Sunday, November 8, 2009

Moped adventures in Greece

We packed so much into our week that it is hard to know how to hit the highlights. Leaving Athens, we took a bus to Nafplio, a little town on the Aegean Sea. We stayed there partly because it was relatively close to two ancient sites we wanted to see- the best-preserved ancient theater at Epidavros and the ruins of Mycenae, a citadel dating from 15th century B.C.

Somehow I got the idea in my head that it would be fun to rent a moped to do our sight-seeing. I’d never even ridden a moped. The only places renting them gave us a moment’s pause; they didn’t exactly look like places where honest and forthright business took place. But we paid 25 Euros, left Aaron’s passport as collateral (yikes!) and got a bright yellow Navigator Tiger, along with two stylish helmets and the all-important map. Off we went!

Aaron quickly saw that for our bargain price we had gotten a vehicle without working gauges- no speedometer, no gas gauge. Super! We had no idea how far we could go on one little tank so we started checking it every time we stopped.

I didn’t realize just how windy it would seem going 40 or 50 miles an hour without a windshield. As we got up to cruising speed, I was nearly strangled by my helmet as it lifted up and blew back. It was too big for my little pin head. As much as we tightened the strap, it didn’t seem to make much difference. I momentarily considered stuffing my bikini into the helmet to fill up the extra space- just momentarily though.

The first leg of our trip went great. The theater at Epidavros was completely worth the 18 mile trip there. Unfortunately, the other site was 20 miles in the opposite direction from Nafplio. We got a bit turned around but ate a picnic lunch and eventually got headed toward Mycenae. By then the road seemed rather long. The seats were clearly not designed for long-distance comfort for two riders. The sky started to look a bit ominous and I began to worry that if it rained the site might close early. Since we'd taken a wrong turn, we were a bit behind schedule.

Just as we made our final turn and began the final stretch the moped engine died. Yup, you guessed it- we ran out of gas. It turns out that in a 5-liter tank, even when it looks like there is “plenty” of gas left it can go pretty quick. There we were in rural Greece, where all you see for miles on end are olive groves and orange groves. We had come through a town but couldn’t really remember how far back that had been. Aaron pushed the Tiger to the side of the road and we rode on fumes down a hill for maybe 500 yards. Then we walked. Luckily, it was less than two miles to the nearest station and it didn’t rain. The whole thing was extra funny because Aaron and I barely said a thing. The engine died; I asked, “Are we out of gas?” Aaron answered, “I think so,”and we turned around and started walking. Neither of us got mad; I think we both expected it to happen.

All’s well that ends well. Mycenae was still open, we had plenty of time to look around and nearly had the place to ourselves. After another twenty miles back to Nafplio it was nearly dark and we were cold and saddle sore. We traded the moped for Aaron's passport and when the owner asked if we’d had any problems, we said, “None at all!”


Merley95 said...

Just to be clear folks- we rented one moped for the both of us. It looks roomy enough in the photo of me riding, but imagine Jackie on there too!

Cody said...

I feel compelled to note on behalf of anyone that has ever worked with Chad that what you rode was in fact a scooter, not a moped.

Merley95 said...

Clarification noted. However, this was a special type of scooter, as I had to push it for quite a distance before we reached our destination. So by requiring human power, our scooter was similar to a tradiational moped.