Absolutely fabulous!A review of Slovenia - Europe's Secret Adventure Playground by Matthew Murphy10 September 2010
Day 1 Finally made it through security at Stansted airport having waited for the passenger in front to try and explain that 15 types of perfume really were necessities! Met up with the group and our amazing bus driver Joseph who skilfully negotiated hair raising mountain bends and perilous precipices whilst enlightening us to Slovenia’s entire history since 1800s (to) land us safely; I am very…
Read more relieved to say - (thanks Joseph!!) At our hotel, which sported fabulous alpine views, we met downstairs for and epic meal. (We met) our lovely guide, Thomas, and sampled some super Slovenian wine, which slipped down a treat at 2 Euros a litre; hmm may regret this tomorrow especially as Thomas explained he is ex-SAS. What are we in for!!Day 2 I realised this morning that the bus drive yesterday was scant preparation for the journey to our hiking spot on narrow roads with spectacular drops! It was worth it though for the splendid views and the delicious lunch that included fresh home grown tomatoes, bread, cheese and yet more Slovenian wine, homemade too. We needed the incredibly strong sweet coffee that followed but for good measure a shot of peach schnapps completed the meal. Just as well we had already had the team building games fun! We were less convinced by the charmingly unusual festival we stumbled across thinking perhaps we did have a few too many as the children appeared to be blissfully making mud pies in their birthday suits surrounded by very chilled people playing wooden flutes but hey it’s all part of the experience! Despite our slightly sloshed state we trekked through a gorge, braved a freezing cave and a rickety, which is a major understatement, bridge with missing planks to see the natural springs. They were beautiful. It seems to be a re-occurring theme in Slovenia that the better the end experience the greater the challenge to reach it! Of course further refreshment was needed after this activity and...oh dear wine only 0.60c. Well who could refuse!Day 3It's raining! It doesn’t matter to us though as we are going rafting so we are getting wet anyway! Quite why we needed to change into wall to wall rubber suiting before attempting a treacherous descent down almost vertical steps and slopes carrying a raft I am not sure but it was amusing for the onlookers anyway! On reaching the milky green water we pitched in as directed, shocked by the chill of the water we then slithered gasping into the raft only for some of us to be pitched almost immediately out again as the raft set of. The river took us to a stunning section where part of Narnia was filmed and then a thunderstorm broke. Having survived the white waters I took a hike with one of the team to Svino, the next village, very pretty then we all enjoyed a traditional Slovenian dinner intending to retire early to limber up for the event of tomorrow tubing but then someone suggested a few card games and well we were all enjoying ourselves so much let’s just say it was probably good that tubing wasn’t until the afternoon! Day 4I think out of control ducklings but far less elegant would go some way to describing our appearance as we careered down the rapids crashing into the river bank and bouncing out of the tubes. However, it was hilarious and enormous fun. The best activity so far! They even fortified us with hot chocolate afterwards. Day 5Today was free so a few of us chose to hire a car and drive the short distance across the border to the Italian coast of Sishana, alongside the river Soza. After a lazy lunch we swam and sunbathed near the marina before some of us sampled cocktails at the beach bar. Just before leaving we headed up the hill for some Gelato Italian ice cream. Mmmm! Then back to the hotel for a lovely meal in their speciality fish restaurant. Day 6 We are doing culture today, Joseph would be pleased. We hiked a historical trail over Napolean bridge and up to the Slap Kozac, a spectacular waterfall. We then took what seemed like a huge detour up an even huger hill to see the Italian line of defence bunkers. Descent was by Kayak with scenic views, at least when we managed to stay the right way up in the kayaks! Many of us fell out and were mercilessly ribbed by those that didn’t who were then accused of having the benefit of added personal padding which stuck them fast into the kayaks. How very dare they!! It almost put me off my pumpkin soup followed by steak and spiced pear, but not quite. Day 7Canyoning was awesome! Amazing slides, abseils and a 30ft jump into a cave slide and waterfall. Absolutely fabulous! Day 8Our last morning :( A few of us decided to go riding. We had a lovely trek across the soca river, (which was) very relaxing except for the small argument I had with a horses hoof. Thankfully no real harm done so we set off back for lunch and the airport I now look forward to the next Activities abroad brochure to see what on offer for next year!
It has been a ‘fun-tastic’ weekA review of Spain - Pyrenean Family Adventure by Monica Lalanda09 September 2010
We are all really excited but quite apprehensive, too!! We have never been in a group holiday, let alone a holiday with people we have never met..We have taken a few days before the actual start of the activity holiday to do a bit of tourism in North Spain.This is an amazing country. We’ve been to Pamplona, where the bulls run in a herd after another herd (a human crazy one) then visited a few…
Read more historic places in the area. We spent a night in Sos del Rey Catlico, where King Fernando de Aragn was born.The view from the hotel was spectacular.We arrived in Sort early; it is pretty warm. The streets look deserted at 4 in the afternoon. Mind you, it is well over 30! The hotel is next to the river and the lady at the desk was quite welcoming. The apartment is simple, maybe slightly outdated but quite practical and very clean. We have a view to the swimming pool and the mountains and there is a lovely old church just across the road.There are enough wardrobes to put all our stuff away quite quickly so, we get our empty bags and suitcases tucked away under the beds within minutes. We soon hit the water in the swimming pool. It is so refreshing (some would say it is freezing!).We are told at the reception that the group is meeting in the garden at 8. We see from the window of our room the chairs getting ready for the welcome meeting.Carlota and Gabby, our guides for the week, say hello to everyone and make a big effort to get to know everyone’s names. They seem quite friendly. The other families look a touch apprehensive too, nobody knows anybody else. This is going to be interesting. We are 16 adults and 18 kids, eight families all together. Most of the children are in the age range of eight to 12. Gabby (German but living in Spain for a decade) and Carlota (from Cataluña) speak really good English and they give us a little welcoming speech with information and some instructions for the week. We get a glass of some lovely sangria (the kids get a soft drink!) and then we all head the restaurant at the hotel for dinner. The kids sit all together and leave the adults to do the same. The food is pretty good, a paella and some grilled meat. Everybody start chatting, by the end of the meal, we don’t feel we are amongst strangers any more. We all go to bed looking forward to the next day and the bells in the church nearby remind us we are away from home, ringing every 15 minutes (our brains stop hearing them pretty soon).We have breakfast in the garden next to the swimming pool, it’s so lovely!We all meet at the hotel reception. We really look like an adventure group now with our rucksacks, hats and trekking shoes. Five old fashioned land-rovers accommodate all thirty of us, the kids are really excited about the back seats and off we go.We travel uphill for about 45 minutes or so and, by the time we get off the cars, we are welcomed by a breath-taking view. We are surrounded by the beautiful Pyrenees at their best.Carlota and Gabby give us a little briefing about the day, we’ll be walking about 9 Km but a lot of it is steep and we soon start walking. The scenery is truly amazing with the high peaks, lakes and waterfalls. We stop a few times for a little rest or just to admire the place or even just to hug some trees as suggested by our lovely Carlota!We get to the shores of the lake and settle there for a lunch that we have all helped to carry like a proper team (or a special week family as the guides says!). The picnic turns out to be really delicious and very Mediterranean. All children and adults tuck in with pleasure.The water in the lake is absolutely freezing cold but the kids walk in and splash each other and even climb up some of the bigger rocks.Some of the adults have a short siesta in the warm grass under the lovely shade of the trees. Everyone seems so happy.The walk continues after lunch and the views get better and better. We are quite tired by the time we get back to the cars. What a fantastic stroll.Most of the kids and some of the adults spend the rest of the evening in the swimming pool; the children play really well together, judging by the shouting and the laughter.At seven o’clock we all meet in the garden with both guides to get information about tomorrow and suggestions on places to eat.The group split into two to go for dinner. Ours choose a pizza place nearby and we get the kids to sit together in a large table and the adults in another one. Everyone seems pleased with that! The pizzas are not bad and although the service is slow it is not expensive. The kids finish their food first so we send them to the hotel garden to play since it is only a few yards away. A lovely end for a perfect dayWe could get used to this breakfast in the garden, it is brilliant. The actual food is very nice with good variety. As planned, we get together at the reception and get to the little bus that is already waiting for us at the door. We head towards today’s destination about 30 km away for kayaking and wall climbing. It is a touch cloudy but warm. We keep fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain.We get to the lake where a big pergola looks into the water. We are allowed to leave our bags there and we just stay in our swimming costumes or t-shirts and shorts. An instructor explains the rules of paddling to us and we are all soon in the water in our colourful kayaks in this huge lake.The views are lovely even if the road runs nearby. There are single and double boats and they are simple to manoeuvre and very stable. It is a tiring activity but really fun. Some of the kids play a polo game but they don’t last too long. It is quite warm even if the day started a bit cloudy.After a while, we all end up at the climbing wall where both adults and kids give it a go with better or worse results(there was some showing off, too...).It is such good fun with everyone cheering each other and clapping. I think by now we don’t quite feel like strangers any more. It is fabulous.The guides order some sangria for the grown-ups that goes down really well.At midday we return to Sort. Luckily there is a large and nice supermarket that stays open at Spanish lunch time, when everything else is closed. We buy some nice Spanish bread, cured meats and cheese, some salad and also fruit and head to the apartment. The little kitchen comes in really handy.All the kids agree to meet back at four o’clock at the swimming pool and they spend the rest of the afternoon playing, shouting and laughing. It is likely the whole of Sort could hear the noise! What a bunch!By about seven the whole group meet at the garden and we get information about the next day from Gabby and Carlota, who are doing a brilliant job.The group splits for dinner again and ours go for a tapas place. The waiter manages to accommodate us all in a huge table and suggests bringing food of their own choice until we are full. I would have never thought that it was going to work but it did! The choice of different stuff was amazing; my favourite one was some tiny cheese fondues and some crunchy prawns - delicious! The price was very reasonable. We were only across the street from the local park, which is where the river bank used to run, so the adults stayed longer at the cafe; for a cup of coffee and the kids went to play. It was really nice for everyone.We all slept quite sound with all the tiredness of the day’s activity. This holiday is really working out very well for all for us.Oh my goodness, today is canyoning day!! We are all incredibly excited and a touch frightened at the same time. Breakfast was a bit quieter than other days; it is all this tension. The group gets divided into two and we leave on the earlier one. The bus is waiting for us at the door and takes us to the river base where we will be starting. We are all given thick neoprene wetsuits and socks, lifejackets and helmets that we take out to the road where we get changed. A fascinating and unusual changing room! The activity guides Mark and Elisabeth takes charge of our little group and we start the walk that takes us to the top of the hill where the actual ride would start. It is hard walking up hill under the heat and inside the suits but luckily it isn’t too long. We splash ourselves with the cold and transparent water as soon as we arrive at the river, so cool! Mark and Elizabeth give us some basic instructions; their English is not perfect but good enoughSo down we go, scary at times, but mostly brilliant. There is a bit of abseiling to be done, sliding down rocks, going down with the help of rope. It really feels like an incredible adventure. A couple of times we plunge into the cold water but we don’t drop our own temperature, these wetsuits really work! The hardest bit is to walk along the river without falling and I have a nice bruise to prove it....The whole thing was a challenge and at the end it just feels so good but also so short!!Absolutely fantastic.At the very end there is a photographer who takes a few shots of everyone. We are told that we will be able to buy them later on the week. We walk back to the bus and get out of the wetsuits and all. The next group arrived just then. We were all so jealous that they still have the whole experience to get through! The bus takes us back to the hotel. Another quick trip to the supermarket and voila! A lovely Mediterranean lunch ready for some hungry stomachs. We all decide to have a relaxing afternoon by the pool. Everyone seem to have brought nice books and most adults just lay in the lovely sun beds with a cold beer as the kids had a very noisy and fun time in the swimming pool.A good time for writing up a holiday blog...The greatest hit after swimming were the Nintendo's, many of the kids get together to play game groups with their multi coloured machines but they are also very entertained with the more old-fashioned hide and seek!Daily meeting as usual at seven in the garden; the next day is free day so everyone has decided to either chill out or do another activity. Carlota and Gabby take care of all the new bookings pretty hassle free. So easy!So by now, some of the families are a bit tired with going out for every meal so many people, ourselves included, stay for a home cooked dinner at the apartment. It doesn’t really take much effort to cook some pasta with chorizo and tomato sauce! The kitchen has got everything one could need to organise simple meals.Some of us meet at the garden and, as the parents relax with a good chat in the garden, the kids play beautifully together, taking advantage of these late Spanish evenings. Another fantastic dayPlenty of time for a more relaxed breakfast today. The sun is shining and the just baked croissants taste delicious with the background of the mountain and the old church.We use the morning to walk around in Sort, there isn’t much but still the little shops are quite entertaining. They sell witches of all sorts and sizes, something to do with lottery tickets here is Spain; a long story, we are told! Our family has been unable to agree on one activity today with the broad choice of possibilities so we split into two. Two of us go horse riding and the other two go for level two of the canyoning. Everyone is now more excited than scared this time around!The horse riding is a lovely experience since we have never done it before and we get the chance to meet Marta, who apparently is able to talk with the horses, she is ever so friendly and we have a great time. The ride takes us about an hour and the scenery is beautiful, even if it is very hot at four in the afternoon.Level two canyoning is an absolute success, longer than the first time and with some more adventurous slides and falls.One family go for level three and they get all the admiration of the group! Apparently, it involves a high jump into the water, from about seven meters high and then a 40 minute walk. They really look no less than thrilled with themselves when they come back to the hotel!Carlota has booked a meal for the whole group at a restaurant in a village nearby. The place is stunning, decorated with the style of a Gaudi building. The kids get a table just for them and everyone enjoy the benefits of a nice and complicated menu. The food is absolutely delicious. It works out very well.Quite a bit of singing in the bus on the way home make us all pretty ready for bed. This is all so good; we don’t want this holiday to end!After yesterday’s horse riding, and higher level canyoning, (so much for a so called ‘day off’) today, we are preparing ourselves for open kayaking. We need to gather our strength and get out of bed - an increasingly difficult task as the week goes on- It’s a good thing that yesterday the whole party was split in two groups for today’s activity and we are starting a little bit later (one more hour sleep is welcome!). A mighty breakfast is in order and, although the morning is still a bit chilly, we choose to have it again in the garden, the scenery is outstanding.We go to the RocRoi activity centre by coach. As we arrive, we are given a neoprene wet suit and boots, a life jacket and a helmet, the perfect gear for serious fun! Then, we are taken to the river and, one by one or in a ‘tandem’, we start paddling in the open kayaks. Now we are in business. The water is cold but the adrenaline shuts off our body thermostat. We try to avoid some of the rapids, others go for them! What a thrill!Our seven-year-old son, although a bit apprehensive at first, is having the time of his life.We finally arrive to the finish line with only one minor casualty among ourselves, nothing serious, and everybody is delighted.We prepare some lunch in the apartment at the hotel and then the heavens open. Well, at least it happens at the right time. As everything here, the storm is of huge proportions, lightning, thunder and as much water coming from the sky as in the river. What to do? This is an activity holiday after all, so the children play table tennis in the games room of the hotel and the adults, well, a drink and a chat in the lobby until the weather clears. Just in time for the afternoon meeting to get the information needed for tomorrow.And then off we go for dinner. We take the advice from our guides and we go to a lovely restaurant with an open kitchen where you can see your meal being prepared. Once again, the food is excellent and after it, the adults have a drink whilst the children play in the park. Everybody happy!Today is the day we have all been waiting for, the rafting. Meryl Streep in The River Wild plays tricks in our minds. After breakfast, the entire group gets in the bus to go to the RocRoi activity centre. We get our gear on and we are divided into groups to go into the rafts.We start very gently, but soon we hit the rapids (or rather, the rapids hit us...). We have a guide on each raft, ours is telling us the names of the rapids just before we go into them: the washing machine, the tsunami, the bone breaker (we realise he is just making it up!).I think that in our raft we are having more fun than any other; at least we are shouting louder than anybody else! What an amazing activity.We have been down the river for 14 km but we would go for another 14 without thinking twice. After lunch all the children spend the afternoon playing in the hotel swimming pool (they never get tired of splashing and jumping into the water, lake, river or swimming pool, it doesn’t matter).For the last evening meal, Gabi has chosen a restaurant in a nearby village. It is a beautiful, rustic restaurant and the food once again delicious.It has been a ‘fun-tastic’ week. The children have made lots of friends, and the adults too. It is a pity that it has come to an end.A group photo to remember us all. Funny enough, the crutches had nothing to do with the activities we have been doing!!Time to say goodbye to all our new friends. Most of the group takes the bus that will drop them in Barcelona to catch the plane back home. We have come by car and we have a few hours’ drive ahead of us. It has been a great holiday. We have done so many things!We can say that we have been there, done that, we’ve got the T-shirt! It has been the first time we do this kind of holiday, but certainly not the last.
Memorable holidayA review of Spain - Pyrenean Family Adventure by Peter Cranmer07 September 2010
Memorable holiday, very busy with great company - you don't get shy retiring types on this holiday.Hotel was good, right in centre of town, making buying lunch in a local deli very easy.Martin, the guide and host, was very good at organising different places for us to eat in the evenings - all of which added to the experience. I would recommend it to anyone who is reasonably active - you don't…
Read more have to be super fit................Overall value for money was good