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Hi from Maria & Paul. We are an Irish couple in our early 50's who recently moved to this beautiful area of the Peloponnese. We spent the last 15 years living in the UK but recently moved here permanently because we wanted to live in a warmer climate and because we love the Greek people (who are equally warm and easy-going…much like the Irish!). We have one daughter who lives in England and visits us here a few times a year.
Our home is in Verga (on the outskirts of Kalamata) and located in a pedestrian village a few mins walk from the road, which makes it really peaceful. This is our dream home and we chose it because it has the best of both worlds:
* It has magnificent views by day and by night that feed your soul. We are surrounded by lush greenery and there is birdsong all day long – it’s like a mini-paradise.
* It’s a 5-minute drive from the beach and less than 10-minute drive from central Kalamata, which is a busy and bustling town full of shops, cafes/restaurants and other people.
We have lived in cities all our lives and adore that we can still “people-watch” while having a coffee, buy anything we need locally and yet still feel we are living in our very own private and peaceful paradise.
Kalamata is not a main tourist area (except to other Greeks) and the main industry here is agriculture – particularly Kalamata olives and oil. There are things going on all year round and Kalamata has been called a “town with two faces”. This is because:
* In summer (April/May to Sept/Oct) most of the activity happens at the seafront. There are a huge range of bars, cafes & restaurants. The sea is crystal clear and (unlike the well-known tourist spots) you’ll always find room at the beach. Even in summer you can find a private cove somewhere on the coastline if you prefer to be alone.
* In winter people congregate in the old town. This is a (mainly) pedestrianised area with narrow cobblestoned streets full of small museums and artisanal shops. There are also a huge range of restaurants and bars, many with live music.
Kalamata has a university so there are a lot of young people and weekend nights are late but never too boisterous. The overall vibe is laid-back and friendly and there are music and dance festivals going on throughout the year.
This is an amazing part of Greece. Fortunately, it has not yet become one of the main tourist destinations and the culture is quite authentically Greek. The beaches are crystal clear and the surrounding landscape is unspoilt and perfect for walking, hiking and other outdoor activities. Whether you prefer to immerse yourself in the local culture or spend your time in solitude exploring the natural landscape, you will not be disappointed.
We are quite an easy-going couple and we make friends easily. We regularly have friends over for dinner and enjoy having relaxed conversations with a bottle of wine or a few beers - we are Irish :-) We always want people to feel comfortable in our home and you will be welcome to join in with us throughout your stay just like any other guest we invite. Alternatively, if you want some alone time there are numerous places on our property where you can have some quiet time by yourself.
We are very appreciative of WorkAway help, and we believe in having a healthy respect for everyone so you can feel “at home” and spend your free time in the way you enjoy. If you would like to volunteer with us, please read our full profile to see if there is a fit with your skills. If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will respond as quickly as possible.
Types of help and learning opportunitiesGardeningDIY and building projectsHelp around the houseGeneral Maintenance
Cultural exchange and learning opportunities
Kalamata is the capital of Messenia, one of the biggest regions in the Peloponnese. It’s a great base from which to explore the Peloponnese area. Following are a few ideas:
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES - Many people visit this area for the natural beauty and there is plenty to enjoy in the immediate locality. There are numerous trekking & hiking trails and natural attractions including Polilimnio Waterfalls and Ridomo Gorge. Nearby water-based activities include kayaking, sailing, snorkelling and scuba diving.
NOTABLE SITES/PLACES TO VISIT – The most notable nearby sites are Mystras, Ancient Messini, Sparta, Koroni and Nafplio. Buses run to these places directly from Kalamata and a number of companies also organise structured day trips. Eg. you can book a day trip to Monemvasia; a small medieval town that we love to visit. It’s a hidden gem that is well worth seeing and Elafonisos island (with breath-taking beaches) is just a 10-minute ferry ride from there.
BEACHES – Beaches in the region are some of the highest rated in Europe and the sea is crystal clear. Verga beach is a 5-minute drive. Other nearby beaches include Almyros, Kitries, Santova & Bouka. Voidokilia Beach is one of the most famous beaches and voted one of the best in Europe by Conde Nast. It’s a bit further out and tricky to get to. There is no commercial development allowed there which ensures it remains completely natural, unspoilt and stunning.
We are still discovering the Peloponnese and we like to explore new areas and revisit our favourites. You are welcome to join our outings and see why we have fallen in love with this region of Greece. If you prefer to go alone we can provide bus timetables etc… and we’ll be happy to drive you to the bus-stop.
We found our Dream Home and we fell in love with this property for views and the outside spaces, which are many. The house is quirky and unique – rooms were added onto the original 150-year-old stone house over a 40-year period so the layout is quite unusual. It is lovely but needs a lot of work to make it a comfortable home. Eg. we have 3 bathrooms with showers (no baths) but only one functional shower between them. These are high on the list 😊
Our priority now is on renovation & building projects indoors and outdoors. There are numerous ongoing projects and we wholeheartedly welcome any Workawayers who are competent in home renovation and general construction. We would also love to hear from plumbers, electricians, roofers and carpenters or wood-workers. Following is a list of the projects we hope to complete by the end of this year (2021):
1 OUTSIDE BATHROOM & 1 OUTSIDE TOILET – 2 small buildings that need minor renovation including changing existing toilets & sinks, installing new electric shower, installing new wiring (for lighting & shower). To finish needs wall tiles, new floor tiles in smaller toilet (to be laid on uneven stone floor) and new doors to be fitted.
1 INDOOR BATHROOM – Installing new toilet (none before, needs completely new plumbing with connection to sewer), build/install new shower and sink (replacing & moving existing ones). New wiring to be installed (for lighting) and existing door opening to be made smaller (by slightly extending the wall). To finish needs wall & floor tiles.
NEW PERGOLA – Building a pergola with roof behind the swimming pool (so we can create lounge seating area & outdoor kitchen). This project is not huge but requires the following tasks:
• Make lightweight concrete panels on site and install them on top of the existing stone wall to increase height. Once the panels are in place, they will be finished with stucco rendering. (This is required for privacy and it will be the back wall of the pergola)
• Build a raised floor (on a metal frame support) to extend the existing patio/tiled area.
• Build pergola frame and roof with either tiles or metal roof sheeting (to be decided!)
INDOOR CARPENTRY – Existing cupboards to be dismantled and reinstalled elsewhere in the house with some reconfiguration. Will need someone with wood-working/carpentry experience and a little patience.
ELECTRICAL REWIRING – Entire house needs re-wiring and a new distribution board has already been installed. We hope to do the house in sections as we complete projects in different areas. We also need lots of new outdoor lighting.
REPLACE COBBLESTONE COURTYARD – Existing cobblestone courtyard needs to be removed (dug up completely), fall direction changed (so water falls away from the house) and drainage provided (French drain required). New concrete patio to be built ready for outdoor tiles when we can afford to buy them.
We do need some additional help with ongoing garden maintenance and some housework but this is relatively minimal (2X per week) - anyone who is practical and would enjoy a mix of this work and helping with some of the labour involved in the building projects would be much appreciated!
This host offers a language exchange
Our native language is English and we are learning Greek and have some of the basics covered. We also have very basic French (from many years ago) if that helps at all. We enjoy being with people and love to communicate which is definitely the basis of learning any new language.
We hope you’ll be comfortable and feel at home with us. We will provide:
YOUR OWN ROOM – We have 2 large double-bedrooms with comfortable beds (essential for everyone we believe!). We don’t ask WorkAwayers not travelling together to share the same room but if you are travelling as a couple or friends we would expect you to stay together. You’ll have full access to rest of the house: kitchen, shared bathroom, living room & laundry. There are also lots of outdoor terraces and seating areas for you to enjoy.
3 MEALS EVERYDAY – Paul is an amazing cook and Greece has fantastic fresh produce that is FULL of flavour. I (Maria) am vegetarian and I do my best to stick to a vegan diet at home. Paul eats everything but is trying to limit meat intake (following a very recent heart attack & surgery).
• Breakfast is usually DIY with a choice of muesli, oats, yoghurts and fruit. You can squeeze your own orange juice using fruit from our trees 😊
• Lunch is also DIY – you can make your own sandwiches, plenty of salads in the fridge etc… and there may be leftovers from the night before (Paul does NOT KNOW how to cook smaller portions & that’s the only reason for leftovers 😊) You can prepare a packed lunch if you’re going on a trip or to the beach etc…
• Dinner is freshly cooked every evening and we would enjoy having your company but are fine if you prefer to eat alone.
Tasty and delicious food is really important to us and Paul’s cooking is enough to keep people coming back for more! However, if you also enjoy cooking you are welcome to do so and we always welcome the opportunity to taste different dishes 😊
NB: We have a traditional Greek style kitchen and NO dishwasher ☹ so at the end of each day we ask everyone to clean the dishes (washing up) together or taking it in turns, to spread the load and make it fair.
What else ...
We are non-smokers (but don't object to anyone smoking outside the house).
LONGER STAYS – If you have good all-round building skills we would love to have you stay for a few months. You can even make a longer booking with us and trial it for the first couple of weeks (it has worked for us before!)
HEALTH COVER - The Greek public healthcare system is not something you want to depend on. Please do ensure that you have travel insurance with full medical cover (especially in these times of Co-vid). If you have a European passport you should also get a valid EHIC card before travelling to Greece.
JOIN US OR DO YOUR OWN THING - In the summer we go to the seafront most evenings for a walk and/or swim. Sometimes we’ll bring a few drinks and snacks and stay till late. We like people and we enjoy having relaxed conversations over a glass of wine or a beer. You are welcome to join us but there’s no pressure – you choose how you want to spend your spare time.
GETTING AROUND in Kalamata is easy on foot and there are buses from here to most of the main sites and beaches you may want to visit. (We can give you timetables and help to book tickets). We live on a mountain. It’s only a few minutes drive from the main road and most people are happy to walk down but (unless you like hiking or hill-walking) getting back can be tiring. If you have your own transport you won’t have any problem but if not we’ll do our best to accommodate you by giving you a lift or picking you up to enable you to get around.
We are new to the WorkAway platform and we think it’s a rare win/win opportunity (ie. both hosts and volunteers) and a good WorkAway experience for everyone will depend on good communication and some give and take. Please make sure you read details about the type of help we need so you know what’s involved and if you can do it. If you have questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll come back to you as quickly as we can.
A little more information
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Can host digital nomads
We are both self-employed and work online so a good internet connection is vital for us. There is wi-fi throughout the property and we also have extra-long ethernet cables going to main rooms, which increases broadband speed when necessary. Digital nomads are welcome and we can be flexible about when jobs are done but it’s better to work in the morning or evening during summer because of the heat.
Can possibly accept pets
We have 3 cats – 2 that came with the property and they live outside but rely on us for daily food and petting 😊 We also have a long-haired cat (Sylvester) that lives in the house and because he has long-hair (rather than fur) he doesn’t seem to affect people with cat allergies (strange but true!). We love animals and pets are welcome as long as they will get along with the cats. The cats are used to other animals so there won’t be a problem here. We would prefer dogs to be kept outside because moulting hair can be a nightmare. We can discuss this in more detail but there are lots of comfortable areas for them to sleep and spend their time here.
How many Workawayers can stay?
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week - Working hours and days are flexible but will be agreed in advance so as to avoid misunderstandings.
We were also fortunate enough to share Maria's space with Seba
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We were also fortunate enough to share Maria's space with Seba
There are so many different, fun tasks to do around the huge villa. For me it was mostly gardening. The work-relationship was really fair and rewarding. They are always open for suggestions
We stayed in a LOVELY room overlooking the gulf and the city of Kalamata, a super comfortable bed to sleep in, and the weekend to rest and