It was one of those natural confusions, the sort that occur when the taxi driver doesn’t speak much of your language and you speak less of his. When I got into his cab at Venizelos Airport, I had asked for the Hotel Herodion, a tourist hotel at the southern foot of the Acropolis. My intention was to observe the intermingling effect of sunlight and smog on the Parthenon from either or both of the Herodion’s rooftop jacuzzis. The driver took me to a slum near the bus station whose residents demonstrated the intermingling effect of state failure, human trafficking, and incompetent border policing. Two men of Bangladeshi mien sat on the step, observing us with the fearful hostility of those whose papers might not entirely be in order.

“No hotel,” the driver observed.

I dug out my Rough Guide, and found a map. The jabbing of the finger elicited ...