Γεια σας (gia sas), which means “hello” in Greek! It’s Rebecca here. I’m a foodie, have a love for wine and I manage Urban Adventures in Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete and Santorini. I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, by my Greek parents. They took me to Greece for a holiday and it was love at first sight. After a few more trips back here, I felt compelled to settle here and I still feel the same love for my home country as I did on that first trip.
Xenia, which translates to “guest-friendship,” is the ancient Greek rule of hospitality. It’s the generosity and courtesy which should be shown to those who are far from home. Zeus, our head of the gods, was even called Zeus Xenios to emphasize his role as the protector of xenia and the protector of travelers. Xenia is embedded in who we are as Greeks, so we really miss hosting travelers!
We’re slowly starting to reopen here in Greece. On Monday the lockdown restrictions were eased, and more shops/businesses could reopen. Thankfully, we imposed the lockdown early and have flattened the curve. We know that there is still work to be done so we continue to socially distance and wear face masks when in public. By working together as a community we will recover faster and we’re hoping to say Γεια σας to you in Greece as soon as possible!
Here in Greece there have been a number of positives to come out of this situation. We’ve learned how to truly appreciate each other, particularly our families and close friends, rather than take each other for granted. Culturally, it’s not natural for us to stay indoors but we have done so for the benefit of society and to protect those that we love.
We’re still helping each other as much as possible, particularly the elderly. It’s an important virtue in Greek culture. We’ve been running errands, supporting local businesses, donating medical equipment, and hosting medical staff in unoccupied hotel rooms. We care far more about each other’s wellbeing than what any lockdown does to our economy. We’ve had economic troubles for the last decade, so we’ve grown resilient. In some ways, it’s actually been a positive for our future work culture. A lot of bureaucracy has been eliminated because processes have been moved online and it’s become easier for everyone!
One thing that I’ll personally be fighting for is that we do not compromise on our social and environmental values for the economy. One proposal that has been put forward is to sell our parks and green spaces to private companies. I’ll be fighting against that as we need to protect Greece’s beauty, not only for ourselves but for those visiting us from around the world. Hopefully that will be soon!