My Personal Greek A to Ω – Ξ (Xi) is for Xεnία or Hospitality

Antonia and Vangelis – Homer’s Inn Hotel

The theme of hospitality is very important and prevalent in the Greek culture and Philoxenia is an important point of pride for Greeks and is something rooted in ancient times and in mythology.  In a famous story Zeus was said to have disguised himself as a poor man, dressing himself in rags, so that he could visit the homes of Greeks and see how they treated strangers, revealing himself at a certain point as the god he really was, the point of the story being that it’s a good idea to treat strangers or foreigners well, because they could turn out to be gods.

We have always enjoyed exceptional hospitality in Greece and I suppose this is one of the reasons for continually going back.  Everywhere we have been Greek people have been welcoming and friendly and I would gladly return to every place I have been or stayed but one place that deserves a special effort to return to is Homer’s Inn on the island of Ios and the home of Vangelis and Antonia and their son Panos where there is always a special welcome.

Robin, Panos (Homer’s Inn Boss), Martin and Lisa

We have been visiting Ios since 2006 (missing only 2010 when we went to the Dodecanese islands instead) but that is no achievement at all compared with Martin, Lisa and Robin who have been returning to Homer’s Inn every year for nearly a quarter of a century.  Robin, being a solo traveller, is not surprisingly more adventurous than most and one morning he entertained us with his tales of his various ways of getting himself to the island. Ferries of course from mainland or nearby islands and flying, but by a variety of alternative routes and different carriers including on one occasion, a seaplane into the harbour; by train and part way on the Orient Express via Sarajevo, and bravest (or maybe daftest) of all by car, driving through central Europe and the Balkans, through Serbia, Kosovo and Bulgaria.

Antonia, Andrew, Kim, Lisa and Robin (photography by Martin)

Philoxenia consists of three basic elements:

  1. The respect from host to guest. The host must be hospitable to the guest and provide them with food and drink and a bath, if required.
  2. The respect from guest to host. The guest must be courteous to their host and not be a burden.
  3. The parting gift (xenion, ξεινήιον) from host to guest. The parting gift is to show the host’s honor at receiving the guest.

In 2008 when we left at the end of our five days there Vangelis presented us with a tea mug each, which represented our acceptance as Homer’s special guests.  How nice was that?  I look forward to going back again soon.


10 responses to “My Personal Greek A to Ω – Ξ (Xi) is for Xεnία or Hospitality

  1. Hi,
    Isn’t it wonderful when we come across really nice people where we decide to stay on a holiday. It does mean a lot and makes a holiday that much more enjoyable I feel.
    I love the photos.


  2. Can’t have too many friends around the world. I admire Robin’s pioneering spirit!


  3. That concept would explain our wonderful abduction in Crete where we were swept into the midst of a Sunday family banquet and feasted for hours with them all. I think there were two english speakers out of 20, but who cares?


  4. Sounds so friendly.


  5. Nice post, Andrew. It’s a good tradition and will come in handy too as the Zeuses multiply.


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