Posted by: Alex MacGregor | February 5, 2010

Museum Day

On Wednesday we set off at the ripe hour of 6AM with one solid objective in mind: to climb Table Mountain. We weren’t really sure how to get to the start of the hike, so we just started walking uphill, shrugging off an outrageous R80 taxi offer along the way. After about 30 minutes of walking up Kloof Nek Road in search of the mythical Kloof Nek, we noticed that the mountain was becoming more and more densely covered in clouds, and then it started raining. So we turned around and walked all the way back down.

We decided to occupy the apparent rainy day with an alternate set of plans: museum day. The four museums:

Castle of Good Hope – Built by the Dutch in the 1600s to defend one of the Dutch East India Company’s favorite colonial possessions. We had a long conversation with the castle blacksmith, who turned out to be a Congolese whose dream is to get to the USA, but has only made it to South Africa so far.

Outside the Castle, in a market area that still needs a little bit more exploration:

District Six Museum – Museum commemorating the bustling mixed-race neighborhood that the apartheid government destroyed in the 1970s after proclaiming the district a white area under the Group Areas Act. It remains blighted and empty to this day.

Slave Lodge – Structure where enslaved people were housed during the early colonial era. Interestingly, very few were actually from the Cape; most were from Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Nelson Mandela Gateway – In lieu of Robben Island. Lots of exhibits on apartheid, including creepy photos of perpetrators of the old regime.


We were museum-ed out by this point, so we decided to wander around in one of Cape Town’s premier tourist hotspots: Waterfront. This is basically the old port area, with nice colonial buildings and a whole lot of tourist restaurants.

Although the view was very nice, the relentless pressure from tour operators got so tiring that we caught a minibus back to Central, after the obligatory photo-op with Desmond Tutu.

Of course, the weather had long since become nice again, like it usually does in the Cape.


  1. In the background behind Caroline, I can really see why it is the “table.”

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