We were in Athens reviewing the age-friendliness of the Scoot Airlines service between Australia and Greece – and examining this increasingly-popular gateway to the rest of Europe.
Rather than sticking to the predictable tourist trail and moving on to Rome, London Amsterdam or Paris, we’d decided to make our way to Central Europe and explore charming Slovenia, before moving through the Austrian and Bavarian Alps.
So what was the best way to tackle this route?
A direct flight from Athens to Ljubljana, Slovenia, was beyond our means at about 360 euros each, as were flights via Vienna or Zagreb.
Overland coach travel through Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia would have taken at least 23 hours and using trains on the same route involved numerous rail systems and several stops.
So, we decided to test another new development currently attracting plenty of interest from travellers – the new world of international transportation networks.
After asking about, we selected a Slovenian-based firm called GoOpti – and decided to do a detailed review of the service – focusing on its age-friendliness.
Q: What is GoOpti?
A: A transportation marketplace known for arranging cost-effective shuttle service to airports and cities in Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Spain.
The marketplace combines franchisees and transportation companies under the GoOpti brand.
Using on-line booking, GoOpti connects passengers, who book safe, low-cost and reliable transfers, with carriers.
The booking system recognises demand and optimises the occupancy of vehicles to achieve the lowest possible price for passengers.
Q: How did we book and was it an easy process?
A: We simply browsed the GoOpti website – and entered pick-up and a drop-off locations, the number of travellers, the amount of luggage and our departure/arrival time limits. The luggage limit was particularly generous.
The GoOpti system then offered us three transportation options with a quotation for each, from which we selected a shared shuttle leaving at a time to suit us – and paid by credit card.
GoOpti’s booking process was logical and simple and we received an immediate email confirming our booking. The website had offered us eight languages and allowed payment in seven currencies.
Q: Did it save money?
A: Yes. We were picked up at our hotel at a time to suite us, driven in safety and comfort to Ljubljana at a cost of about 55 euros for the two of us. This was by far the best price that we could find at the time for this journey.
Q: Was there on-going communication?
A: GoOpti kept in touch by email in the weeks leading up to the transfer, confirming that there were no problems. On the day before pick-up, the company sent us a description of the shuttle, as well as the name and contact telephone number of the driver.
Q: How did the pick-up go?
A: We’d flown from Athens to Venice and were staying in the Plaza Hotel at Mestre. On the morning of the transfer, we received two emails from GoOpti informing us that the shuttle was on its way and the exact time it would arrive outside our hotel. The second email told us when the vehicle had arrived. It was on time to the minute.
Q: What was the vehicle’s condition?
A: It appeared to be near-new; a modern, roomy, spotlessly clean shuttle capable of carrying seven or eight people and luggage.
Q: How about the driver?
A: Professional, friendly, helpful, with perfect English and excellent driving skills. In Australian terms, he was a “nice bloke” He stored our luggage while we boarded – and unloaded it at the other end of the trip.
Q: Were there other passengers?
A: Two young men were also being transported. Former international rugby players, they were travelling to their home in Slovenia. Both were friendly, good company and keen to talk about their country.
Q: Was departure delayed for any reason?
A: No. We left Venice immediately.
Q: How long did the journey take?
A: About two-and-a-half hours, with one ‘comfort stop’. This was much quicker than attempting to travel by train or coach.
Q: Was it a comfortable trip?
A: Extremely comfortable and pleasant. We left Venice in steady rain and the driver was cautious in the slippery conditions. We felt safe at all times.
Q: Where were you let off the shuttle?
A: The old city of Ljubljana is traffic-free, but GoOpti took us as close to our hotel there as possible. We disembarked about 200 metres from the accommodation.
Q: Would you recommend the GoOpti service?
A: Without hesitation. Based on our experience, these new-age transportation networks are a revolution in land travel and a tremendous idea for hassle-free transfer for all travellers, including seniors.
GoOpti says its marketplace currently organises the transport of 29,000 people a month.
The GoOpti brand presently involves six francises and 45 transportation companies – and has expansion plans.
Our Age-friendliness rating
9/10: From our experience, the GoOpti network is ideal for all ages. The computer booking system is simple and easy-to-follow, with a clear choice of services. Go-Opti’s communication is first class and keep you informed throughout. The collection was straightforward (we helped by staying in a hotel directly opposite the pick-up point); the vehicle was modern and safe; the service was friendly; the luggage allowance was generous; and the drop-off service was convenient. For us, the Go-Opti service was far more convenient that any alternative such as coach or rail. We are unsure whether the service caters for wheelchairs, but we found the staff so obliging that we would not be surprised if it does.