Athens in January

It is always a real treat to spend some time in Greece during the winter. There is a sweetness to the Aegean light during these months, which has a charm, all of its own. So, it’s been a real pleasure to have a few days in Athens this January.
Of course, it would be wrong to say that everything is going fine here. The effects of the economic crisis are all too evident in the amount of ‘to let’ signs on once bustling streets. But it would also be wrong to say that the people aren’t enjoying simple pleasures still. There is nothing more enjoyable than a good souvlaki, a perfect winter salad of shredded cabbage, all washed down with a well chilled beer

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Every visit to Athens has to include a visit to the famous ‘Thanasis’ kebab house on Mitropoleos Street. Again today we were not disappointed. This busy restaurant is always packed but the service is always quick
What I really love about this place is the mix of customers – the young and the old, the ‘not-so flush’ and the obviously better off, and always groups of women taking a break from a morning at the shops to have a quick lunch. These are real ‘ladies who lunch’ !

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We go for the souvlakia (kebabs) made with mince. Try as I might at home, I can never quite recreate this flavour. I’m sure it’s a mixture of different meats – definitely beef but maybe lamb too ,,,?
The kebabs at Thanasis’ are always cooked (on charcoal) to perfection. The pita bread in Greece is never of the curios slipper-shaped variety found in England. The real McCoy here are more like a thickish flat bread and the kebabs are assembled more like wraps. The popular version is the classic ‘ap’ola’ (απ´ολά) ‘with everything’ – pieces of meat, thinly sliced red onion, parsley, grilled tomatoes and a little tzatziki. I went for the plated version – absolutely perfect.
My view from the table on this beautiful, bright January day was a glimpse of the Parthenon. What more can I add.

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