Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Things not to bother doing whilst visiting Zanzibar

Zanzibar fans... hello! I am a fan also!

I'm heading back to Kenya in a month, and I think it would be downright rude of me not to pay a visit to Zanzibar again seeing as I'll be SO close - hey neighbour! I'm feeling nostalgic and I just finished up the last of my chilli powder that I bought in Zanzibar, so I thought this an appropriate time to revisit this beautiful place in my head and on my blog.

Oh for Goodness sake, look how amazing it is:

The Z Hotel, we didn't stay there :) http://www.thezhotel.com/
I visited Zanzibar last year as part of an Exodus trip and it gave me just enough time to dig into the surface, climb in and fall in love with the place. I want to go back quite desperately.

But when I do go back, there are things I won't do and these are just my opinion, but these are things to miss out in Zanzibar:

1. Doing a spice tour
"GASP! But everyone else is telling me to do a spice tour!!" Yeah well I'm not. To tell you the truth, I haven't spent a whole lot of my life wondering WHERE spices come from. They come from the supermarket shelf in a handy A-Z order so you know exactly where to find them. There was no way I was going to use the precious time I had to do a spice tour. Life's too short for spice tours.. in my opinion!

When the sun is beating down on you (it is swelteringly hot in Zanzibar by the way) and you have the choice to follow a REALLY boring man around and make lipstick out of plants and gaze at lots of things you don't really understand about... OR you could wander round Zanzibar at your own pace and stop off at a little beachside bar for a cheeky beer or two - no contest for me.

2. Buying spices at the market
ARGGGH what is it with the spices??! NO I DON'T WANT TO BUY ANY CINNAMON. You know what? I fell for that classic tourist trap. On the second day in Stone Town, everyone I met said 'oh have you bought any spices yet?' and I was like 'No but I got myself a few Kilimanjaro beers and a Tusker beer or two (no contest, Tusker forever) I started to doubt myself.

'Do I need cinnamon? Everyone ELSE has cinnamon - and they know where it comes from...'

*shiver* maybe I should go and get some cinnamon from a market before we move in incase I regret it forever...?

BIG MISTAKE. Most streets in Stone Town are as wide as this:

Plus, they're pretty hot (it's quite a hot place, did I mention that?) and they're crowded too, so when a random man says he'll show you the way and you insist that you're fine and that you would prefer to not be accompanied and he follows you the whole way and you're about to punch him when he shows you to his brother's stall who will sell you some cinnamon at a very good price because you speak some Swahili and you look like you're about to punch them and then they try and sell you some vanilla pods, chilli powder and saffron too at a very good price and you walk away but then think 'Shit, I'll just buy it, Christmas presents' then carry a heavy bag of spices that won't fit in your rucksack and burst leaving saffron all over everything (it stains)...

...well then just go to the bloody supermarket, buy a pretty tin for it and just say you got it from Zanzibar anyway.

3. Argue with the beach boys
The beaches of the north coast of Zanzibar are the prettiest I've seen with the bluest water. The beach boys there are the toughest, most persistent and charming I've encountered. There are LOADS of them as well selling the same conveyor belt of things you don't need: Tours, watches, sunglasses, tours, watches, sungl...... on it goes.

It's my last day in Zanzibar, I have no need for a watch and I'm already wearing sunglasses... However, after a while of getting annoyed realised it wasn't going to change, so you just chill out and have a laugh at the situation, they have a job to do and a living to make afterall. Plus, it's a good opportunity to try out your haggling skills.

Zanzi Chic
In conclusion, cinnamon is cinnamon no matter where you buy it from and Zanzibar is super duper hot.

Take a peek here for things you MUST do in Zanzibar, - see you there!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Marina Grande - Sorrento: Put it on your list

During a four day trip to Sorrento back in October, we strolled (you do stroll on holiday don't you? You don't tend to stroll so much back home...) down to Marina Grande and I fell in love with Sorrento that little bit more when I saw how cute it was:

All views should be like this.

It's only tiny and it does lose the sun quite early in the day, but it's so cute and so authentic and so darn ITALIAN that I felt like I was in a movie set. So many places are so spoilt by us tourists that you lose the feel and the vibe of a place in the desperation to make us feel at home (WHY THESE PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR HOME COUNTRY IN THE FIRST PLACE IS BEYOND ME) Sorry, I've ruined the vibe of this page now...

Plus, I saw at least fifteen cats sunbathing on moored boats, so that had to help. I love cats.

There's a cat on every boat in this picture - trust me.

Here kitty kitty, jump in my handbag
It's quite a climb back up to the town, but it's worth it the sweat. I could have spent days just loitering around here, hanging around with the old ladies selling doilies and watching the fishermen.

In conclusion: Sorrento is pretty and Marina Grande is pretty awesome with a steep climb involved. If you like film sets, you'll like this place a lot.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Leaving my comfort zone

So yeah, I've kind of quit my job.

And I'm moving to Kenya.

But I don't really have a plan to show you.

That's scary.

I just decided that I'd had enough of telling everyone else to get out there and make the most of life when I wasn't really doing that myself for 8 hours a day every weekday. When you work in travel, you're SURROUNDED by other people telling you what their amazing plans are, and I'm like 'Oh yay that's amazing you'll have the best time' but inside I'm having the biggest tantrum thinking 'BUT I WANT TO GO THERE' - and then I realise that I CAN.

Don't get me wrong, I like my job but jobs will still be there next year, and for THE REST OF MY LIFE. It's too easy to get scared of what's out there and talk yourself into staying put. Now is the time to get out there and have some adventures.

Before I grow roots.

While I have the chance.

While I have my health.

And looks. Shah.

I'd hate to look back and see this as my window of opportunity and know that I didn't take the chance to get out there when I could.

So yep. I'm moving to Kenya on December 28th and I'll see what happens from there. Come on Universe, give me everything you've got.