Robben Island – Cape Town South Africa

Before kicking off the main topic of this posting, a quick travel update from a dinner gem site we found last night…

Last night, we had an amazing dinner at the Pot Luck Club restaurant which can be found in the old Biscuit District/Factory.  This is a small place, but borderline Michelin star tapas.  It is hard to get in, but recommend planning in advance and using the Platinum AMEX concierge to get you a table.  Believe me, the $40 per person reservation charge is worth the risk!

This morning, we took the Nelson Mandela museum history tour over to Robben Island where he was held for 18 years as a political prisoner.  It is a 45 minute boat road to get the island 7 km off the coast of Cape Town.  You can see Tabletop mountain in the distance.

There is kelp everywhere…almost displeasing to the sight, but that is what political prisoners used to harvest for farmers when they were in captivity.

I also did not know that the British had huge 19 inch gun emplacements all over the island to defend Cape Town in WWII.

The island is quite large and many people still live on it to maintain the museum and provide tours. A local showed us the limestone quarry where Nelson Mandela and others were forced to work and mine limestone for building more prison facilities.

The pile of stones was formed a number of years ago when Nelson Mandela hosted and led a reunion of many prisoners that worked here when in prison.

We had a former prisoner give us a lecture and guide us through the prison.  Many were held in individual homes and cells as individuals for many years.

The facilities were so spartan and limited…they were almost as bad as the WWII concentration camps and they did not even have hot water or windows until the 1970s.

Nelson Mandela’s cell

This was Nelson Mandela’s individual cell where he lived for 18 years when at this prison.

This is a landmark in how we fight social oppression.

Overall, it is a long 4-5 hour tour and very important history for South Africa and the world.  But you must remain patient and take your time as it is a slow paced guided tour and the facilities are slowly being worked on to restore and bring the whole experience to a museum quality facility.

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