Porto Study Week 2016

We have just arrived from a week long stay in Porto, where we have attended an intensive Portuguese language course during the mornings and engaged in some cultural activities in the afternoons and evenings.

Our group this year consisted of 12 participants, among them, the "veterans" Simon and Karen who had already participated in past Study Week trips with us. Students' language skills ranged from beginners to higher intermediate levels and this year we had even a native speaker, D. Raquel, from Basildon, who could make a dream come true: achieving her first certificate of Portuguese language!

In Porto, we attended classes at Fast Forward where we received a warm welcome by Sr Ernesto, the school principal. Sr. Ernesto showed us around the school and helped the teachers to run the placement tests, a necessary tool to better place students in the correct class level.

Sr Ernesto welcomes our group

Picture: Sr. Ernesto welcomes our group and explains how their week will be like.

Fast Forward is located right on the High Street, Rua de Santa Catarina, so the students gathered around that area most of their times. The street is very pleasant and mostly pedestrianised, filled with independent and high street shops, some dating back to 1801!

Picture: Main reception room at Fast Forward.

Segunda-feira: our first lunch at ancient Majestic Café and a Walk tour!

On our first day, we had lunch at Majestic café, the restaurant/café place where J.K. Rowling used to go to for a cup of coffee, when she lived in Porto. It is believed that she has drafted some of her Harry Potter book whilst sipping a Portuguese coffee at this splendid Café.

Picture: Olivia, Eva and Karen enjoying a light lunch at Majestic Café

Picture: Majestic Café

After lunch, we joined a tailor-made tour designed and delivered by the excellent Porto Walkers.

Our guide, Nuno, delighted our students and their feedback was fantastic! We had a chance to know a little bit more about this enchanting city through the eyes and tales of a local. Thank you, Porto Walkers! If you want to find out more about this competent tour company, visit their website.

Picture: Exploring Porto's hidden quarters

Picture: On the magnificent bridge Luis I

Picture: Exploring downtown secret passages

We also visited the wonderful Lello Bookstore, a must-do while in the city. Our guide had already bought all the tickets and the students had some time to stroll inside this legendary building, considered the 3rd most beautiful bookshop in the world! What a privilege! - This incredible bookshop inspired the Harry Potter’s library in Hogwarts.

Picture: Teens simply can't get enough of the "Harry Potter" Hogwarts library!

The building was inaugurated on January 13th, 1906. The facade is in a splendid neo-gothic style, adorned by two figures painted by José Bielman, representing the Science and the Art. The interior was designed by Xavier Esteves. Nuno stayed with us for a while inside the bookshop while students explored its interiors and even searched for a good Portuguese dictionary!

Picture: Simon listens attentively to Nuno, who explains that the library offers authentic touches, including the ancient wheelbarrow on tracks which was once used to carry heavy volumes between the main door and their homes on the shelves.

Picture: Lello houses around 120,000 tittles, covering all types of genres and there are some delightful touches to remind us of the store's long heritage.

Terça-feira: Time to explore the city in Portuguese!

On our third day, I called all Basic Level students for a special activity after their classes. They engaged in a type of "Treasure Hunt" around 2 central streets, where they would have a chance to explore and find out more about that area in Porto.

Picture: David and Karen formed a very successful pair in this activity, having finished all the tasks in record time! Congratulations!

Picture: At a given moment, they had to explore the art inside Santo Ildefonso Church. Here you can see another fun pair: Pauline and Paul!

Picture: Karen and Olivia were definitely really focused on their tasks. Both have started their courses back in England some months ago and, for the first time, had to follow directions entirely in Portuguese!

Picture: Here they had to find out more about the incredible facade of the mercearia Pérola do Bolhão, see below.

"A Pérola do Bolhão has its facade covered with decorative hand-painted tiles, depicting two women with flowers and feathers in their hair. One woman is holding a tea plant whilst the other is holding a coffee plant. Hence the word Cha (tea) and Cafe (coffee) on either side of the shop's name. This grocery has been open since 1917 so they have quite an experience in dealing with customers. They’re extremely nice, know their products, dive great suggestions and know the city very well. So if you go to Pérola do Bolhão and then don’t know where to go next, ask for a tip. They’ll surely help you discover Porto and it’s amazing spots". Source: Local Porto

Quarta-feira: Heritage and Splendour!

On our fourth day we gathered at Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange). The building is one of the most important historic monuments in Porto. It was built in the second half of the 19th century in the neoclassical style and was destined to become the headquarters of the Porto Commercial Association, which reflects the importance of this activity in the city’s history.