Interview with Irini Nikolakakis

Irini is back for a month-long Christmas break, visiting family and friends in Germany. This time one year ago she departed for her first full year in Crete. The island her Greek father calls home, and that she had only known from vacation until then.

After six years in Berlin, Irini had started to feel increasingly tired of the city- and more and more ready for a change. And so the idea of turning her family’s property in Chania, Crete into „B&B“-type holiday apartments was born.

She loved the idea and it was the perfect timing as her work contract in Berlin was coming to an end. And yet, the thought of leaving her Berlin life to move to a Greek island, making money from something she had zero experience in, was a deeply discomforting one.

„What do you have to lose?“ her pragmatic German mom asked. „Money“, Irini replied. „Do you have any?“ she continued asking. „No“, Irini answered and had to laugh. So after another summer vacation with friends on the island, her decision was made. And when she moved to Crete three month later, she already had all of the four holiday apartments furnished and fully decorated in her mind.

Fast forward one year and two months, she’s looking back to a solid first year in business and can’t wait to get back to the island to pickle fresh olives, cook lemon curd, and marmalade from homegrown fruits. And to prepare for the new season...

What did your life look like before?

"I was working in public affairs for a member of the German parliament, later for the German Animal Welfare Federation. In both cases the typical office lifestyle: many meetings, business trips and weekends packed with plans.

What was calling you?

"Connecting with my Greek roots! And with Crete in particular. Getting out of the big city, living out my love for hosting people, cooking and seeing physical results at the end of the day."

A lesson learned from this experience?

"Many as this year has been so different from all the others. I am doing a lot of things here for the very first time- also real physical work around the house; trimming trees, for example, or cutting firewood. The type of work people tell me „don’t do that yourself- it’s too difficult, too heavy, too dangerous, etc. ...“. I usually nod and then decide to do it anyways. So what I actually found is that I am capable of a lot more than I thought I was. I am a lot stronger- mentally and physically. I just wake up feeling really good and happy here every morning... and my guess is that that's what makes it all just so much easier."

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