By: Sandra Givens

A small plane out of Arusha, Tanzania flew low over turquoise water dotted with atolls and a short while later we landed on Zanzibar.

Arriving at the Serena Hotel we were greeted warmly by a friendly staff clad in gorgeous colorful uniforms who offered most welcomed cold fruit drinks.  Our rooms had an adjoining balcony which fronted on the Indian Ocean.  We later learned these rooms had once been occupied by the Ali Khan.

Serena Hotel Zanzibar - Photo: Sandra Givens
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Serena Hotel Zanzibar – Photo: Sandra Givens

Even though it was not really meal time, we were hungry and the staff was accommodating and promptly served us on the balcony an excellent fresh fish which we enjoyed with a bottle of crisp white wine.  Nothing much left of the fish; we finished the wine in the warm afternoon breezes while watching dhows sail by.

As dusk grew to dark, we enjoyed cocktails on the terrace and listened to the music of an all-female band whose singer had a magnificent voice. We met other travelers and enjoyed another round of drinks before bed.

Singer in Zanzibar--Photo: Sandra Givens
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Singer in Zanzibar–Photo: Sandra Givens

The next morning our guide met us for the Stonestown tour. Sturdy walking shoes are necessary because of the many cobblestone streets and in places high curbs.  As we entered the fish and then vegetable and fruit market our senses were overwhelmed, both by smells and by the many voices of shoppers and shopkeepers surrounding us.  Lessons of history poured from our guide as we wandered through the narrow streets and historic buildings.  Once during our trek an older man in traditional Arab dress yelled at us and we hurried on.  Our guide explained that the man was chastising us for being women wearing pants.

The Spice tour was also very interesting. We wandered among various plants where our guide would pull a leaf or a berry and ask us to identify it.  Some were easy and some we could not even guess at.  Our tour ended with us sampling several different fruits and then a trip to the store where many spices were for sale.

Zanzibar boat--Photo: Sandra Givens
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Zanzibar boat–Photo: Sandra Givens

We had a view of the Indian Ocean as we enjoyed a wonderful meal in the restaurant of the Serena Hotel.  I swear the fresh grilled shrimp were the biggest and best I’ve ever had.  We returned to the terrace to hear the band again before heading to bed.

All too soon our marvelous trip to exotic Zanzibar came to an end.  The staff gathered to bid us good-bye as though we had been friends forever.  Certainly these are memories that will stay with me forever.

Sandra Givens
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Sandra Givens

Author Bio: Sandra Givens is a travel writer who has been published in newspapers, magazines and a poetry anthology. She began her writing career in the health care field where she wrote news releases, brochures and newsletters for which she received the IABC Award for Excellence.  As a volunteer, she wrote news releases and articles for East Valley Hospice in Arizona. A native Californian, Givens has traveled extensively and now lives in Arizona.

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