Besides the report of the trip you can find the students’ descriptions of their experiences during the trip. Enjoy!
Leonie, so what was the trip to Portugal like? I heard that the traveling took really long, how so?
“Meeting at Hanau main station at 5:30 am, we definitely had to get up way too early, to start our trip to Portugal. From Hanau we took the train to Cologne, where we worked on our presentation on our group’s volunteer project. The work actually turned out to be much more fun than expected. Even the long travel exceeded our expectations. We expected the trip, including a 2-hour train ride, a 2-hour flight, 2 more hours of waiting for our connections and eventually another 3-hour bus ride to Alfandega da Fé, our final destination, to be a necessary but exhausting sacrifice. However, chatting, joking and even playing foosball with our teachers, time flew. In Porto, we finally met our Portuguese hosts and the students from Italy, Spain and Czech Republic. But before leaving Porto, the Portuguese teachers showed us a beautiful view of the city from the top of a bridge, high above the Douro River which separates Porto and its neighbor city Vila Nova de Gaia. We arrived in Alfandega da Fé in the evening. The Portuguese students welcomed us very kindly with snacks, music and a dance show. Finally, after a long day of traveling we really enjoyed the first and well-deserved dinner with our host families.“
What did you do then?
“The next day started at 9 am with a school rally. We split up in seven groups. Visiting the school kindergarten, primary school and the secondary school we had to answer a fun question at each station. We were even able to try something new in the gym: our first experiences at the climbing wall were a lot of fun. After that we had lunch in the school cafeteria, followed by a tour around the town, which was very impressive, in particular because of the beautiful views of the vineyards. In the evening we were at the school to celebrate a traditional autumn festival named “magusto”. You roast chestnuts, eat them and play some games like tug of war. Eventually, all students went together to a restaurant and had dinner. It was a much fun and capped a beautiful day. “
Isabelle, we’ve already asked Leonie about her experiences of the first two days. What are your memories of the following days?
“Our third day started with a travel exhibition. Every group from each participating country brought some specialities to show the other students their food, lifestyle and culture. From Germany, we brought among others some typical bread, sausages and Haribo gums. After this we went on with our comic strip presentation. Every country organized a volunteer project which should benefit students at risk of dropping out from school in the future. Each country’s project presented one attempt, fitting the local context, to prevent early school leaving. In the afternoon we visited a castle, or rather a fortress, in the town of Braganza. At the top of the tower we had an amazing view of the region, which is very rural and beautiful. We even saw parts of Spain, which is very close. In the castle we visited the local military museum: now we are experts on several types of ancient weapons like the bayonet. Later that day, we had the opportunity to buy some souvenirs for friends or family before we celebrated one of our Portuguese host sister’s birthday together.
Sounds like work? Did you do anything else and which were your highlights of the trip?
“The highlight of our trip definitely was a day-trip to the Douro Valley, Portugal’s major wine region. We were lucky with the weather and able to catch great views of the vineyards and wineries. After having enjoyed the breath-taking landscape for a bit, we visited the Douro Wine Museum. There we learned some interesting facts about the port wine. Do you know, that there are actually three different types of port?
Later, we had a picnic-type lunch near the river enjoying some down time there. Some of us tried to dap stones, being more or less successful. It’s harder than you might think! In the afternoon we joined a guided tour at Sandeman’s, one of the super famous wineries in the Douro Valley. We learnt about the production process, saw the cellars and took advantage of the chance of buying some typical gifts for our parents.
The last evening we had a big farewell party. All students, parents and teachers came having a delicious Portuguese dinner. After that we danced to some Spanish and English music and finally we even sang karaoke. Although it was quite sad to say goodbye the next morning, we comforted each other knowing that we would see each other in Germany in April.”