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Se7en+1 Visit the V and A Waterfront For a Full Day of Family Fun Exploring…

September 23rd, 2017 · 2 Comments

So we have slowly but surely been blogging our holiday in the centre of Cape Town, when we took a winter holiday and became tourists in our own town for a while. We spent one day doing the free City Sightseeing Walks all over the heart of the city and then we spent one full day at the V and A Waterfront. I know we have been there so often, and we have blogged about it a lot, but we have never actually been there for a full day, as tourists. So off we went to spend a day, with the intention to explore and show our readers new sights, all over the Waterfront… literally from dawn to dusk.

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Our intention was very specifically to find family friendly things to do, and in the centre of the tourism district, we were also looking for affordable fun. When you have eight kids, trust me budget holidays are a priority. We did our own exploring for most of the day, we took a free walking tour to get some local information and finally we also took a boat trip, we were at the Waterfront after all.

Se7en Hoods Out on Patrol

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We began first thing in the morning… heading for Granger Bay and then the Helicopter pad… where a pilot dashed out to ask us if we were there for a ride.

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“No, we were just watching, thank you very much.”

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We continued our tour using Suzie Joubert’s Waterfront Walkabout, published by Art Publishers, as our guide.

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It is a fantastic book geared towards kids, packed with information that their accompanying adults would find interesting too. The book takes you on a walking tour from one side of the Waterfront to the other, and each double spread features and key spot to stop and look at in more detail and then very specific directions to move on to the next stop. This book is packed with fun details and snippets, lovely photographs and all presented in a beautiful way. While it is a great guide it would make the perfect moment as well. The book says a 2-3 hour walk but we literally took all day, because we made plenty of stops and had mini-adventures along the way.

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Places that we wouldn’t normally explore, we stopped to take a look at more closely… for instance this golden seal we must have walked past millions of times before is called Oscar.

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And then we came to the most interesting discovery of the day…
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Did you know that on Jetty 1 there is a free museum for Robben Island, that tells the story of the island and life on the island for political prisoners. We haven’t yet been to Robben Island, much as we would love to it is a fairly pricy outing, so it was a lovely surprise to discover this museum packed with facts and information and true life stories. It is presented really well and we spent a good while reading letters to and from home with their family.

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You can walk into a “prison cell” and listen to recordings of folk from the island telling their stories. It is a great little museum and we spent forty five minutes there without even noticing the time fly by. If you are interested in South African history and life in South Africa during the Apartheid era, then this is a must visit.

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From the museum we walked over to the time ball and the Breakwater Prison… we got there just in time to join the CitySightseeing Free Walking Tours, that launch every day from the Citysightseeing office outside the Two Oceans Aquarium.

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The City Sightseeing Tour

We took a break from our own exploring when we got to the Citysightseeing office, we checked online for the times of their free walking tours and joined a group to go on an intriguing tour of the Waterfront. These tours are free, and are run strictly on tips. These walks are great it is a ninety minute amble, going at the slowest pace and stopping all the way to tell you about the history and local landmarks. It is a great tour and very family friendly… we had folk from all ages and stages, tots to grandparents, on the tour and they all enjoyed it thoroughly.

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The tour covered the Breakwater Prison and history of the Waterfront so well… the kids were completely caught up in it…

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And intrigued to learn about the punishments of the day. This was the dreaded treadmill, used simply for punishment. It served no other purpose but to have prisoners run on it around the clock, for punishment.

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And we must have walked passed this wall so many times in our lives before and never noticed the history in it…

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If you look closely… wherever there are white arrows painted on the wall…

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You can look for carvings on the wall, where prisoners told their stories… where they were from and the work they did…

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This was just amazing to us… and we could have stopped and read the wall for hours…

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But on we went, learning and chatting along the way…

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This is the famous plaque commemorating where Queen Victoria’s son, prince Alfred, tipped a pile of rubble into the bay to begin the breakwater in Table Bay. And hence the name, The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront… The idea was to build some protection fro ships visiting the Cape at the time. The plan was to build the breakwater using freely available rocks and prison labour from the Breakwater Lodge… cutting costs, so to speak.

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After all the exploring and learning new things…

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We arrived at a very strategic spot, just in time to watch the Noon Day Gun go off…

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And a stop on Noble Square…

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To say Hello to Madiba of course…

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The key to eating out affordably for ten of you on a full day outing is not to eat at the fast food restaurants, but head for wherever the locals grab their lunch, and that would be the Supermarket. Grab a picnic and find a shady spot to sit and enjoy.

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The CitySightseeing Harbour Cruise

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Just like other Red City Bus Sightseeing Tours their Waterfront Harbour Cruises are fantastic.

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Children twelve and under wear life jackets through out and always safety first.

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Otherwise these cruises run every twenty minutes throughout the day so really you buy your tickets an won’t have to weight very long before the next cruise boat arrives.

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Otherwise, if you shop online their ticket prices are slightly reduced, and because we went during the winter school holidays and made full use of their winter special of buy one adult tick and get two kids free special. This special runs from 1 May – 8 October 2017 and our kids ranked this as the best event of their holiday. Just saying that if you need something special and actually affordable to do next week over the spring break then this is it. Check out their website for details.
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Just like on the red City Bus tours there are headphones for everyone, so that you can listen to the tour in your own language. And for the little people, not only do they have the tour in their own language, but there is a story for them to follow along and the story “takes” them on tour.

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The cruise takes you around the main basins of the Waterfront and all the while explains land marks that you are floating past. The tour is packed with fascinating facts and interesting insights… even having lived in Cape Town my entire life there was tons to learn, all in a fun and engaging way…

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If you don’t have the time for a full day outing with the Red City Bus Tours, we highly recommend that you take a break from all your sightseeing and sit on the tour boats for half an hour and listen to the story of the Waterfront.

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On with the Book Tour

After spending the early part of the morning doing the tour associated with the Waterfront Walkabout Tour Book for kids, we took a break to do the Free Walking Tour and then the Harbour Cruise, we were ready to get back to exploring on our own with the help of the tour book.

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Starting at the Bascule Bridge…
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And a look at the Rat Catcher’s House…
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The is really the artistic corner of the Waterfront, with lots of creative art to look at and experience.

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And I am excited about the opening of the Zeitz MOCAA Museum of Contemporary art… Just dying to explore it in fact…
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It sure has come along way in the last few years of building..

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Other museums in this area include the Chavonness Battery Museum…

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And not a museum, but the greenest building in Africa apparently, The Allan Grey Building is filled with interesting Green tweaks and designed with sustainable principles in mind, like using the surrounding sea water to provide the building with a more natural cooling system.

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And Other Waterfront Fun

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There are other places that we like to stop and visit for fun, when we do venture out to visit the Waterfront…

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And a visit to the magical world of Hamley’s, which my children think is a toy museum…

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And we would never visit the Waterfront without visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium… there is always something fantastic happening there and something new and interesting to see.

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And that’s it… a full day out at the V and A Waterfront… it is a fun place for the whole family and there are a ton of cultural and historical sites to see. the fact that it is a working harbour means that there is always dome sort of action going on… it is the best place to be for people watching.

Waterfront with Citysightseeing

This is not a sponsored post in anyway, and all opinions expressed were entirely our own.

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Tags: Cape Town · Outings

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