I’ve never been someone who’s great at relaxing. I didn’t really ever nap (even as a little kid), and even when I’m watching a show I keep up with, I’m almost always multi-tasking (usually editing a batch of photos, or reworking the back-end of the blog or, lately, looking at the on- and off-seasons of various places in the world we want to get to this year). I used to think of this trait as an asset: In school, I always had my assignments finished as early as humanly possible, I rarely had any homework unfinished that was due within a week, and even in college, I ripped through the hundreds of pages of reading we were assigned (I was an English Lit major) in the first-light hours of every morning, so that I could do whatever I wanted to do with the rest of my day (usually hang with friends or run). But there’s being prepared, and then there’s missing out on the present because you’re preparing, and I learned the hard way that it doesn’t feel great to know you’ve wasted a lot of time trying to arrive at the future prepared rather than enjoying the moment.
We’re in Vienna right now, and have been for about four days. I wanted this blog post to go up pretty much as soon as we stepped off the foot of St. Nicolas Bay’s property, but sometimes life gets in the way, or rather, should be allowed to get in the way. I like to think I’m getting better at letting it. I realized when I moved to Ireland for school that I was always going to be one of those people that had to be conscious of allowing themselves to not do things right away, that had to actively resist the temptation to check off boxes, so that they could live in the present. It’s something that never feels entirely comfortable to me, but I’m so grateful I know that it’s a part of who I am that I need to learn to get around if I want to also side-step regret down the line. It’s funny because I think people who follow along here and on Instagram see our photos and imagine an ever-present-focused mindset and, while I wish that were my reality, it isn’t always. My mind is usually spinning the next web while climbing through the first.
I didn’t mean for this post to start with that prelude, but I’ve been especially caught up in how difficult it can be to break from preoccupation with the future after leaving St. Nicolas Bay, so it felt fitting. Our week in Crete was oh so relaxing, oh so present-living bliss. For the first time in months, we were in one place for a full week, and Porter and I really cherished our time there. We didn’t do a whole lot, if I’m being completely honest, other than take photos and swim and eat amazing food and watch the occasional far-off firework shows they seem to have every couple of days on this island. I don’t love the word oasis because I think it’s kind of overly romantic, but this place was that for us. It was luxurious without sacrificing being laid-back, and the staff were attentive without being rigid. Life felt easy-going and simultaneously productive. I can say it a bunch of ways, but it was just a really good week. A really, really good week.
Here are 6 reasons why:
1. The staff culture – you know how on vacation there’s usually one hotel staff member with a great personality that your whole family just loves? At St. Nicolas Bay every single member of the staff felt this way, with their own sense of humor and personality. It was refreshing and made the whole place feel so interconnected and social.
2. The food – I know, I know always on our list, but St. Nicolas Bay has three restaurants on the property and one is authentic Cretan cuisine and just truly out of this world. I was eating foods I usually really do not like (I’m looking at you, eggplant) and they were some of the best dishes I’d ever had.
3. The celebration of culture – conscious hotels are so awesome in the creative ways they integrate their culture. St. Nicolas Bay has a room with all Cretan artifacts and the explanations of their cultural importance and invited us to attend a special dinner with Greek local dances. I think I mentioned Porter’s Minotour joke in the last post and maybe it was a you-had-to-be-there but we’re still laughing about it.
4. The pool. – Okay having your own private pool at a resort is definitely not overrated. This was a first ever experience for us and swimming all day every day was pure bliss. Also, it was saltwater straight from the ocean with no added chemicals, which is a win-win in our book.
5. The swimming docks. – people in Europe and Greece seem to have so much less ocean fear than Americans. The whole week we were there people of all ages swam all day long in the ocean in pretty rough white water and went way out to snorkel on the reef that surrounds the hotels coast. The whole coast is dotted with individual swimming platforms built into the rock for every villa and the reef means you get to see tons of fish (we even spotted a massive sea turtle one afternoon).
6. The spa – there’s an indoor spa pool and sauna and steam room that I used one day while Port was at the gym cause I’ve had a head cold for the past week or so. After I went in the steam room I sat by the pool for a bit and a staff member appeared with a pot of a special Cretan tea that’s supposed to alleviate bad coughs. She had heard me coughing in the steam room and it was such an incredibly kind thing of her to do. Also, that tea really did help and I felt so much better afterward
Thank you for following along & we hope you enjoy the pics!
Anna Lisa & Porter
*A huge thank you to St. Nicolas Bay for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.