Posted in: Home / Archives for June 2008

The City of Bridges (and its musical nightlife!)

I would really like to tell you something about the not so well known side of Porto, just waiting to be discovered – the nightlife you can enjoy in this amazing city, whatever your taste!

Of course, Porto is well known as Portugal’s second largest city and the ‘capital of the north’, home to a historical centre, recognised by UNESCO as a ‘World Heritage Site’. It also contains several impressive bridges that cross the river Douro, taking you from the city centre to the world famous wine caves. Each bridge has an impressive unique architecture that makes them stand out and give Porto a unique landscape. In Porto you must take the opportunity to travel in one of the traditional barca boats and see a different side of this fascinating city!

But this is common knowledge for every tourist. I want to tell you about the sometimes overlooked but truly fantastic nightlife!!

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Saludos desde Lima!

I’m learning Spanish in Lima. Apparently, the school I’m at is quite new, but it doesn’t seem like it at all. All the teachers and staff are very professional, so so SO nice, and everything is really well organized!

There is so much culture in Peru, with the food, music and people. I’ve learnt a lot of Spanish in just 4 weeks, and feel much more confident with my Spanish now. The class sizes are very small, so we all get a lot of personal attention. We do learn grammar, but the whole focus is on using it, putting it into practice, getting used to speaking in Spanish and understanding Spanish when we’re spoken to.

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Tango and more in Buenos Aires!

I studied Spanish only in High School, but not since then. So I thought it would be a great idea to take Spanish classes in South America. I decided to go to Argentina, because I wanted to experience the people and culture of Argentina. I was a bit nervous and very excited, curious about the people and culture.

I knew all of the stereotypes – Tango, soccer and meat eating. I have eaten a lot of meat, watched several Boca, River and Superclasico ‘futbol’ matches and have combined my Spanish course with Tango classes! In fact I spent one of my first afternoons in a Tango class organized by the school, dancing Tango with another student from the school. I was a bit unaccustomed to dancing so close and intimately, but it was funny, and obviously no problem once you got used to it!

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‘Pizza moments’ in Sorrento

We are sitting on the terrace eating a fabulous pizza and catching a bit of sun. What a nice life! I can’t believe my colleagues, they come from all over the world to stay in one of the best places in the world. Well, when I say colleagues, we aren’t at work, we are studying Italian in what must be the best school in Italy! The school is in such a beautiful location, with sea views which simply inspire you to learn!

The ‘pizza moment’ (a daily tradition for us!) is such a good way to get to know the other students and create friendships that last even when the course has finished. What is more, here you can continue your lessons even when you have finished the course because it’s possible to have lessons on-line with the teacher of your choice, after you leave the course. So, when I am back home and am crying because I am no longer in Sorrento learning Italian, I can carry on with my studies and keep in touch with my colleagues,….. but and it is a BIG ‘but’, I won’t be able to buy the same pizza as the ones you can buy in Sorrento!

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Seafood and Samba in Salvador da Bahia!

I couldn’t have chosen better than Salvador da Bahia – a city with a tropical climate, beautiful beaches, a rich cultural and historical heritage, and joyful, welcoming people living a relaxed, easygoing lifestyle. I just returned from a Portuguese language course in Salvador, and this magnificent city on Brazil’s northeast coast has everything you could imagine… and more!

The first thing that I loved about Salvador was definitely the local cuisine which is specific to the region – Salvador is a seafood-lover’s paradise! I would highly recommend the moqueca, which is a large seafood stew that comes with crab, lobster, or shrimp, as well as a wide variety of vegetables… yummm! Also, do not leave Brazil without trying acarajé. It is the name for an amazing snack that originated in Western Africa: fried black-eyed pea fritters stuffed with delicious shrimp. Nowhere else will you find such an interesting, delectable mixture of African and Brazilian culture and cuisine than Salvador!

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More than Port in Porto!

There were lots of things I was looking forward to when I started planning my trip to Porto. Sunshine, historic medieval streets, beaches, markets, finally improving my Portuguese to improve and, of course… lots of yummy port! I hadn’t expected to also fall in love with the rolling hills of the city, the hub of activity along the river Douro, the quirky honest locals and… above all… try tripe (the local specialty) and sort of like it! I had a fantastic time in Porto!

I loved skipping out of my Portuguese school every day to find myself right there smack bang on the banks of the Douro river, in the heart of the city ready for a hectic afternoon of meandering through the beautiful cobbled streets, idling in local cafes with my classmates and practicing my Portuguese or heading out of the city to the beach and busy afternoon of relaxing by the sea.

Porto really did have a little bit of everything I could have wished for.

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Cuenca – ‘The Athens of Ecuador!’

Cuenca, Ecuador is the most amazing place to study Spanish! It was such a welcoming city, I found I could learn, study, make friends, and practice my Spanish, all with ease. It’s a unique part of Ecuador with history so special that it has been chosen as a Unesco World Heritage Trust Site!

There are so many things to see and do in Cuenca, including admiring the amazing views of the Andean Mountains which surround the city! Cuenca is also a bustling university city, so I was always sure to find both international and local students amongst its streets mingling among the locals. The city had an awesome atmosphere – a real mix of old and traditional and youthful and modern everywhere I went.

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It’s like being at home – but 100 times more fun!!

I’ve been studying Spanish in Bariloche and Santiago de Chile for the past couple of months and am really loving it! I had already been at the Santiago school for about a month and because I really liked it there, I decided to try out the school in Bariloche too.

My expectations of the school and of Bariloche itself were pretty high, as I had heard so many great things about it, and well, both the school and Bariloche have exceeded those expectations!

First of all, the city is beautiful, the views from the tops of the numerous mountains and the sun setting over the lakes are images that I will never forget.

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My Munich-tastic time in Germany!

Before I arrived in Munich I had heard great things about the city. I had heard countless tales of its beautiful architecture, about it being a fabulous bustling hub containing every traditional image of Germany you ever had. I heard friends brag about the amazing countryside of Bavaria, the beautiful fairytale-like castles, and breathtaking scenery across mountains and lush green forests galore. And above all, naturally, I had heard about the beer and the sausages! Although I have to say that being neither a massive beer nor sausage fan, it was these most famous of all German things that probably excited me least! ;)

But the truth is, despite all these great things awaiting me in Munich, when I arrived at the airport, all my anticipation, curiosity and excitement was overwhelmed by the butterflies flying around in my stomach! I didn’t speak a word of German and here I was, in the middle of Bavaria, about to plonk myself in the home of a kindly German family and somehow take a bus and find my German language school and find someway to ask for a glass of water, let alone finding something to eat… I found myself thinking “How exactly did I get myself into this?!?”

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Flamingo Beach – Sand and Salsa!

Flamingo Beach was, for me, the most perfect place imaginable to learn Spanish! An exotic paradise with beautiful pristine beaches, tiki charm, and an unbelievable atmosphere. No wonder the people that lived there were so warm and friendly!

The 5 minute walk to the beach from school was just the icing on the cake. We were on the gorgeous Guanacaste coast, and Flamingo Beach was just one of many amazing beaches I got to visit. We were so lucky; we even had our own pool at the school, so I would regularly go to class with my bathers all ready to jump in as soon as my lessons ended!

Studying Spanish in Flamingo Beach gave me the chance to enjoy the great outdoors with the natural beauty of forests, and stunning coastline on my doorstep. I saw so much amazing wildlife and all kinds of weird and wonderful plants and flowers!

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