Pavement maintenance leaves a lot to be desired
Sadly maintenance does not appear to feature high on the list of priorities for the Mangaung municipality (in which Bloemfontein is located), and the state of the pavements in the CBD is abysmal.
Unfortunately this means that tourists need to watch where they're putting their feet, for fear of stumbling and falling or twisting or breaking an ankle - sad, as that attention expended on pavement watching would be much better spent on appreciating the lovely architecture.
Be prepared for Bloem's extreme climate
Bloem climate is typical of a continental interior - freezing cold in winter and hot as hell in summer!
We visited in early January, as the temperature soared into the high 30s centigrade and the mercury seemed to stick there. Usually in summer, the temperature is somewhat moderated by regular rainfall, which takes the edge off the heat, but the first part of summer in 2011/12 had been very dry, and both the vegetation and the residents were taking strain!
When it does rain, the rainfall is generally associated with thunder storms, which can be torrential. Look at the enormous size of the stormwater drain in the photo above (just by the Free State Stadium) to realise the volume of water that can be dumped in a short period!
Winters in Bloem are very pleasant during the day, with clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid teens. However, the nights can be perishingly cold, and frost is common.
I would suggest that you take these extremes into account when you're booking accommodation. If you've visiting in high summer and don't take heat well, consider selecting a hotel or guest house that has proper air conditioning (all the fans in the world are simply going to move the hot air around and aren't going to make much difference to the temperature in a heatwave). The key issue here is to drop the temperature low enough that you can sleep comfortably.
In winter, look for somewhere that has some form of heating. Central heating is a standard feature in hotels but isn't common in guest houses or homes in South Africa, so if you're planning to stay in a smaller establishment, make sure that they offer some sort of gas or electric heater.
Hoffman Square lies between St Andrew Street and Maitland Street and forms the centre of the CBD. There are incident taking place once in 15 to 20 days for cell phone snatching, and stealing. So if you plan to go to Hoffman square take someone from Bloem with you. The monument on the square was erected to commemorate soldiers of Bloemfontein who perished during the First and Second World Wars.
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