makes decent pasta and pizza, even though not as outstanding as some of the ice cream.

The restaurant of the Mtoni Marine Hotel (024 225 01 17 or 024 225 01 40 or 0713 32 32 26 or 0757 46 33 99; e-mail: mtoni@zanizbar.cc; www.mtoni.com) about 2km North of town (you can jump on any Dala Dala leaving the town on the road towards the North along the shore) has an excellent Zan Sushi Bar on the beach - the set up is idyllic, and if you are lucky to get the master sushi chef, food is outstanding. Next to Mtoni Marine there is also a small mosque with a little terrace to oversee the fishing harbour, and the ruins of one of the Sultants Palace, where Princess Salme is said to have lived as a child.

Slightly further North to the Mtoni Marine Hotel, the Hakuna Matata Beach Lodge (Tel. 0777 45 48 92; e-mail: info@zanzibar-resort.com; www.hakuna-matata-beach-lodge.com/ and Restaurant does Seafood and Fish Fondues, as well as smoked fish specialities.

Mrembo (Tel. 0777 43 01 17) in Cathedral Street in Stonetown offers Zanzibari and Western Beauty treatments using the island’s natural ingredients including massage and Henna paintings; You’ll be also served ginger and lemongrass tea and listen to local traditional Taarab music.

A nice half day excursion out of Stonetown is to the Mbweni Ruins Hotel (Tel. 024 223 54 78/79; e-mail:
hotel@mbweni.com) – take any Dala Dala Bus direction airport, and leave at the Police station where there is a sign indicating the way to Mbweni Ruins Hotel. Under old trees and through districts where obviously the rich of Stonetown live, you pass a beautiful old Anglican Church semi overgrown but still in use, and finally reach the Botanical Garden and the ruins of what used to be some 200 years a British run school and hostel for freed slave girls. The place is beautiful and peaceful. There is also a bar on a newly built pier into the sea;

For late night drinks, chill outs and dancing, try the Dharma Lounge in the Culture Musical Club on Vuga road.

Bi Kidude (www.asoldasmytongue.net), an over 90 years old Zanzibar lady, is THE taraab music legend of the island, still performing regularely. Against all odds, she devoted her live to taraab music, which has its origin in the merge of arab, omani and swahili traditional music, and contributed much to the role model of women in traditional Zanzibar. She performs in the Sauti ya Busara festival, occasionally in Mercury's restaurant next to the ferry port, and on private occasions - keep your eyes open for the fascinating lady crossing your way, or sitting in the Bi Kidude restaurant sipping a cold beer and enjoying a cigarette.

Well worth a visit are all museums of town, the House of Wonders, telling the history of the Swahili traders travelling with the monsoon winds, the Palace museum telling the history of the sultants, and the recently renovated Old Hospital with a whole room devoted to Princess Salme are all located on the sea front.

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