A wonderful short 48 hour break in Athens is absolutely possible.
Firstly though, during the summer months, keep hydrated, wear a sunhat and start off with the Acropolis, the towering citadel whose foundations were laid 1,500 years before the birth of Jesus, still shiny in the morning sun, despite the endless ravages of conquerors.
Finally, after years of talks, the Greek Ministry of Culture is putting forward a plan for the restoration of the ancient walls surrounding the Acropolis. (Entry to the Acropolis Museum (theacropolismuseum.gr) costs €10)
As you head down the slope, you may well hear faint echoes of ancient applause and riotous blood lust in the Theatre of Dionysius, where 15,000 spectators once watched the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripedes and their descendants the gladiatorial games of the ancient Romans.
The remains of the olden agoras are also ghostly, but the plaka, the old Turkish quarter buzzes with life. By day, tourists cram its winding narrow streets to shop for souvenirs and peek into the old mosques and churches.
After a bracing swim, we head to enjoy that tavern’s and bars ringing to the music of the bouzouki and the bonhomie resulting from over indulgence in ouzo and retsina. Bustling Syntagma Square in the heart of the Athens buzzes after dark.
However, if you prefer something more sedate, Athens has many beautiful hidden courtyards and gardens where you can sip your drinks and feast on local delicacies.
From the modern town, a breath of fresh air is still possible in Constitution Square, dominated on one side by the 19th century Royal Palace adapted for use by the Greek parliament and on another by the venerable Gran Bretagne hold, famous for its famous guests including Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill.
In close proximity, Kolanki Square is prettier and lively with shoppers and al fresco diners. And Athens’ museum of archaeology is well worth a visit. Athenians and tourists alike enjoy the golden beaches at Glyfada, just 10 kilometres from the city.
We stayed at the beautiful Seaview Hotel, set on the Athenian Riviera, a uniquely Urban Chic place with direct access to the city centre. To get there, we used Sky Express, which travels from Larnaca to Athens with relatively cheap fares and impressive service.