The Athens depicted in My Life in Ruins ( MLIR , 2009; aka Driving Aphrodite , DA ) is known through an array of confl icting representations including noise, smog, migrant groups, dirty industrial buildings and squares, and the twin vantage points of Plaka and the Acropolis. This human and automobile mayhem cannot be properly conveyed in travel books but is constantly alluded to in global routes and rumours. The imagery of this ancient city – a cosmopolis of European modernity in its own right – fl uctuates between what Hutnyk saw in Calcutta as ‘a defi nition of obscenity’ ( 1996 : 8) or a cornucopia of joy, and an Apollonian school for contemporary cultural tourists who, though diminished today in numbers, continue to pay homage to its ancient civilization like the old Grand Tourists (Brodsky-Porges 1981 ; Towner 1985 ; Urry 1995 ; Urry and Larsen 2011 ). MLIR ’s insertion into this network of neo-pilgrimages brought together different phantasmagoric nodes from the European margins (Greece) and the Western media centres (Los Angeles, Chicago and Canada). Even today amid the most debilitating global economic crisis that bankrupt Greece faces, Athens, site of the second twenty-fi rst-century Olympics and a regional telecommunication and transport node, ranks among what we call the ‘global cities’ (Eade 2001 ; Sassen 2001, 2002; Duval 2007 ). But as much as it appears self-evident why Athens was chosen as the primary stage for the shooting of Nia Vardalos’ 2009 fi lm, the cosmological and geopolitical depth of the case invites closer inspection.