As mentioned over in britexpatinrio.com, in October I travelled down to the southern Brazilian city of Blumenau to experience the second largest Oktoberfest in the world.
Blumenau does not have an airport, but is served by nearby Navagantes and also Florianopolis. The first first is around 1 hour away, the 2nd around 2 hours. If travelling by TAM or Azul, there is a free bus transfer service from Navagantes, which costs R$50 if travelling on GOL. From Florianopolis, there is an inter-city coach available I believe.
We were flying by GOL from Rio GIG to Navagantes. The check in experience in Rio was, as I have seen before on GOL, a disaster… Three huge queues, each having 3-5 desks serving them. Except on the queue we were in, they kept taking 2 desks away to serve the running crisis of tens of people not checked in for a flight leaving any minute… And given the handling, I’m sure they were on time. We had to queue over an hour to check in, so I’m glad we arrived early. Having said that, arriving late you basically got priority treatment and pushed to the front of the line, even in front of people on the same flight who had been queuing for an hour. There is a GOL Smiles lounge at GIG, but we literally walked through security and boarding was ready to start a couple of minutes later. This lounge can be accessed by Priority Pass members, or GOL elites.
I had selected GOL’s Comfort+, providing a few extra centimeters of log room. And it is a very comfortable seat with 36cm of leg room, although the width is quite tight I find. GOL use 737s, and I prefer flying on Azul’s Embraers for better seat width. I also prefer their 2+2 seating as opposed to 3+3. But, for a quick <2 hour flight, it is fine. Even the non-seat plus is still ok for such short flights.
Navagantes is a very small airport, and we made it through quickly to the waiting bus, which was located on the far right of exiting the terminal. Apparently it is branded ‘International’ airport, but I don’t think it has seen an international flight in a very long time, if ever!
The bus was very comfortable, and basically I just slept and woke up in Blumenau! The bus station was only a short 10 minute walk to our hotel, the Accor Ibis Blumenau.
It has been a couple of years since I stayed in Ibis. It’s perfectly functional, a queen sized bed, a room with enough space to walk round it. And that’s about it. The service is nothing special, but nothing offensive. We had no problems with an early check in, which I requested in advance, and had our room by 10am. After a quick drop of the bags, we headed out for the day. As this is the peak time, it wasn’t the cheapest (in fact there were rooms for almost the same price as the 5* Accor property we stayed in São Paulo next!), but it is well located and has a good number of rooms. There are no top level hotels in Blumenau, and this is a fairly decent option I’d say.
Breakfast was served until 1030 the next morning, which was a small buffet of fruits, ham, cheese bread and yoghurt. Nothing wow, but enough to start the day.
We also experienced the local bus system, which was R$3.50 for a journey including changes (as long as you change in the right place!). Like Rio, drivers still think they are all on a race track!
So, if you are thinking of going to Blumenau, it’s easy to get to from Rio or São Paulo, it is fairly cheap to stay, and you can drink a lot of beer while there.
We flew in to Navagantes from Rio GIG on the GOL morning flight. This meant us paying R$50 each, which can be paid in cash or by card. The bus transfer left shortly after we arrived, and only had a few passengers on off what was quite a full flight surprisingly.