Day 333: Call That A Scheduled Flight?

Sat. 13th July 2013

Happy to be co-pilot!Today we transfer to Zanzibar. Dave booked the flights over the internet a few months ago with Air Viva (I hope it is more modern than my first car, a faithful red Vauxhall Viva which my dad procured for me). The first panic was when we read the small print and found that our baggage allowance was 15kg each and that was to include our hand bag interesting…………. Well that will cost us in excess baggage as there is no way any of us will attain that! We all have a rummage in our luggage to see what we can ditch and my faithful two tone zipped trousers and boring practical walking sandals are first to go. We gave them to the African Walking Company (who provided the guides for Dave’s Kili trek) as they are asking for any spare clothes. We muse how our friend Sue would cope with this, husband Steve’s baggage allowance would be reduced to his swimming shorts all week!

High tech departure board in Arusha airportNext panic was when we tried to check on Skyscanner to see if the flight was on time – it did not exist. Frantic phoning of various phone numbers assured us the flight did exist and it was shown as on time. The final panic was the hotel insisted they had not been paid by Agoda for our booking, so we paid again. (After much persistence and emailing Agoda, the hotel and HSBC from the UK I have finally got my refund. The hotel was very helpful but I cannot say the same for Agoda who were very quick to spray inaccurate emails around. It took two weeks from the time the hotel in Tanzania processed my refund to HSBC crediting my credit card account – a lot longer than the debit. End of rant).

Ready plus luggage mountainSo finally we were checked out a bit after ten and in the taxi to Arusha Airport. Chris, Lucy and I had passed the airport on the way to Serengeti, so we knew it was not very big. The road to it was not tarmacked and the terminal was no more than a shack with a hand written uninformative departure list on a white board. The small check in desk was manned by a member of staff from each of the airlines and our guy did not turn up for over an hour. Each airline had their own staff who only dealt with their flights so once we identified our guy we kept an eye on him. Dave, Chris and Steve took our bags and balanced them precariously on the scales and sure enough we had excess to pay.

View from departure loungeIt was a busy little airfield used by a number of airlines and we waved at Ali and Liz who were the other side of a wire mesh divider in the “departure lounge” whist we were waiting to check in. As there were no announcements we just had to keep our eyes open and watch our guy with the clipboard. Eventually we were allowed “airside” and were told the flight was running late.

Our plane for the flight to ZanzibarWe found that our plane was a ten seater and the other passengers were a couple and a family of four where the mother was also called Janet Rosemary! Yes that does make eleven, so Chris being the last on got to sit next to the pilot. The bags were squeezed into the small hold but worryingly Dave’s and Steve’s were left on the tarmac. We were assured they would be on the next flight due to leave within the next fifteen minutes. I found the flight quite bumpy and tried not to think about how high we were and in such a small flimsy object.

Tightly packed houses in Stone TownFinally we arrived in Zanzibar where the airport was bigger than Arusha but still on the small side. As soon as we passed security we waited for our bags to appear and were persuaded a tip was required before being allowed to collect our bags. It was the same when we emerged outside but we held firmly to our bags looking for our driver. Apparently the message that we were going to be late had not been passed on so the driver was not happy to hear we had to wait for the next flight for the final two bags. As we have arrived during Ramadan he would have to wait even longer before he could eat.

Its tough at Crazy MzungosOur hotel called Crazy Mzungo’s (meaning crazy white man) was quirky and luckily it was not busy so we were able to have an extra room as there was some confusion over what we had booked. However the location right on the beach was just what we wanted, and had hoped for, so we were soon sat enjoying cocktails in the bar cum restaurant. A covered area with a sandy floor and comfy seats as well as tables to eat at along with a bar serving cold beers and local cocktails.

This looks to be just what we hoped for for the last few days of our trip.

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