FRIDAY EVENING

A quick flight, an easy drive into the city and here I am on the steps of the historic Hotel Gran- de Bretagne. One of the most delightful of autumn weekends is about to begin.

I slide into the bathtub and let the intoxicating bath scents soothe me. I wrap myself in a lush bathrobe and book a table for two at Tudor Hall Restau- rant, located on the 7th floor of adjacent King George, Athens. The legendary Parthenon stands proud opposite, as impressive lit up in the city’s night as during the day. On my plate, a contem- porary array of some of Greek cuisine’s finest. The perfect glass of red wine accompanies dinner and I toast the chefs who never cease to amaze and intrigue my taste buds.

SATURDAY

This morning I give myself the first gift of the day: an ESPA Balinese massage at the world-renowned GB Spa of the Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens.

Rejuvenated, I indulge in the day’s next treat: shopping. Kolonaki and its myriad of fine shops are just steps from the hotel, and beckon me for a visit. The best in haute couture straight from the world’s top fashion houses, all here in the center of bustling Athens.

I deposit my overflowing shopping bags with the hotel’s ever-accommodating concierge and head into the heart of the old city, towards the maze of streets around Monastiraki Square. The sweet scent of jasmine and acacia intermingles with the heady aroma of incense and the wafting smells of Greek delicacies. Alleys whose every stone tells a story of the city’s rich history; sights, sounds and smells that flood my senses with euphoria.

Almost 7 o’clock and I just have enough time to pop into the GB Yianni Hair Spa of the Hotel Grande Bretagne to freshen up. Pure delight!

Night has fallen and Athens has enraptured me. Dinner at the GB Roof Garden Restaurant of the histo- ric hotel, with its gourmet Mediterranean dishes and stunning Acropolis views. My enthusiastic companions join me later, ready for a fun night out in this vibrantly pulsating town. New bars have cropped up in trendy Agia Irini Square and all over the hip Psyrri and Gazi areas, each one deserving of a stop. Relaxing or lively Greek and international music, indoor or outdoor sea- ting on terraces or in tiny squares, in a city where you can sit outside well into late autumn. Captivated by the city’s vivid nightlife, we head to where Greeks go to listen to traditional bouzouki music and well-known performers and dance the night away. I know that this is why my heart beats so loudly when I’m in Athens.

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SUNDAY

I awake with a smile. Athens has a way of doing this to me. I indulge in a scrumptious breakfast in bed with a view of Syntagma Square, the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier underway.

I quickly get dressed and head out to delve into his- tory. The Acropolis Museum, a jewel of immeasurable historical value, houses the fabled Parthenon marbles among other masterpieces, and leaves no visitor un- moved while gazing upon the marbles and the spaces left for the sculpture still missing.

From there up to the Acropolis, then down to the Ancient Agora and over to the neighborhood of This- sion. The sun is high in the sky and it is time for a few mezes and some refreshing ouzo in one of the area’s traditional tavernas.

Early evening and I sit in the shade of the lush Nati- onal Gardens sipping a refreshing frappe before I head back to the hotel.

And just before the taxi comes to take me from my 48-hour breather I pop into the GB Corner Concept Store, of the landmark Hotel Grande Bretagne, to select a few bottles of Greek wine, some chocolates, biscuits, home-made jams and honeys for my loved ones back home. I take a few more moments at the entrance of the King George to pick up some last- minute gifts at the KG Perfumes & More shop, its select fragrances waiting to be discovered.

At the airport check-in, my bags are full and I am complete. And as the plane takes off into a clear starry sky, I close my eyes and smile.

I am so thankful for Athens.I’ll be back soon, I promise.

A visitor in Athens