29 September – 2 October
In a way, my next destination has a strong connection with Germany as well – particularly with one German: Otto Schneider. He immigrated to Argentina and started producing beer in 1931 – German style, turning his brewery into one of the largest in the entire continent and Santa Fe into Argentina’s beer capital. The reason for my visit is not the connection to the country of my origin though, but my friend Mauro who I met in Ecuador about five months ago.
After a little stroll around Santa Fe which presents itself as a nice city with a small town kind of atmosphere Mauro takes me to a restaurant right at the river where I get a taste of the local proud – beer and some very delicious fresh-water fish. It is an insane meal as it includes four plates of different fish, one better than the other. The river which really is more a lagoon at this point (with beaches and kite-surf spots) is part of the Paraná river, the very river that features some of the biggest and most impressive waterfalls on the planet (a few hundred kilometers upstream): the Iguazu Falls. In order to digest our massive lunch we go for a little walk around the old port that is being turned into a cool, industrial neighbourhood with casino, hotel, shopping mall and modern condos these days.
Mauro proves himself to be a great guide and passionately takes me around on his motorbike to show me his city, a place that receives surprisingly few tourists. That of course results in an even more authentic experience on my end. I am not only enjoying hanging out with Mauro but also checking out the breezy river promenade including a very distinctive bridge, the many plazas of the city, one of the stadiums of the two local and very competitive soccer clubs and the old town center.
Since Santa Fe is the beer capital a visit would not be complete without having a look at Otto Schneider’s brewery. I have never been to an active brewery before as far as I can remember and it is quite impressive to learn more about the production process and to experience first hand the immense scale of beer production – liters and liters every second, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year…
Once the theoretical part of the brewery’s visit is completed we go on with the more interactive one, the tasting of some different beers in the beer garden on site. After a little siesta (nap) I get to know many of Mauro’s friends who are very open and interested as well as Santa Fe’s healthy and vibrant bar scene. It turns out to be a very fun night and I must say that my expectations of this city have been exceeded in any way.