Lying tranquilly in the green valleys of Evia island, the Vasiliki Guesthouse offers a superb escape into both nature and tradition. Inner Evia is untouched by mass tourism and this family property is a great starting point to discover it.
As you arrive to the village of Steni at the foothills of Mount Dirfys and about 400 meters above sea level, you'll be amazed by the green forests and mountains around you. When you reach the Vasiliki guesthouse, you'll then be impressed with how well this natural building made of stone and wood blends in with the surrounding environment. The architecture, design and materials of this place instill a sense of wellbeing in travelers that makes them adore this place.
The spacious rooms here are comfortable and soothing in their light wood and earth tones, bringing Zen-like modernity with local architectural elements. Balconies with a view, gorgeous bathrooms, a fireplace in each room for colder months, bathrobes, free wi-fi, flat-screen TVs and many more conveniences await overnight guests in these rooms.
Some rooms can easily accommodate up to four people so ask for these if you're more than two persons. It is worth noting that one euro from every room night goes to help social and environmental causes in Evia, representing a very noble example of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives adopted by this small family hotel.
Swim, hike and bike in heaven
To begin with, Mount Dirfys boasts numerous hiking paths that have been signposted by the Mountain Climbing Club of Halkida, Evia's capital. Walk in the shadows of the chestnut forests around Steni and refresh yourself with the many natural springs that hide among the greenery. Wildflowers dot the ground, while birds such as the short-toed snake eagle and falcon can be seen overhead.
Rumour has it that the hiking route from Steni to the mountain climibing shelter at 1,050 meters is one of the most beautiful in Greece. Indeed there are several different hiking paths to enjoy and the Katsanas family at the Vasiliki will be more than happy to arrange a local guide and access to the mountain shelter at the top of Mount Dirfys.
There's also a biking and outdoor club in the area (Evia Tours) whose Greek-Scottish owner will be more than happy to unveil the best of the island in terms of mountain biking, cycling and hiking.
While you might be enjoying the mountain air in the valleys of Evia, the island also has some amazing beaches that are just a drive away. Head to the gorgeous Chiliadou beach that's some 40 minutes from Steni, or to the stunning Vythouri beach between two mountains that's a 45-50 minute drive away.
For a more blessed, soulful experience, head to the Church of Saint John the Russian (Agios Ioannis O Rossos) in Evia's community of Neo Prokopio, which holds the remains of this Russian-born saint. The interior of the church is a fine specimen of Greek Orthodoxy in all its glory, while the relics of the saint and his spirit are said to help cure the sick and suffering.
Another church worth visiting, this time for its natural environment, is that of Agia Kyriaki (Saint Sunday), just two minutes away from the guesthouse. It is built into a rock surrounded by waterfalls from and is a peaceful place to admire the surrounding nature.
Wine and dine in an authentic Greek atmosphere
Welcome to generous Greek breakfasts at their best. The friendly and hospitable family that runs the Vasiliki takes pride in its local breakfast. Mom makes the jams at home from fruits in season and bakes the cakes herself. She lovingly prepares the cheese and spinach pies, adding a sweet surprise or two to the mix. You'll also find Greek yogurt, honey and cold cuts on the buffet, in addition to omelets made from village eggs.
For lunch and dinner, there are many mountain 'tavernas' in the village known for their meaty dishes, as is customary in mountain areas. If you're more of a vegetarian they will almost always be able to accommodate you with a cooked veggie dish and many meat-free starters. You can wash down your village meal with some good Greek wine or ouzo.
And if you like wine, you must drop by the small Avantis Winery, consider among Greece's best and only half an hour away from Steni, run by Apostolos and his wife who are both oenologists. While Evia may not be famous for its wine (yet), you'll be amazed by the different flavors and bouquets of this winery that has made it into international wine journals. Your trip to the Vasiliki Guesthouse and to Evia will without a doubt unveil the best of culinary delights and amazing natural attractions of the island.