Time for food. Obviously in Athens one must try a Greek salad and, equally obviously, the best place is the luxury hotel that is the gal’s temporary home, the Grande Bretagne (GB) in Syntagma Square.
Try a Greek salad in Detroit, apparently, and it includes beetroot. Eat the real McCoy, here in the December sunshine in Athens, and it is great big lumps of fresh feta, and onion, and tomatoes, and parsley, and olive oil and vinegar.
At the GB, they also toss in barley rusk, and oregano. The gal ate her salad with a glass of Agiorgitiko Tsantalis from Nemea, in the Peloponnese.
The view from room 614 of the hotel is so spectacular – right up to the illuminated Acropolis – that I opted for room service, always a treat when the busy business-person is off-duty, for a few hours.
You can choose what you want, eat it how you like. A good, simple stand-by is always roast chicken. Here it arrived with mushrooms and tomatoes, but I left the fries (sorry to waste food). The breads were superb.
It was a Greek meal, Greek butter, Greek olive oil in a fabulous two-container bottle from which you can pour either oil or balsamic vinegar, separately. I am told that these bottles are the best sellers in the hotel boutique downstairs.
Another night I was part of a party of six up on the GB Roof Garden. It does have an open-air terrace but it also has a large covered area, which is where we sat, looking up yet again at the illuminated Acropolis.
If you do not have an A-view, are you really in Athens? Now, getting ready for Christmas, the ceiling of the Roof Garden is hung with twinkling stars. Downstairs, the tree is being put up.
Whatever is happening politically is not affecting the determination of these super people. They are Mediterranean. They know how to enjoy life. Last time I dined here, King Constantine was at the next table.
Tonight, those around were local business people and Americans. Downstairs, the Winter Garden is, as always, filled with chattering local people swopping news.
This is such healthy eating – as long as you avoid the overly-sugary desserts. The breakfast buffet is another of those that warrant inclusion in the Ten Best list.
Just as Twelve Apostles in Camps Bay gives a cruise-like feeling as you sit more or less cantilevered over the ocean, here you sit looking across at the big-A. The buffet goes on for ever.
There are three types of Greek yoghurt, full-fat, two-percent or zero fat. I feel so at home: my supermarket now has Greek yoghurt in all three strengths but, really, only the full-fat gives true taste.
There are a dozen cereals, carefully named in English and Greek, and whole and cut fruits, and so many cheeses you think every animal in the mountainous countryside is busily making cheese, non-stop.
There are four kinds of honey, from Crete, from fir trees or orange blossom anywhere, and from pine trees.. There are pots of local jams, from Geodi.
I am told I can now buy pots of all these goodies, in the hotel boutique downstairs (they will make lovely take-home gifts)Oh yes, there are lots of different rice puddings, apparently a staple breakfast dish for energy-seeking Greeks.
And there are local as well as international breads. They love little breads filled with things, say cheese or spinach. Perhaps these are related to the pirozhki and other variants in Eastern Europe.
Whatever, they are easy to eat as you discuss the day’s news with your friends. At the next table, now, at breakfast, four local mamas, well-upholstered and well-groomed, have taken platefuls of little filled-breads, getting their money’s worth here at Athen’s iconic luxury hotel. And now, gal, it is time to hit the shops…