Inconveniently, most trips must start with a journey to London as being our capital, it connects us to many worldwide destinations. The good thing is if you book early enough you can get the megabus for only £1. I managed to make it all the way to Gatwick airport for less than a fiver – a quid for a second hand metro ticket from the enterprising charva who hangs around the machine, £1 megabus to Victoria, £2 easybus to Gatwick airport. The disappointing part is that after travelling 300 miles for the price of a happy meal I was forced to pay £3 to go the final mile and less than a minutes travel for the shuttle bus to the travel lodge, that’s London for you!
After a short transit in Istanbul we arrived in Dar es Salaam almost two days after leaving Newcastle. I’m tired and I’m hungry and can’t wait to try some local food. Sadly my first Tanzanian meal was a forgettable one, a 70 minute wait for some rice and a severely deep fried chicken carcass. I thought the chef may of fell asleep whilst cooking this fine meal, but then I remembered that now I should be operating on Africa time, so shouldn’t expect anything to happen in a hurry or on schedule.
Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s largest city that was founded next to a tiny fishing village by Sultan Majid of Zanzibar. It’s thought that it’s name is a corruption of Dari Salaam meaning House of Peace, a name the Sultan gave his palace in honour of the original fishing village, Mzizima, which means tranquil place in local dialect. On first impressions Dar is anything but a tranquil place, it’s a typical busy African city. For now Dar is a place to fly in to and spend as little time here as possible here. Although it may have a few colonial buildings and a little bit of character, it’s not somewhere I can be particularly bothered with right now.
The ferry to Zanzibar was full so we were forced to spend a little more time in Dar than originally anticipated. We came across a congregation of folk from all over East Africa selling all sorts of herbal medicines and handicrafts. There were some excellent and very reasonable priced items here, but how do you explain to the pushy Kenyan woman that you’ve just arrived and would rather not hump around a rucksack full of tribal masks for the next two months?
A little further afield is the Kariakoo market, a place where the British army corps were stationed during WWII. Both sides of the streets are lined with manic stalls mainly selling fresh fruit and not so fresh electrical appliances. It’s here where a saw my first Tanzanian bum sporting a Sunderland shirt, no matter where in the world you go, some things never change…