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Thu Jul 14 2016: Gifts That We Receive

So why the big rush to get to Pula?

It's this young lady's 13th birthday! Neda's niece is officially a teenager now!

The whole family comes out to celebrate Tea's birthday. Four generations!

We showed Neda's grandmother all the pictures we took while we were in Montenegro. She was tearing up at some of the photos of her childhood home and she marveled at how much Tivat had changed. But she still recognized the boardwalk where she first met Neda's grandfather. She was so delighted that we got a chance to meet her side of her family and wanted to hear all about them. We felt very honoured to be able to provide these picture and stories from her youth!

Tea showed an interest in Neda's cross-stitching

It really meant a lot to Neda when Tea asked her to show her how to cross-stitch. The two of them huddled over the cloth and pattern as Neda guided her through her first stitches. Quality aunt/niece bonding time! She's a pretty special kid, she knows how to engage adults and draw them out. While most young people her age seem to be self-absorbed, she'll show an interest in what the adults are doing. I know I felt pretty special when Tea asked me to teach her how to play the guitar last summer.

For her birthday present, Aunt Neda gave Tea the red rocks that she collected from the beaches in Santorini. The two of them like collecting things like leaves, coins, rocks. Thankfully Tea hasn't gotten around to collecting small animals yet. We might need to get her her own tankbag for her next birthday...

My birthday present to Tea: a ride around the block! Note to Neda: My gift was totally better than yours! :)

Tea was born while we were living in Canada and Neda has always regretted not being as present during her childhood. Now that we are regularly on the continent, we want to make sure that we're a part of her life and that we're there for her special occasions as much as possible.

These sunflowers were probably planted shortly before we left Pula! Now, on our return they're taller than Neda!

Once again, Iva has graciously invited us to stay at her apartment in Medulin, while she temporarily moves in with her mom in Pula. We've returned to Istria at the peak of high season, and even if we could afford the exorbitant cost of rentals here, we'd be hard-pressed to find any vacancy anyway.

The sleepy town of Medulin has transformed into a bustling metropolis overnight, bars and restaurants that were shuttered a few months ago are now packed, patrons on their patios spilling out onto the sidewalk. Even on our bikes, it's almost impossible to squeeze out of the little laneway in front of Iva's apartment, foreign-plated cars are parked haphazardly everywhere. It's been only a couple of months since we left Istria but it's such a completely different place now.

Getting away from the crowds and relaxing at Iva's place

Medulin is a little resort town about 7 kms away from Pula. People come here for one reason only, to enjoy the pebbly beaches and soak up the sunny weather on the Adriatic coast. Although it doesn't see as many visitors as Pula, I'm still surprised at the droves of tourists that have descended from all over Europe. I've spent a lot of time in Istria over the last couple of years, and now I really get a sense of the duality of a seasonal resort town - a long hibernation, then a brief flurry of intense activity, then another long hibernation...

But since we're now here at the best time to be in Istria:

We ride out to the nearby beach at Kašteja Park quite often to enjoy the beautiful weather

Cooling down by taking a dip in the Adriatic Sea

Such a nice break from our trip. Exactly what we needed!

It's a Pula Girls reunion! Hanging out with Iva and Tajana

Sometimes my wife makes me laugh...

Neda is going out to Pula to hang out with her friends and she wants to wear her dress out. But she needs to get into town by bike... so this is her solution.

So, while Neda takes my R1200GS into town to catch up with her girlfriends, I go to work on her motorcycle.

First things first. I pull out Neda's battery and stick it on a charger. Then run some diagnostics to confirm that it is the stator that's fried. Then I check online for prices for a replacement stator. The BMW owners who have experienced this problem all recommend an aftermarket stator made by ElectroSport. It's a lot cheaper than the OEM BMW part. I contacted ElectroSport and unfortunately there's nowhere local to pick one up. I'd have to ship one in from the US. The shipping and import duty would be costly, and we would have to wait a few weeks for the part to arrive. It would be almost the same price to just get the BMW version. I called the dealership and they said they can get one within a day.

Neda comes home:

"Look what my friends gave me for my (belated) birthday, Startas shoes!!!"

Startas is a Croatian brand that was very popular with young people before the war destroyed their factory in Vukovar. Back in the 90s, it was a cultural phenomenon that swept the country. Everyone had to have a pair of these high-quality, hand-made shoes. To Neda and her friends, Startas shoes represented all the fun times they had together when they were back in school. The company just Startad up again, so Neda's friends thought it would be the perfect gift!

Hmmm... looks like there are a few shadows on that design on her shoes. About fore of them...

Speaking of which, we need to get a move on. Although Iva has been so great about letting us stay here the past few days, we feel really bad about kicking her out of her own apartment and we don't want to overstay our welcome. Pula during high-season is too expensive for us, plus we need to fix our bikes and the closest BMW service is in Zagreb.

After discussing the options with Neda, we decide to install the BMW OEM stator and save ourselves a few weeks' wait. There's supposedly an updated stator that solves the known problem. We just have to make sure to check that the part number we get is the newer version.

Now we just need to get her bike to Zagreb. From my calculations on our last ride from Hungary to Croatia, we know that the charge on the battery is good for about 200 kms (two hours on the highway) before it completely dies. Pula to Zagreb is 270kms. The bike will die again 70km away from the dealership. No good.

If we start disabling some of the electrical components on her bike, we should get her range up so that we can make it. Or at least get a little closer...

I do a bit of math: the draw from a 55w headlight @12V = 4.58A. The battery is rated at 14Ah. I'm going to estimate the total draw from the bike's electrics is roughly 7A since the brand-new, fully-charged battery died within two hours. So theoretically, if we pull the fuse on the headlight, we can get 14 / (7 - 4.58) = at least 5 hours (500kms on the highway) of riding time. Should be more than enough leeway to get to Zagreb. Unless we hit a serious traffic jam...

Is my math right? We'll find out tomorrow.

We'll need 1.21 jiggawatts to power the flux capaStator! Great Scott! 1.21 jigawatts?!?

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