“This is not your regular tour!”
Friend and fellow writer, Karen Durand, has always been keen to go to South Africa with me, and when I started planning the route, I asked her if she’d like to join me. I warned her that I was looking for material for my travel writing, some of it off the beaten track – some of it might even pop up as we go along – and, I was going to try to find some places where I could drop off copies of the book I wrote on my dad “PIET wat POMPIES was”. On the way, therefore, she would meet and stay with friends and family of mine!
Karen arrived in Johannesburg, and we headed for a visit to the Apartheidsmuseum where we spent a good 3 hours. Although the museum covers a very dark period in South Africa’s history, one comes out with a feeling of hope for the world and a sense of wonder at the power of reconciliation. En route back to the hotel, we stopped for dinner at the Ocean Basket, a chain family restaurant, in Rosebank Shopping Center. The food is great and the price is very reasonable.
Early the next morning, we tackled the first leg of our journey, Johannesburg to Kimberley. I have just had an article published in TravelSquire about the N12 Treasure Route from the City of Gold to the City of Diamonds. I was thrilled that once again, there were plenty of wildlife, including blesbok, giraffe, swart wildebeest and even the majestic oryx!
I got one complimentary room at the luxurious Cygnature Boutique Lodge and Golf Resort outside Kimberley, near Magersfontein where the Boers won a bloody battle against the British – I will be writing an article on the fascinating history of how this golf course and estate originated and developed. The roaring fire in the restaurant crackled so hard that I had to end the phone coversation I was having! It was ‘Night Golf’ at the club, and we were amused to hear about the luminous golf balls and OBS (Old Brown Sherry) that was enjoyed at each of the six holes in the zero temperature outside!
On the way out, we could touch two zebras at a neighboring property while admiring an eland grazing in the same enclosure. We made a quick stop at the Magersfontein Battle Field, en route to see the impressive Big Hole in Kimberley. Once again, the wildlife along the road did not disappoint, and Karen’s list of animals got longer, including warthogs barging through a fence along the road.
Then, it was on to Bloemfontein where my brother, Johan and his wife, Lina, have retired to, sharing a duplex with their daughter and granddaughter, Arina and Linee.
We spent a wonderful two days with them, giving Karen a glimpse into South African family life as well as a taste of a South African braai!We taught each other card games such as ‘Spoons’ and ‘Kitty’.
We had great fun at Naval Hill where there is a huge statue of Mandela, photobombing a group of teachers from Lesotho, and subsequently joining in the song and dance.
Naval Hill offers a spectacular view of Bloemfontein. Our next stop was ‘Oliewenhuis’ where we enjoyed a beautiful exhibit of Ndebele paintings by the famous artist, Esther, and a display of Basotho blankets, explaining the motifs and meanings behind the designs.
Before heading home, we enjoyed a cup of coffee at the adjoining restaurant while watching the kids enjoy the merry-go-round set up on the grounds.