On Day 2 I planned to do the Palace Museum, the old Dispensary, get some fabric for my mother and to explore the island on my way to Kuza Cave. I unfortunately had to spend an hour at Zanzibar airport as my flight to Arusha was somehow cancelled after I booked and paid online. This was rather frustrating but guy at the airport sorted it out and gave me a pen to apologise. I did manage to see a few places around Stone Town like the Palace Museum and the Old Dispensary which were quick tours that were not that interesting to be honest. I then headed out onto the road. SIDE NOTE: There are so many interesting doors in Zanzibar and you can actually do a door tour. I took so many door pictures but yet to do anything with them :-).
Driving in Zanzibar was interesting there are so many motorbikes that you have to watch out for and they do not paint their speed bumps so always be on the lookout for speed bumps or be ready for a thump every now and then. The traffic leaving Stone Town was rather hectic and going over 50km/hr was not possible. The road conditions were OK with a few potholes here and there. Better than what I experienced in Dar. I got to Kuza Cave at around 3pm and pretty much immediately went down to the Cave to have a swim. The Cave is pretty awesome and the pool is 6m deep at the deepest point. With a diving mask you can do a swim in a short tunnel which is pretty cool. There are little white insects in the one part of the pool that do bite which gives a little sting but nothing too dramatic. At the bottom of the pool there is a fossilised human femur which is evidence of early human life. The Kuza Cave is a great place to visit and Natalie who runs the Non Profit is awesome. I highly recommend a visit if you are going to Zanzibar.
For dinner I went down the coast to Blue Moon resort for dinner with Amy and Sigmund. The resort was amazing and the staff so friendly. The resort is built right on the beach and the dinner was very good. We ate and drank and spoke and spoke and then spoke some more. I ended up only leaving at around 1am.
The next morning Natalie arranged for me to go out on a traditional dow with an old fisherman and her young son. We went out to the reef to do some snorkelling and then some fishing. The experience was awesome. Natalie’s 11 year old son had a homemade spear gun that he used to catch fish while he was snorkelling. Unfortunately the tide was quite high and so the snorkelling was not as good as it could have been and you had to dive down quite deep in order to see things close up. Once we finished snorkelling we did some fishing with hand line. I caught one fish and we caught 13 in total. We were out at sea for about 6hrs and I added to the sunburn but it was worth it. #SunscreenInnovationRequired
I got back to the Cave and pretty much immediately left for my last night in Zanzibar which I spent at La Madrugada Beach Hotel & Resort. I found a 70% off special which I booked 2 days before visiting. The resort was a little dated but was very comfortable and the pool was very inviting. I put my bags in the room and headed straight to the pool for a sunset swim. I had an early dinner, a vegetarian pizza which was great. The staff at the resort were awesome and I had many interesting conversations. I jumped into bed early as I had to leave just before 5am in order to catch the ferry to Dar. Oh just a word of warning the resort accepted a credit card but they added 5% to the amount paid and so you should factor this in. This was quite common on the trip.
The next morning I got up really early and took the drive to Stone Town. About 20min into the drive while it was still dark I saw torch lights in the distance and it turned out to be a bunch of people singing and jogging down the road. Seemed like a protest. They asked me to turn off my lights and drive with my emergency lights only as they ran past. There must have been about 100 people. #Strange
I arrived in Stone Town and dropped off my rental car and waited at the gate for the ferry to open. The ferry left on time at 7am and we were off to Dar. Check out the next instalment to hear about my interesting drive to the airport and my safari…
So the trip to Zanzibar started with a 4pm Ferry from Dar es Salaam. Myself and my new Norwegian friends Amy and Sigmund arrived at the Ferry terminal at about 14:30 and were promptly given many offers for assistance. I would not say that this is required but it did help that our bags were carried for us and the porters explained everything that was required. I would recommend finding out what they expect to be paid before letting them carry your luggage to avoid an argument after the fact. We travelled business class which I would recommend as it does make things simpler. The seating is free seating and therefore if you want a good seat you need to be quick on the draw when they start boarding. The ferry trip is 2 hours and was pretty smooth. During the trip we went and stood outside and saw a whale.
When we arrived we found the guys from Kibuki car rentals. I arranged my car before leaving for the trip and then arranged for Amy and Sigmund via WhatsApp while we were in Dar. The guys, who were called Ismail and Ismail, took us to our cars in a parking lot a short walk from the ferry terminal. The cars were old Rav4’s but in pretty good shape. They asked us to take any pictures of dents or scratches. Let us know the tank was empty and we could bring it back that way. They also organised our Zanzibar Drivers Permits. If you are going to Zanzibar I highly recommend them for an affordable car and great service.
I then drove to the Forodhani Gardens Market to meet my Couchsurfing Host, Kelvin. I drove the wrong way down the one way road but no one seemed to get too worried and luckily there were no cops. I found a parking and went to the night Market to get something to eat and to meet Kelvin. I had the famous Zanzibar Pizza with Vegetables. Kelvin took me to his place which was just behind the House of Wonder in Stone Town. I was on the third floor and had loads of space and a double bed which was much more than expected. We then went out for a drink to Taperia where there was live music and dancing. I got home just after 12 as I ate some Cashews on the Ferry that did not agree with me, so left the bar. #overshare
For my first full day in Stone Town I went out to get iced coffee and got convinced by Captain B to go to prison island to see the tortoises and to go snorkeling. This is something that I did after a bit of negotiating.
Prison island was awesome. The trip out there was on a motor boat and took about 30 minutes. On our boat we had about 10 people. There was a group from Bosnia and Serbia; a French couple; an Italian guy (Luca) and myself. We first went to the tortoises. This costs $5 or the equivalent in Shillings. Perhaps it was a little more 🤦🏻♂️. The tortoises were incredible with the oldest one being 194 years old. Luca and I got chatting on the boat and so we explored the island together plus we were the only who on the boat that were snorkelling. After an hour of exploring we found our Gladiator (this was the name on the boat roof) boat and went out to the reef to snorkel. The snorkelling was really great. The reef was close to the surface and therefore you could see most of the sea life without having to dive too deep. There were so many different types of coral and tropical fish I wish I just had gopro.
After the trip to prison island we returned to Stone Town and Luca and I had lunch and then we went for a walking tour of Stone Town. We started in the Forodhani Garden where our guide explained about Zanzibar’s history and the fact that the park was reclaimed and used to be the harbour. We then went on to the old Fort and to the slave Chambers and past the Market.
The Slave Chambers were quite chilling and I cannot understand how people allowed other people to be treated in the manner that they were.
I then went home to freshen up and I went to have dinner at Radha Food House, a vegetarian Indian restaurant, and had amazing cauliflower tikka masala. I bumped into Luca on the way to Forodhani Night Market where I went to have a sweet Zanzibar Pizza with Nutella and peanut butter. Not sure why I never took any pictures at the food market but there are enough online for you to see what it looks like :-).
I then went home and off to sleep in order to have a great day of exploring the next day
The Banghoek (meaning “scary corner”) valley is located over the Hellshoogte pass and an area in which I will own an estate one day. The picture for this striated sky was taken on the Oldenburg wine estate (in the Banghoek Valley) looking up at the Drakenstein Mountain Range. Banghoek Valley, got its name due to the dense forest, leopards, steep ravines and other dangers encountered by settlers.
Hellshoogte is the oldest pass in South Africa. The original Pass was built in 1692, in order to make ones way to Franschoek (where the Huguenots settled after arriving in 1688). It was the main road to Franschhoek and for many years was regarded as a dangerous route, especially in the dark. The origins of the name is likely from the steep gullies (“hells”) on the ridge. In 1854 the road was greatly improved and used until being replaced by the new/current road in 1972.
A left turn off the R310 onto Zevenrivieren road will put the Mountains in front of you, the road winds and becomes gravel. The road is well sign posted and finding Oldenburg estate is a cinch. On arrival you are greeted by the spectacular new Cellar Door. The building was designed by architect Simon Beerstecher, and the interior design is by Kelly Hoppen.
Oldenburg is owned and run by Adrian and Vanessa Vanderspuy. Adrian was born on the neighbouring farm but his family left South Africa in the 1960’s. He would return to visit Oldenburg yearly for Christmas. Dorothy Vanrenen, Adrians grandmother, lived at Oldenburg with Helmet Holmann. In fact it is Helmet who named the farm Oldenburg in memory of his German roots in the city of Oldenburg. Visit the Oldenburg Vineyards Website for more history.
It was in 2002 that Adrian decided to pursue the possibility of bringing Oldenburg Vineyards back to life given that the farm had fallen into a parlous state. The vineyards were replanted from 2004-2006 and the maiden vintages of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were produced in 2007. In 2010 the first whites were produced, the reds were launched (all were included in the SA Top 100 wines) and in 2011 the cellar door opened. In 2014 Philip Costandius joined as General Manager and Winemaker, later that year The Homestead was opened.
Visit the Oldenburg Vineyards Website to find out more about this amazing place and the people who make it happen or go one step better and visit them in person, you will not regret it. The views are amazing, the wine terrific and the atmosphere spectacular. As I said at the beginning, one day I will own a property in this valley.
I have to end off this blog by saying Thanks to all the peole who have followed me and my 52 Striated Skies Project. My next big step is going to be figuring out how I can exhibit this in 2016. Here is to an awesome 2016!!!
The St James Catholic Church building in this weeks Striated sky was opened in 1901. The church building was designed by George Ransom and built by Father John Duignam and his Filipino parishioners. The Parish of St James started in 1859 to serve the Filipino community of Kalk Bay. Given the spanish legacy of the community the name St James was chosen in honour of the apostle and fisherman, Patron saint of Spain.
The original building stood where the current station stands. When the train made its was to Kalk Bay in 1883 the church became a stopping point for the train known as St James Church Halt. By 1893 a platform was built known as St James’s. The suburb (which was part of Kalk Bay) took on the name St James. The builsing at the station building grew too small and thus was sold to Cape Government Railways for £2000 in 1900. It was with these proceeds that Fr Duignam was able to build the current building.
In 1924, the Golden Jubilee of Fr. Duignam, the stained-glass window behind the high altar was unveiled to celebrate his service to the parish. In 1947, under the direction of Father Harold Doran, substantial alterations, including moving the entrance to the current configuration the main road, were completed. Below is a picture of the building before alterations were made.
St James has been a popular beach for many years and still retains its numerous colourful victorian bathing boxes. The suburb is a very trendy place to live and is well worth a visit together with its neighbours on the false bay coast. For more history check out KALK BAY, ST. JAMES – A brief history illustrated with postcards of a bygone era by Michael Walker.
Random Piece of information
George Ransom also designed the Markham Building, which when completed in 1897 was the tallest building in Johannesburg (Cnr of Eloff and Pritchard). The large clock imported from Scotland has four faces North, South, East and West. The building was known as Markham’s Folly as it stood out in the centre of Johannesburg with the clock visible for miles. The building housed the second store of Henry William Markham who arrived in Cape Town from England in 1873, setting up a successful outfitter’s business. Markhams was bought by the Foshini Group in 1968. In 1979 the building was saved from demolition.
More Information on St James
Cape Town Tourism
Cape Point Route
2015 is rushing along like years seem to do these days and so far I have published 12 striated skies out of the 52 for the year. I am thoroughly enjoying this project and hope that you are too. Let me know what has been your favourite so far.
Tomorrow I will publish number 13 titled “Creeping Condensation”.