Worst storm of the season is finally gone

Trip Start May 12, 2009
Trip End May 24, 2009

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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our last day in Cape Town and the weather is fantastic.  I opened our blinds to see the bright and sunny sky with not a cloud in the sky.  So that is what Table Mountain is supposed to look like.  We immediately call over to Robben Island and get tickets for the 11:00 boat to the island.  We first enjoy a large breakfast and then split up for the morning.  JB and Lindsey head back up to Signal Hill to get the pictures they were hoping for and to return the rental car.  Amy and I walk around our hotel, check out the unbuilt stadium, and go to the mall.

We meet back at 10:30 to board the boat.  We didn't get there early enough to get some seats outside on top of the boat, but that was ok, the ride was only 25 minutes long and was a little bumpy.  We were one of the last off the boat which meant we got on the last tour bus for the island.  We got paired with a group of college students who were majoring in tourism and on a school trip.  I want to apologize for anyone that got stuck on a tour with me when I was in college.  These kids could not have been more obnoxious.  They pushed everyone out of the way to see things first, spent the most time looking at everything, and got tired of listening to the tour guide after 5 minutes (I am starting to sound like an old man).  The tour begins with an hour long bus ride across the island.  We first saw the lime quarry where the prisoners worked and talked about politics (including Nelson Mandela).  Next we saw some dorms.  These dorms were used before the island was a prison.  They used to send people with leperosy to the island in fear that the disease would spread.  In fact they kept men and women separated so that they couldn't reproduce little lepers.  Next we came to the tip of the island that faces Cape Town.  We have been told for 3 days now to make sure we get a good picture as this is the best view of Cape Town and Table Mountain.  The tour guide asks whether we want to stop for 5 minutes to take pictures or move on.  Of course we are in the only bus that doesn't stop because we are stuck with the locals that see the city all the time.  

After the bus tour, we are taken inside the prison and given a new guide.  This time the guide is a former political prisoner.  He takes us through the prison explaining what it was like to be a prisoner.  Very moving if you could actually hear what he was saying over all the other people talking.  He took us to Nelson Mandela's cell and then to his own cell.  He did not get his own cell since he was in a different race.  He had to share a long room with other people of his race.  He explains that in those times there were 3 races.  White, colored, and black.  And you were treated better depending on which race you were (nicer cells, more food, better jobs, etc).  The tour ended and we took the boat back to Cape Town. 

Once back on land, we decided to have some lunch at Den Anker which is a Belgian restaurant on the waterfront.  The weather was still sunny, so we sat outside with views of Table Mountain.  Since it was a Belgian restaurant, Amy had to order the mussels.  Knowing that a full pot would be too much for her to finish alone (although not if she ate like she did at Willoughby) I just ordered a bowl of soup.  I washed it down with an augustijn beer.  The mussels were good, even better than I had on the first night of our trip at Wijnhuis.  Since we didn't want this day, weather, our time in Cape Town to end we sat there enjoying beer after beer.  After five Belgian beers, I decided it was time to go.  Amy planned this well as she wanted to go to the larger, 3 story, African Post (same as in the mall) next to Den Anker.  Since I was giddy (drunk) I obliged.  

Ninety minutes later it was getting dark and my buzz was fading fast.  It could have been worse though, I could have been JB.  Amy got gifts for everyone she knows, but that paled in comparison to Lindsey (who knows a lot more people).  We listen to an African band on the way home (and purchased the cd for 10 rand, which is about $1) then walked back to the hotel to get a bottle of wine to enjoy on the patio area of our hotel.

For the third night in Cape Town, we had a reservation for Ginja, but once again we decided to blow them off.  Instead we decided to eat in the hotel at The Atlantic because we had 500 rand vouchers from our travel agent.  Who would turn down a free meal?  We make a dinner reservation for 8:30 and since we still had more shopping in us, we went back to the mall.  The girls once again went to the African Post, so JB and I went back to our friend at the cigar store.  In my absence, "we" got earrings, bracelets, rings, at other souvenirs.  Then the girls wanted to go to the grocery store to get biltong (South Africa's word for jerky) to bring back home.  JB and I went into Lillywhites, a sports store, to look for soccer jerseys and rugby shirts.  The store had 2 rugby shirts, the official long sleeve, and a short sleeve shirt.  Being the cheap guy that I am, I decided to go with the short sleeve shirt for 300 rand.  I took it to the counter and lucky for me, it was 50% off.  So I am now the proud owner of a rugby jersey I will never wear for $18.  JB and I met up with the girls, and then split up based on couples, deciding to meet back in the restaurant at 8:30.  Amy and I found the official kiosk of the 2010 World Cup.  Being the official kiosk entitles them to sell t shirts for more than any other store in South Africa, and to be out of every size and color that normal humans wear.  So we went back to Lillywhites to see if they had any shirts, when they didn't we tried to other places before ending back up at the kiosk.  We were able to snag the last medium in the ugliest color and a shirt for 3 a year old.  Luckily we have relatives that will fit into both.  Worried that we were late, we saw JB and Lindsey at another kiosk that sells coins.  Lindsey had been looking for a particular solid gold coin for her father which they luckily found.  Problem was that in a foreign country, spending a lot of money on a gold coin will lock up your credit card very quickly.  So they dealt with that and we were at dinner 30 minutes late.

Being the last night, we just wanted something quick and easy.  But The Atlantic takes away the buffet tables from breakfast and becomes an upscale restaurant for dinner.  For an appetizer, I had the saffron rissoto.  Nine times out of ten, if there is risotto on the menu, I will order it.  For a main course I ordered the salmon, hoping for something light.  The meal was very good, and we came in just under the 500 rand voucher that our travel agent gave us.  Time for bed as tomorrow will be an early one.  

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