Tag Archives: Homer’s Inn

On This Day, The Greek Island of Ios

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 27th August 2007 I was on the Greek Island of Ios in the Cyclades…

Ios Greece Last Night's Catch

The walk to Valmas is interesting because of the derelict terraces and dry stone walls that separate the hillside into individual plots of land.  Ios is just one large inhospitable rock that has been baked in the sun for thousands of years but as recently as only fifty years ago people here were scraping away at the thin soil and the stones to try and make a living or to feed the family by growing fruit and vegetables.

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Greek Islands, Ios and Hospitality

Homer's Inn Ios Greece

After the furrowed grey wastes of the water surrounding our islands (The UK) the huge vivacity of the Mediterranean never ceased to astonish.  Here it was splashed all-over with plum-coloured stains of weed-beds among which bald rocks just below the surface were brilliant uncut emeralds (and) water thrashing in the deep coves rose and fell, uncovering and submerging great shining boulders…”  –   Norman Lewis, ‘Voices of the Old Sea’

When in Greece in September we always make space in the itinerary for Ios because this is where we meet old friends and return to the best hotel in the Cyclades– Homer’s Inn!

Homer's Inn Ios Greece

Our normal routine on Ios is to spend the day around the port and on the beach and then visit the Chora for the sunset and for evening meal.  This year to be different we decided to visit the main town in the morning to see what it was like during the day.

Actually it wasn’t so nice and whilst the evening darkness disguises all the evidence of clubbers and boozers it was all viciously exposed early in the morning.  Discarded bottles and cans in the corners and clubs and bars that look glittery and inviting in the gloom looking cheap and nasty in the cold light of day.

We walked to the top and admired the views of the port and on the way down stopped to talk to some fellow travellers.  As we exchanged stories I saw what I thought was a lizard but quickly realised that it was a snake.  Olive brown and about a metre long it slithered by and disappeared into a tiny crack in the steps.  Later I made enquiries and was told that a local naturist had reintroduced these serpents to the island and that they were poisonous.

I am all for preserving the natural environment but that is just plain daft, as daft as Eugene Schieffelin introducing the starling into the USA or Thomas Austin releasing rabbits into the Australian outback. Daft also because although there is a medical centre on Ios for anything serious the only treatment is on the mainland and a snake bite would mean airlifting by ambulance back to Athens.

Ios Church

We walked around the steep and narrow streets and arthritic crooked alleys as far as the abandoned windmills and through the shops that line the main street through the village and then back to Homer’s Inn down the dusty track and after a short sojourn went for another walk to the harbour and along the coast road to the little church on the headland.

The road out of the village runs past the business end of the harbour and there were some brightly painted boats that had just landed their overnight catch and were negotiating sales with local people and restaurant owners in a babble of animated activity.

It looked like a good night’s work and the trading was brisk.  The fish looked interesting and on closer examination of the produce it soon becomes clear why we have to put up with stock shortages whilst the most of the rest of Europe have such an abundance of choice; we are just far too fussy about what we will eat and our preference for fish is restricted to two or three species that we have fished into crisis and near extinction whilst in Greece, as elsewhere, they will eat a much greater variety of sea food.

Ios Greece Last Night's Catch

On top of the church there was a Greek flag that was flapping uncontrollably in the wind and trying desperately to separate itself from the pole that was hanging onto it.

The blue and white flag of Greece is called ‘Galanolefci’, which simply means ‘blue and white’.  Originally it was blue with a white diagonal cross but the cross has now been moved to the upper left corner, and is symbolic of the Christian faith.

Being a seafaring nation, the blue of the flag represents the colour of the sea.  White is the colour of freedom, which is something that is very important to the Greeks after years of enslavement under foreign domination.  The nine stripes of the flag each symbolise a syllable in the Greek motto of freedom: E-LEY-THE-RI-A-I-THA-NA-TOS, which translates literally into ‘Freedom or Death’.

Flag of Greece

There were preparations at the church for a wedding and a christening and later Kim returned to see the wedding and I joined her later for the baptism to see the ceremony of a little girl being accepted into the Christian Orthodox Church, which is a major event in the life of any Greek family.

A Greek baptism is a sacred and religious rite that is performed to cleanse the soul and renounce Satan. The baptism is a complex initiation that starts with an exorcism and officially ends forty days later when the baby is presented to the congregation to receive Holy Communion.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to stop for the full forty days and we began to feel a bit like intruders on a private family event so before it was all over we left the church and returned to the harbour and instead of going to the Chora, tonight we ate next to the fishing boats that were being prepared for another night at sea at a place called the Octopus where, at pavement tables next to the fishermen, we were served excellent food and fresh fish that we had seen being landed just a few hours earlier.

We stayed on Ios for four days and then prepared to move on to the island of Syros.

Ios Greece Port

Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth – 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 warmth and 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.

We visited Ios several times between 2006 and 2012 (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.

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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

Greek Fishing Tackle

The road out of the village runs past the business end of the harbour and there were some brightly painted boats that had just landed their overnight catch and were negotiating sales with local people and restaurant owners in a babble of animated activity.  It looked like a good nights work and the trading was brisk.

The fish looked interesting and on closer examination of the produce it soon becomes clear why we have to put up with stock shortages whilst the most of the rest of Europe have such an abundance of choice; we are just far too fussy about what we will eat and our preference for fish is restricted to two or three species that we have fished into crisis and near extinction whilst in Greece they will eat a much greater variety of sea food.

Read the full story…

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.

Greece 2011, Ios to Antiparos

Ios Greece Cyclades

Although we were travelling to Antiparos today the ferry wasn’t due to leave until very late afternoon so we had most of the day ahead of us to spend on Ios.  After our final breakfast with more delicious figs we packed our bags in preparation for later departure and then walked to the harbour.

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Greece 2011, Ios, Friends, Travel Tales and Weather Forecasts

Antonia and Vangelis – Homer’s Inn Hotel

If one thing was an absolute certainty it was that day twelve of the holiday was going to be very similar to day eleven but without the rugby football in the middle of it.  Martin was going to watch the grand prix but not being a big fan of formula one racing and with Kim not being a big fan of sport of any kind we declined the opportunity to join him. To be honest, I considered myself fortunate to have watched the match the day before and I didn’t want to push my luck!

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Greece 2011, Ios – Snakes, Fishing and a Baptism

Ios Greece Cyclades

I wouldn’t normally watch TV while on holiday but was prepared to make an exception today because England were playing Argentina in the Rugby World Cup and it was being shown at a bar in the village at eleven o’clock so we made arrangements to meet Martin and Lisa there and then went for a walk to the village for an hour or so before it started.

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Greece 2009 – Ios, Farming and Fishing

Amorgos Greece

After the furrowed grey wastes of the water surrounding our islands (The UK) the huge vivacity of the Mediterranean never ceased to astonish.  Here it was splashed all-over with plum-coloured stains of weed-beds among which bald rocks just below the surface were brilliant uncut emeralds (and) water thrashing in the deep coves rose and fell, uncovering and submerging great shining boulders…”  –  Norman Lewis, ‘Voices of the Old Sea’

Read the full story…

Greece 2009 – Folegandros to Ios

Leaving Folegandros

In the morning there was a huge improvement that I wouldn’t have dared to predict, there was sunshine and a slight breeze and the place was remarkably dry considering how much rain had fallen.  Everywhere people were busy cleaning up after the previous night’s unexpected deluge and storm and it was still cloudy over Sikinos and that was a bit of a worry because we were heading in that direction later.

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