The Day From Hell…

Day 12 – 11th July 2020 – Split, Croatia

I must say I slept like a log and didn’t want to get up this morning.  It was kind of weird because there were no announcements to advise arrival or to vacate the cabins, I do vaguely remember a tap on my door so perhaps that was the early morning call.  As it happens I am up, but only just in time and am one of the last to leave my cabin area.

We have arrived at around 7am and I go down to the bike to pack up all my luggage; am not looking forward to pushing her off the ship.  I have to ask one of the crew to help, he is pretty useless I have to say, he just holds on to the top box and when I almost drop the bike a couple of times he realises it will need more the just him and me!!  He calls two of his colleagues over and the 3 of them get her off for me… thank you.

I spend the next 2 hours in the blazing sun trying to get her to work… I remove the side stand sensor and uncouple the connector plug… try the bike.. nothing.  I take the pins out of the connector and tape them together to make the circuit, no go.  Ok so it’s not that, I put it back on and replace the connector.

I then take all the luggage off, including the Mosko Moto harness so that I can remove the seats.  I check the fuses; all fine.  I check the relays, they both look connected to all the wires ok.. nothing hanging off or loose.  Of course, without a meter I cannot check the wires and relays themselves so it’s just a visual check over.  I do try the bike again, just in case I have jogged something… nothing!

Next I undo the left hand switchgear, again it is just a visual check to see if anything is loose.. nope.  I did notice the main beam switch was sticking so I don’t over tighten the switch housing when I put it back to see if that is causing the problem.  I try the bike… she goes into gear and keeps running… fabulous.  I turn her off and repack the bike again.  Ready to go, won’t go, back to square zero… so frustrating.

Ok so am going to have to push her out of the port… I need to get through passport control first and I still don’t know if they will let me in.  I did complete the Enter Croatia form listing the apartment in Sibenik and Cheryl has offered to put me up for a night or two as well so have added her address… wait and see.

The heat is tremendous and you cannot believe how heavy the bike is… the ground is sloping towards the left so I am leaning the bike on my right hip, but my left shoulder is taking a lot of strain… it’s killing me.  I have to stop every 20 metres or so and I have run out of water so am gasping.  The sweat is running down my face and into my eyes.  A couple of men wander past, no one offers to help.

As I approach the passport control a police officer comes towards me…. and so it begins:

PO – ‘Where have you come from? Which ship’?

Me – ‘Marko Polo’

PO – ‘Where have you been for 2 hours?’

Me – ‘My bike has broken down and I have been trying to fix it’.  I must say I thought this was rather obvious, or does he think I get a kick out of pushing it!!  I also show him my black greasy hands.

PO – ‘Passport’

I give it to him… ‘Where are you staying?’

Me – ‘Sibenik’ although I mis-pronounce it of course, he corrects me. I continue; ‘I have completed the online form’

PO – ‘Enter Croatia?’

Me – ‘Yes’

PO – ‘Wait here, I will talk to my superior’  He is very stern and I am convinced they are going to send me back to Italy.  After about 10 long minutes he returns.

PO – ‘What will you do now?’

Me – ‘Sorry, I’m not sure I understand’

He points at the bike; ‘With this, what will you do?’

Me – ‘Oh.. I will call the breakdown to come and take it to a garage to have it repaired, I have insurance’

PO – ‘Wait there’

He goes in to the office again.  Now a couple of other police officers have come out to have a look.

My copper comes back… ‘you can go’

Me – ‘What, sorry….’

PO – ‘You can go now’ and hands me my passport.

So that is it.. I’m in!

I start pushing the bike again… a big fat police man says, ‘It is too big for you’ he doesn’t offer to help, nor do any of his colleagues.  I struggle on for the last 30 metres making sure I don’t stop and give them the satisfaction of seeing me falter.

Directly outside the port gates is the ferry terminal with cafes, restaurants and toilets so I park the bike right outside the gate.

I am so thirsty I almost run to the nearest kiosk to buy some water and then realise I don’t have any Croatian Kuna, only Euros.  I know they will take Euros, but I really don’t want any hassle so I go into the terminus and use a cash machine to withdraw some.  Straight back to the kiosk and I buy 2 bottles of water… ahhhh that’s better.

I find a vacant table and sit myself down.  Now I need to sort out recovery.  I have my insurance documents with me and I can see I have RAC European cover so it shouldn’t be a problem.  I go to my insurance brokers website and look up what to do if you breakdown.  There is a list of numbers so I call the one for the rest of Europe.  It takes ages to get through, I am on hold for a good 10 minutes or so, I am then through to Carolina who asks loads of questions, which I am happy to answer… until she asks me which ferry line I travelled on.  By this time I am getting a little bit frazzled, she has already asked me when did I enter Europe, where have I been, where am I going so when she asks about the ferry company I do say why do you need to know that.. it’s a Croatian company I have no idea how to say or spell the name, do you really need that for breakdown recovery?  She decides to leave that one.  She puts me on hold…..

A few minutes later she comes back on the line and says ‘we have no record of you, your bike or your address, are you sure you have RAC cover?’ ‘yes of course, it is here on my insurance policy’, ‘well we can’t do anything if we can’t find you in the system… leave it with me and I will call RAC UK and double check… I’ll call you back’.  ‘Ok… thanks’.

This is just deja vu.. I have had this nonsense with the RAC before… grrrrrr!!

I get myself a coffee… I  must say it’s hard to get my mind around the prices, the Kuna is about 7.5-8 to the pound so when a bottle of water costs 12HK is seems like a lot of money.  Anyway, I settle down to wait for the call back.

I get a text “Dear Customer we are unable to validate your policy, please send any details you have to (email address) RAC European Assistance”.  I then get a call from Carolina, she says RAC UK does not have me or my bike in their system.. she is very apologetic and tries to think of some weird and wonderful excuses for why I am not being found.. maybe I only think I have cover, maybe it is with another assistance service… I assure her that I do indeed have RAC European assistance, it is written here on my insurance policy in black and white.  I suggest that I call my insurance broker and try to get this resolved, so that is what I do.  Yeah don’t you worry about my phone bill….

I get through to Bennetts, my broker, I have to wait a while of course, and talk to Peter who says yes you do indeed have cover under your insurance policy, don’t worry I will call the RAC now and call you back.  Fab…

About 15 minutes later Peter calls back and says, ‘I have the RAC on the line, I am going to put you through to them and he will confirm with you that you have cover and then hand you over to the European Assistance people, they will sort out your recovery’  ‘Oh that’s great, thank you so much’… I am then speaking to RAC UK who assure me that I have full cover and there is nothing to worry about, he has spoken to RAC Europe and confirmed my cover so will put me through to them now.  Ok thank you.  The next voice I hear is a chap whose name I miss, I assumed it was going to be Carolina so was a bit taken aback.  Anyway, he says to me ‘can I take the bike registration’.. I tell him, but also say Carolina your colleague took all these details earlier. He checks his system and says ‘Yes I have everything, so now we just need to check your policy’  ‘But I thought that was all sorted out’  ‘Yes, that’s right but we need to check your cover, let me make a call and then I’ll call back’.  Unbelievable… ‘Ok, thanks’.

FORTY minutes later, (I have now had lunch), I call the RAC European Assistance number and am on hold for at least another 10 minutes… It’s Carolina again so I am hopeful we can get this sorted out.  I explain what has happened, that Peter at Bennetts has confirmed my RAC European cover, RAC UK have confirmed it and now this other person has said it still needs to be confirmed and was going to call me back but hasn’t.  Carolina checks her system again, still not on it.. I am really fed up, it is now almost 12.30, I have been trying to get this sorted out for 3 hours.  Carolina says to leave it with her, she will talk with her supervisor.

At 12.41 I get a text message to say the breakdown service will be with me in 45 minutes… hurrah!!

About 15 minutes later I get a text from a different number to tell me ‘red truck Kovco is coming’.. oooook??? that’s good.

At around 1.20 a recovery truck arrives with two chaps, they come and look over the bike and ask what the problem is… it’s quicker to show them.  One of them speaks English so that’s good.  The other guy seems to be the mechanic of the two, he starts to  look at the side stand sensor, I explain to the English speaker that I have already tried all of these methods of bypassing the sensor, that is not the problem, I think it is the switch at the clutch lever end.  There is a lot of talking and pointing between the two of them, no translation so I am just left standing there while they obviously chat about all the things they could do that I have already done, but hey what do I know!

After a few minutes of this they suddenly decide to put the bike on the truck… I leave them to it.

Once the bike is secured onto the flat bed I assume we will be off, but no, we have to wait for my insurance company to confirm where they are to take the bike… just speechless.

At about 2pm the guy tells me he has been told to take the bike to their depot.  Are we not going to a garage I ask, he doesn’t know he just knows we are going to their depot.

While we are on the way to the depot I get another text from RAC Euro Assist ‘Hello. Your bike cannot be fixed today.  Please call us back to let us know what services you require, (taxi? hire car? Hotel?).

I now realise that RAC Euro Assist is a french number so goddess only knows what my phone bill is going to look like.  I call them back, am on hold forever.. the battery on my phone is almost empty, so I ask the English speaker if there is somewhere I can charge it, he suggests he take me to a nearby cafe, which I think is a good idea because the depot is a bit of a misnomer, its a piece of land with a fence round it and several broken down huts that look derelict.  I get to the Cafe, still on hold with the RAC, and order a coffee.  I ask the woman if I can charge my phone, she nods and finds an iphone charger for me, so grateful.

Just as I get plugged in someone answers, it’s not Carolina, she is probably lying down in a darkened room somewhere in Paris.  Anyway, it seems all the garages are shut until Monday so my bike will have to stay at the depot until then.  ‘Ok not much I can do about that so can you get me a hire car please then I can make my way to Sibenik and the accommodation I have already paid for?’  He will talk to his Croatian connection and get them to source one for me and call me back.

After about half an hour he calls back to say they are sending a taxi to take me to Sibenik.  But, how am I going to get around and back to Split on Monday, I enquire, he suggests another taxi.  I suggest that I hire a car in Sibenik, but will I be able to claim it back.  Oh yes indeed, I am covered for a hotel or hire car for up to 14 days.  Ok that is what I will do.

I have another coffee, it is now 4pm.  I get a text saying the taxi is waiting for me where am I.  I reply that I am in a cafe and give them the address, I also say I need to go back to the bike first to get all my luggage.  I then get another text saying another driver is on the way.. a bit odd.

I wait outside the cafe and the car turns up shortly after.  He takes me back to the bike and I take everything off, even the harness, I assume the garage may want to get under the seat so it’s just better to take everything with me.  It then occurs to me, who should I give the key too??  The two breakdown guys have gone and there is no-one here but me and the taxi driver.  I call the Croatian number again, she suggests I give it to the driver.  I’m not really happy with that idea, she says he works there… Oh! ok I will ask him if he knows who to leave the key with.  When I ask he tells me I can leave the key with him, he is the owner of the recovery company… excellent!

We pack everything into his car and start to make our way to Sibenik.  Tomo, my driver, is obviously a very busy man, he is driving with one hand and texting, taking calls and using a mapping app with the other all at the same time.  I think to myself, wouldn’t it be completely ironic to be killed in a car smash on a motorcycle tour at the end of the day from hell!!

Sibenik is about an hour and a half away, after about an hour Tomo pulls into a petrol station, I assume to get petrol, but he says there is a problem with the tyre.  He gets out and I decide to go to the loo.  When I come back out Tomo tells me the tyre is flat… I don’t believe it.  He then gets back in the car and motions for me to do the same.  He then drives round to the air machine and pumps the tyre up, he hopes it will be enough.

Back on the road and we eventually arrive at the apartment.  We unload all the luggage and the owners father is there to meet me.  Both he and Tomo help to take my things up to my apartment, it is on the first floor, I am so grateful I don’t have to do it.

Now I would really like to be able to hire another bike, but having spent some of the time in the Cafe googling bike hire it seems pretty impossible unless one is in Split, so I give up and decide to hire a car.  I do that online for pick up tomorrow morning at 8 with a drop off in Split at 8am Tuesday morning, hopefully the bike will be ready by then.  Now I need a quick shower and to get myself down into the town for a look around and something to eat.. I want a taxi.  I text the owner of the apartment who says she will call a taxi for me, how very kind of her.  I ask if I can have the apartment for another night, but it is fully booked.  I go on booking.com and find an apartment/studio in Split for Monday night, so that is sorted.

The cab comes and takes me to town, he drops me at the waterfront and I have a bit of an explore.  I am absolutely astonished at how lovely the old part of Sibenik is, here are some photos:

I was going to eat in a restaurant, but the taxi took me past a supermarket that is just around the corner from the apartment so I think I will go there and get some provisions.  I call the taxi company and ask for a return journey and I also book a cab for the morning to go and pick up the hire car.

The cab soon comes and drops me at the supermarket.  I get myself a few things and then walk up to the apartment, which is lovely by the way.

What a blooming day… am I glad that’s over…

One thing more though… when I was working on the bike in the blazing sun for 2 hours I forgot to put any sun cream on my neck.. I am very badly burnt, it is extremely sore and blistered… ho hum.

 

PS – I made the following calls

8 to France

3 to Croatia

4 to UK

Can’t wait for the bill…..

 

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