5 Days in Cape Town: Day 4 Robben Island
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Monday morning was spent on a tour to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. I had done this years ago with our oldest daughter and it had been very memorable but after reading many negative reviews on Tripadvisor I was worried it wouldn’t be as good this time.
However, I didn’t feel we could miss out on the experience with my youngest daughter and her friend (both 17), so I went ahead and booked tickets about a month earlier. Tickets sell out so it isn’t advisable to wait until you are there to buy them. You can buy them online. Tickets cost about $25 for adults and $15 for children.
The boat to the island leaves from the Waterfront and we arrived about 30 minutes early (you have to go through security). The boat trip is included in the price of the ticket. Try to sit (or stand) outside as your view from inside is rather limited. The boat ride is about 30 minutes each way and you spend about 3 hours on the island ie the whole tour is around 4 hours. If you are lucky you will see seals – we weren’t! But you do have a great view of Table Mountain and the Harbor.
Once you reach the island, you are divided into smaller groups and you get on a bus with a guide. Our guide was very funny, but his accent made it difficult for foreigners to follow what he was saying. He told us about those who tried to escape and showed us various landmarks and places of interest. You get out of the bus at one point and can buy snacks, take photos etc.
Once the bus tour was done, we were handed off to another guide – who had been a prisoner here – and he took us inside the prison. He explained what the life of a prisoner was like – everything from their arrival, to what meals were like and getting visitors. We then got to walk past Nelson Mandela’s cell.
We also walked at our own pace through a number of other cells which had artifacts made by prisoners in them. On the walls, there were short written articles about the prisoners.
I was so glad we did do the tour – and so were the girls. It is a very moving experience which was made even more poignant by the quiet dignity of our guide. It was hard imagining him going through what he did.
Lunch at San Marcos
Back at the Waterfront, we met my ex-boss from many many years ago when I worked as a programmer at Shell in Cape Town. We chose to eat at San Marco as they have outside seating and we could enjoy the view and our sandwiches at the same time.
After lunch, the girls did some shopping at the Waterfront stores (Lush in particular) and then we spent a few hours back at the apartment resting/sleeping.
Supper at Nando’s
Before supper, we stopped at Pick n Pay supermarket in Seapoint to stock up on South African foods to bring home. We had left plenty of space in our bags as we knew we needed to buy for gifts – and for ourselves!
For 4 days my daughter had been waiting for a taste of her favorite South African “fast food” – Nando’s. It is Portuguese-inspired peri peri chicken. You can get lemon and herb if you aren’t a fan of “hot food – or you can get “very hot” if you are. Nando’s has become so popular that you can now find them in many major cities around the world and you can buy their sauces on Amazon.
Then it was time to head back to our beautiful apartment at the Waterfront.
Read about our last day – Day 5 in Cape Town – to see how we concluded our trip.
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Meryl van der Merwe
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