Busy Day - V&A, Robben Island and Table Mountain
Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
15Trip End Dec 07, 2008
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Weather was glorious. The sun as beating down on us from a cloudless sky at 9am. We took a taxi the the V&A Waterfront where it was very quiet as it was still early. It was lovely to be able to stroll through the place with no crowds and because of the strength of the sun we each bought a hat from one of the shops there and the hat proved to be a great buy for Steve for the rest of the trip
We were booked on the 11am ferry to Robben Island and were lucky to be able to grab a seat on the top deck which was open air. The boat actually holds, possibly about 100 people but there are only 28 open air seats. The trip out was very pleasant as the weather was so great and because of this lots of people wanted to sit on the top deck. I felt sorry for the attendant as he (in hindsight, stupidly) let people come up to the top deck to take photos but he then struggled to get them all to go back down again.
There was a group of about 8 lads who just kept snapping photos of themselves just so they could stay up and each time the attendant tried to ask them to go back down they'd say they hadn't finished. One of them kept trying to shake the attendants hand and slip him a note so blatantly wanted to bribe him into letting them stay but the attendant didn't let them so eventually they disappeared back downstairs but they'd been up for the majority of the journey!
There was also a chap in a QPR shirt who had a little girl who sat on he top step leading to the open air deck and the attendant asked him to move downstairs. The QPR guy refused and said his little girl wanted to be outside (like that should allow him to?!)
At this stage a few of the passengers on the deck started to shout at the QPR man and tell him to be reasonable so the guy did go downstairs but by now we had reached Robben Island anyway. There were a couple of ladies sat near us who said that the QPR guys should be made to stay on the island for his behaviour! The attendant was just trying to do his job and I felt sorry for him but I guess he should have been more firm in the first place and just stop anyone from going up to the deck once it was full
This incident made me feel a touch uncomfortable as I felt it wasn't fair on the attendant and I guess it set the tone for Robben Island where fairness and justice didn't exist either. The trip was interesting. We arrived and were put onto buses that drove round the complex with a guide explaining what went on pointing out what the different buildings were. It was hard to believe that such treatment of people happened so recently. What struck me was the pointlessness of it all. It was ludicrous that the prisoners had to work so hard in the intense heat quarrying limestone from point A and hauling it to point B only to have to haul it back to point A the next day. Why make people suffer so? I guess that one thing is symbolic of apartheid in its entirety. Granted, they ended up needing the limestone eventually but originally there was no purpose to this work the prisoners had to do. After the bus tour, there is a short tour of the cells by a former prisoner which is also pretty hard hitting. I had no knowledge about the politics or history of South Africa and after the visit I now know perhaps, a little more but I still don't really understand it but what the trip does is make it real
We returned the Waterfront and we had a late lunch at "Quay 4" overlooking the harbour. We shared a seafood platter (calamari, mussels, linefish, king prawns, chips and rice) and had a bottle of wine. Location and setting were excellent. Food was good value volume to price wise especially when you compare prices to UK but a bit too heavy and in comparison the the rest of the meals we had over the course of the trip probably the least satisfactory quality wise.
Given the skies were so clear, it seemed a good time to try to get to Table Mountain so we worked through the post lunch fatigue and pushed on. Took the cable car up which was pretty scary and the gradient is very steep. At least we didn't try to hike up it - we saw some guys climbing up and that looked even scarier
Sunday evening and the area we were in was pretty quiet. Even "Daddy Cool" was closed so we walked a little way down Long Street and had dinner at "Nyoni's Kraal". Shared a mixed braai (BBQ) platter which comprised of boerewors (sausages), chicken, lamb, beef and ribs as well as the traditional pap, tomato bredie and chakalaka. To explain, pap is like polenta ie a form of starch but was bright white and looked like a disc of polystyrene and the tomato bredie was like a tomato paste spread on top. Chakalaka was like a spiced sauce. The pap itself didn't taste of that much but I don't think it's meant to. The meat was all nicely marinaded and well cooked. It would have been more interesting and appealing to us if there had been some more unusual meats. We ordered a bottle of wine which Steve drank most of as the meal at "Quay 4" and this dinner was sitting pretty heavy in my tummy so wine wouldn't have helped.