Robben Island, District 6 Museum & Table Mountain

Cape Town Travel Blog

 › entry 51 of 58 › view all entries
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Woke up 7:15am and had breakfast at the hostel. After we'd finished that we hot-footed it down to the V & A Waterfront to catch the 10am ferry we'd booked the day before to Robben Island. I bought the t-shirt I'd been adoring yesterday for R210: khaki green with an image of a heart surrounded by chains, the words Robben Island, and then underneath a quote 'No struggle has ever been won from outside, it's won from within'.

The ferry trip took more than half an hour and was reasonably rough due to the huge Atlantic Ocean swells rolling past underneath us. When we disembarked we were shepherded onto one of two huge buses for a tour around the island. Our guide was incredible.

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
He managed to have me both laughing and almost crying at different stages. He was inspirational when he spoke about South Africa's struggle to become a peaceful, united rainbow nation. Dad + I both tipped him at the end. After the bus tour we had a walking tour of the prison by an ex-political prisoner who was there for one year in 1983 (I think that was it) before being incarcerated on the mainland for a further 4 years - for being a young 19yo black political activist; a member of the Young Lions. He describes his time on Robben Island fairly fondly - it was a time of great learning and expanding of ideas for him, and the African National Congress (ANC) and United Democratic Front (UDF) were further developed in a cave at the limestone quarry where the used to toil away each day.
On the ferry to Robben Island
It wasn't till they were moved to the mainland and put with the criminal prisoners that things turned really nasty. He described how, during transport, some men knew how to undo their shackles, and would beat up and rape other prisoners while the guards were driving along. He also told us he would be lying on his mat in prison trying to sleep while someone next to him was getting raped. But, constantly he reminded himself why he was in there, and that kept him going. Men who entered as criminal prisoners would leave as politicians after being educated by our guide and his colleagues. We also saw Mandela's cell, and the bushes under which a copy of the manuscript of 'Long Walk to Freedom' was found (the original was destroyed but a copy smuggled out) when renovations were being made.
Needless to say our guide for that part of the tour (who had a Masters in Law from England) was also excellent (and also made me cry) but unfortunately neither of us had any money left to tip him with! We'd given it all to the first guide.

The tour was over all too quickly - no free time to look around - and we had to head back for the 1pm ferry. I quickly bough a magnet of a poetry version of the Freedom Charter (which now forms the basis of South Africa's constitution), a postcard of Robben Island, and a CD of a capella Africa music including Nkosi Sikelele Africa. I only just made it onto the ferry in time and was the last one on! The trip back took an hour and the ocean was much rougher than last time - we had to stay inside to avoid being drenched in seaspray, and there was an English girl who didn't stop vomiting the entire time, poor thing!

After getting off the boat we had a very brief look around the V & A Waterfront then caught a taxi with a guy called Swartz to the District 6 Museum.

Table Mountain
Entry to this was R15 but I would have got an R2 discount if I'd shown them my bus ticket from yesterday (already stuck in my diary!). The Museum is a tribute to the tens of thousands of people (60,000) who were forcibly removed from their homes in 1982 after the Group Area Act from 1966 declared it a white area. Their entire community was subsequently bull-dozed to the ground and has never been rebuilt. The people were all moved out to various townships based on their race, so their multi-cultural existence was lost. To top it off, many people worked in the city and now had to commute 30-50km per day for work! Anyway, the museum exists as a place for ex-residents to gather and for the wider community to learn more about the effects of apartheid on individuals so that it never happens again.
Table Mountain
It's a really good museum. On the floor is a massive map where ex-residents have written where they lived.

After the museum we went outside where Swartz was waiting for us and we went to the Table Mountain lower cableway and bought return tickets up the mountain for R145. The cable car was so fast and smooth- just amazing. It also continuously rotates 360 degrees affording passengers a stunning view over the rest of Table Mountain, Cape Town, Robben Island, the harbour and the Atlantic Ocean. When we got to the top we first had some food at the restaurant. We then decided to do the 45min Klipspringer walk on the table part (the plateau) of Table Mountain.

The limestone quarry on Robben Island
We saw lots of nice flowers and shrubs and stunning vistas over the mountain top, but unfortunately saw no animals except for lizards and a few birds. By the end of the walk it was getting very cold and windy and dark clouds were rolling in, so we took the cable car back down. Again Swartz was waiting for us, and he drove us back to the hostel where we showered and packed up our stuff before heading out to meet Rosie + Odin for dinner at 7pm. On the way to dinner I stopped in at Cat & Jo's apartment briefly (Daddy Longlegs on Long St) to say hello and goodbye. Cat's wrist doesn't hurt now the swelling has gone down and it's in plaster, but she says her shoulder is still very tender and the doctors think she might have partially dislocated it! She is having fairly regular physio sessions on it here in Cape Town, where they've got another month or so before they return to England.
The prison yard
For tea we went to a delicious Africa restaurant on Long St. They gave me free bread with garlic, chilli and herb dip, then I ordered the curry chicken which came with rice, raita, pappadums and a potato wrap. There was plenty of food, and it was very delicious, and only R90! Afterwards we headed back to Royale Eatery for another thickshake - I had the small 300mL one this time though! Said goodbye to Rosie and Odin, then headed to check my email.

Dad got into another argument with me at the internet place again, so this time, rather than taking his crap and getting upset, I dropped the key in his hand and headed off down Long St. I walked up and down the length of it, then finally walked back to the hostel and headed to bed without saying a word. As usual he was pretending like nothing had happened and said something to me after I'd put my headphones in; I just replied civilly then immediately took a sleeping tablet and went to sleep ~11:30pm. The first sleeping pill of the trip.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
On the ferry to Robben Island
On the ferry to Robben Island
Table Mountain
Table Mountain
Table Mountain
Table Mountain
The limestone quarry on Robben Isl…
The limestone quarry on Robben Is…
The prison yard
The prison yard
Our guide sitting under the window…
Our guide sitting under the windo…
Nelson Mandelas cell
Nelson Mandela's cell
The long corridor of cells
The long corridor of cells
Group cell
Group cell
Our guide with a typical prison ID…
Our guide with a typical prison I…
No possibility of parole for polit…
No possibility of parole for poli…
Blacks didnt even get as good foo…
Blacks didn't even get as good fo…
Finally free
Finally free
Black prison guards werent allowe…
Black prison guards weren't allow…
District 6 as it used to be.
District 6 as it used to be.
District 6 today - undeveloped, de…
District 6 today - undeveloped, d…
District 6 Museum
District 6 Museum
Cablecar up Table Mountain
Cablecar up Table Mountain
Cape Town from Table Mountain
Cape Town from Table Mountain
Table Mountain
Table Mountain
View of Cape Town from Table Mount…
View of Cape Town from Table Moun…
Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town
Beautiful flowers of Table Mountain
Beautiful flowers of Table Mountain
Beautiful flowers of Table Mountain
Beautiful flowers of Table Mountain
Beautiful flowers of Table Mountain
Beautiful flowers of Table Mountain
Flowers of Table Mountain
Flowers of Table Mountain
Beautiful flowers of Table Mountain
Beautiful flowers of Table Mountain
Dad admiring Cape Town
Dad admiring Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town
Stadium under construction for the…
Stadium under construction for th…
Our hostel as seen through 40x zoo…
Our hostel as seen through 40x zo…
Robben Island
Robben Island
Birdlife of Table Mountain
Birdlife of Table Mountain
Table Mountain lizard
Table Mountain lizard
Table Mountain, a long way from Au…
Table Mountain, a long way from A…
Cape Town
photo by: v10