So this week I had a trip down to Blumenau, home of the Brazilian Oktoberfest, and São Paulo.
I’ll review this in four parts – the holiday itself in Blumenau and then São Paulo will be here, but I’ll also talk about the travel and hotel experience on my travel blog, travelramblings.co.uk too!
But here is part 1 – Blumenau and the Brazilian Oktoberfest!
This is something I had been wanting to go to for the last couple of years, and finally this year the opportunity presented itself. For those who don’t know, the town of Blumenau in South Brazil hosts the second largest Oktoberfest in the world. This region of Brazil was settled by Germans, and has some German heritage (a few German style buildings, the odd wurst, and plenty of beer!).
Unlike the original in Munich, it also always occurs in Oktober, starting in the 2nd week of October normally it seems.
We arrived in Blumenau on a Tuesday morning, or rather we arrived in Navagentes, the closest airport. There is around 1 hour bus journey then to Blumenau itself (there is an airport shuttle that is free if you are flying Azul or TAM, or R$50 on Gol).
The Oktoberfest party itself takes place in the Vila Germanica, on the edge of the town, and I must say I was a bit disappointed in the centre of Blumenau itself during the day – nothing really was going on related to Oktoberfest! There are numerous bars, although some of the best happened to be closed during the day as well… There a a few touristy things to do, some museums, and the opportunity to go to some of the local breweries – unfortunately the most famous of these, Eisenbahn, has recently stopped during brewery tours, but there is still a bar and shop on site. We want to ‘Bierland’, around a 45 minute journey from the centre by local bus. These did still show us around the small brewery and talk about the brewing process. Don’t expect a visitor center – it really is one of the brewers just walking you around their operation for 15 minutes and telling you about the beers. Of course, there is a bar on site to then sample them.
There is also the Museum of Beer, which I think it is fair to say could do with a little refresh! They had a small CRT TV playing their video on the history of brewing in Bluemenau (only in Portuguese). And the other exhibits were not the most inspiring unfortunately. However, the guide was very friendly and gave me lots of information guides in English.
A must for any tour must surely include the Cat Cemetery. Yes, you heard right!
Anyway, enough of the day, as it perhaps wasn’t the most inspiring of starts! At 6pm, the main attractions starts. You can get tickets online, R$10 each, in advance for entry to the Vila Germanica. Here there are 3 huge beer halls, a small german styled village, plenty of stands selling wursts, mugs and hats, and of course lots of stands selling beer.
You have to buy tickets from various cash desks to exchange for beer. It was always by 400ml, and cost from R$5 to R$8 – a good buy generally I’d say! There were numerous breweries represented, including the main sponsor Eisenbahn, but also Baden Baden, Bierland, Das Bier, Container and a couple of others.
And the beers themselves. We sampled a selection from various breweries, and generally very impressed with all. I just wish, like in a British style beer festival, if actually wanting to taste the beers it was possible to get them in smaller glasses to make it easier to try all of them!
We stayed two nights, with one afternoon and evening, one full day, and the next day just enough time to have breakfast and head to the airport. This was more than enough time… In fact, I felt we could have shortened one night even and not missed much, by going to the festival after the parade. We only went to the Vila Germanica on the first evening. The second, we spent in a bar/pub called ‘The Basement’. English themed (in look anyway), serving a wide selection of local beers, with a great blues band playing. We went there due to it’s excellent trip advisor rating, and it was a great bar.
After this, we caught a plane to São Paulo for the rest of the holiday! See more in the next post.