Greek Pastry & Clouds Dreams do come true, specifically, ones about packing up a backpack and taking a trip around the world. But they are not without missed trains, nights in hostels with leaky roofs, and overcast days that make you want to hide in a hole. What is it about today’s twelve thousand tons of grey haze hovering overhead that makes me realize quite clearly: I don’t know a soul in Athens – or more largely, in Greece? Really haven’t cared about that fact till this exact second. Whatever. You could be lounging in the clouds and you’d soon discover they have bedbugs. You can’t stare into this haze anymore than you can stare into the sun. It’s a blinding blanket over a blue you can’t see. Makes you keep your head down. It’s supposed to stick around for days, per the forecast. Though of course, nobody is owed anything, it’s hard not to feel owed a little sunshine if you’ve made it as far away as Greece. Anyway. It’s times like these you gotta do a couple pastries, man. A mug of joe. That’s the big plan for the day. Athens bakeries have two cases, one for the narrow bricks of layer cake with angular white and brown chocolate triangles and lace-like icing patterns that you can find anywhere in Europe or the USA. The other case is for traditional Greek recipes, which are really worth going for. Geological layers of crunchy filo dough and raw honey. Jade chunky bits of crushed pistachios. Twisted cookies with golden glazed exteriors that release an aroma of baked butter when you snap them in half. Folded cookies with a filling of chopped ruby cherries and sticky sweet walnut paste. Fried donut balls to dip in honey and chocolate sauce. This is not a sit down place, but I do hide from the beginnings of rain in the awning of the shop. Cardboard box of pastries with a golden foil interior. They might as well serve them in tiny treasure chests. It’s nice here. The espresso machine grinds coffee beans louder than my thoughts. The roar of the convection oven and the bustling of nice people pulling fresh treats from the heat. The coming and going of regulars. Jagged, crispy filo dough flakes apart on my tongue. Wildflower honey melts away. Crushing pistachios with molars. Nothing else tastes like pistachio, that’s a one of a kind flavor. Speaking of flavor, have I even had real pastry before now? Or was it all various wax moldings of whipped canola oil and dyed corn syrup? Someone should investigate. Closing my eyes to the sun glare diffusing through the frankly sad and ugly sky. What am I doing here? What is at the end of this trek? Breathe in and out. Rose water. This one had an aftertaste of rosewater. Gently, though. A notch above imagination. As close to a magic spell as it gets. A sip of the coffee. Rich espresso and buzzy caffeine rocket right to the brain. Makes you stand up straighter and blink. I’ll take a ferry to some island. They’re ghost towns this time of year, but what difference does that make? There’s nobody to hang out with here, either. Funny thing, though. No matter what you do, or where you go, at some point, you sweep up the crumbs and think. Now what? Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.