On 10th September 2008 we woke to a glorious morning on the island of Milos and after a cup of tea I walked briskly into the town to hire a vehicle to transport us around.
I found a place and negotiated the hire of a white, sport model, quad bike, but before being allowed to proceed with the hire I had to undergo a short driving competency test to satisfy the renter that I was safe to go out on the open road. He explained that as a rule English and French people were generally ok, but Italians, who think they know all about scooters and bikes, are not so good and are liable to fall off and injure themselves sometime during the day but the Americans, who know nothing about them at all, are absolutely hopeless and are very liable to crash and cause a multiple pile-up within seconds.
I passed the test but I couldn’t help but feel a total hypocrite because I have always told my children for safety reasons not to do anything so rash as ride a scooter or a bike like this when on a holiday but I had total disregard for my own advice and was completely euphoric about driving around like Peter Fonda in Easyrider on my four wheels as I returned to the hotel.
Once on the open road the first thing that we had to do was to negotiate our way out of the harbour and this involved a steep climb to the town high above the seafront and this proved quite difficult because it soon became obvious that the quad bike that I had rented was hopelessly underpowered. It was only 50cc and completely unsuitable for two people, the steering was light because of the weight distribution, handling was a nightmare and it was inevitable that within only a few minutes we had our first near death experience when the thing refused to take a tight hairpin bend with two of us on board and we had a confrontation with the driver of an impatient mineral lorry who was not minded to be very helpful.
I was very careful after that because the thing was very difficult to control, it was hard work, essential to keep your wits about you at all time and the slightest road undulation resulted in wobbles and panics all the way to our first stop.
With some relief we stopped at Sarakiniko beach, which is one of the famous picture postcard sites on Milos. It was approaching midday and we walked around the sleepy village of Pollonia and up to the top to the inevitable blue domed church and an uninterrupted view of the nearby island of Kimolos. We left and returned back along the coast road stopping frequently to admire the colourful rock formations, the pretty beaches and the excavations at the Papafragos rocks all of which were along the route. To be honest I was glad of the frequent stops because I didn’t feel too confident about the quad bike and the way it was behaving with the pair of us, and our luggage, on board.
In the middle of the day we arrived at the main town of Plaka, which overlooks the port of Adamas below and we parked the bike and walked into the little streets of the busy town. Next to Plaka was the village of Trypiti that had restored windmills and Christian catacombs that were sadly closed due to excavations and an ancient Greek amphitheatre that we missed because it looked like a long way to walk in the blistering heat of the afternoon.
After a couple of Mythos I was much more confident about the quad bike so we left the high level towns and returned again to the beaches on the north of the island and then we had our second near death experience when we stopped for a photo opportunity and I left the bike in reverse and when I started off again almost tipped us backwards into the deep ravine that had provided the backdrop for our dramatic biking pictures that almost proved fatally to be our last.
Later we rested and recovered from our biking experience and debated whether to use it again to return to Plaka for evening meal, but after we had reflected on the earlier dangerous incidents we decided instead to leave it safely parked up and stay instead at the harbour.