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UPDATE JULY 25, 2020 - WE NEED VOLUNTEERS ASAP!! However, Due to Covid-19, we can only accept volunteers who self-quarantine for AT LEAST 10 days before coming to us, and volunteers must take EXTREME precautions when traveling to us. Thank you!
Hello! We (Kostas & Anna) are a family of 6 (including our dog Tsarlie and cat Muzi, plus a handful of uncounted stray cats & dogs that we unofficially take care of) living above our bakery in the beautiful little village of Zitsa (population 400) in the northwest mountains of Greece. We have 2 littles - Kiki will be 5 at the end of Oct., and Thaleia who turned 1 on Apr. 24th. We would like help with 1) caring for the kids, 2) general house work such as washing dishes, sweeping, picking up toys, 3) walking our dog, and 4) a small amount of cooking.
Kiki is extremely smart, strong-willed, creative, and silly. Thaleia’s personality is just starting to shine through and she is very sweet and calm and easy to take care of. Childcare duties would mostly entail playing with Thaleia & Kiki (arts & crafts, taking them to the park, playing card games, etc.) and acting as a second pair of hands for Anna. You would not have to change diapers if you did not want to!
Kostas is the baker of the village - his family has been running the only bakery here for about 25 years and he took over from his father about 20 years ago. Kostas' mother helps him in the bakery, and before having the baby, Anna worked full-time alongside her husband as his assistant baker. Kostas & Anna met via Couchsuring a little over 10 years ago, but it was not love at first sight! After meeting for only 1 day, they got to know each other, and fall in love, slowly, via texting, e-mail, instant messaging and Skype while living 7 time zones apart for 8 months. But when they met each other in person again, it WAS love at first sight and a week later Anna agreed to leave her life in the US to follow her heart. She was an environmental lawyer there, but finds life in a village much more appealing (especially with how connected the world is nowadays!).
And 2 1/2 years after moving here to Zitsa, Anna opened the first bookshop in the village which then closed as a bookshop business and re-opened as a free private library and creative space. The bookshop was created to be a Literary & Culteral Community Center and many Workaway volunteers have spent time there in the past few years.
We have a passion for meeting new people and love hosting travelers in our home. Our family has a vineyard from which we make our own wine, as well as a 200-sheep farm (and we are in the process of building a Tiny House on the farm). The milk from the sheep is used to make cheese, yogurt, and a traditional pasta, and then a lot of the milk is also sold to a diary company in the city of Ioannina about 25 kilometers away. But one of our favorite activities is sitting around with new friends, sharing fresh bread, homemade wine and cheese, and talking about life. We love hearing what people's passions are, as well as sharing stories of our own. We believe life is beautiful and challenging and interesting and meant to be full of love.
Come join us and explore the life here!!
Babysitting / child care
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
We LOVE our way of life, and our village, and are eager to share all of it - we feel life here is very authentic and meaningful and that the most important things are love and family. We also have hosted over 1,000 travelers in our home over the past 12 years and each one has a story to tell, so we can share that too! Most volunteers end up feeling like part of the family and often end up calling us their “Greek family.” We feel the same way. Any of the people who have stayed with us could show up on our doorstep at any moment and be welcomed with warm hugs and lots of good food. You might even learn a few words of one of the hardest languages in the world!!
As mentioned, child care is the primary help we need. We would like someone who can help watch our little ones for 2-3 hours in the morning, and 1-2 hours in the afternoon, 5 days a week (We are flexible as to which days of the week). Responsibilities would include playing (we bring the 14-month old to the bakery every day and let her explore and make big messes, so it's not hard to have fun playing with her!), sitting and eating a meal or snack (and preparing a small meals for them), taking them outside for walks or to the park and, if English is NOT your native language, we would love for you to talk to them in your language to expand their language skills. Kiki is English and Greek bilingual though her default language for speaking is Greek - she needs practice in speaking English, though she understands everything (Anna only speaks and reads to her in English). Thaleia will be bilingual as well, though now she just babbles a lot and coos :)
We also have a large garden area behind our house that needs some cleaning and organizing and replanting as we have let it get a bit wild. If you have gardening experience, that is a huge plus! We might need help with gardening and landscaping at our new tiny farm house that we are just finishing up building as well on our sheep farm :)
Volunteers would stay in the library! It is a very large space, though the pull-out couch bed is a little small for 2 people. There is also a chaise lounge that’s comfortable for sleeping 1. The library has 2 bathrooms with hot and cold water. Out the back door is a small garden with a table & chairs and some flowers - a really nice place to sit and relax. There is no place to cook in the library but our home kitchen is completely open to volunteers. There is no WiFi in the library but there is in our home and the bakery which volunteers can also use any time that we are not sleeping (and if we are sleeping, you can sit outside the bakery and use the WiFi). Along with the room, we will provide a big family lunch every afternoon around 2:30 (Kostas' mother is an amazing cook and can make any traditional Greek dish! Kostas & Anna are pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish) but do not mind others eating meat.) There is fresh bread and other baked good every day, as well as some of our home-made wine (like most families in the village, we have our own vineyard) and cheese (Kostas' mother makes feta and yogurt from the milk of our sheep - we have a farm with about 200 sheep). Generally breakfast for volunteers is whatever they want from the bakery in the morning. Lunch is the big meal of the day, and dinners together sometimes happen, but sometimes it is just the volunteers making something for themselves or finding leftovers in the bakery from the day. Anna eats dinner after putting Thaleia to bed each night, around 8pm, so volunteers can eat with her or eat earlier.
As mentioned, Zitsa is an amazing place. In the village itself, we have a couple of markets where you can find fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, basic home goods, and treats. The village also has some cafes and restaurants, a spectacular free art gallery, a small gym with machines and free weights, schools, a regional autism center, and a famous monastery. In mid-Aug. there is the Zitsa wine festival which is known throughout Greece.
Zitsa is about 3 1/2 hours from Thessaloniki by bus, and about 6 from Athens. The west coast and beaches are a little over an hour away. The closest city is Ioannina, which is 25 kilometers. There are 4 buses to Ioannina every day except weekends (so no buses on Sat. or Sun.), though it is usually quite easy to hitch or find a local who can give a ride. The Ioannina airport has also recently started having international flights so it’s possible to fly right into Ioannina now instead of flying to Athens or Thessaloniki first.
Nearby is also the famous region of Zagorohoria, and not far is the world-famous Meteora.
Zitsa is a perfect place for an artist looking for a retreat in a quiet, beautiful setting, an outdoor adventurer looking for new places to explore, or someone interesting in learning intimately about a new culture!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week