Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Greek hospitality

A couple of weeks ago, I was out with some friends for a nice meal at a taverna.
In Crete, after a meal, the waiter always brings out a plate of dessert, spoon sweets, or (at the very least) fruits, accompanied by a flask of tsikoudia.

Tsikoudia or Raki, is a grape-based spirit made in the villages of Crete.

You are sure to receive shots of this in every single taverna while dining out.

So, one of the conversations that we came across is how friendly the people are here, because every single taverna gives out such delicious sweets, on the house! I have never seen that anywhere else. Not even in Athens.

Such a difference to most of the countries, where the servers would always ASK you if you would like to ORDER sweets.

"Greek hospitality" according to Wikipedia:
Xenia ( Greek: ξενία, xenía) is the Greek concept of hospitality, or generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home. It is often translated as "guest-friendship" (or "ritualized friendship") because the rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host.

So, have this in mind while I tell you a  story:

[My friend (who is French) told us how he was in a taverna one evening, and observed one American man having dinner with his wife. As the couple finished their food, the server brought out some sweets and tsikoudia.

The man turned the server away, shouting that he never ordered it.
The server began explaining that it is free.
The man started shouting louder, saying that the taverna probably sneaked extra money on the bill to compensate for the sweets.

The server started crying as the man continued saying he will not pay for the sweets, because he did not order them. The whole restaurant went quiet and other patrons sat still in shock.]

 As I listened to the story, I felt so embarrased for fellow travellers coming to visit, without knowing some of the customs in Crete.

It is true that you should practice caution when travelling (because, heck- who doesn't have a "ripped off while travelling" story?) , there also exists a whole other side where the traveller is just being obnoxious, and seen as a fool. It doesn't hurt to read up on the customs of the country (or even area) you are visiting, and try to have an open mind.

lovely painting from Lisa Lorenz Studio Blog.
So please, at least if you are coming to Crete, accept the damn tsikoudia and sweets and don't forget to say, "Efharisto" - Thank you.

Got some funny or similar travel stories? Share with us your thoughts and experiences!

1 comment:

Kim's Vanity said...

Yikes! Poor server. I've never been to a non-english speaking contry (yet!) so haven't had to deal with this yet. Just in London, the bouncers were VERY particular about standing on the RIGHT side of the staircase while in line. I didn't understand due to his thick accent and few too many drinks at that point, so he got mad! But other than that, nothing. I'd move to Greece just for the food.