My primary intent with this post is to emphasize how important it is for visitors (and locals) to exercise great caution when driving on Alonnisos, because the roads are narrow, and there are other risks to be aware of as well. The balance of this article will explain how this life lesson was drilled into my consciousness a few years ago.
It was in August of 2011 that my wife and I were riding our Honda SuperCub 90 to a dinner party being held in Votsi, a small town and harbor, which is less than five minutes from the main port of Patitiri. We have rented this classic motorbike from our friend Ilias of I&M Motorbike Rental for many years now. Our British friend Geoff Elliott refers to it as our “trusty steed,” and in fact it always has been a very reliable bike for us. In any event, we entered Votsi that night and very slowly started heading east down one of the few east-west streets that go all the way through it.
At the end of that road we took a right turn to head up into the hills where the party was being held. Within a split second I heard a racing engine and peripherally saw a red vehicle approach rapidly from the right – before I could make any evasive move the car hit us quite violently. The bumper caught my right shin and I was thrown completely from the bike. Unfortunately, because my wife was on the back she fared much worse than me as the bike fell right on top her and trapped her underneath. The driver of the car, who we would later learn was quite drunk, didn’t even realize what had happened, so he popped the clutch again and hit the bike (and my wife again! She immediately screamed out in pain and told me to run the rest of the way to the party and get her mother and step-dad so they could drive us to the local clinic. I took off running and fortunately a nice young Italian man picked me up on his motorbike and sped me up to my destination.
Thankfully, in my absence, a group of local Greeks arrived at the accident scene and promptly brought ice and elevated Andi’s leg. We always will be grateful to them for their kindness and compassion that night, but regrettably in all the confusion we never had the opportunity get their names so we could properly thank them. As for the driver of the car, he finally got out of his car after he realized what happened, then inspected the front bumper for damage, but said absolutely nothing to Andi before returning to his car and speeding away from the scene.
The rest of that evening was filled with a lot of pain for Andrea, and since the clinic had no X-ray machine, we had no choice but to purchase boat tickets for the four of us to Volos on the first boat out the following morning. It was a very stressful night with very little sleep for either of us, and in order to be close to the port we actually stayed in Patitiri in a room kindly donated by a lovely Greek woman named Maria who has rental rooms located just a block away. Our dear friends Eleni and Victor from the Ostria Restaurant also showed incredible kindness by preparing some food for us since we had obviously missed the dinner party.
The next day we went to Volos on the Flying Dolphin and took a taxi to the hospital. Fortunately, X-rays proved to be negative, but the doctor made it clear that Andi would need to be on crutches for the next 10 days or more. She was in a lot of pain, but other than some anti-inflammatory medicine there was nothing more that could be done but to give her body time to heal. Naturally this accident put a damper on the rest of our trip, as it limited Andi’s mobility substantially, since walking in hilly Alonnisos is almost impossible when one is forced to use crutches to get around. She also had to travel all the way home to Chicago with them, and that led to numerous challenges for her. Based on this experience, I have to admit, that no matter how irrational this may sound, this entire experience initially left both of us feeling uninspired to ever visit Alonnisos again. In the end it took about five months for my wife’s leg to fully recover.
I want to emphasize that the intent of sharing this story is not in any way meant to give people second thoughts about visiting Alonnisos. On the contrary, it’s my heartfelt desire that as many people as possible have the opportunity to experience being on this amazing island. In addition, none of what I’ve written here should be interpreted to mean that I no longer recommend driving either a motorbike or a car on the island. The reality is if one wants to experience as much of the island as possible, a vehicle of some sort is needed.
The primary lesson for readers to take away from this story is that you must always remember to be very cautious when driving on the island so please don’t go speeding through there, because there are numerous blind corners from which both cars and motorbikes can unexpectedly emerge.
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