72 Hours in Athens

72 Hours in Athens

It's no time at all. 72 hours. Especially if you haven't been home in 8 months. I took a little detour to Athens, after returning from a week long buying trip to Paris in early October, because well, why not? When you're in Europe, everything seems close! Now I know this post is a little belated, but I wanted to share my very brief (three days to be exact), and utterly wonderful visit to my favorite city with you. I may be a little biased, because it's home, but you may just see it through my eyes by the time we're done.


The flight from Charles de Gaulle to El Venizelos airport in Athens was a speedy 3 hours. I arrived with a suitcase full of dirty clothes - trying to keep up with the fashion scene in Paris is no joke! - and had to make do with whatever I could find rummaging around in my old dresser drawers. I resurrected dresses, jeans and tops that would have best been left where they belonged - in the past.


My first day back, I boarded the suburban railway and headed for downtown Athens, determined to get a little culture and a lot of inspiration from the sights and sounds of the city; the flavors and aromas of the cuisine; the infectious energy of the people. First stop was to the shops - Zara is a favorite! Then, off to the famed Ariston bakery, for cheese pies. Now, these are no ordinary cheese pies. Ariston has been baking since 1910, and the cheese pie you are privileged enough to sink your teeth into, follows the original recipe (no alternations!). The pie is made with dough instead of the paper-thin fillo, which is also considered custom in Greece. While the bakery has expanded its offerings, to include the equally popular spinach pies, baked breads and other goods, the cheese pie remains a traditional favorite, and a must try if you're ever in Athens. 


The famed Ariston bakery, established in 1910.


This is where the magic happens. Best cheese pies around!


For those of you who are familiar with my obsessive coffee habits, Greece is entirely to blame for making me such a coffee snob. More than just a morning ritual, coffee is customarily sipped slowly, and at leisure, over good conversation, for what may be hours at a time. Spilling over sidewalks and nestled into side streets the lively, smoked-filled cafés throughout the city's charming neighborhoods suggest that despite a crippling recession, this pleasurable pastime is very much alive and well. 


 Coffee with a view


One of my favorite coffee shops in downtown Athens, just so happens to be in a bookstore! Much like a Barnes and Noble, Public is a multi-story book lovers nook, with a tremendous collection of volumes in both English and Greek. The top floor houses a modern café with spectacular panoramic views overlooking historic Syntagma Square. Set against the majestic Hymettus mountain (my home is located on the other side!), Parliament dominates the foreground with the iconic Grande Bretagne and King George Hotels at top left, where celebs and notables have rubbed elbows over dinner and drinks for decades. 


Not a bad way to spend an afternoon :)


How thrilling it is to watch the world go by from up above. Elevation can really put things into perspective, whether you're caffeinating from the third floor of your favorite bookstore coffeeshop, or cruising over the Atlantic at 36,000 feet. I spent the afternoon humbled by this breathtaking view, catching up with my mom over cappuccinos, and for the first time in a long time, paying absolutely no mind to the hour. 


 Coffee art, on point.


 With all the food I've snapped, you'd think that I spent the entirety of my trip eating. I overdose on Greek food when I'm home, because I don't get nearly enough of it in Philly. Below are a few of my favorite things, snapped from an evening out at a neighborhood taverna - Greek salad, Tzatziki with extra garlic (just the way I like it!), fried Saganaki cheese, and Horta (boiled wild greens) with lemon and olive oil. And that's just to start! I'm particularly excited to eat these dishes again next month, when I'm home for the holidays. What's your favorite cuisine?


A traditional Greek spread.


Many of the designers we've introduced at LILA Fashion International are Greek. And aside from their immeasurable talent, we can't help but have a soft spot for them because of our shared heritage. Whenever Lisa (the sis and biz partner) or I visit Greece, we always make a point to catch up with our designers over coffee or in studio and see what's in store for the coming season. I stopped by the studio of Vice Versa, during my recent visit, for a glimpse of the collection that will be debuting in the coming months for Spring/Summer '17. I was particularly excited to see the development of a few new styles, which I cannot wait to share with you (and snap up for my own closet!), once the designs have been finalized. Stay tuned for the details.


So many colors!


The Vice Versa studio overwhelms the senses with the rich aroma of raw Greek leather and a vibrant selection of colors befitting every season and occasion. This is where ideas are bred; where styles and colors are tested and retested; where every single handbag is diligently and lovingly handmade. This is the art of the craft. 


 A peek inside the studio.


 A favorite - the playful barrel bag! Available in the LILA web shop!


I'm such a huge fan of the envelope clutch! Do you like?


A twist on the traditional saddle bag... #LOVEIT


I spent my last day in Athens enjoying a relaxing excursion to Vouliagmeni, a seaside suburb of Athens, where we stopped to have lunch, and then stopped again for coffee with a not-to-be-missed view. This time, it was by the water, and the setting was spectacular.  You'll notice I'm wearing a strapless dress - in early October! Despite the season, Athens felt like springtime, with sunny weather days and cool gentle breezes that were pure delight. 


Cappuccino, seaside. 


It doesn't get any better than this...


I'm always open to topic suggestions for the LILA blog! If there's a subject you'd like me to cover, I'd love to hear from you. All for now! xo