Friday 1st July 2022
Well, this Turned out to be Quite a Day
It was Caroline’s last full day today, so I asked her if there was anywhere new she wanted to visit or somewhere we’d already been that she would like to see again. She chose Antiparos, as we’d only seen one beach there, plus a bit of the main town.
With that in mind, we made an early start and once again opted for a cheap breakfast at Ragoussis Bakery, close to our hotel in Parikia. This time, I just ordered a coffee and ate the last protein cookie I’d brought from the UK.
Pounta Ferry and Exploring Antiparos
We took the 9:10 bus from Parikia to Pounta and managed to catch the 9:30 ferry across to Antiparos, arriving at 9:45. Rather than staying on foot, we wanted to see more of the island, so we discussed various options for getting around. A tour bus departed at 11:00 to the caves and various beaches, but when we tried to find out more about the cost, the people in the sales office weren’t very helpful, so we gave up and decided to make our own plans.
I asked at a rental shop how much it cost to hire various vehicles: quad bikes, mopeds and e-bikes. The mopeds were the cheapest, but although I have a motorbike license, I’ve never ridden one in Greece, and the idea of taking a passenger on the back felt even riskier. The quad bikes seemed expensive, and we both wanted to spend as little as possible, so we eventually settled on e-bikes instead. The total cost wasn’t much cheaper than the quad bike, but it made a difference once you added fuel for the quad. Neither of us had used an electric bike before, so it seemed like a fun experience.
After brief instructions on using the bikes, we set off south along the coastal road. It’s only 12km from the main town down to Agios Georgios on the southwest coast, so we had plenty of time to stop. The e-bikes were great; it was easy to make progress with only a small amount of effort to keep the pedals turning. Caroline had a newer bike, while mine was an older one that the owner of the rental shop had been using as her personal transportation, but they both seemed to work just fine.
Our first stop was Glyfa Beach, just a few kilometres south of the town. We parked the bikes and had a walk out onto the sand to see what it was like:
The sand was slightly coarse, and there were a few rocks close to the shore in the water, but it seemed like a pretty nice beach. I took a quick dip while Caroline explored further down the beach. We decided not to stay too long as we wanted to see as much as we could with the bikes. Plus, we figured we could always stop here again on the way back again.
With that idea in mind, we decided not to stop again on the way to Agios Georgios but to head straight there and work our way back, stopping as we found places to see.
We briefly turned towards the famous caves, but the steep road proved too much for the e-bikes, and neither of us was keen enough to force our way up the hill. I’d seen the caves in 2017, and although they were good, I told Caroline that I didn’t think she was missing much if we skipped them. We quickly turned our bikes around and got back on the main road.
It didn’t seem to take time to reach Agios Georgios. The road was fairly smooth and easy to ride on, aside from a couple of hilly sections that did need a bit of effort to avoid grinding to a halt, even with maximum power from the bike motor. Half of my battery had gone by the time we arrived, but Caroline’s was still on a full charge. I hadn’t been using much assistance either, so my older bike wasn’t as efficient (probably it wasn’t quite fully charged when they gave it to me either).
It’s a slightly strange village; most roads are unpaved dirt tracks, so we had fun coasting our bikes downhill towards the sea over the bumpy terrain. It was a bit early for lunch, but we found a taverna/cafe called KOKOMO and decided it was a good place to stop for a drink. I ordered a beer, and Caroline had a fruit smoothie.
However, we were quite hungry by the time we’d finished our drinks. Rather than trying to find somewhere else later, it seemed to make sense to eat where we were, so we settled on a snack lunch: I had yoghurt with honey while Caroline had a vegetarian sandwich.
We then returned on our bikes and continued to the beach at the southwest corner of the town. It was pretty windy, and the beach itself wasn’t that nice – the water is very shallow in places, but mostly because it seems to be a rock shelf that extends some way out into the sea towards the small islands opposite. Once you get off the shelf, it’s much deeper.
We put down towels, and I had a quick swim, but given the wind conditions and it not being the nicest beach, we only stayed about 15 minutes before deciding to move on.
Soros Beach and The Accident…
Heading out of Agios Georgios was much more effort than arriving, as it’s mostly uphill. My bike battery was starting to fade, so I had to work moderately hard to get moving. We reached our next stop, Soros Beach, after about 10-15 minutes. The last part down to the beach was quite a steep downhill – fun to get there, probably not as fun coming back, I realised.
The northern part of the beach was pretty empty, but further south, there were sunloungers and what looked to be a couple of nice-ish hotels. Again, though, the beach wasn’t amazing: quite coarse sand and the water quickly gets deep. Combined with some reasonable waves from the wind, it wasn’t an especially great place to stop, but we made an effort to stay longer, knowing that we didn’t have many more places to visit and it was still early afternoon. We managed about 30 minutes at the beach before agreeing to move on.
Most of the time, on the bikes, I’d been riding ahead of Caroline and then waiting for her to catch up again (I’m a bit more athletic and find cycling too slowly a bit dull). As we set off away from Soros, I decided to try and blast up the steep hill knowing that my motor wasn’t doing much at this point due to the weak battery. As the bikes are quite heavy, momentum helps, and I barely made it to the road without getting off and pushing. I could see Caroline towards the bottom of the hill, so I decided to gently start along the road, going as slowly as possible to give her time to catch up again.
I made it just past the hairpin bend and steep hill near Apantima beach before deciding to stop for Caroline to catch up again – I was surprised she hadn’t already appeared as I had been coasting and pedalling very slowly since getting back on the main road. A few minutes passed, and there was still no sign of her, so I started to get concerned and contemplated turning back when a car pulled over next to me and asked if I was cycling with anyone. I said yes, and my fears were confirmed when she told me that Caroline had fallen off her bike and hurt herself. She said another lady had stopped with her and was going to take her to the medical centre in the town but that I should turn back and try to catch them. I set off as quickly as I could back toward Soros, and a few minutes later, a car flashed me from the other direction and pulled over.
Caroline was in the back holding a cut and bruised elbow but seemed okay and said to follow the car and meet at the medical centre. We had no choice but to leave her bike on the side of the road, though in hindsight, I probably should have gone back to it and swapped it for mine!
The ride back to town seemed to take forever: I pedalled as hard as possible, but the battery was now completely dead, so the motor was only weighing me down. I also cycled into the wind, so my progress felt almost non-existent.
I had no idea where the medical centre was in Antiparos town, so my only option was to return to the rental shop and ask them for directions. Fortunately, the lady who had taken Caroline was a local person who knew the shop’s owners and had already explained the situation, so when I arrived, they weren’t surprised to see me on my own and gave me directions to the clinic.
Despite being told that the clinic was just around the corner, I succeeded in getting lost and ended up on the far side of the town (my sense of direction isn’t great). I had just stopped to check the map on my phone when Caroline texted me to say she was out of the clinic and heading back toward the port. I said I was close by and would meet her as soon as possible. I made my way east towards the seafront and bumped into her.
Having only glimpsed her briefly in the car on the way to the clinic, I wasn’t sure how badly injured she might be. I was relieved to see her up and walking around and only bandaged around the knee and elbow. I got off my bike and walked slowly with her towards the port and sat her down at one of the tavernas. I got some water from a nearby shop, and we both took a minute or two to rehydrate. I was exhausted from the hard cycle back, but at least I was still in one piece!
I was keen to find out what had happened. She described getting back onto the main road from Soros, then shortly afterwards being overtaken by a couple of cars and possibly a lorry or van. One of them passed by a bit too closely, and the turbulence it created blew her off course and onto some gravel at the side of the road. Realising she was losing control, she half-fell, half-jumped off the bike, landing on her elbow and knee as she skidded onto a stony area beside the road. Fortunately, another driver had witnessed the accident and immediately stopped to see if she was okay. Then, another driver had set off to find me when Caroline explained I was further up the road somewhere.
Naturally, I felt pretty terrible for not waiting for her as soon as I got back onto the main road, but she assured me it wasn’t my fault and would have happened regardless of whether I’d been there.
Back to Paros
The doctor at the clinic advised Caroline to get checked out at the medical centre in Parikia the next day, but she thought it might be a good idea to go straight away if she needed further treatment. We walked slowly back to the port to wait for the next boat back to Paros, dropping my bike back at the rental shop. The owners were good and said not to worry about the other bike; they would arrange to collect it later.
We made it back to Parikia without further incident. However, Caroline’s knee started stiffening up, which made sitting on the bus quite uncomfortable as there was no room to straighten her leg. Fortunately, the main clinic is just opposite our hotel, so I went and dropped our bags in my room and then escorted her to the centre. There were a few others waiting to be seen, so I resigned myself to a long wait and was surprised when a doctor came out 5 minutes later, spoke to each person waiting and took us straight into the treatment room when Caroline explained what had happened.
She ended up needing a few stitches in her arm just below the elbow, plus a tetanus shot. They rebandaged her knee after washing out the wound and determining that it didn’t need any stitches. We had to pay for the tetanus shot at the pharmacy next door, plus a course of antibiotics, but the rest of the treatment was free, which I was very surprised about. I had assumed she would need to pay and then claim it back on her travel insurance.
We got back to the hotel late afternoon and I suggested we took an hour or so to rest up and recover, then meet back downstairs for dinner if Caroline felt up to it.
I messaged Caroline at 7:30, and she was keen to head back out and have some food. She said she was quite sore and stiff but could walk and didn’t want to spend her last evening stuck in the hotel room. We walked slowly north along the coastal road and chose a different Italian restaurant called Filoxenia. I ordered a prawn risotto with saffron, which was nice although I wasn’t expecting to have to shell the prawns myself, but I managed. Caroline couldn’t have any alcohol due to the antibiotics, so I also got 0.5 litres of white wine all to myself (silver linings!) For dessert, I had a nice chocolate lava cake with cream.
To make the most of her last evening, Caroline suggested we stop at the cafe outside our hotel, so we sat and chatted while I had a cocktail and she had a soft drink, then went back to our rooms to sleep off a rather eventful day!