Gwen Wright, The Arts Society (Cranleigh), on the show-stopping caves, stunning landscapes and charming cities visited during a recent European group break. 

It was the first time we had been to both Zagreb in Croatia and Slovenia – we were all absolutely bowled over. The geography and landscapes are just beautiful and we had wonderful weather throughout which helped. 

We were really impressed with the infrastructure of Slovenia, everything was easy and it’s all so green and environmentally friendly too. For example, the centre of Ljubljana is traffic free and for anybody with mobility problems, there’s an electric vehicle that goes around and can transport people throughout the city. I’d definitely recommend it as a city break on its own, it was just fantastic. All the bins are underground and it’s very clean. 

Bled was stunning and there are no motorised crafts on the lake so it’s all very quiet and subdued. The whole trip was relaxing, from beginning to end, and we had a nice balance of activities and free time when members of the group could go off and do their own thing. We also met some very interesting people and enjoyed finding out about their way of life. 

There were about 25 of us in the end; the other thing that grabbed us about Slovenia is that you border Austrian in the north and the Mediterranean to the south so it’s a real contrast. 

We stayed in a Tyrolian-style chalet hotel which has a lot of cycling and outdoor activities, plus they do camping. Our guide for the trip was outstandingly good too which makes a huge difference as other GTOs will know. 

The itinerary

  • Day 1: travelling to Zagreb
  • Day 2: Zagreb city walking tour and then travelling to Bled, Slovenia
  • Day 3: Lake Bled, boat ride
  • Day 4: Ljubljana / traditional Slovenian evening
  • Day 5: Koper and Piran / winery tour
  • Day 6: Postojna show cave / Lipica Stud Farm
  • Day 7: return home via Ljubljana 

In the old quarter of Zagreb they have a midday gun salute so we witnessed that and found an area by the cathedral where we had a mini service and a few prayers. It was also a moment of reflection for the group and to remember anybody we had lost. I’m really glad we could do that. 

I set up a What’s App group for the trip. It was really helpful before we travelled for sharing information as well as during the trip, for example letting people know we were meeting in the bar.

In terms of the highlights, I’d say Bled, Ljubljana and the caves we visited – they were absolutely stunning. Everybody wants to go back, we couldn’t have asked for more. It was all very well organised by Shauna Potts at Simply Groups, she added on a few lunches and things for us which worked really well. The other thing we did on this holiday, because we had an early flight, was that we hired a coach between us all to get to the airport so it took the hassle away for everyone.

Overall it was an amazing experience and this is what it’s all about. We have had so many people joining the Arts Society recently because they want first dibs on the holidays and trips we run which is lovely.