Latest posts by Kia Marie Hunt (see all)
- The “Traveller vs. Tourist” Debate - June 12, 2017
- Visiting Brazil’s Little Germany: Blumenau & Pomerode - June 1, 2017
- Life Lessons Learnt in the Basque Country - May 24, 2017
If I told you that I spent 3 days drinking beer, eating Apfelstrudel, and snapping photos of beautiful Bavarian architecture, you would surely think that I had visited Germany for a long weekend, right?
But the truth is, I did all of this in Brazil!
Nestled in Santa Catarina, a Southern state of Brazil, is the city of Blumenau; founded by German immigrants in 1850, it is home to the one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations in the world! And just a short bus ride away is Pomerode, also known as ‘Brazil’s little Germany’. Read on to discover just what it’s like to spend a few days here in ‘the most German city in Brazil’…
Arriving in Blumenau
Wandering the streets of Blumenau upon arrival feels quite surreal. Everywhere you look is such a strange mix of architectural styles. Every so often, nestled amongst more ‘normal’ buildings, there is a beautiful, half-timbered German building being used to house something so mundane like an opticians, bank, or post office! (Including the prettiest Santander I have ever seen!)
I happened to arrive on the day of the Corpus Christi national holiday, when most things are closed, which added another layer of surreality to the experience! Combined with the fact that no one else was around, exploring such an unlikely but beautiful place all on my own felt quite eery, but equally magical.
Exploring a new city can be exhausting, so of course, the first proper stop I made was to eat. By recommendation of my lovely host at Hostel Blau House, I tried the Thapyoka Restaurante e Choperia (Restaurant and Tavern). Known for being right next door to the beer and brewery museum, this place is perfect for any beer-enthusiast! There’s loads of beers to choose from, but I’d recommend my favourite: the Devassa Red (goes down well with a steak!)
The Vila Germânica Park
The most-German highlight of a trip to Blumenau is most definitely a visit to the Parque Vila Germânica…
As well as being a huge event centre for conventions and festivals, the Park is home to a charming ‘German Village’ which is comprised of two little streets of German buildings that house delicatessens, bars, restaurants, and shops that sell everything from traditional German costumes to Oktoberfest souvenirs. Even when the rest of Blumenau seemed to be so quiet, the German village was brimming with people and a lovely bustling atmosphere; it felt like Christmas at Birmingham’s German market!
I spent a good hour or so there in my own little world, exploring each shop, buying magnets, and taste-testing various strange flavours of liquor. Then I stayed for lunch at Bier Vila, the restaurant within the Vila Germânica that, in my opinion, has the best atmosphere of them all. The whole place is decorated with timbers and German flags, and there is live music while you sit outside and enjoy your beer (or in my case, suco de abacaxi e hortelã!) It was certainly a strange experience to eat delicious prawn & pesto pasta whilst listening to some men in Lederhosen yodelling away, but it was an enjoyable one too.
Exploring Blumenau’s Many Museums
- Glaspark Museu do Cristal (Glass Museum): A small museum about the process of making glass and a glasswares shop. The best part of this museum is that you can enter the glass factory itself and stand on a little platform watching the glassmakers at work, going to and from the furnaces and creating stunning glass sculptures.
- Museu de Cerveja (Beer Museum): A little look into the world of beer and how it’s made, including many a strange beer-making machine or contraption, but, disappointingly, no free beer samples.
- Museu de Habitos e Costumes: An interesting museum full to the brim with examples of fashion through the ages as well as recreated rooms to show the ways in which people used to live. My favourite was the exhibition upstairs showcasing the dresses and sashes of beauty pageant contestants, including ‘Miss Blumenau’ and ‘Miss Brazil.’
- Museu do Familia Colonial: A small but well thought out museum, which allows visitors to take a tour around the restored house(s) of the founding family of Blumenau, with audio that provides interesting information about the lifestyle of the first German immigrants to settle in Blumenau. (There is also the option to visit the nearby ‘cat cemetery’, which is inexplicably popular!)
A day trip to Pomerode
While staying nearby in Blumenau, it would only be right to take a day trip to Pomerode, the ‘most German’ place in all of Brazil. And it’s German-ness is obvious from the beginning!
The gates to Pomerode were beautiful, with German timbers and lovely flowerbeds. Inside there was a lady dressed in an authentic costume waiting to greet me and tell me everything I needed to know about the town, and upstairs there was a shop packed to the rafters with German artisan crafts and other goodies.
After passing through the gates, I spent the morning strolling down the high street, in love with all of the little houses. Then, naturally, it was time to eat- so I headed over to Restaurante Siedertal, a typical German restaurant with an all you can eat buffet! After a lot of meat and some delicious apple strudel, I tried to embark on the jeep tour around the Rota do Enxaimel, a 16km dirt track road that takes visitors to all of the oldest colonial houses- as seen on Michael Palin in Brazil. But unfortunately due to weather problems, it was cancelled.
So what did I do instead? I went to Pomerode Zoo! It was a little strange that I had come all the way to Pomerode to enjoy its German culture, and then ended up spending hours surrounded by zoo animals, but for the equivalent of only £3 to enter, why complain?
The highlight of the visit was taking a traditional horse & carriage ride around the whole town: it was so lovely to see it just as someone back in the colonial times would have (and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t spend at least a few minutes pretending that I was a princess!)
The perfect end to the trip was a stop at Nugali, which is apparently the best chocolate shop in town, famous for the quality of its goodies. I munched everything I bought there on the bus journey home, and it definitely lived up to its reputation!
(To see more interesting photos of the author’s adventures in this unlikely Bavarian part of Brazil, visit her original post on Aspire to Amble here)