Great time in theFree State

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

A friend once told me that if you experience hiccups at the beginning of a journey, expect smooth sailing by the end.

I thought she was just trying to sound wise but I learnt recently that there is some truth in her observation.

Yours truly had an opportunity to tour the gold fields of the Free State recently - compliments of the Free State Tourism Authority. And I must say, the trip was entertaining and mind rejuvenating.

We jetted off to Bloemfontein and spent a night at the three-star President Hotel. The hospitality was excellent and so was the contemporary decor in the foyer. Pity I cannot say the same about the rooms, which urgently need TLC.

We had an early morning the next day because we had to drive to Welkom, where most of the activities were to take place.

We arrived one and half hours later for the media launch, which gave us a picture of what to expect during our stay.

The first activity was an underground mine tour of the St Helena gold mine. I could not finish the two-hour tour because of the humidity underground but was told that it was worthwhile.

Next there was a guided boat trip and a game drive in the Willem Pretorius Nature Resort near Welkom.

Owing to time constraints and the size of the group we had to choose between the two. I chose the game drive, only to find out there were no gaming trucks available. The adventure had to be cancelled.

We decide to head back to the Constatia guest house in Welkom. It took about an hour to get there. To counter our irritation the host treated us to a delicious dinner. While we were still digesting the food Judith Sephuma made a surprise entrance.

Sephuma's exhilarating performance left us longing for more.

The second day began with a history lesson at an archaeological site, Florisbad, where we were told the earliest human skull was found.

Next stop was Soutpan, where we experienced first-hand how salt is extracted from sulphate water oozing from the ground .

After the Soutpan tour, lunch was served at the Phakisa Racecourse. Grand Prix enthusiasts lapped up the Pro-Tour national race, while sipping their cocktails.

The much-anticipated Thabong night life turned out to be a mess. The venue, AfroVibe, and the food was great, but the hospitality was the worst I have ever experienced.

We ended up having a private party elsewhere. Needless to say their was an abundance of booze.

Most people, except me of course, looked as if they had been hit by a bus. To get rid of the hangovers a tour of Thabong was organised. We had a braai at the old shops and continued where we had left off the previous night.

The party just seemed to go on for ever, so I dumped the revellers and headed back home.

I had a great time in the Free State, thanks to the Tourism Authority.