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 http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/free-state for more information.
Happy Youth Month!
A Traveller’s Friend
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.
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.
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: www.facebook.com/startupgrindbfn
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!
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
TO DO LIST:
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
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.
Yours in Guiding
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.
Until next month!
A Traveller’s Friend
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:
“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.
To all fellow vegans and vegetarians out there, the verdict is such: #bestrong and work on your home cooking skills🙌
After doing a little investigating myself, I’d heard that the following are either vegetarian/vegan friendly or accommodating:
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
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,
Hello, Bonjour, Ola, Καλημέρα, Здравствуйте!
Welcome to the ultimate “traveller’s blog”. Masha and I (Veda) are excited to take you on a wonderful journey through Bloemfontein, South Africa, capturing its historic and cultural essence. We’ll also share with you the in’s and out’s in terms of dining experience, night life and overall adventure.
A bit of a background as to who we are, how the blog came to be and what you can expect from it:
As you already know, my name is Veda. I’m a South African born Portuguese, living in Bloemfontein. I’ve always had an affinity towards different cultures of the world and I, like many, enjoy sight-seeing and going on adventures.
Masha is originally from Belarus. She moved to Bloemfontein in 2007. She is fluent in Russian, French, and English and is currently taking on Greek. And might I add, she is a socialite of note.
(Side note: Masha is a co-owner of the guesthouse, a hidden gem in the peaceful suburb of Dan Pienaar, Bloemfontein, South Africa.)
Our idea of starting a blog was confirmed early in February of this year while Masha and I were sitting under the Pride of India tree at Arista Guesthouse.
While we were chatting and indulging in some freshly pressed coffee, foreign travellers arrived and checked in at Arista. One of the first questions they asked Masha was, “What can we do here, in Bloemfontein?” Visitors to a foreign territory always want to know what’s on offer in terms of art, entertainment and cuisine, but often don’t have access to this very information.
We’ve therefore decided to start a blog which will provide local and foreign travellers with a monthly to-do list in Bloemfontein. We’ll also share our personal experiences and recommendations (the so-called “flavour of the month”). The “boring” stigma attached to Bloemfontein shall dissolve, because we’re going to show you that Bloemfontein has much to offer!
Bloemfontein is rich in history and has developed a culture of her own. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that JRR Tolkien, who wrote masterpiece fantasy novels such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ was born right here in the heart of South Africa. Bloemfontein has also been the birthplace of and home to famous fine artists, musicians, actors and sports stars – Father Claerhout, Lucas Maree, Leon Schuster and Zola Budd (respectively).
A bit of a #namedropping, I know! 😉
Basically, we’re on a mission to provide our traveller friends with an enjoyable stay in Bloemfontein, and perhaps even to convince other travellers to make a turn in The City of Roses.
For more historical information, please keep an eye out for our mid-month Rubric from the #travelguru Tony Horn, also knows as @Bushjunkies (email@example.com).
A traveller’s friend