The sun warms my face and the brisk winter weather makes me feel alive. Winter in Athens: a clear blue sky stubbornly holding on, despite what the calendar says. Wrapped in my cozy, oversized cape, I wonder to myself if anything could possibly dampen my bright mood. A myriad of choices stand waiting for me to fill my days with. Shopping, dining, having fun, exploring, a night on the town…

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Shopping: With Syntagma in the heart of the city center as the destination, my steps take me past stores whose window displays exude an air of cutting-edge contemporary design and refinement. Brand name clothing and accessories from the world’s leading fashion designers line irresistibly fashionable Voukourestiou Street, are scattered throughout the chic Kolonaki district and fill the city’s most exclusive shopping center, Golden Hall.

Dining: Between my yearning to shop and my fatigued soles, dozens of cozy, cheery cafes, chocolateries, tearooms. Side-by- side, as a whole and each in its own distinct way, they highlight the elevated aesthetics of this magnificent city. From gourmet taste treats with a Mediterranean flair and a priceless view of the Acropolis at the GB Roof Garden or Wine Master Classes at the GB Cellar, to dozens of meze eateries and traditional tavernas whose mouthwatering fare is served accompanied by a carafe of mulled wine -the hottest trend for breaks this winter season, or a soothing “rakomelo” (warm honeyed raki) for a true shot of energy.

Having Fun: Replete with images and delightful delicacies, I choose one of the 10 themed rooms in which to play Europe’s greatest escape game and enter into the world of forensics and detective work at Athens Clue in the heart of the city center. Or I take one of the dozens of roads encircling the hill of the Acropolis, roads bathed in light that take you back in time as you walk through the Plaka or Monastiraki districts. Or I can explore even further out and choose one of the dozens of foot trails on Mount Parnitha, the mountain bordering Athens, whose centuries-old trees and rare flora and fauna are a life-giving breath of fresh air for the city.

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Exploring: The Gastronomy Museum, which joined the city’s rich museum scene in June 2014, or the Onassis Cultural Center, living proof of the cultural blossoming this great city is experiencing once again, or the dozens of art galleries featuring the works of both up-and-coming and firmly-established artists.

A Night on The Town: Famed for its lively nightlife, Athens is a pulsating entertainment mecca with something for everyone. Dozens of bars, with soft or loud, modem or traditional Greek music. Live music stages for every taste and preference. Small clubs that are back with a bang showcasing established artists, or large live music clubs with their impressive shows, whose music is based on the elaborately melodious bouzouki and that make your soul soar and your mood surge.

Leaving to Come Back Soon: At the airport check-in counter, my bags full of what Athens has given me, I always make the same wish. To return. Again and again. To the capital city that makes me feel so naturally at home. To the “secret” spots I discovered with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, explored with the enthusiasm of an adolescent, enjoyed as an adult and admired as a traveller. To the city that steals your heart in its warm embrace.

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