Day Two: Historical Cape Town
As previously stated, Jon and I woke up late on our second day in Cape Town, making sure that we could be happy and active tourists for at least half a day. We missed breakfast and instead went to the waterfront pub for a burger and some fish and chips. It was just what I needed to bring me back to health. We contemplated taking the cable car up Table Mountain since the winds weren´t too bad (at least not gale force as they had been pretty much the entire time we were in the city). However, we decided to wait for the winds to die down, and instead headed to the free walking tour of downtown.
We saw a lot of incredible historical sites and our guide did a really great job explaining recent South African history. The tour started in Green Market Square, a former trading market for fruits and vegetables that now serves as a souvenir market. We headed then to St. George´s Church where Desmond Tutu, a black preacher who was named archbishop of Cape Town by the all-white congregational leaders of the church. The church leaders didn´t believe in apartheid and appointed Tutu, a black man, in a position of power so that they could fight against apartheid through the messages in his sermon. To this day, Tutu still preaches in that church when he is not in hospital. We also visited the gardens planted in the middle of town by the Dutch East India Company, as well as the presidential palace and the Houses of Parliament. South Africa actually has three seats of government: the executive capital is in Pretoria, the legislative branch in Cape Town, and the judicial in Bloemfontaine. The main capital is really Pretoria, but when Parliament is in session, the government officials travel to Cape Town and stay there for a few months.
Following the Houses of Parliament, we headed to City Hall, which was a very impressive building, modeled after the Houses of Parliament in London with the tower clock. Nelson Mandela gave his first speech after being freed on the steps of City Hall. Many people came to watch his speech, but most whites stayed away because they thought that Mandela´s freedom meant that they would soon experience reverse apartheid or an uprising of some sort. Miraculously, that never occurred, thanks to Mandela´s messages of forgiveness.
We ended our tour there in front of the Castle of Good Hope, the oldest Dutch building in the city. It wasn´t really what you would think of as a castle but it had a moat and gate and ramparts up high with cannons to protect the city. Jon and I didn´t spend much time there because I was busy trying to hold my hat onto my head. Due to the wind we decided not to go up Table Mountain at all that day, but save it for the next day.
We headed back to the waterfront where Jon and I decided to split up to visit separate things. He headed to the Two Oceans Aquarium where he took amazing pictures of jellyfish, sharks, and other creatures that live under the water. I, instead, went to the traveling Titanic Artifact exhibit located next door in the Watershed. Being a little bit obsessed with the Titanic while growing up, I really enjoyed the exhibit. Upon entry they give you a replica ticket to the Titanic and on the back you are given an identity of a passenger, including their age, their reason for traveling, who they traveled with, etc. At the end of the exhibit you find out if your passenger survived or died. The kids really found that quite interesting, as did I. The exhibit was amazing: they had so much information about the ship, the different classes of passengers, the passengers themselves, and the survival stories from the sinking. They had artifacts that had been brought up from the ship such as porcelain dishes, hair ornaments, jewelry, postcards, etc. It was fascinating how those items were cleaned and cared for after their time spent on the bottom of the ocean. There was even an iceberg available for you to touch so that you could feel how cold the water was. And since icebergs are fresh water and salt water has a lower freezing temperature, the seawater that the passengers jumped into was even colder. It´s amazing that anyone survived at all: most people didn´t last even a few minutes in that freezing water. What I was most impressed with was how similar the actors in the Titanic movie looked like the actual historical characters pictured in the exhibit. It was a great experience, especially if you love the movie like I do!
For dinner, Jon and I headed to Willoughby and Co., which I had read we had to go to. It was a little different than I envisioned because it was inside a mall and there was basically no ambience. It was very crowded and lively though- Jon and I had to sit at the sushi bar because there was no space anywhere else. We had the Namibian oysters as recommended by my guide book but Jon didn´t really like them because they were too big, like Gulf Oysters. I liked them, but didn´t think they were all that special. What the restaurant is really good at is their sushi. The rolls were creative and the fish very fresh, even though the pieces were almost too large to put in your mouth. Overall, though- a tasty meal and we were happy to catch up on a little sleep afterwards.
*I tried to upload photos but our lodge’s internet is very slow. Hopefully it will be faster the next place and you can get visuals to go with the writing