Startup Grind Bloemfontein

Startup Grind Bloemfontein

Hello Wednesday,


Bloemfontein is often mistaken for a big town, as we move at a slightly slower pace in this part of the country. Lesley Jennings & Masha Gubkina are passionate about the growth and development of Bloemfontein and have therefore decided to up the tempo by piloting the Startup Grind Bloemfontein Chapter in November 2016.

Startup Grind is a Google empowered forum which serves as a catalyst for change in the world of business and entrepreneurship. The forum is active in over 250 cities across the world and is all about educating, inspiring and connecting. Each chapter hosts monthly events where they interview inspirational and dynamic entrepreneurs and facilitate networking between people in business before and after the interview.


Masha Gubkina & Lesley Jennings

The Bloemfontein chapter has hosted 10 events up until now, featuring successful local entrepreneurs in interior design, construction, entertainment, law and the like. These events are truly a wonderful opportunity to learn, make friends, help others and give back. Lesley and her right hand, Masha Gubkina ensure that with every event that they host, they make use of local venues and services (including the make-up, photography, videography, sound and catering teams).

Be sure to look out for their Oktoberfest themed event on Wednesday, 25 October 2017 at the CUT Idea Gymnasium. Miles Kubheka, owner of Vuyo’s Restaurant, will be joining them for an evening of good food, beer and company. They are turning 1 in November and have very exciting plans for that too. I hope to see you there!


The keyword is local and if the local community can continue to work together and support one another, by making use of platforms such as Startup Grind Bloemfontein, I can only have an enthusiastic outlook on the future of our CITY. Bloemfontein is a developing city and the possibilities are endless.

And as they say, #keepgrinding



A Traveller’s friend

Oh, beer!

Ola Travellers!

This month Masha and I had the privilege of hanging out with Jasiu Lewtak, co-owner of award-winning Stellar Brewery, in the spirit of Oktoberfest. Stellar Brewery has been running for about a year and their delicious beers are handcrafted right here in Bloemfontein. We asked all the important questions; how Jasiu ended up in Bloemfontein, how the brewery came to be and where you can find their products. We even got a sneak peek into their future prospects. Here’s more about the man behind the beer, and the beer itself of course.

When life in Warsaw, Poland became too comfortable for their liking, Jasiu and his wife decided that it would be a good time to pack their bags and move to “somewhere far”.  They were in search of a city that was conservative and difficult to change. And that’s how they ended up in Bloemfontein.  The couple identified the fact that things were brewing here and that there was an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the Bloemfontein community – something they’ve succeeded in thus far!

Whilst taking on his post-doctoral studies in Chemistry at the UFS, Jasiu took an interest in the intricacies of the beer brewing process. He took part in a few competitions where he won silver and gold medals for home-brewing. Once all his recipes were proven, he decided to go commercial. Jasiu and his business partners subsequently started up Stellar Brewery in 2016, with the main objective of influencing the craft scene in the Free State and South Africa. The name “Stellar” was derived from the idea that the galaxy features unlimited possibilities, just like their beer brewing business.

The brewery sources locally as far as they can and they pride themselves in experimenting with and producing beers of superior quality. Their beers are designed so as to appreciate and enjoy the taste and flavours. My favourite has to be the Bloem Weiss; enjoyable it is!  The team recently took part in a craft brewers’ competition in Cape Town where they won a SILVER medal for beer aged in oak. And get this… someone drove all the way from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein the other day with the sole purpose of buying all the available bottles of this particular beer. At retail price nogals. Naturally, Jasiu is facing cultural and language barriers which impact on business. On the bright side, he finds that the community is receptive, especially when they realise that he’s foreign. Stellar Brewery’s products are clearly in demand and they can only go onwards and upwards from here.

Stellar Brewery has since launched their gin products at the Vryfees and they’ve been distilling whiskey and experimenting with British Styled rum. They’re looking to continue making an impact on the craft scene, expanding the business and brewing more obscure styles of beer for the connoisseurs.  As a foreigner with an objective view of South Africa, Jasiu has an admirable amount of faith in the potential of our economy and he is certainly contributing.

Now, for the most important bit of information: you can find Stellar Brewery products at local markets, Liquor City Preller & Bloemgate, Bella Casa and Galaxy Pub. They will be at the Statrup Grind event on the 25th of October. Also, they featured as one of three local breweries at this year’s 1st annual Beer Fest at Ramblers Club. Look out for next year’s edition.

As a beer lover myself, I look forward to seeing this business making waves in the South African craft scene. Local is lekker, so be sure to support these guys. And if you are a foreigner considering moving to Bloemfontein, this story is testament to the fact that there most certainly is a space here for you.

PS Bloemfontein has a beer club. Members come together over the weekend and are given brewing styles to experiment with. They figure out what works, what doesn’t, how to improve and who can help. There are over 100 styles to test and if something like “testing the activity of beta analyse depending on the PH of water” tickles your fancy, join the club. Pop Stellar Breweries an inbox on Facebook should you be interested in becoming a member. Give them a like while you’re at it!


A Traveller’s Friend

The turning over of a new leaf

Ola friends

You know spring is here when you wake up to the chirping of birds and with an uncontrollable urge to clean out your closet. September, synonymous with spring, is a month of renewal, fertility and (for most of us) the turning over of a new leaf.

With a fresh start comes new experiences, new people, new places, a new wardrobe and a new you. It is also the perfect time to reflect on where you come from, who you are and where you are now. What better time to reflect than on Heritage Day, the 24th of September?

Heritage Day is so much more than “National Braai Day”. It is a day set aside in recognition and celebration of the diverse cultural heritages of all South Africans. And South Africa is a true melting pot of heritages. Our heritage forms part of our identity. The importance of diversity and recognizing and respecting our differences in culture, beliefs and traditions cannot be stressed enough. Imagine how dull life would be if we were all the same? I cannot. Furthermore, we need to recognize one another’s differences in order to enable us to be empathetic towards one another. And we must respect one another’s differences so that we can (continue) to live in beautifully diverse harmony. What does your heritage mean to you?

My maternal grandparents were Portuguese immigrants from Madeira. They took so much pride in being Portuguese and instilled that sense of pride and carrying forth of traditions in their children and grandchildren. I could listen to stories of their past for hours on end and took a great interest in their ways of life in general. So much of Madeira lived in their homes and in their hearts, and it continues to live in my home and heart too.

Madeira is known for its Bailinho da Madeira (a traditional dance with the accompanying song), beautiful flowers, and elaborate firework shows over New Year’s. Don’t get me started on the food and drink…: Bolo de Mel (honey cake), custard tarts,espada, espetada, poncha, Brisa. My mouth is literally watering right now. On Heritage Day my family tries to get together for lunch. On the menu will usually be espetada, boiled potatoes and a salad. My uncle Joao makes the most delicious poncha; strong and sweet just how I like it. There will be the occasional playing of Portuguese music but we don’t dress up and perform the Bailinho… We leave that to the experts on the Portuguese channel RTP.

I’ve shared with you how I celebrate Heritage Day. How do you celebrate? Do you celebrate Heritage Day/Month? If not, we have a few suggestions for you:

2 September / Market Day- Free State Art Symposium / André Huguenet Theatre 9AM-2PM
2 September / Youth Concerto Festival / Odeion School of music/ 7.30PM
2 September / Boho Birthday Bash with DJ Shaxe / Boho Bistro/ 11PM
3 September / Journey to the stars / Naval Hill Planetarium / 4PM
3 September / VEUVE Clicquot Picnic CHIC/ Kobose Luxury: The Luxury Events Company
4 September/ 2017 Phatshoane Henney New Breed Art Competition/ Oliewenhuis
6 September/ Happy Valley& Oliewenhuis Art Museum Trail Night Race/ Oliewenhuis/ 5.30-8PM
7 September / Fashion Show Child Welfare / Ramblers Club
14 September / Jazz Evenings featuring Mlungisi Gegana/ Coco C / 7.30PM
22 September / Pilates Mat Short Course / Ramblers Club / 9AM
23 September / The Craft Festival /Ramblers club Bloemfontein / 12-10PM
23 September / PARTY@PLENTY/ @59 Plenty / 7.30PM
24 September / Special Heritage Day Programme Myths and Stories in the Sky / Naval Hill Planetarium / 4PM
27 September / Startup Grind Bfn empowered by Google/ @59 Plenty/ 6-9PM
29 September / No Limits / Mystic Boer Bfn / 8PM-4AM


Traveller’s friend


Hike Along the Kiepersol Koppie Trails

At the end of last year I cancelled my gym contract in an attempt to save some money over the summer break. I vowed to make use of the many yoga DVD’s at home for the time being and to renew my gym contract at the start of the new semester.

Fast-forward to May and needless to say, neither of my vows were kept.  I decided to take on an alternative activity in Bloemfontein to redeem myself. My list of options included Park Run on Saturday mornings, wall climbing at the University of the Free State and hitting golf balls at the driving range. I opted for hiking at the Free State Botanical Gardens.

I woke up on Sunday morning, the 7th of May, at 7am and packed the essentials. Upon arrival at the Gardens I was greeted by cheerful staff and paid my R22 entrance fee.  A guide directed me towards the trail entrances, where I decided to conquer them all: the Garden & Motshetse (roughly 2km each) and Basotho Iron Age Site and Garden View trails (1km).

The trails were thoroughly enjoyable and not too strenuous. The hike stimulated all my senses: the wild smell of veld; the chatter of the birds; the feeling of the fresh, cold breeze stroking my skin; picturesque views and the taste of my childhood as I munched on peanut butter sandwiches… Even my 6th sense tingled when I came across a wall that stood since the Anglo Boer War.  The only aspect of the hike that lacked was an ocean view; the Kiepersol Koppie had a lot of Melkbos but no Strand.

All in all, my expectations were exceeded. If I had to describe the trails in one phrase it would be, “Fairytale-like entrance and exit points with rough-around-the-edges trails.”

The Gardens’ monthly market just so happened to fall on the same day I decided to hike. Thus, as an added bonus, I walked through the market and gardens after my hike. Then, to top it all off, I had a picnic on the luscious green grass in the garden while reading a book.

Seeing as June is Youth Month in South Africa, a walk or run along the trails might be just what you need to remind or reassure yourself of your youthfulness. The trails are suitable for young and old. It is recommended to go in Autumn and Spring. Stock up your backpack with a pair of sunnies, a hat, SPF, H2O, snacks and a camera and go! Don’t forget your binoculars if you are an avid bird watcher.

Call 051 436 3530 or visit for more information.

Happy Youth Month!


A Traveller’s Friend

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Here’s some of what’s going on in Bloem this month:

June 13 – Quiz Night @Copper Clover, 18:00-21:00.

June 16 – Bloem Youth Poetry Slam @Pitseng African Restaurant, 17:00-19:00.

June 16 – Asanda Mqiki Live in Bloemfontein – Youth Day @Boho Bistro, 18:00-21:00. Tickets are available at R80 from Boho & R120 at the door.

June 16 & June 17 – Youth Day Celebrations @Scarlet Room, 11:00.

June 17 – Blend Presents: Johnny Luck: The Liquor Cabinet Tour @Blend Restaurant and Bar, 19:00-23:00, R20 entry.

June 24 – Aladdin, a theatrical comedy @Sand du Plessis Theatre, 20:00-22:00. Tickets R90 at Pacofs. Call 051 447 7772.

Bloem Board Games Evenings @CoffeeTalks Cafe, every Thursday from 18:30.



Happy Mumsday

Greetings, Travellers

May month features May the Fourth, Return of the Fifth and Mother’s Day. I don’t particularly support the notion of celebrating and showing appreciation for motherhood, fatherhood and even love once a year. Days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day are set aside nonetheless, so we may as well make use of them too. In the spirit the latter we will explore how the dynamic mother can celebrate motherhood in Bloemfontein on Mother’s Day and in May in general.


Veda& her mum, Serina

The dynamic mother is an entrepreneur:

  • For the entrepreneurial mother we recommend attending Startup Grind Bloemfontein’s May event. Speakers include Thandi Vellem and Leah Molatseli, two powerful female entrepreneurs making big waves in their respective fields. Catch them on Thursday the 24th of May / 6PM / Cubaña Bloemfontein. For more details on this event and #startbfn follow the Facebook link:


The dynamic mother is a foodie:

  • The ideal situation would be for your hubby and/or child (ren) to cook at least one fancy meal for you on Mother’s Day.
  • If that’s not the case and you feel like cuisine you haven’t had to prepare, head over to a restaurant. Bloemfontein has a wide selection of restaurants to choose from!


Masha& her mum, Svetlana

The dynamic mother is a culture vulture:

  • Visit an art gallery such as Oliewenhuis and Gallery on Leviseur.
  • Watch a movie at home, at the cinema or at the UFS.
  • Go out dancing at Die Mystic Boer or the like.
  • Listen to live musical performances, poetry and/or storytelling at the Aasvoël Klub.


The dynamic mother is adventurous and energetic:

  • Go for a hike at the Botanical Gardens.
  • Join Parkrun on Saturdays on Naval Hill.


The dynamic mother deserves a pampering:

  • Take some time off from your busy schedule. Book a facial, massage, manicure and pedicure at a beauty salon. Masha is in love with Tselem Skin Care Clinic and confidently recommends them. She’s a regular there.
  • For further peace, quiet and relaxation, book yourself into Arista Guesthouse for one night. You will receive the 5-star treatment you deserve.


We hope that you can draw some inspiration from the above recommendations, take some time for yourself and do what you love. We love you and thank you for being a dynamic mother.


A Traveller’s Friend



13 May – Come Wine With Me, from 6pm @Greek Hall Bfn, Corner of Andries Pretorius and Bree Street

13 May – Portuguese Youth Festival, 10pm @91 St George’s Street

13 May – Sculpting Porcelain: Hand Modelling and Carving Workshop, 10am @Oliewenhuis

16 May – Ciné-Club @Equitas Auditorium, University of the Free State (Showing the cult classic: Amélie)

18 May – Brandenburg String Trio, 7.30PM @Odeion

18 May – Bloem Board Games Evening, 6pm @CoffeeTalks Cafe

18 May – Jodi Bieber: Between Darkness and Light Exhibition Opening, 7pm @Oliewenhuis

19 May – Food Market @Reizis Square

20 May –  Naval Hill Parkrun, 8Am @Naval Hill

20 May – 609th Street Store, 9am @Orchid House

20 May – Cosmic Collisions (Afr), 4pm @Planetarium

20 May – Miss Free State

24 May – Startup Grind powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, 6PM @Cubaña

27 May – Volksblad Food and Art Market @Emoya Estate

27 May – PnP Women’s Walk, 7am @University of the Free State

27 May – New Beginnings Dress Up- Dog Walk, 9AM-2PM @Tuff Top Lawns and Estate


             Greetings All


There is an English saying that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, well this “old dog” learnt one last week.

I was hosting a foreign group who have specifically come to South Africa to look at our old steam locomotives. I was totally unaware that here in Bloemfontein there is the only workshop in South Africa dedicated in repairing and preserving these by gone relics.

I have once read that Bloemfontein had the largest workshop in South Africa for repairing locomotives, but I never really followed up on this. I was flabbergasted in what I saw and I regret in not taking more photos, there are about 10-15 perfectly restored steam locomotives and various other railway paraphernalia in various stages of development. Two of the locomotives are to be shipped out to New Zealand and others are used here in the Free State at Sandstone Estate near Ficksburg.


If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the Transport museum in George and seen all the old trains there, then the chances are it was restored here in Bloemfontein. This is a wonderful opportunity for any steam railway enthusiast to view these machines (I think it’s a man’s dream world) and is a wonderful attraction here for those who are interested. One has to book in advance to make the necessary bookings but I can recommend a visit to the workshop and will add value to my city tour.

I know that April will be a bumper month for the tourism industry with the Angus Buchannan conference being held soon. I think that we can compare this month to October when the Macufe festival attracts people from all over South Africa and all the accommodation places are fully booked. I do have some concerns with the logistics for this conference but I hope that everything will run smoothly and professionally and perhaps Bloemfontein can host it again next year.
Please contact me if you have any tour guiding requests or in need of transfers.

Thank you
Yours in Guiding
Tony Horn



F R I D A Y / N I G H T / F O O D / M A R K E T

As promised, here’s our “Flavour of the Month”: Neighbourhood Market à la Jack & Jill Food Co.

Masha and I attended the market last month. We both deem it worthy of your time; especially to those of you who love live music, food and socialising (I mean… who doesn’t?).

The market is located in the colourful Reizis Square under hundreds of dainty fairy lights. It was quite the enchanting experience – we arrived before sunset and stayed long enough to experience the illumination of the fairly lights as the sky turned dark. The sunset also beautifully complimented the two palm trees from which the “Neighbourhood Market” sign hangs. #pictureperfect


Apart from the aesthetically pleasing setting, I thoroughly enjoyed Simple Stories’ stellar live performance. There was a wide range of tasty treats and drinks to choose from: gourmet food, sweets and STELLAR CRAFT BEER.




I bought a few prawn rissoles, lemon meringue and a blonde beer and parked off on the grass. Masha ended off her market experience at Wiltshire and White Horse Company (a pub in the square that serves really great gin).

The market was vibrant and of high standard in terms of its food, drink and music. It was quite the drive to the venue, but so worth it. I want to describe it as a Cape Town vibe… Is that acceptable?

My advice: get there on time so that you can claim a table or spot on the grass and settle in. You want to take a jolly group of mates too! It is the perfect place to hang out with friends and indulge in pure goodness.

The market takes place monthly from 17h00-20h00.

Please find below a table of events taking place this month. Please share with us any events we should be adding to the table.

Apr-12 JAZZ EVENING COCO C 073 300 9967


Until next month!


A Traveller’s Friend

On A Mission To Find Vegan Eateries

Ola, Travellers

Follow the White Rabbit

The month of April greets us with  over-done pranks and then swiftly reminds us that winter is around the corner. This is usually the time of the year when I toss the shorts and opt for jeans & T’s.

In our jeans & T’s, Masha and I decided that this month would be dedicated to trying to compile a list of vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurants in Bloemfontein. Masha is vegan for the 2017 Lent period and we both have a few vegan/vegetarian friends. Including Masha and friends, I’m pretty sure that a lot of vegan/vegetarian traveller’s would find such a list useful. You want to be served a decent meal at a restaurant and not just a head of lettuce or boiled potato.

You can just imagine the struggle to compile such a list, considering where we are (oh, hello). However, upon many a visit to a variety of restaurants back in March, this is what Masha found:



Veggie Stir Fry by #amazingchefandrea

“A Silwood graduate chef once told me she always judges a restaurant by the choice of vegetarian options on the menu. I can tell you right away: There are not many vegetarian-friendly (never mind vegan) places in our meat-loving part of SA; however, I’ve managed to find a few.

About Two weeks back I had a Startup Grind meeting at Koekela, a serene little restaurant in the heart of Bloemfontein. On arrival, out of curiosity, I asked whether they had Almond or Soy milk, as I had a serious cappuccino craving. To my surprise, a very friendly waitress not just saved me with caffeine but suggested some lovely vegan dishes to choose from. And even though I didn’t end up eating, the understanding and willingness to help were much appreciated👌definitely a must try✔️
Another spot was Avanti @Woodlands’ shopping center, where once again (thanks to the waitress who happened to be vegan herself) a friend of mine and I were served some delicious pizzas.
Of course, there is always Woolworths’ coffee shop. As in most cases, the menu is limited to avo or hummus sandwiches.

Vegetable Cannelloni by @andreaolivier01

To all fellow vegans and vegetarians out there, the verdict is such: #bestrong and work on your home cooking skills🙌

Yours truly,




After doing a little investigating myself, I’d heard that the following are either vegetarian/vegan friendly or accommodating:
@59 Plenty
Iewers Nice
Coffe Talks Café
Much to my dismay, we were unable to compile a complete list of vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurants. Until such a time, the best advice would be to request accommodating options! Let’s just take solace in the fact that we have come across accommodating places nonetheless.
We haven’t given up just yet. Should you have information regarding vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurants, please share with us! That would be helpful in our quest.

(Hint, hint: clearly there’s a gap in the Bloemfontein market for a Vegan restaurant.)


A Traveller’s Friend



Meet the Travel Guru

“This continent is like a beautiful, passionate woman with all her moods and tempers”

Happy Wednesday to all 🙂

Here is a short story about our #travelguru, Tony Horn, who will guide us through Free State every Mid-month. Enjoy !


“Africa, its people, places and stunning wildlife has had me spellbound since I first arrived on these shores back in 1971. My memories of my childhood growing up in Cornwall were of green fields, foxes and seagulls with the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto the Cornish cliffs. I loved the outdoors then as a child and that love has never diminished.

This continent is like a beautiful, passionate woman with all her moods and tempers. Once you are under her spell it is hard to resist her charms. Africa is part of us, our origins are from her and thus an inextricable bond exists.

I have had the pleasure of exploring many of the sub Saharan regions but as there is just so much to see, I doubt that I will ever explore it all in this lifetime. I worked for many years at game lodges within the Sabi Sands as well in the Kruger Park creating memories and friendships which will last a lifetime.

It was in 1995 that I met my good friend Roger on the banks of the Zambezi. A few beers later the seed was planted for us to start our own business. Roger was the first to take the plunge and thus he is the original Bush Junkie and is based down in Durban where he conducts his tours. It was only in 2004 that I made the momentous decision to give it all up and to open Bush Junkies safaris in Bloemfontein. I chose this city as firstly I am a Free Stater through and through and wanted to promote this region. Secondly, there were not that many registered tour guides in the province so the competition was small. Well many years later I am still going, still learning and never giving up. I have evolved, doing things I would never have imagined and enjoying the challenge of working for oneself.  I take tours throughout the country not only focusing on its wildlife but also on the people, history and culture. I am also very passionate in promoting Bloemfontein and offer full or half day tours of the city. It is often underrated as a tourist destination, but I hope that after telling you some of the many interesting topics, that it might convince you to come and visit.

I am a firm believer that through travel you learn new cultures and experience exciting things which make your life a never ending journey of discovery and reward.”


Yours in guiding,

Traveller’s friend