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Fri Jul 22 2016: BMWs in Zagreb

We are trying to lessen the electrical load on Neda's motorcycle so we can get it from Pula to Zagreb without a tow. The battery will take an unmolested bike about 200kms before dying. Zagreb is 270kms away. So obviously, we have to molest her bike a little. Every component is scrutinized to determine if we can unplug or disable it and still remain safe on the road. Headlight? Gone. ECU? Yeah, need that. Brake light...? Uh.... have to think a bit about that one...

This whole exercise reminds me of that Top Gear episode when Sabine Schmitz bet Jeremy Clarkson that she could pilot a Ford transit van around the Nurburgring in under 10 minutes. The team was pulling out seats, drilling holes in body panels, she was drafting behind a pace car, etc...

Okay. So, here's what we've come up with:

  • Battery fully charged which gives us 14Ah to get us there
  • Pulled the fuse on the headlamp, saving us 4.5A
  • Unplugged GPS as well - that's 500 precious μA of draw right there!
  • Neda won't use her turn signals. She'll basically pretend that she's a Toronto driver.
  • No horn either and she'll downshift to slow down to minimize tripping the brake light
  • Topped up the fuel. So we don't have to stop for gas and waste time and cold-cranking amps to start up again

That last point reminds me that we also have to factor into our calculations a single cold crank in the morning to get started.

I'm talking about me, BTW. Not the starter motor on the motorcycle...

Neda is not amused. In fact she is very nervous about the trip to Zagreb, afraid that her bike will just cut out on her on the highway. Before we set off, we hit the grocery store and clean out the shelves, stocking up for the road as if we're heading off to ride into the Apocolypse. It's 270 kms...

Spoiler: Sabine Schmitz never did get that van around the 'Ring in under 10 minutes.

And on that note... I lead the way to Zagreb since I've got the one operating GPS. Which cuts out intermittently. Ugh. :( Gotta get that checked out when we get to our destination. Fortunately it's mostly all highway to the capital city. I glance at my mirrors every 5 seconds to make sure my wife's bike is still behind me.

Made it to the BMW dealership! We park her bike amongst all the BMW police motorcycles where it will be safe

Neda got her bike checked in at the service department while I walked around. The guys at BMW Zagreb are very friendly. They were all ooohing and ahhhing over the mileage on our motorcycles. When it was my turn to write up the service order for my bike, the advisor made some small-talk:

"Ah I just spoke with Neda. She is your girlfriend?"
"No, she's my wife."
"Oh, then you are practically Croatian!", he gave me the I-Just-Made-A-Funny smile.
"Yeah. You could say I'm... Cro-Asian!", I returned the I-Just-Made-A-Funny-Too smile...

But then his smile wavered a bit, and he had this look on his face like maybe I didn't speak English very well: "Yes, that is what I just said. You are practically Croatian"

And then it was my smile's turn to waver. Do I explain the pun, or let him think I'm a bit daft?

"Yes, you're right. I am practically Croatian! Haha!"

Smiles all round again!

Things I learned today: I am not funny in Croatia.

Me, at the BMW dealership in Zagreb

While waiting to pick up Neda's bike from service, I fell in love with one of the cars upstairs... i8, so sweet!

The BMW i8 is their hybrid supercar. It goes stupidly fast and sips gas like an Englishman sips tea. Me likey!

Gene: "Hey if BMW gave us this car, would you continue our trip in one?"
Neda: "Sure, but only if I get to drive."
Gene: "..."

Note to BMW: We would be grateful if you could provide RideDOT.com with two 2016 BMW i8s. Thank you.

Looks like a spaceship from the back!

This is Neda's old track bike: S1000RR. I know she'd love to have one again

We're no strangers to touring on sportbikes. We've done multi-day trips with a backpack stuffed only with underwear and toothbrush. Oh, the places we could explore with these bikes... Maranello, Assen, Aragon, Sepang.

Note to BMW: We would be grateful if you could provide RideDOT.com with two 2016 BMW S1000RRs. Thank you.

When we pick Neda's bike up, the mechanic shows us the fried stator

The old design had cooling issues, supposedly they've updated the part so that the stator doesn't overheat. Hopefully we don't have this problem again. We swap Neda's bike for mine at the service department and they go to work on my shaft drive while we two-up back to our apartment.

We are staying in a suburb of Zagreb about 10 kms away from the city core. Oddly enough, at this time of year, it's actually cheaper to stay in the capital city than in Pula because all the urbanites in the interior flee to the sunny Istrian coast for their holidays. So there are a lot of vacancies in the city and the reverse seasonally-discounted-rent aligns with our budget.

And best of all, we're here for two glorious weeks! Two weeks of doing nothing but sleeping, eating and watching TV. Oh and catching up on the blog.


So behind... :(

With her bike fixed, Neda goes on a solo Croatian road trip!

It's Iva's birthday, so while my bike is in the shop Neda hops on hers to spend a long weekend with the girls in Pula.

She sends me a picture from Pula. Looks like she's having a good time.

I'm spectacularly unproductive while all alone in Zagreb. Didn't get one blog entry done. But I did watch a lot of TV...

We are members of an online Croatian motorcycle forum, and we know a couple of people from there who have kept in touch with us. Danko and Nives first rode in to visit us in Pula a couple of years ago. Now that we're in their neck of the woods, they invite us out for some Zagreb food. Gonna ZaGrab us some ZaGrub!

I don't say ZaGrub in front of our Croatian friends. I've learnt my lesson at the BMW dealership.

Having some delicious grilled meat with Nives, Danko and Danko's brother. Hvala!

Hangin' out with our Croatian biker friends after dinner

And then another visit to the dealership to pick up my (yet again) fixed motorcycle. Third final drive this trip. Is there a record for most final drive repairs on a single R1200GS? Surely I must be winning. Perhaps "winning" is not exactly the right word in this case... *sigh*

We've been to Zagreb many times over the years, but mainly as a transit point when we are flying in to the airport and then catching a bus to Pula. In all those times, we've never actually ventured into the city to explore. So now that we're staying in town, we decide to ride in and do some sightseeing.

Another glorious sunny day to explore Zagreb!

I love having a motorcycle in Europe! Free parking everywhere!

We start our tour off at Ban Jelačić Square, Zagreb's central square

I don't know what this sculpture is, but it would be embarrassing if it was like a bus stop sign...

Game of Thrones style map

Streetcar runs right through Ban Jelačić Square

I'm guessing this is the part of town where all the tourists hang out

So one thing I've learned about Croatians is that they *love* their flag

Zagreb Cathedral

"Oooh, that's Marija Jurić Zagorka! I have to get a picture with her!"

"Do you know her, Neda?"
"Yes, I went to school with her..."

That's Neda's stock answer whenever I ask her if she's familiar with any famous Croatian person. Always with the little quip: "Yes, I went to school with him/her". Now I know how she feels when I make stupid puns.

Marija Jurić Zagorka is a famous Croatian author.

Neda did not really go to school with Marija Jurić Zagorka.

The old town of Zagreb

Neda is grabbing us some fritulas, they're like little doughnut balls covered in powdered sugar

Canadians will find fritulas very familiar. They're basically slightly larger versions of Timbits. As she was scarfing down the golfball pastries, my wife garbled out: "My grandmother used to make these all the time for me!" I didn't know your nonna played hockey, Neda!

Following this cat around.

Indigenous Croatian people! There was a wedding going on in St Mark's Church. The pretty roof is tiled with the Zagreb coat of arms

Automotive advertising

Walking around Zagreb's secret underground tunnels

So this was kinda cool. Not many Zagrebians know that there's a secret underground tunnel beneath their city. The Grič Tunnel was built during WWII as a means to get to an underground bunker that was meant to shelter the citizens from a bombing raid. It fell into disuse after the war and was boarded up, largely forgotten by the population above. Every once in a while, the tunnels would make the news, when people are discovered breaking in and holding raves and art exhibitions. The general reaction would be, "We have a tunnel underneath Zagreb?!?"

It's very timely that we're here in Zagreb now, because the Grič Tunnel has recently been renovated and it was officially opened to the public just last week! Currently, it's solely a pedestrian tunnel providing a walkway to get out of the hot sun, but there are future plans to build a museum inside the shelter.

Cool! Literally. It was cold down here.

Statue of Nikola Tesla, famous inventor born in Croatia. Neda went to school with him.

What the heck is this huge golden ball in the middle of one of the city streets? It's the sun!

This is actually part of an art project called "The Grounded Sun". It's turned Zagreb into a scale model of the Solar System. Scattered around the city, you can find all of the planets, spaced the correct distance away from each other according to the size of this sun. The planets themselves are scaled representations: Mercury and Mars are just marbles mounted on plaques on the sides of buildings. Jupiter is the size of a soccer ball. And Earth? It's a fritula.

You see what I did there...? Brought it all the way back to Nonna Hortons.

On that note, we climb back on the bikes and ride out of the old town like cowboys into the sunset

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