The Best Way To See The Sights Of Santorini
Before I first went to the Greek Islands, I was determined that I was going to rent a moped to zip around Mykonos and Santorini.
This seemed a splendid idea and in fact it turned out to be just that – especially on Santorini – but it’s not without caution that I approached it.
You see, I had never before been on a moped. The closest thing I had ridden to one would be a bicycle. And as the trip approached, I began to hear stories from Greek Islands veterans about the dangers of mopeds in Greece. An alarming number of people get injured and even a few a year get killed, they said.
I would not be visiting any cities so navigating through congested areas was not a concern but apparently there are other dangers, such as hitting parked cars on narrow streets, of losing control on the sides of cliffs and staring point-blank into an oncoming truck around a blind curve.
When I arrived in Greece, we had to get off the plane on the tarmac and take a bus to the terminal. Coming toward us to get on flights were people returning from the islands and several of them – at least a third – were wearing white surgical tape.
A few had bandages wrapped around their head, some were on crutches and a couple had arms in slings. I thought I was entering the post-op ward on the TV show M*A*S*H!
I turned to someone next to me and started to say something but he beat me to the point: “Yes, the mopeds.”
As it turns out, I had a blast on the mopeds. I took one everywhere on Mykonos, zooming across open highways with nobody on the road but me, through what looked to be a long-ago deserted town and even (illegally, as I later learned) through the tiny and winding streets of Mykonos Town.
Santorini was even better. By this time a friend had arrived and we made the long rides from the town of Fira to the beaches and other parts of the island. The journey was through open roads, we were wide open on the throttle and thought we were badasses like Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider. We sang “Born To Be Wild.” (We were aware of the fact, by the way, that we were never going any faster than 35 mph.)
One day, at the suggestion of a bartender, we headed toward Oia but instead of going there for the famous sunsets, we dropped down into a little fishing village. We were at Amoudi and it was I’m-having-a-moment-stop-right-in-my-tracks beautiful.
The ride out there was great, too and we stopped along the way to get great views of the caldera and loved having the freedom to hop on our “hogs” and go anyplace at anytime on the island.
I could, however, clearly see the dangers of riding mopeds. There’s loose gravel on some of the roads, delivery trucks come screaming directly at you, the local drivers don’t slow down a bit on the many steep and narrow roads and there are no guardrails on those extremely steep cliffs.
I only crashed once, tho, and that wasn’t even my fault. As I came slowly around a very sharp curve in Mykonos, the road was so slick the bike went right out from under me and I wound up sprawled out in the middle of the street. It cut off half my toenail, which hurt and was bleeding. I limped back to the hotel where the staff bandaged me up and I was back out on the town that night, feeling very fortunate that no vehicle had been coming from the other direction.
The fact this was my only incident was somewhat of a minor miracle, especially on Santorini with those two-lane roads of delivery trucks and riding along the very edge of the cliffs. And especially one night when, after partying it up at the Two Brothers bar my friend and I put girls we had met on the back of our mopeds to take them for a little joy ride before getting them back to our place.
The next day, we realized that was not the smartest move and vowed to keep our riding confined pretty much to the daytime hours.
Renting Mopeds In The Greek Islands
Things are bit different now than when I was last there but here’s the basics:
• You have to have a valid driver’s license and in some cases even a motorcycle license.
• Unlike when I was there, you now have to get a helmet. This is kind of a bummer because one of the thrills is having the wind blow your hair and in your face.
• The price is about $20/day, tho places offer discounts for multi-day rentals.
• You can also rent ATS, “beach buggies” and open-air Jeeps but they don’t seem as fun as a moped.