August 30, 2017

Travelling Corner: Greetings from Costa Rica! (photo-post)

Greetings from Costa Rica! Costa Rica is a beautiful place on our planet Earth. Our school’s German tutor and manager, Victoria has visited this breathtaking land on many occasions and now she’s sharing her photos from her most recent trip on our blog. Enjoy the photos!

Photos courtesy of Victoria Holderied-Milis

August 23, 2017

Travelling Corner: Paradise Island in Portugal

I’ve visited the island Ilha de Tavira in the south of Portugal many times and its beauty is breath-taking. It’s a tiny island; there are a few houses, a large campsite, no cars (except a couple of tractors) and a long beautiful beach.


The beach is amazing! You can go for long walks (there is a nudist section further away… I’m just saying… ;), go swimming in the wild ocean waves or have a bit of a rest under the (rentable) beach umbrellas. On the other side, there is a calmer shore which might be more suitable for the little ones.


As you know, camping is my favourite, so I was very happy to camp on Ilha de Tavira. The campsite is big and very clean, with many toilet facilities (cold water is free), a shop and a bar, free Internet (near the reception area) and a small playground. And you can listen to the waves & cicadas and see the starts at night 🙂


There are regular boat services from the mainland and it takes around 20 minutes to get to the island from Tavira. You could also plan a little trip to the other islands, the Ria Formosa Natural Park or to go diving.

Which is your favourite Portuguese island? Share your recommendations in the comments below.

Written by Kinga Macalla

August 16, 2017

Travelling Corner: 5 Ideas for Long-Distance Walks in Bristol (Part 2)

David Bathrust writes ‘[d]espite the increasingly sophisticated range of leisure pursuits and interests available to us, walking still enjoys huge popularity as a form of recreation’ and I myself cannot think of a better free time activity. Fortunately, Bristol has many beautiful parks and woods to explore and below are my favourite big green areas.

Durdham Down

Walk, jog, have a picnic, read a book, fly a kite, play football… and yet it is rarely crowded. Amazing views of Clifton Suspension Bridge. Top of Whiteladies Road, Bristol.

Ashton Court Estate & Leigh Woods

Ashton Court: Deer and plenty of open space. Across the Suspension Bridge, follow Bridge Road.

Leigh Woods: Beautiful tree sanctuary. Across the Suspension Bridge, off North Road.

Blaise Castle Estate

Many simple and more advanced pathways, perfect for a picnic, too. Coombe Dingle, off The Dingle Road.

The Docks

City Walk with beautiful river views. Steep walk down from Clifton Village (Granby Hill), walking available on both sides of the river.

Lamplighter’s Walk

A green pathway by the river with picturesque views of the village of Pill. It starts near the pub The Lamplighter’s Pub, behind the train station in Shirehampton.

Do you have any favourite parks/woods in Bristol? Please share your favourites in the comments below.

Written by Kinga Macalla

August 9, 2017

Travelling Corner: Why not Sochi?

Where else in the world could you ski up in the mountains in the morning and swim in the beautiful Black Sea in the afternoon, all on the same day!

It all happens here in the most southern corner of unbounded Russia: Sochi, or the southern capital as they call it; the place which contradicts many stereotypes formed about Russia. One of them is that Russian winters are freezing. Really? It is February and it is +18°c. Sochi is surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains on the one side and the Black Sea on the other so it has a subtropical climate. It is humid and warm all year round but if you feel like cooling down, a 40 minute drive into the mountains will take you up to Krasnaya Polyana ( Красная Поляна) – a world class Ski & Mountain Resort which consists of 3 main resorts: Rosa Khutor, Gasprom and Gorky Gorod. All three are very well developed and will satisfy skiers of any level. For instance, one week might not be enough for you to ski through all the slopes in Rosa Khutor as all together it has 77km of pistes. The resort hosted the Alpine and Nordic events of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, having previously hosted Alpine World Cup events from February 2012, two years earlier.

Today this place has grown into a “Ski City” with an amazing infrastructure, including many world class hotels, restaurants with traditional Russian, Western European and Caucasian Cuisine, modern indoor and outdoor waterparks, ice rinks where you can try both ice skating and ice hockey, children’s interactive clubs, bowling, cinema, conference halls, shopping centres and night clubs.

Summer holidays here are as great as winter ones though in July and August it might get a bit too hot, around +38C’ in Sochi itself, which is why some holiday makers go for day trips or book hotels in the mountains where the temperatures are lower. Lots of ski lifts are open in the summer too so you can fully enjoy picturesque views of summer mountains. If you love hot sun, stay in Sochi and spend the day swimming in the clear, warm, blue (not black at all) sea on one of Sochi’s Beaches, watching fishing boats and playful dolphins that come really close to the seashore. Also right on the promenade you can sign up for excursions such as visiting local water falls, Stalin’s summer residence, visiting Abkhazia and many others.

In the evening when it cools down you can visit the Olympic Park which was constructed for the 2014 Olympic Games.

Public transport here is very cheap and lots of buses take you to the Olympic Park. Taxis are not expensive either, so moving around in Sochi isn’t a problem at all. The Olympic Park is absolutely huge and striking with its architecture and design. In the evenings right in the centre of the Olympic Park you can enjoy the fantastic Singing Water Fountains Show, which  looks  like a scene from a beautiful fairy-tale.

Now you’re probably wondering: how can I get to this “fairy-tale” land? It’s not too difficult at all but you need to organise your visa in advance. You will have to go to London to apply for your visa. There are lots of agencies which will help you with all the paper work. You’ll need to fill in the visa form and provide your finger prints. The agency will send your application to the Russian Embassy on your behalf and it usually takes a week to get your passport and visa back by post. The cost of a tourist visa is around £170 and airfares start at £200 with Aeroflot. Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct flight from London to Sochi. The Aeroflot flights have stopovers in Moscow. All flights arrive at Adler airport in Sochi.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to experience winter skiing and a summer beach holiday in one go, Sochi is the place to go!

From Russia with Love,

 Natalia Adkins

August 2, 2017

Book review: When in French. Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins

What a treat for a linguist! I loved every single page for the author’s humour, curiosity, witty observations and passion for languages. It tells the story of an American who moves to London, then to Geneva and then to…? The book is also about communication between languages, countries and cultures. And there are a couple of paragraphs on untranslatable words, too. My favourite quotations are below. When in French is a fantastic read, particularly for bilinguals, linguists, translators, language tutors & learners and for those in love with a foreigner 😉

“Talking to you in English,” he said, “is like touching you with gloves.” P.29

“A language is the only subject you can’t learn by yourself.” P. 143 Lauren Collins

“To be successful at learning a language, one has to undertake a form of time travel, regressing to a childlike state of unembarrassed receptivity, in order to stand a chance of turning into a respectable adult.” P. 144

“Bilinguals overwhelmingly report that they feel like different people in different languages.” P. 187

Written by Kinga Macalla