The market in Stone Town
The market is about halfway along Creek Road and a good place to visit even if you don't want to buy anything. The long market-hall is surrounded by traders selling from stalls, or with their wares simply spread out on the ground. It's a very vibrant place where everything, from fish and bread to sewing machines and second-hand car spares, is bought and sold. People bring their produce here from all over the island, and others come to buy things they can't get in their own villages. You could spot dog-eared schoolbooks, anonymous tangles of metal being soldered into usefulness, rough wooden chairs, suitcases, shoes, baskets, kitchenware, clocks and watches, CDs, mobile phones and doubtless the occasional kitchen sink.
Some food displays may be best avoided by the squeamish: the massive deep-sea fish heads, jaws agape; dark haunches of beef and slabs of less identifiable meat; pearly squid tentacles; grubby recycled bottles and jars containing oil, honey, pickle and goodness knows what else … and the inevitable accompanying buzz of flies. Don't miss the swathes of multi-patterned cotton fabrics, the fragrant spices and mound after mound of exotic fruit and vegetables – and just enjoy people-watching and being part of a Zanzibar experience which, at the time of writing, hasn't yet become touristy.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the town's marketplace was inside the Old Fort. Today's market-hall was built in 1904, and some very early photographs of the market displayed in the museum show that very little has changed since then.
On occasional evenings, a public auction is held in the street behind the market where furniture, household goods, old bikes, and all sorts of junk are sold. It is very entertaining to watch, but make sure you don't bid for anything by mistake: keep your hands still!