Friday, February 19, 2016

Cape Town, South Africa, Part 2: An Island, Gardens, and Houses

Part 2 of our Cape Town escapades!

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Took a day tour out to Robben Island, where the infamous prison where Nelson Mandela was housed for 18 of his 27 imprisoned years.  Getting to the island involves a quick, hour-long boat ride from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town - they have a handful of guided tours daily.

The murals that greet you when you arrive at Robben Island.

This is the limestone quarry where Mandela and other prisoners had to do backbreaking, insignificant work every day in grueling conditions. Working in this quarry and the strong sun upon the white rocks every day are what gave him bad cataracts when he was released. To the left of the photo is a large cave - this was the bathroom during working hours, now dubbed "the most famous toilet in the world" because it's the one place where Mandela and other important political prisoners could discuss ideas without the guards present.

Here is a prison cell. The beds are newer as prisoners used to have to sleep on the floor. Also, there were no mattresses; those apparently weren't introduced until the 80's.  

Here is our tour guide. CRAZY FACT: all the tour guides at Robben Island are former political prisoners that were housed there.  The stories they tell are clearly much more deeply rooted for them, and it's humbling to see them now giving guided tours in the exact buildings where they were formerly jailed.

This is Nelson Mandela's former cell. Crazy tiny.

A photo op! These frames are everywhere!

On the ferry back to Cape Town - these are the views the prisoners had to look at every day. So close, yet so far.

We had dinner at the V&A Waterfront with lovely sunset views. Another crazy fact, I had sushi and promptly got food poisoning the next day. How ironic is it that 8 months of travel, through some crazy, crazy experiences and restaurants with questionable hygiene, and I get my first bout of food poisoning from Cape Town sushi (vs. oh, you know - eating weird hairy meat from a bamboo hut in the middle of nowhere Myanmar, etc. etc. etc.)

And when we pulled back into the city, downtown was abuzz with people - it was apparently First Thursday, when all the galleries stay open late and the bars have special drink offers, and people spill out into the street until the wee hours.

  • Next day, we did one of those cheesy (read: AWESOME) hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus tours of the city. It really did have completely fascinating information about Cape Town, none of which I can remember enough of to charm you with here.

Ear buds ready!

Our first stop was the "world famous" Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens!  I actually don't love botanical gardens - even though they're lovely, at the end of the day, you're just standing around a bunch of plants.  But these were really nice - there were huge fields and spaces and interesting sections (i.e. an entire section dedicated to super old plants around the time of the dinos, a section where you could pick leaves off certain herbal plants and smell them, a suspended bridge that lets you walk through tree canopies, etc.).  They were super beautiful.

The suspended bridge that lets you waltz through tree canopies 

Beautiful views abound of Cape Town's mountains

Flowers everywhere!

Another stop we whizzed by was the super-cosmopolitan coastal area of Camps Bay - the coastline was gorgeous and beachy, and the shops/vibes/etc. were seriously exactly like Miami. We could have been in South Beach. 

  • And as one of our last Cape Town activities, we squeezed in a quick jaunt through the adorable neighborhood of Bo-Kaap. This area is a predominantly Muslim area of town, and is known for the brightly-colored houses.

Colorful Bo-Kaap houses!  I wonder how creepy I must have seemed as this man walked out of his house for the day and saw me standing there with a camera zoomed in on his home.

Other side of the street. I like the purple house.

And yet another Bo-Kaap road.

  • And with that, our Cape Town adventures came to an end. We were in Cape Town/Stellenbosch for over a week, and I could have easily spent twice that amount of time there - SO MANY things to see and do and experience!  Absolutely loved Cape Town and would go back anytime - seriously one of my favorite cities.

Next stop, our road-trip through the rest of South Africa (which, spoiler alert, is RIDICULOUSLY STUNNING).


  1. Still love your blog 😘 miss yooouuu

    1. I love YOUR blog! So exciting to see your adventures as well.

      Miss you so much! Let's meet again soon ok?? xo