In the beginning of our travel in Greece, we were very lucky to spot a last minute house sitting assignment and be accepted for 2 weeks in Delenia: a remote rustic property on the island of Evia (Euboea in Greek), and a very special touristic resort for groups in the summer months, placed on the rocky shores of the Aegean Coast, like a kingdom facing the never ending turquoise sea beneath. The closest contact with civilization from where one can get his food supplies, was the village of Nea Styra 15 km away, an adventurous half an hour drive on dirt roads, sometimes winding along the edge of the steep cliff.
A village resort just for ourselves. Delenia real estate
The estate consisted of 3 main stone houses, and a smaller, more intimate one designed for staff. We were living in the staff cottage towards the edge of the estate, and with us but in another building was also Karen, an American house-sitter colleague sharing the responsibilities with us and living in one of the main houses.
Although all the houses shared the same architectural style and attention for details, every interior was unique in is own way, creating a "comfy" atmosphere.
There were a total of 5 bedrooms in the main houses, all having great views of the sea, each with its own fireplace, study areas, plus 2 big living rooms, 2 kitchens and many outdoor spaces: a large terrace, 2 dining areas, a Hammam, a jacuzzi and a swimming pool (all 3 in use only in the touristic season) a tennis court surrounded by huge hedges of rosemary, a bread oven, a chicken coop, a converted barn (in the making).
I'm sure the list could go on if I could remember everything, but is enough to give the readers an idea of the amplitude of Delenia which looked like a mini-village rather than just 1 big building property.
There were also exciting fun features like the discovery of a hidden door behind the mirror in the 'kids room' leading into the next room, so that the kids could spy on their parents, or their neighbors. There were always cool details to be unraveled on the property and the surroundings if we paid close attention.
Meeting the owner and the house sitting agreement
The owner of Delenia is Chryssa, a very nice laid-back lady who also offered us her flat in Athens for the night before arriving on Evia island, even if she was out of town, and never met us before. It was her dad's dream to design and build Delenia as a quiet and inspiring place to write his books, but now the property was for rent during the touristic months and needed constant maintenance and a human vibe in the rest of the year.
There were also some lucky furry inhabitants and some feathered ones living on the estate: several chickens, 2 cats, Pablic the dog (+ other visiting dogs in the weekends) and Tardu ' the majestic one-winged Macaw parrot with a bad temper who made sure we never got bored as long we are living on his property and he is under our care:))) He is the protagonist of many funny moments we will always carry with us.
There were also random visitors we had to take care of, and one morning while caring for the chickens Davide was surprised to find an unexpected thief in the chicken cop: a snake running away with the loot in his mouth!
The house sitting agreement was that Davide, myself and Karen would take care of the animals, inhabit the houses and occasionally help preparing the property for the touristic season together with Chryssa and her friends in the weekends in exchange of free stay, use of car and gas once a week for going shopping in Nea Styra and food provided during the days Chryssa and her friends were around.
The benefits and challenges of living in isolation on Evia island
It was mid April and Nature was at its peak on Evia island. In the greenest month of the year the senses are enhanced on every level: the colors are brighter, the flowers smell stronger, the sea sounds louder, the silence - deeper, the night - darker, the wind - windier and so forth.
I can still remember descending barefoot on a beautiful sunny day, on the string of stairs leading down the property to the swimming spot. The water was still too cold this time of the year for having a swim, and that was the reason why the tourist season had not yet begun.
I walked by purple Mediterranean flowers bigger then my palm until I found myself stepping into a mesmerizing white carpet: an explosion of chamomile flowers filled with quiet butterflies and busy bees covering every single inch of earth, eager to grasp every opportunity of life, racing against time to expand their colonies everyday a little further.
There were 2 wooden chairs and a small table between them at the very center of this hidden field overlooking the sea and once I took my seat, everything seemed timeless; after a while, the sea was shouting my hurting hearth and inviting in my dearest soul from heaven to take a sit next to me and share in silence the present moment. It was perfect.
Other times, on stormy nights, when electricity went off, we lid a candle and felt like modest inhabitants of a world lost in the savage battle of the elements. We curled together in bed and tried to fall asleep with the wind raging its powerful fist on our windows and the rain threatening to cleanse the property of the cliff and into the sea. Of course that was not a real danger but it's funny what scenarios the sleeping mind builds when it cannot perceive anything else other than sounds. Loud sounds. It was scary, but it was fine.
The most peaceful day of the year. Celebrating Easter in Delenia
Besides the pleasures and challenges of every day living in remote Delenia, there was a very special day that made it to the "golden archives" of my memory: celebrating Easter.
We were approaching Easter day with uncertainty, trying to avoid facing the overwhelming question "what's your plan for Easter"', running away from the though that we might not celebrate with our families for the very first time in our history, which meant at least for me like violating a sacred family tradition, and being a deserter in a very frail moment of my family's life. Each one of us kept a half-opened escape door, not making decisions and taking into consideration leaving Delenia and returning to be with family or friends somewhere else. On top of the list was the fact the Internet failed to work from time to time and until it got fixed by Davide, we felt completely isolated and our days all of a sudden seemed way longer. The place felt desolating for some days. Chryssa wasn't sure if she was going to come to Delenia with her friends and celebrate Easter with us or not, and just the thought of being alone on Easter day was challenging for us an Karen as well.?
Just few days before Easter, with no plans on the run, no cooking skills and the chickens on strike (with minimum amount of eggs laid), when we no longer could avoid facing the obvious scenario that we were going to be in Delenia all by ourselves, we took a very brave turn of perspective and we decided we are not going to let Easter just pass by: we are going to celebrate it with all the basics which for me meant: red painted eggs and cozonac (a Romanian must-have symbolic sweet bread on big celebrations).
So I took on the responsibility of making my Easter feel familiar and me feeling at home. Davide and Karen were enthusiastic to engage each one in their own bold project and own version of Easter as well: Davide baking Spanakopita (the Greek spinach pie) and Karen making a lemon cake.
So once we decided the recipes, we hopped in the car, drove to the village and did our best understanding the different Greek ingredients and how to adapt them to our recipes the best we could. We were determined to put all our efforts cooking something we have never cooked before, each one faithfully following instructions on the Internet with our laptops on the kitchen table covered with flour fingerprints. Easter's Eve was spent in the kitchen until late at night when all of us collapsed exhausted on our beds after finishing our work.
But it was all worth it!
The universe rewarded us with a perfect Easter day: a stunning sun on a clear blue sky and the crystal waters of a peaceful sea. We had our Easter brunch set up outside on the stone table facing the sea, with all the goodies we prepared the previous day (great success!) and we remained there relaxing and sharing good vibes until the evening, not needing anything else, just enjoying ourselves and each other, and the silence and peacefulness of the present moment.
It was the most meaningful and harmonious Easter up to date!
Overall, Delenia was an amazing experience for us and we owe a big deal of gratitude to Chryssa for thrusting us as house sitters and pet sitter for her beloved animal friends and to www.trustedhousesitters.com for sponsoring us and giving readers the possibility to experience places like this for free, a fantastic platform on which we found Delenia listed and many other interesting projects that awaits us in the future!