Now that the decision has been made to reboot RideDOT.com's RTW journey, we make plans to reunite with our badly neglected motorcycles. It's been a year since we last packed them away in Neda's grandmother's garage in Croatia. We PM Neda's family to let them know we are returning.
The bad news comes back in a series of pictures: somebody has broken into the garage, forced all the locks open on our luggage and stolen all the contents of our cases and drybags. It seems like they took everything but the bikes and the hard luggage attached to it.
Bad news over PM
I am gutted. Just as we are revving up our travel plans and getting excited about getting back on the road, it's like we've been kicked back down the stairs again. That night, I stay up wide awake wondering just how much this will set our plans back and what our options are at this point.
It's hard to figure out exactly what we have lost while sitting in Toronto half a world away. We attempt a quick mental tally: We had already taken most of our riding gear and electronics to Thailand and Japan. "So it's just cold weather clothing and our camping gear mainly", I proclaim. Neda added, "And that tent was leaking so badly, it was going to be tossed out anyway. Plus I hated that JetBoil, we were going to shop around for another stove."
But when we sat down and really took a serious inventory of what was in our bags, it got a lot worse: Our toolkit. The heated clothing. One of our GPSes. My DSLR camera. F*&(K!!!!
From the pictures, it looks like the thieves tried to tamper with our bikes as well. How much damage did they do to them? Were they even rideable? There was no use spinning our wheels tens of thousands of kms away. We need to assess all of this in person before we could proceed. So, we head to Croatia:
We exchange Toronto's chilly late fall weather for Pula's cool late fall weather. It's pretty much an even trade.
First stop, straight to Neda's grandmother's place. She's very distraught that the bikes had been broken into in her garage and we did everything we could do to assuage her guilt. This meant having to eat seconds and thirds of every meal she cooked for us, which I kind of didn't mind at all...
After lunch, we waddled down to the garage to check out the damage
Just as the photos had depicted, everything but the bikes and luggage were taken. They did leave us our jerry cans though...
Neda's grandmother thinks the perpetrators might have been the kids that live in her building. Whoever it was, they were sneaky enough to replace the broken lock on the garage door with their own, so they could take their time coming and going, and finish raiding our bikes whenever they pleased.
ARGH! At this point in our lives, we don't own a lot of stuff. Whatever was stolen represents a significant portion of our worldly possessions. I feel very angry and violated. And frustrated.
And do the bikes even run? We connect the batteries and hit the starter button with our fingers crossed.
After much coughing and wheezing, both of our motorcycles sputter to life!
So all is not lost. Thank god for small miracles.
We take our bikes out into the fresh November air and ride towards the AirBnB where we are staying. The engines take some time before settling into a smooth rumble beneath us. They were responding well, despite being neglected and molested while we were gone. Our poor motos... :(
This is where we are staying!
These grand, old villas were built at the turn of the last century by the Austro-Hungarian army to house their officers, back when the empire ruled over what would eventually become Yugoslavia, and then Croatia. Neda told me that when she was a little girl, she used to pass by these mansions while taking the bus to her grandmother's place. She always wondered what it looked like inside, her imagination painting pictures of elaborate masquerade balls being held within its stately walls.
There's a whole row of these villas in a part of Pula called Veruda
Some of these villas have since been turned into vacation apartments, much too expensive to rent out in the summertime, but since we are here during Pula's low season, we're able to grab one for a bargain. Now, Neda not only gets to see what's inside these mansions, she's actually going to stay in one as well! She thinks this is the coolest thing ever!
We host a party for all of Neda's girlfriends
They all had the same experience that Neda did, passing by these old mansions when they were kids, wondering at what they looked like inside. The apartments are all modernized, so they probably don't look anything like what they did in the 1900s, but the exterior and hallways and some of the tilework in the rooms are original and still in great condition.
Things you learn when you get together with friends: the Boomerang App is now a thing.
Whenever you are back in your hometown, you always head straight to the Comfort Food of your youth.
Mowing down on a plate of sardellas (sardines), at the restaurant overlooking the market!
We have to do some heavy decision-making while we're here in Croatia.
If our gear hadn't been stolen, we would have shipped everything to the starting point of our next leg of our travels. It would have been very expensive, but it made sense in order to hit the ground running... er, riding.
Now, the cost to ship plus re-purchase all the gear that we lost tipped the scales. It would be much cheaper to find used bikes and start from scratch instead. And selling them at the end of our next segment would recoup some of the expense and the delta would probably be less than the shipping costs.
Another factor tipping the scales was this aging war-horse
My R1200GS has seen a lot of hard miles. 235,000 kms worth. It has gotten progressively more expensive to keep it running as the years rolled beneath its wheels. I made the decision to put it up for sale.
I love my bike, but I'm not overly sentimental about vehicles. Sure, we've had a lot of great experiences together, but the whole point of the blog was to capture those memories so I don't feel too bad about moving on.
We advertised on all the online forums and Facebook pages. The price was set very low given the crazy mileage on the odometer, but also because it was a foreign bike and the buyer would have to pay the import tax to make it legal in Europe. As we would find out, this tax is prohibitively exorbitant.
Initially, there was a flurry of interest, and we were flooded with calls and e-mails because of the low price, but after finding out how much the import tax was, nobody would pursue it any further.
We had one very interested buyer from Serbia. He told us he would ride it across the border without having to license it, since Serbia isn't part of the restrictive European Union (ie. he'd smuggle it in), and we thought for sure the bike was sold. But the Serb backed out at the last minute, so here we are still waiting for a buyer.
Feels like a constant roller-coaster having our hopes go up and down, day-to-day.
Neda's friend Vedrana finds a SnapChat Filter that will help sell my bike. LOL!