However, after taking part in the two day event, I can safely say that I have no regrets having tackled the drive from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein, the long way round, while taking part in a number of challenges.
Volkswagen ditched its formal vehicle launch procedure for this event. In place of structured business presentations, rigid driving routes and formal meals, we found basic instructions, clues and knew that at some point that we needed to arrive in Bloemfontein.
My driving partner and I embarked upon what turned out to be a rather interesting and enlightening day behind the wheel. Before leaving the Volkswagen head office, we grabbed a random set of keys and found that we’d chosen a red GTI as our chariot for the day.
We started the trip with a quick drive to Parys to visit the famous suspension bridge where we needed to take a photograph and find a specific lock (of which there are hundreds on the bridge) that stated “JJ for J Forever”, which of course, we couldn’t find.
Being unhealthily competitive, we left in a bitter state and made our way to our next destination, a town called Bultfontein, some 200km from Parys. In this small town, we found one of the largest grain elevators in South Africa. This area is responsible for providing the corn for our local Corn Flakes, a fact that earned us points in the challenge.
From there it was another 100km-or-so to a place called Soutpan, where we were tasked with finding the local church, which, as the town's name suggests, is the only church in Africa with a floor made entirely of salt. We then made our way to Bloemfontein which apart being from being the overnight spot, also revealed a rather special place we were to visit the next day on the drive back home.
The dawn of day two yielded the keys to a Golf GTD, which I drove through to a place in Bloemfontein called Gerhard’s Volksie Museum, which as I discovered, is one of the largest private collections of air-cooled Volkswagen models you’re likely to find anywhere.
Parked on the lawn outside was a collection of Kombi Campervans, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Then, inside the warehouse, there were more Kombi models, Beetles and a selection of rare air-cooled VWs from yesteryear.
I was then granted permission to drive an old Kombi retro-fitted with a 2.4-litre engine as well as a 50s Beetle. Both left me absolutely in love with air-cooled Volkswagen models, I simply have to own one someday. To see just how extensive the collection is, heck out the video of our tour of the Museum on the Autodealer Facebook page.
Road trip life
This experience was rather eye-opening; the normal route to Bloemfontein is as about as interesting as watching paint dry with the N1 providing an endless, straight and rather bland landscape all the way.
However, the route that we took had us travel along rough roads, through fascinating small towns and across far more interesting landscape. It makes you want to discover more about our country. Every small town we passed must have something unique about it, something that makes it worth a stop.
We’re often fixated with the destination, but the journey can provide us with more adventure than we’d ever imagined. So I’m challenging you, the next time you’re planning a holiday, take the long route, stop over and see what our country has to offer, the best is often in the smallest nook and cranny.