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Food

in Africa, Food, My Travels, Travel

Zanzibar: Spices, Culture and Beautiful Beaches

I finally made it to Zanzibar!  I’ve been wanting to go since forever, and this month the stars finally aligned and I got my chance!  I split my time between Stonetown, which is the main city of Zanzibar, and Nungwi, which is on the northern end of the island and home to some gorgeous beaches!  I loved everything about this trip, and I’m already planning my return.  Check out my recap below!

Stonetown

I spent the first 3 days for my trip in Stonetown.  I’m generally a beach person so I didn’t expect to love it so much, but I definitely will have to spend 4 or more days in Stonetown when I make it back.

seafood

Amazing grilled seafood at the Forodhani Gardens

Forodhani Gardens

The Forodhani Gardens is a seaside park in the historical town of Stone Town.  Every night around 6pm, it turns into a popular street market where you can get all the delicious Zanzibari food you can stand.  There is tons of grilled seafood, Zanzibar Pizza, fresh fruit and juices.  It gets a bit crowded after dark, so if you can get a good spot to sit, there is plenty of people watching to do as well.

 

 

 

Tea House Restaurant

Speaking of food, if you’re looking for somewhere to have a fabulous lunch or even a nice sunset dinner, head over to the Emerson on Hurumzi hotel for their amazing Tea House Restaurant.  The hotel itself is in a historic building, and Tea House is located on the roof, which lends to amazing views.  The food was delicious, and the staff was very attentive as well.

Shopping

Stonetown is full of narrow, windy roads with tons of small shops where you can bargain for a good price.  You can get anything from spices, ceramics, clothes, and art.  Special shout out to Hellen, of Hellen Art Gallery, who has amazing art in her shop!

Slave Market

The Slave Market in Stone Town was host to one of the world’s last open slave markets, presided over by Arab traders until it was shut down in 1873.  A guided tour here is about 3500 Tanzanian Schillings, which is about $1.55.

The tour guides will give you a tour and explanation of the Angelican Church, which was built on top of the original slave auction area, the slave chambers, and the monument that was built by Clara Sörnäs in 1998.

After the tour, the guides leave you to wander alone, until you have any questions.

 

Where I Stayed

I stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Stonetown.  The property was very centrally located.  I was able to walk everywhere I wanted to go.  The rooms were very clean and modern, although I would say to try to avoid being on the 4th floor under the restaurant — they get up to open the restaurant pretty early every day, and you can hear pretty much everything through the ceiling.  Otherwise, the staff was very helpful, and the restaurant on the top floor had a great sunset view, good drinks and good food.

Nungwi

Since my primary reason for visiting Zanzibar was clearly the beach, I spent the rest of my time in Zanzibar in Nungwi, which is known for its powdery white sand beaches and turquoise waters.  There is also a pretty lively nightlife scene in the area as well.

Kendwa Rocks

Kendra Rocks is a popular place with both tourists and locals, as they are regularly having parties, to include the very popular Full Moon party (I unfortunately wasn’t in Nungwi for the full moon so I didn’t get a chance to go).

Mabwe Roots

Mabwe Roots is a bungalow in Nungwi, but I went there several times for the food.  The restaurant is super cute, and the food was AMAZING.  I ate there at least 3 times while I was there.

Dhow Cruise/Snorkeling

A trip to Zanzibar is not complete without a Dhow cruise!  There is no shortage of tour companies offering them, so you will have no problems finding one if you decide to do so.  Most of the day time trips include snorkeling and a delicious lunch prepared onboard.  There are also sunset cruises (I didn’t get around to doing one of those, but heard they are amazing).

Where I Stayed

For my time in Nungwi, I stayed at a fairly new hotel called Nungwi Dreams.  The property itself is nice and modern, and the staff were all amazing.  However, they’re trying to market themselves as a 5 star property, and while I’m no hotel expert, I’d say this hotel was a solid 4 at best.

The food is pretty mediocre and kind of overpriced (hence why I ate at Mabwe Roots so often; it was right across the street).  The staff were all very nice, but it was clear that they were still ironing out the kinks with everything.  Housekeeping kept coming to my room before 8am in the morning, so I eventually just started hanging my do not disturb sign as soon as I got into my room every evening.  The hotel is also located in a pretty secluded area, so while it is a good place to relax, you will end up walking or taking a taxi to some other part of the island for any kind of entertainment.

Some of the appliances and electronics were new and hadn’t been set up properly by the time I checked in, and the rooms were just missing the kinds of touches that most 5 star properties have. I’m sure they will get there eventually, but they’re definitely not there yet.

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A Weekend Trip to the Rock of Gibraltar

Since European road trips are our new favorite thing to do together, my husband and I decided to take a ride to visit the Rock of Gibraltar this past weekend.  Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.  It shares its northern border with Spain, so we decided to stay in La Linea de la Concepción, and walk across the border into Gibraltar.  Keep reading to hear all about our trip!

Viña & Bodega Remsamen

Since we had all weekend to visit The rock of Gibraltar,  we decided to take a short detour on the way to Gibraltar and stopped in Monda, Spain to have lunch at Cafe Bar Luna, followed by a vineyard tour and tasting at Viña & Bodega Remsamen.  Remsamen is a small vineyard, owned and run by a nice couple from Holland, René and Marjolin.

The other tour groups scheduled for that day ended up cancelling, so we ended up having our own personal tour!  René and Marjolin were really thorough with describing the wine making process with us, and their vineyard was beautiful!

La Linea de la Concepción

Delicious food and drinks at aQa!

We stayed in an apartment we found on Airbnb.  It was really close to the border of Gibraltar, so it had a beautiful view.  For dinner the first night, we went to aQa, a waterfront Mediterranean restaurant.  It was a beautiful restaurant, with views of the water and the Rock of Gibraltar.  Both the food and drinks were delicious!  If you ever end up staying near the border crossing, you should definitely stop in for some drinks and a bite to eat.

 

The Rock of Gibraltar

The traffic headed into Gibraltar is CRAZY, so I would recommend you park your car in the lot on the Spanish side of the border and walk over. Overnight parking is €15. Make sure you have your passport.  Security isn’t super tight, but they do check for it when you pass through.

Cable Car headed up to the top of The Rock of Gibraltar

While Gibraltar is a small place, you probably won’t want to walk all the way from the border to The Rock.  We caught the #10 bus from the first bus stop inside the gate.  Round trip tickets from the front gate to the bottom of The Rock was €3 per person, round trip.

Once you get to The Rock, you have 3 options. You can walk, catch a cab, or take a cable car to the top.  We decided to do the touristy thing and take the cable car, but keep in mind that 1.) the wait will likely be at least an hour, and 2.) it costs about £22 (Gibraltar is part of the UK, so they take pounds) for round trip cable car tickets and entry into most of the attractions on The Rock.  If you know ahead of time that you want to take the cable car, you should purchase the tickets online before arriving.

Once you get to the top, there will be Barbary Macaques EVERYWHERE.  Some of them are super cute, but don’t be fooled;  you should never get too close to them and definitely don’t flash anything that is (or could be mistaken for) food.  That means no candy wrappers, no plastic bags, no styrofoam containers.  No one will enforce this, but these monkeys WILL jump on you to snatch your food.

Its easy to lose track of where you are in relation to the top of the mountain.  We got so distracted by the rest of the attractions, by the time we started thinking about catching the cable car back down, we realized the walk back up to the top would be way too much for my poor feet :(.  We ended up walking all the way back down, which was a great workout, but I definitely would try to arrange for a taxi if I had thought this all the way through.

Rendezvous Chargrill

Our bartenders at Rendezvous

Once we made it to the bottom of The Rock,  we were starving, so we made our way to the Ordnance Wharf.  It is a beautiful waterfront strip that has several nice restaurants and bars.  We bar hopped for quite a while, but our favorite was called Rendezvous Chargrill.  The food and drinks were great, and the service was awesome!  Roxana and Laura were our primary servers, and they were super funny and made sure we were well taken care of.

 

While brief, our trip to Gibraltar was super fun, and it was definitely worth the trip!  There was tons that we didn’t get a chance to do.  Have any of you been to Gibraltar?  What are some must-sees that you have?  It is a very short drive for us so we may definitely return!

 

 

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Taste of the Caribbean: My Attempt at Pig Foot Souse

Pig feet seem to have a bad reputation here in the states.  Normally when we think of pork, we’re thinking ribs, pork chops, or bacon.  However, pig foot souse is a very popular dish across the caribbean.  My first experience with pig foot souse was in Turks and Caicos, when I was invited to a friend’s mother’s house for breakfast.  At first glance, it doesn’t look super appetizing, but it smells and tastes delicious!  I’ve been on the hunt for it when I go to the caribbean ever since, but apparently this dish is only served in the mornings for breakfast.  I can’t get up that early on vacation!

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in Caribbean, Food, Inspiration, My Travels, Travel, Traveling on a Budget

Turks and Caicos: Go Off The Beaten Path

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is a beautiful island.  It has some of the best beaches i’ve ever visited, and the people are super friendly!  One thing I did notice on my first (of many) trips though, is that it is not immediately obvious where to go to experience local culture and food.  Grace Bay is ranked one of the best beaches in the world, and has many luxury hotels and condominiums on its beachfront, but they are generally European style.  Check out some of these places to get a little local flavor.

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