Sunday, May 2, 2010

Robben Island and Farewell to Cape Town

Day 91: Cape Town, South Africa
This morning, Amy and I made our way down to the waterfront to visit the Two Oceans Aquarium. We arrived just when it opened, so there were no crowds to deal with. There was a penguin exhibit and a decent shark exhibit that featured ragged-tooth sharks. No great whites though. They're all in the ocean just steps away: South Africa is the great white shark capital of the world. I had to leave after an hour to catch a ferry to Robben Island, and Amy remained at the aquarium.

As the ferry embarked from Cape Town, I was treated to an incredible view of the city and Table Mountain towering in the background. Once on Robben Island, we boarded a bus and saw sights such as the leper graveyard, the school, and a few churches. We also toured the small, fenced-in complex where Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was kept in solitary confinement for six years. Sobukwe founded the Pan Africanist Congress, and the apartheid government saw him as one of the most dangerous political threats. Our final stop was the infamous prison that housed hundreds of political prisoners during apartheid, including Nelson Mandela. The cells in the prison are tiny, and the conditions were abysmal during its operation.

View from Robben Island ferry, Cape Town, South Africa © Matt Prater
Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town from the ferry to Robben Island, South Africa
Prison on Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa © Matt Prater
Prison on Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa

When I returned to the waterfront in Cape Town, I ate lunch in the large shopping center and then went to the movie theater to see Alice in Wonderland – although I'm normally a fan of Tim Burton, I thought it was quite disappointing. Back at the hostel, I checked my email and discovered that Beth and Jess, who were both staying in Hout Bay, wanted to meet me and Amy for dinner. We hastily ordered a cab and left for Hout Bay. Luckily cabs are cheap here, as it takes thirty minutes to get from Cape Town to Hout Bay. After dinner at a seafood restaurant by the marina, I said goodbye to Beth and Jess and returned to Cape Town with Amy. This is my last night here – I meet my Nomad tour tomorrow morning. Cape Town has been incredible, and I can definitely rank it as one of my favorite places. The restaurants are top-notch, there is plenty to see and do, and the physical setting is stunning. Farewell, Cape Town.

View from Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa © Matt Prater
Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town from Robben Island, South Africa

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