I’ve never been one for slow holidays. Having grown up in Spain, sitting by the pool was a normal everyday thing rather than a special holiday treat for me.
Even now, almost a decade after I moved away from home, I’d almost always rather go out and spend the day exploring, than just sit on a beach somewhere.
So when the girls came up with the idea of going to Cyprus for a quiet villa holiday and a bit of winter sun, I took a bit of convincing. Wouldn’t we all get a bit bored and sick of each other?
Well as it turns out, no. We had a BRILLIANT time!
We did a bit of exploring and sightseeing, ate delicious food, and drank lovely wines. But my favourite part of the trip was actually just the time we spent hanging out by our pool with wine, snacks, and lots of laughs. (Even though the winter sun never quite materialised, so we had to wrap ourselves in blankets rather than bikinis…)
Turns out, I may be a fan of slow holidays after all!
Here’s what we got up to in Cyprus:
THE OLD TOWN OF PAPHOS
We spent a morning exploring the old town of Paphos, and I’m still undecided about it.
The street art was colorful and creative, and some of the houses were beautiful, but a lot of it was under construction and the rest of it was just crumbling to pieces. And not in an attractive way. It reminded me a little bit of Bucharest, but I felt like Paphos had a lot less personality to it. It felt unloved.
The indoor market was smaller and a lot quieter than we’d expected. The streets were virtually empty, and it was all just a bit… boring. I don’t think the grey clouds helped, but it all seemed very beige and bland to me.
I have a strong suspicion it would be much brighter and more fun in summer time, but I don’t think I’d go back to the city outside of May-September.
LUNCH AT LAONA RESTAURANT
The shining star of our trip to Paphos!
We sat outside Laona (jackets on, because brrr!), and had the best meal of our holiday, starting with fresh bread, local olive oil, and a super friendly welcome by the owners.
They brought out giant bowls of pepper, black olive and feta salad to share, and then we ordered a selection of mains. Everything was superb.
The fish pie (above) was a popular choice: a giant slab of fish and cheese, perched on top of sliced potatoes, and baked until golden.
Two of the girls had the lamb kleftiko: a perfect leg of lamb, baked until tender, with herbs, spices, onion and peppers. The meat was so perfect, it just fell off the bone.
And then my meal. My lamb and pea stew was definitely the ugliest dish on the table, but I stand firm that it was also the most delicious. The lamb was so tender, I struggled to pick it up with a fork because it just kept falling apart as soon as I touched it.
I also asked the waiter what went into the sweet and spicy sauce, and he said it was just salt, pepper, cinnamon and stock. It was so simple, and yet the flavours were absolutely mind blowing. I’m desperate to try recreating it at home!
PAPHOS ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK
We stopped in at Paphos Archaeological Park, and spent an hour or so exploring the ancient ruins. It’s absolutely fascinating, and probably the most interesting thing about Paphos. Plus the views are spectacular!
From beautiful columns and temple remains, to incredibly well-preserved mosaics and an old amphitheatre, it’s definitely worth a visit if you like history (or just fancy looking at something other than boxy beige houses…)
We also visited the Tomb of the Kings, and had a brilliant time climbing in and out of the remains. In fact, I think I enjoyed the tombs more than the actual Archaeological Park. You can really get a feel for what it would have been like to live there, right by the sea, thousands of years ago.
I’d never stayed in a villa before this trip. It’s just not something I’d considered, as I always thought it meant being stuck in a house with nothing to do.
But oh boy was I wrong! We stayed at the lovely Aphrodite Hills Resort in Cyprus, we tried a very fun tennis lesson, learned how to properly whack a golf ball on the course, and ate the most delicious lunch in the Village Square.
There resort also has a beautiful spa, offering relaxing massages and treatments galore. And if the weather had been nicer, we could have got the shuttle bus down to the beach and played games on the sand.
Basically, you’d find it really hard to get bored here.
But actually, what surprised me the most was that I found myself WANTING to slow down and be bored.
I put my phone to one side and picked up one of the paperback thrillers from the bookcase. I wrapped myself up in blankets on the “sun” lounger and breathed in the fresh air. I listened to the wind rustling through the trees and let my mind wander, coming up with new ideas and thinking of plans for the future.
It was calm and relaxing, and I arrived home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
It’s not what I was expecting, but if this is what all villa holidays look like, then sign me up for another please!
*Our stay with James Villas was complimentary.