Greece: a luxury break in Athens and Hydra

The view from my hotel room, Greek Parliament

This luxury adventure started with a 2.5 hours flight delay at Heathrow. However, it didn’t dump the spirit arriving at Athens at night I couldn’t see much of the city; first impression was concrete and lights, like any other big capital. Once the cab parked in front of the hotel Athens Plaza, located at Constitution Square  (Syntagma) in the heart of the modem Athens,  my jaw dropped – wow!
The five-star hotel was everything I was expecting; my spacious and airy room had a double bed and a balcony overlooking the Syntagma Square and facing the Greek Parliament building. It wasn’t the view of Acropolis, but I was very happy and tired.


In keeping with  five-star treatment, the restaurant  was open for a late night feast at their restaurant The Parliament.  What treat! Greek wine and Mediterranean modern cuisine using local ingredients were excellent and fresh.

Greek olives, feta and aubergine pate with tomato confit and local bread
 Local Greek wine
Lobster salad
lacquered lamb chops  – amazing!
Pork filled with Greek cheese : Kefalograviera  a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk – excellent
Lemon cake,  walnut cake and semolina cake with a sweet syrup flavored with orange zest – sweet tooth or what?

Time to bed to start a Greek adventure fresh and bushy tailed the next day. Oh, did I mention the spacious white marbled bathroom? Fluffy towels too.  I had a lovely sleep at Athens Plaza, very comfortable bed and lovely bed sheets were  white and crisp.  The way I love, there’s a certain feel of luxury in lying in white and crisp bed sheets…


Food tour of Athens

Academy of Athens

The day started with a private food tour of Athens; the guide was brilliant and very informative. We first tasted a koulouri from a food street cart, apparently Greek’s first meal of the day is coffee and cigarettes, later on  they munch on one of two koulouri.  Lunch is eaten mid-late afternoon, pending on the working load. Dinner is eaten after 9pm.


I tasted my way through Athens that day, and it was a delightful way into a nations soul. Walking through the hassle and bustle of Athens central food market and seeing the vibrancy of the Greek ingredients, the huge variety of enticing spices and sweets was an experience that is engraved in my mind forever.

making loukoumades at Krinos

A traditional rounded shaped yeast leavened doughnuts loukoumades, Greek doughnuts soaked in sugar syrup, honey and cinnamon and sometimes sprinkled with sesame. Krinos is a self-service, no frills  eat in or take-away. 87, Aiolou St (Near Omonoia Square)


Greece is right in the middle of East and West lending to a very interesting, mixed and yet simple cuisine, that uses fresh ingredients and lots of herbs, not so much spices, I was told Greeks have over 800 different herbs to play with and yet mint, dill, spring onions and  leeks seen to the basis of their cuisine together with olive oil and  don’t forget lots of love.

Athens Central Market

Varvakios Agora, a stroll in the fish and meat market, 42, Athenas St.
 Fruit and Vegetable Market
 fresh pistachios at the market
 walking around the streets of Athens, soaking in the sun, the smells and the colourful spices
Zouridakis Cretan Store, traditional produce from olive oil to rusks to spoon sweets, 25 Evripidou St

Herb store we visited: Fotsis at 39, Evripidiou st. and Miran traditional deli wide range of produce at 45, Evripidiou st, they sell  divine smoked olives and deli meats.


An insight into the Mediterranean diet

The Museum of Greek gastronomy is very cute, a must if you love food. The museum is the brainchild of the lovely, and beautiful couple who is preserving Greek gastronomic history, inspiring younger generation and supporting local producers. They also have an exciting themed pop-up restaurant  ever so often. For more info :

Museum of Greek Gastronomy
3, Agiou Dimitriou Street 10554
Psyri, Athens

Tel.: +30 211 8009862
Mobile: +30 6948-749161

E-mail: [email protected]

 A traditional and delightful Greek custom is the offering of spoon sweets to guests as a symbol of hospitality – Love it!

next on the route to the cookery class was the Bougatsadiko, a traditional pie shop at 1, Iroon sq.

Bougatsa is a specialitty pie filled with custard, cheese or mince beef  in Northern Greece.

Bougatsa filled with custard – deliciously crisp flake pastry and smooth custard

Greek cookery class in Athens

I also  attended a cookery class, there I learnt to make authentic I need more practise the rolling the vines with a terrific teacher, Maria. Delicious cigarettes made of with 1/3 rice,
1/3 herbs and 1/3 finally minced onions. The fresh vine leaves need to be collected beginning of Summer, when they a refresh and soft, or with the  magic of supermarket  they can be found and bought frozen.  Soaked them and prep the  filling. We made  vegetarian fillings but can be filled with meat too.


Afterwards, we made a pie.  The pastry made with yogurt, sheep butter and flour, a very light and tasty pastry filled with aubergine, Greek feta and local  grated cured cheese.


Next in the menu was Tzatziki, strained snow-white velvety yogurt, cool grated cucumber, chopped dill, salt and plenty of Greek olive oil.We were then ready for a feast with local traditional restaurant and delicious homely recipes we cooked. Not bad for someone who had not much an idea of Greek food.

Afterwards the feast more delightful food from Taverna Klimataria washed down with local Greek wine. If you have the opportunity this cookery class is highly recommended.

Sightseeing in Athens

A private tour at the Acropolis is  a must if you like history or not; it’s an amazing sight that depicts humanity and  it was beyond my imagination and stupendous  views of Athens, entrance costs €12/each.  The museum is equally as the powerful experience,  in there you are up close and personal with the  ancient works  as well and  interpretation of originals.


view of Athens from the Acropolis
There is a very swish museum too,  where you can get up close and personal with Greek history and more details and originals from the Acropolis

walking around Athens

Walking around Athens is such an exciting adventure, Leaving the Acropolis at  north  side exit leads to downtown Athens: Ancient Agora, Pandrossou Street Market, Plaka and Monastiraki – Traditional neighbourhoods of Athens.  Part of this route is charming and doesn’t have a  resemblance to the city, and more like  small island.


I had a artemis ice cream – strawberry and chocolate nibs

hidden doorways leading to secret addresses in Athens – coffee and cigarettes seemed to be the order of the day….

flea market


an installation by BeforeLight , a Greek based creative group that uses light creatively
At Psirri, next to Monastiraki Square, we found some cute and quirky streets, and it’s the location of famous  leather shop called Melissinos, who has been selling sandals and leather goods for over three generations. Be aware it’s cash only. Sandals start at €35; they are very comfortable.

eating and drinking in Athens – my lux experience

Varoulko seaside – a Michelin experience Varoulko is a unique seafood experience  in Piraeus since 1987. Unique style of seafood cuisine created by Lefteris Lazarou, who has one Michelin star. Lazarou was the first chef in Greece to cook a seafood menu at a fine dining restaurant and to introduce the public to less known and previously forgotten or less well known types of fish. Many of his dishes became very successful and are still recognised as all time classics.  The wine of choice for the evening was Greek Boutaris Matsa from the Attica region, grape variety: 100%Malagouzia.  Dinner was a tasty Orzo cooked with crayfish or shrimp, Limnio wine, dried hot red pepper flakes (boukovo) and Parmesan cheese, Slice of fish (white grouper, sea bream, common dentex) with cauliflower mousse, vegetable ratatouille and cuttlefish ink sauce and a selection of desserts: Lemon cube with Lychee sorbet and sugar candied roses; Almond mousse with violet tea and red fruits sorbet and chocolate macarons with chocolate peals and ice cream with cocoa nibs. Perfect finish to a perfect meal.
Varoulko seaside set in an unique location
fish is at the heart of Varoulko seaside
Michelin star chef : Lefteris Lazarou and his many awards

Point A – a Luxurious Greek Mezze and Molecular cocktails

fresh: Gin, lavender syrup. Cucumber, homemade ginger beer, served with
crostini topped with sour cream, cucumber and salmon.

Ouzo magic: Ouzo lime, simple syrup, pink peppercorn, basil leaves, served with a ceviche shrimp.

Dinner at the 5-star hotel Irodion at the rooftop bar called Point A, with fantastic and breathtaking views of the Acropolis. The mezze menu is endless and flavourful. The cocktails are well-crafted.
Each molecular cocktail comes with a small morsel of deliciousness.
Cocktail starts at €9 and special molecular/tapas concept €12/each.  The hotel has been sympathetic restored recently giving a modern twist to a traditional area of Athens. Lefty, the mixologist certainly knows his craft. Bar set menu from €28. It’s a very good deal.

Hilton Athens

Another fabulous place to eat and drink is  at top floor at the  Hilton Athens, another place in a prime location with fantastic views over the town with a service that is second-to-none, as you would expect from a 5-star establishment.  It didn’t disappoint.

spectacular views over Athens
Surf and turf main was excellent and so was the service

Greek coffee and a enormous selection of desserts – all highly recommended


short stop at Poros on the way to Hydra

Hydra is the richest of Greeks Islands, due to its strategic location proved to be commercially advantageous for the Mediterranean grain market. It used to the most well known island before losing the crown to Mikonos and Santorini some years ago, due to its traditions and beliefes.  Located in the Saronic Islands in the Aegean sea with an area of 52 km2. Hydra is a small and perfectly formed island, where no cars are allowed, the method of transportation is donkey and water taxis to other sides of the island, the centre is so compact that everyone walks given the island a unique charm.. The houses in this island are under strict building regulations, no new houses are allowed to be erected for the time being anyway.  Hydra has preserved its integrity, and it’s  one of the most expensive property portfolio within the Greek Islands. Everything is a short walk in the main part of the island. There are bus /taxi boats to reach the other sides of the island.

How to get to Hydra

hydrofoils and catamarans from Piraeus,  about 69 km away, serve Hydra,
as do daily island ferry boats at €25.50 each way. (The ferries take about three hours for
the transit; the hydrofoils and catamarans substantially less
approximately 2 hours) The island also has ferries to Aegina, Poros,
Spetses, Nafplion and Monemvasia.
island live consists in the main part of lots of shops, bars,
restaurants and hotels. Variety of bars overlooking the harbour and
other small ports. It’s a tranquil and idyllic life. This Mid-October
and the sun is shining, and the cocktails and food are flowing… In an
eternal holiday mode in Hydra.
The fast pace of life in Hydra, Greece
learning to make traditional Greek almonds sweets at Tsangaris pastry shop, almonds was considered an ancient symbol of fertility and present in many festivities and special occasions.

Where to eat, drink and sleep in Hydra

There are endless choices of restaurants and bars on the island. Impossible to go hungry or thirsty.  I ate homemade cooked food and fresh seafood at Kodylenia and had cocktails at Hydronetta, a fantastic waterfront bar with spellbound water views and great spot for a dive.  Highly recommended.


A suggested hotels: Bratsera Hotel  and Four Seasons

That’s was the end of this luxurious adventure… until next time!

disclosure: I was a guest of  Region of AtticaAll views are my own. I retained, as always,  full editorial
control over this review.



  1. Georg Wittmann
    November 7, 2014 / 8:19 am

    Great post! Love the pictures. Athens is a wonderful and vibrant city, which you captured perfectly. And the food … to die for! Your blog is great! x

  2. November 7, 2014 / 1:01 pm

    Hi Georg, thanks so much for stopping by. We had fun! Cheers!