The Naked Barista…. 2016-02
So we arrived in Bloemfontein…in 2016…
…and again in June 2019…
It is said that the best time to visit this city is in May and September and we can understand why.
Bloemfontein experiences extreme temperatures in mid-summer, (as we are finding out) and mid-winter, so spring and autumn are the most pleasant times to visit.
Bloemfontein was officially founded in 1846 as a British outpost by British army major Henry Douglas Warden, although historically a predominantly Afrikaner settlement. Various groups of people occupied the region at that stage including Cape Colony Trek Boers, Griqua and Basotho.
Bloemfontein has been listed as one of South Africa’s best cities to live in. It has excellent museums, a fine zoo, a casino, a cheetah reserve, architectural icons and a nature reserve within the city limits.
Bloemfontein lies in the centre of the country in the Free State Province and became the judicial capital of South Africa in 1910 and was the sole judicial capital until 1994. It remains the seat for the Supreme Court of Appeal. Major lawsuits are resolved in the wood-panelled halls of its historical buildings. Bloemfontein is one of three national capitals, the other is Cape Town, the legislative capital and Pretoria, the administrative capital. Bloemfontein is also an administrative centre with many private hospitals and educational institutions.
Originally, Bloemfontein as a farm, was owned by the first inhabitant, Johannes Nicholaas Brits, born 21 February 1790. He sold it to Major Warden.
City Hall, one of the impressive sandstone buildings was designed by Sir Gordon Leith.
Bloemfontein is conveniently situated near Lesotho, the Horizon Route, which starts at Pilippolis in the south and the scenic Eastern Free State.
Architectural lovers would want to visit longer as numerous public buildings remain from as long ago as 1854. Included in their visit, should be the only twin-spired Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, build in 1880;
the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery – a neo-Cape Dutch manor house;
Freshford House Museum – a window into life in the 1890’s and the magnificent City Hall, the Supreme Court of Appeal and Fourth Raadsaal buildings.
Bloemfontein was connected to Cape Town in 1890 via a railway line. This was necessary for the British to occupy the city later.
Museums and military buildings record its association with the Anglo-Boer War (also known as the South African War).
Historians hold high regard for the Anglo-Boer War Museum and The National Museum – established in 1877 and originally was a collection of rarities from around the world.
The South African Armour Museum displays tanks, weaponry and an original military hospital.
The National Women’s Monument can also be found on the outskirts of the city and pays homage to thousands of women and children as well as old men who died in various concentration camps.
At this point, we have seen just too much of our war relics as you can read in the Battlefields article and it is still too fresh in our minds to be going to any of these museums.
One Sunday, on our trip from 2016, we took a drive up to Naval Hill, which overlooks the City. Its name is derived from the naval guns brought in by the British in order to fortify their position against outside attack. A striking white horse marks it’s slopes and was laid out during the Anglo-Boer War as a landmark for approaching horsemen.
Beyond the city, The Franklin Nature Reserve is home to endemic wildlife species. The Cheetah Experience is another must-see.
Nobody actually knows where Bloemfontein’s name comes from, but the literal translation from Afrikaans is ‘The City of Roses’. A popular event is a weeklong annual rose festival held in October. More legends for its name include an ox named “Bloem” owned by one of the Pioneer farmers that were taken by a lion near a fountain on his property. Another story names Jan Bloem (1775-1858), a Korana Khoikhoi who inhabited the area.
It is said that thousands of rose bushes line its streets, but at the time we were here in 2016, Bloemfontein was in a drought. Despite its dry and dusty appearance (2016), Bloemfontein is home to the province’s only Botanical Gardens and well worth a visit. Orchid House is also found there and a tropical oasis.
(The photos were taken in 2016)
Bloemfontein’s Sesotho name is Mangaung, meaning “place of cheetahs”. Bloemfontein has since 2011 formed part of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality having been in the Mangaung Local Municipality beforehand, established in 1849.
Bloemfontein’s claim to fame is that author, JRR Tolken – The Lord of the Rings – were born here.
It is unique in its feel of a country town, but actually being the size of a large African City.
The magnificent Free State Stadium was the hosting venue for the 2010 Fifa World Cup matches played.
Popular sports here include:
Cricket; The Knights cricket team representing the Free State and Northern Cape in various series is located at Chevrolet Park and Bloemfontein features as a regular venue for touring international and local cricket teams.
Rugby; Bloemfontein’s Free State stadium is home to two rugby union teams, the Central Cheetahs who compete in Super Rugby and the Free State Cheetahs who play in the domestic curry cup.
Football; Bloemfontein is joint home (together with nearby Botshabelo) to Premier Soccer League team Bloemfontein Celtic. 2010 Fifa World Cup matches played here including the historic 4-1 defeat of England by Germany in the round of 16.
Soaring; The New Tempe Airport, north of Bloemfontein is being used for one of the most active soaring communities in South Africa and the world.
Motor Sports; The Bloemfontein Off-Road Club has a motocross track as well as a go-kart circuit (M&F Raceway) which is run by Bloemfontein Kart Club.
Shooting Sports; Bloemfontein’s shooting sports community has produced many provincial and national representatives over the years as about 20km (12 min) south of the city, is a comprehensive shooting centre offering most forms of shooting including clay target, pistol and rifle.
Rock Climbing; Bloemfontein has two rock climbing clubs each with a wall and boulder cave.
Monthly Art Markets is a popular feature held at King’s Park. Outdoor picnics can be had at the Zoo. If you want to try your hand at gambling, the Windmill Casino is a popular place with many restaurants. We had the best two hours eating siesta in the courtyard of Ocean Basket – in 2016).
We were superblessed to have found the greenest of grass in Bloemfontein at this stage, (2016) complete with beautiful big trees filled with birds chirping, at our farm-style accommodation.
I am always looking out for a place to stay with the best garden.
Situated on a smallholding, but only a few minutes drive away from the nearest Shopping Centre and other amenities, are A Cherry Lane self-catering and B&B. This was the perfect setting for us in 2016, with easy access to the N1. We felt superblessed here and well at home with owners Nita & Kassie van Zyl.
This time around (2019), we were blessed to find accommodation through a friend. Our flat and our workmen’s flat is situated in the same guesthouse, ‘Magrietjie’.
As I have mentioned before in our travel articles, the things most valued by us when staying elsewhere is a good bed and pillows and clean bedding (the colour white is always a winner). At Cherry Lane, we were spoiled with good housekeeping as an added bonus for me and they brought us fresh clean towels daily. Air Conditioning is an absolute blessing as it were very hot even at night. (2016)
This time round at Magrietjie Guesthouse, again I have the luxury of housekeeping and this helps a lot for me to be able to write. I am quite busy with a follow-up book I would like to publish the beginning of 2020.
We chose our accommodation well (2016) as ‘Cherry Lane Self Catering B&B’ won the Certificate of Excellence 2015 from TripAdvisor.
On a lovely Saturday morning (2019), I visited the ‘Boeremark’ to buy good fresh produce for the week ahead. This would become a weekly pleasurable experience for the next five weeks. We prefer our own cooking to stay healthy.
Bloemfontein Boeremark became my weekly outing as B were hard at work, even on the weekends. I could shop to my hearts’ delight. I met some lovely stall owners. The one I prefer to buy most of our veggies from keeps all my shopping safe for me in storage (without storage fees) while I continue to shop. There is just about everything and anything to be found at this lovely, winter sun-kissed venue.
Pallet Art belongs to Hennie van Zyl (082 5627 479) who is a very interesting man and a terrific artist. His Volksie vehicle caught my attention as we are from the garden route where this vintage vehicle is plentiful.
Another stall which grabbed my attention is Mads which belongs to Madeleen Fourie (082 4124 181). She makes the most beautiful lace and other clothing. I could not resist buying an outfit for my third and brand new grandchild, Jana.
It was fascinating as I chatted with the stallholders and met two stallholders who commissioned me to write their book for them.
#mykoekismytrots Is a stall chock block full of delicious cakes which I found on only one of the five visits at the Boeremark. I bought the best pumpkin cake slices as I had a coffee date with Michelle, a friend who came to say hi.
So gratitude Bloemfontein for again treating us well…
….Superblessed, as we are off to work in Magaliesburg next…(2016)
…we are first planning a visit to Clarens for a couple of days…(2016)
Superblessed with our life indeed!