My Big, Free Greek Villa

As is often the way I find my life to be, I arrived in Athens with an excess of time and a lack of money – not the typical way one would go on holiday – but fairly typical of my life over the last few years.

This left me with the choice of being nomadic for my two weeks in Greece, or finding a permanent base. Through my hitchhiking, cycling, and various other pursuits, I have often lived a nomadic existence, but for once, I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted somewhere I could stay and use as a base, not having to carry everything I own upon my back – but it had to be free. I had my hammock with me, so needed little other than a tree, but it had to be a tree that no one else could find.

After taking a ferry to Naxos, my friend and I hitchhiked and hiked across the island until on our second day, we found a set of incomplete holiday villas for sale. Due to the Greek financial crisis, unfinished and abandoned properties are everywhere across the island (and much of Greece) – but that is a story for a different day. Looking up the hillside, I felt the site looked rather promising.

Abandoned buildings for sale on Naxos

Upon further investigation, I found that one particular villa was almost complete upstairs. In one room and on the balcony, the walls had been finished, as had the floor. It was perfect. So with a tin of vine leaves (yum) and a cold beer (better to spend what little money you have on the essential items, we sat on the balcony and assessed the abandoned villa’s qualities that could allow it to serve as our home.

Abandoned villa balcony at dusk, Naxos

By the time the sun set, we were decided – this place was perfect, this is where we would live.

Sunset on the balcony, Naxos abandoned villa

Sunset from the balcony of our abandoned villa, Naxos

Outside the part-built villa, we hung our hammocks and that is where we guerilla camped – for two weeks. At first I was a little worried that people would find us, but within a day or two we relaxed as it became apparent that no one ventured to our secluded little spot hidden between trees and the unfinished villas. You can see the neighbouring villa in the picture, ‘ours’ is out of shot to the left of the image.

Hammock sleeping are, Naxos

Beer can cooking, NaxosWe were lucky enough that the site had a single tap that ran hot. I drank from this every day and on a couple of occasions, took a shower under the warm water – mostly however, I thought swimming in the sea would suffice for washing.

So that was our home. Isolated, no one noticed we were there and each evening, we sat on the balcony to eat dinner that we had cooked on a beer can stove and watched the beautiful sun setting over the water. We had time to read excessively, write, and swim. More than enough time. Maybe too much!

But it was pretty and lovely and when I said goodbye to my little home, I said goodbye fondly.

Dinner and notebook

On the final day, we cleared everything, leaving no trace of our presence – except possibly that we had made the villa cleaner. And then we walked away. This was a holiday on a tight budget in which our main (almost sole) expenses were consumables. When given the option (which was always), we bought local produce, including local Naxos wine. These two weeks were a little reminder of how little life has to cost with a little bit of pushing oneself – either one can work and pay for luxury, or search for luxury by skipping the working. Something like that!

2 Comments

  • Great story!

    We stayed in Ios and Folegrandos last September.

    Noticed it got very chilly in the late evening, early morning.

    How was the hammocking through the night?

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