South Africa Diary 12 August 2002
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Today didn't go quite according to plan. I was meant to go on a trip over to Robben Island to see the prison island where Nelson Mandella spent a good portion of his life, but Cape Town's weather had other ideas. The winter weather is definitely here with gale force winds and torrential downpours of rain. So instead, I got my vaccinations up to date and went for a wander around town.

The town's reputation makes it quite an intimidating place to walk around. The razor wire and 'armed response' posters on many buildings don't do anything to alleviate that fear. Despite this, and because of the tour that I went on yesterday, I decided to walk the central district. The tourist information leaflets stated that the areas are perfectly safe - during the day. The other backpackers said that it was fine. The only people that seemed to be warning against walking around were the (white) South Africans... Needless to say, I wasn't attacked, robbed, mugged or otherwise intimidated. I was offered drugs, but hey, I normally get offered walking around London.

The first place I visited was the Castle of Good Hope. It's the oldest building in the cape, started in 1666 by the Dutch settlers as protection from the English. Despite the fear of war, the castle never had to prove itself defensively as it was never attacked. It's built in the shape of a pentagon for seemingly no better reason than it looks good.

I tried to visit the District 6 museum next, but I couldn't find it. Having walked around the same block of streets twice without success I decided to give up and try somewhere else - especially as that part of town didn't feel that nice a place to be. I visited instead the South African Jewish Museum.

The Jewish museum was very interesting and kitsch beyond belief in equal measure. It was interesting to see where the immigrants came from; mainly Lithuania and Latvia, via England. The exhibits however were so over the top, with needless computer presentations, unbelievably expensive sound systems, flat screen TV screens, etc. that detracted rather than adding to the experience.

To tomorrow

Created by Dan Leigh 12/08/02