Athens smells of cigarettes and diesel. Its dominant color is concrete brown, streaked with gray rain; except the Plaka, newly gentrified, now a vibrant rainbow for the Olympics.
The places I knew as a student are gone. Cheap flophouses without hot water; tawdry bars where my university friends spent their evenings. I have no nostalgia for them. I remember them as gray and lifeless, and they're associated for me with heartbreak.
I went looking for one thing: a brandy Alexander, made the real way with Metaxa and creme de cacao. Back in the day we'd found a lefty bar owned by an old red who remembered the kapitanios: these were his specialty. At the end of an evening's treasure hunt my friend found one in an upscale bar catering to the new class of local hipsters. It was 10 Euros — no longer Drachma — and it was delicious.
I loved the trip.