Robben Island Failure and the V&A Waterfront
Ben, August 24, 2010
Saturday morning we got up bright and early so that we could make it in time for our boat trip to Robben Island. Robben Island is a small island in Table Bay (the bay that Cape Town sits on), which was originally used as a leper colony. Eventually it was converted into a prison. It is famous for housing Nelson Mandela during the majority of his incarceration, as well as housing Ghandi at one point. We had a tour of the island scheduled, but Saturday turned out to be extremely windy and all tours were cancelled. The weather in Cape Town is very fickle and it is the second windiest city in the world, after San Francisco.

After realizing our tour was cancelled, we decided to wander around the V&A Waterfront. A large mall, Victoria's Wharf, anchors the area and is very similar to American malls. We walked around the mall, had a leisurely lunch and some ice cream, and then headed back to the hotel to relax for a while. We met a South African couple who was staying in the hotel while we were having afternoon tea (read: drinks & cake). They gave us a number of good tips about what to do in Victoria Falls. They also were very familiar with America in general, including our sports teams. They also mentioned that they had three different friends who were now married to American girls. We assume this is primarily due to American girls' love of accents.

We asked the hotel manager for a dinner recommendation, and he made us a reservation at a restaurant called Blonde. It turned out that they were having a promotion where your entire meal, including drinks, was half off. We ended up having a great bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne to celebrate our last night in Cape Town. I had another steak and Pam had ostrich. The entire meal was excellent -- probably on par with something like Morton's back home. Despite all of this, it ended up costing us only about $70 US or so. The half-off special certainly helped, but even without it we could have ordered a cheaper bottle of wine and no champagne and had it still come out to about $70-$80US. We have been impressed with how cheaply you can eat a nice dinner in Cape Town. For being in Africa, it sure hasn't felt light roughing it.

After dinner, we spent about an hour talking to two of the staff members at the hotel, Simon and Enos, who were both originally from Zimbabwe. We talked a lot about how they live, as well as some about religion. It seems like Christianity is pretty wide spread, but seems to take on a slightly different flavor from American Christians. Many by-the-book beliefs, mixed in with some concepts from the traditional religions. Not sure if that is actually the case, but it's my guess based on what I've heard so far. Enos also told us that he wanted to leave and join the American or British army, but that this was primarily due to economic reasons.
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