By Malcolm Andrews
Tourists keep looking for new and exotic places for unusual holidays. No longer is a quick swing around Europe with a race up the Eiffel Tower, or a selfie at the Acropolis in Athens enough for the seasoned traveller.
If you are looking for somewhere different why not try Zanzibar? It will certainly stop the conversation at your next dinner party.
Zanzibar is a tiny, semi-autonomous island, off the east coast of Tanzania. If it wasn’t already appealing, last month the highly rated travel websitetripadvisor.com named the Rock Restaurant on Tanzania as one of the most unusual … and exclusive ... eateries in the world.
Originally, a fisherman’s bolt-hole, it is located in the sea in front of the picturesque Michanwi Pingwe beach on the south-east coast of the island. Well, it is only cut-off from shore at high tide. When the tide is out you can walk barefoot across the seaweed-strewn beach to sit on the intimate patio before indulging in a delightful seafood lunch or dinner.
And what a repast awaits – fish carpaccio served with coconut, lime and chilli sauce; or a home-made potato gnocchi served with crispy prawns and Zanzibar vanilla; or tambi (Swahili spaghetti) served with chicken nibbles and vegetables – all lightly flavored with Zanzibar spices.
Mains include squid in sweet soy sauce with white rice and mango salsa; or The Rock special - lobster, cicadas (“squid of the land”), jumbo prawn, fish fillet and calamari all roasted on the grill. Finish with a liberal serving of The Rock coconut tiramisu.
You don’t have to worry about being stranded. If the tide has risen while you are soaking up the atmosphere, the restaurant can ferry you back to shore. No bare feet needed, unless that’s what you want!
There is much more to Zanzibar than The Rock restaurant, as Qatar Airways has discovered. As the only major international airline to schedule regular flights to the tourist mecca, they fly folk in from the four corners of the globe.
On the other side of the island is the World Heritage protected Stone Town, with a string of must-see buildings such as the museum in the Palace of Wonders (a former Sultan’s residence), and the former home of renowned Scottish explorer of mainland Africa, Dr David Livingstone, who lived there in the 1850s.
Pop fans also come in their droves to make a pilgrimage to another restaurant. It is named after Queen’s original front man, the late great Freddie Mercury, whose given name was Farrokh Bulsara when he was born in Stone Town in 1946.