Boat Trip to Robben Island and Waterfront

Cape Town Travel Blog

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Out on the hotel deck

Friday morning we woke up late. We had stayed up late Thursday evening chit-chatting and laughing again at random stories and experiences.

We woke up around 9:30 am. We ate breakfast then got dressed and went to tour our hotel. We went to the pool, to the deck and to the beach front property grounds to take pictures. After that, Sha's co-worker picked us up at 1:30 pm and dropped us off at the Clock Tower, near the waterfront, where we could catch the ferry to Robben Island. Robben Island is the "Alcatraz" of South Africa. It's where many political prisoners were sent. Nelson Mandela, himself, was imprisoned there for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned.

The ferry ride was rocky!!! I have never been sea sick until this ride.

On our way to Robben Island
Holy moly! The waves were hitting up high on the sides of the boat. Connie and I went inside the boat on the bottom level, then we both felt sick so we went back up on the deck. While we were there, we met another girl from Baltimore. Actually she was from Silver Spring, MD. She lives in Abu Dhabi, and just happened to be in South Africa on vacation. That was random.

From the boat the waterfront at Cape Town looks just like the Inner Harbor. It's very pretty and touristy. It looked like a hot summer day in Baltimore City's Inner Harbor. We got to Robben Island and got on a bus for a bus tour around Robben Island.

The tour itself was just okay. It was not great, but it was decent. The tour guide kept trying to make jokes, but some of his jokes were not as funny as he thought they were.

At the prison
It was about a 45 minute tour.

Then we got off the bus to get an actual tour of the prison. The prison tour was guided by a prisoner, who we later learned had been in there for 5 1/2 years for sabotage, treason, possession of armed weapons and I can't recall what else. He was sort of quiet and shared highlights of the prison.

Seeing Nelson Mandela's cell was amazing. I've always admired him as a public figure - how he stood up for what he believed in. The cell was about 4 by 4 feet. I can't imagine ever being stuck in a cell that small for 18 years. Wow! How depressing.

Once we were done the tour, we took the ferry back. Connie and I decided we were starving. She kept talking about a burger. I was in the mood for some yummy beef. I miss home cooking.

So we walked into a restaurant right on the waterfront.

Our guide was an ex-prisoner at Robben Island
It was a German restaurant. Since we were cold, we ordered hot drinks - tea and coffee. Then we looked at the menu and saw the place offered a Bavarian Meatloaf Burger, and a Bavarian Meatloaf platter.

My taste buds could taste that good, yummy, fatty, dark brown (but slightly pink on the inside) beef! Yum! It was going to be our "one nice" dinner in Cape Town. A little while later, the waitress came out with two plates. I looked at Connie and told her my burger looked undone. "It looks too pink.", I told her. She responded, "That's because it's Bologna!". Oh boy!! We laughed so hard. She also got a bologna sandwich. We each received two big slabs of pink fried bologna. Yuck! It was so nasty. Before Connie started her meal, she said, "Man... I'm going to need a drink before I can eat this." So she ordered a beer, and I ordered a glass of wine.

Nelson Mandela's cell where he was imprisoned

Oh.... that Bavarian Meatloaf was so gross! It reminded me of an incident I had with Shazia in Detroit when we ordered Vegetarian Meatloaf and got something completely "vegetarian". Imagine that!

Connie started singing, "My bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R; my bologna has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R!". Then the rest of the night we laughed and sang the bologna song! I couldn't stop singing it.

We walked around the waterfront shops for a while, until our cab driver picked us up. We went home, packed and prepared for the morning flight back to Johannesburg.

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Nelson Mandela's cell

Yesterday, we took an all day tour of the Cape Town. We saw so much. It was an intense day. There’s so much to write about (I took 2 pages of detailed notes), so I’ll have to sort through my notes and type all that up when I have more time.

But in the meantime, I had a few good friends ask me a few questions about my luggage, so I thought it would be neat to respond to them in my blog.

To answer the first question I received, the picture of me with the backpack and the red carry on bag is exactly all I took with me on this trip. There were no other bags.

In my red bag, I had my netbook - a mini laptop that weighs like 2 pounds, my small wallet that had my checkcard, credit cards and 40 US dollars, a few wallet sizes pictures of Larry and me and a prayer card; my passport; a cell phone; a chapstick; a lock; a small bottle of hand lotion; a pack of hand wipes; gum; my iPod; a South Africa tour book; and finally a clear Ziploc bag with travel-sized hairspray, mousse, conditioner, shampoo, soap and detergent.

With the prison guide

In my backpack, the front pocket had a tour book for India, the one side pocket had a travel-sized tripod for my camera (which I have yet to use) and the other side’s pocket had a small bag with miscellanous stuff like anti-malaria pills, deodorant, band-aids, a travel-sized bottle of Tylenol and Excedrin, and a few other random little things.

The top part of the backpack had my camera, my mouse and power-cords and converter for the electronics I had brought along.

The inside of the bag contained on pair of khaki pants, one pair of black Capri sweat pants, one pair of black shorts, one pair of khaki shorts, one pair of black dress Capri pants, one pair of leggings (in case I get cold at night) and one pair of sweatpants to sleep in.

Exiting the prison grounds
It also contained one t-shirt to sleep in, 3 tank tops to mix and match, one long sleeved warm shirt, one polo t-shirt, and 2 other nicer shirts. I also had one dressy shirt for nice dinners out, a summer dress and a bathing suit (just in case Cape Town weather would permit swimming in the ocean). I packed a pair of black flip flops to bum around in and 1 pair of nicer (dressy) flip-flops. I figured I could wear the nice ones with the summer dress and black dress pants and nice shirt for 2 nice dinners. Then everything else I planned on wearing with the sneakers I wore that day or the black Teva flip flops. I did not bring heels. The reality is the shoes aren’t going to show in any of the pictures so who cares what shoes I wear. Right?

The other thing is, I’m going to be in each city no more than just 5 or 6 days, so I really won’t have time for too many “nice” dinners, so I think two dressy outfits should suffice.

Connie showing us her delicious bologna (not beef) burger

I also had underwear and socks in my pack.

Finally, I wore, one pair of jeans, and layers on top consisting of a tank top, long sleeved shirt, black sweater and my purple and white jacket (for when it rains). I wore my sneakers since they were big and bulky to pack.

So the first few countries I will be in have reasonably warmer weather. All of the clothes should suffice in those countries. For the day I travel to Japan, the first “cold” country I will go to, I have the leggings to wear under my jeans, the long sleeve shirt I packed plus the layers I wore on the plane. I arrive in Japan at 8 am and Larry will meet me in Japan at 2 pm on that same day. Larry is bringing me a black corduroy skirt, two other leggings, one turtle-neck, my winter hat and gloves, and my warm boots.

My meatloaf, which is not really meatloaf
He is also bringing tour books for Japan, China and Thailand. His backpack is a longer version of mine, and he’s a light packer so he said he would have plenty of room for my stuff. I left all these things in a bag for him before I left the house, so all he has to do is throw this bag in with his stuff when he's packing.  

We’ll exchange a few things once we meet up and he’ll bring back all the winter stuff I won’t need for Thailand before he comes home and I go on to Thailand on my own.

Though I did leave a little room for small souvenirs, luckily, Connie is helping me out by taking some of my souvenirs from South Africa back home with her. She brought a big suitcase and is checking it in, so this will help tremendously. Because she offered to do this, I did buy more souvenirs than I anticipated I would in South Africa, but still tried to keep it reasonable, as to avoid burdening her with my stuff.

The Waterfront

So that’s it. That’s what I packed. In re-reading all this, I actually feel I packed a lot. Definitely a lot more than what it looks like!

Feel free to e-mail me if there’s anything else you want to know about on this adventure!

Sha and me - our wonderful tour guide in Cape Town

During our tour of the Cape Peninsula yesterday, I learned that I have been referring to two things incorrectly.

The tour guides' accents here is very hard to understand sometimes, so although we're trying to learn as much as possible, I want to ensure we represent our learnings accurately.

In that spirit, two corrections I want to point out are:

Pork Piltong, which I mentioned we tried on Tuesday at the Nature Reserve tour, is actually Pork Biltong. "Biltong" is the correct word. Biltong, strips of game, beef, or ostrich is cured with spices and dried and is sold at farm stalls and butcher shops throughout the country.

Quarter Camps are actually "Squatter Camps". I mentioned the informal houses and "quarter camps" we've been seeing throughout the country in a previous entry. They call the people that live in these houses squatters and the accurate terminology is "squatter camp".

Though the people here speak English very well, the accent is difficult to understand at times. There have been many times I've asked the tour guides to spell something for me, because I just can't make out what they're saying to us.

This has all been a great learning experience!

rrsuby25rs says:
As I read your Blog, I think to myself, you lucky duck! Not because of your travels but because you are missing one of the record breaking historical snowfalls for MD! Currently, you're going from South Africa to Dubai where both are nice and warm and I'm here stuck in the house with no power! I powered on my laptop just for a minute to connect to the Internet using my aircard but my laptop battery is about to die.

We must have roughly 25 inches or so. I can barely see the front part of my car as the snow drifts have covered it. One of our neighbors (whom, I believe is in the Guard) is trying to get his 4x4 Durango down the court. He and his son are shoveling practically the whole court just to get him out. I was thinking of going out to help as there is nothing else for me to do but stare at the wall or sleep some more. Then I thought, this weather reminds me of when I was attending college up in Rochester and right away changed my mind and decided against it. So, I'm just watching them from the window in our semi-warm house as the temperature drops because the heat is not working either.

I'm curious as to Connie's flight. I highly doubt she is making it back to BWI from London. BWI is closed along with every other establishment practically. I hope she makes it OK or at least finds herself a nice meal to eat and a warm hotel room which would be much better than staying at Heathrow walking around wasting time.

Well, I’m off to watch the snow come down from the window again. Maybe I’ll work on that Vegas puzzle and muster up the energy to go out and shovel our driveway, walkway and even the deck!
Posted on: Feb 06, 2010
Out on the hotel deck
Out on the hotel deck
On our way to Robben Island
On our way to Robben Island
At the prison
At the prison
Our guide was an ex-prisoner at Ro…
Our guide was an ex-prisoner at R…
Nelson Mandelas cell where he was…
Nelson Mandela's cell where he wa…
Nelson Mandelas cell
Nelson Mandela's cell
With the prison guide
With the prison guide
Exiting the prison grounds
Exiting the prison grounds
Connie showing us her delicious bo…
Connie showing us her delicious b…
My meatloaf, which is not really m…
My meatloaf, which is not really …
The Waterfront
The Waterfront
Sha and me - our wonderful tour gu…
Sha and me - our wonderful tour g…
Cape Town
photo by: v10