Day 14 – 13th July 2020 – Šibenik to Split, Croatia
This morning I pack up all my stuff into the hire car, it is a tremendous relief not to have to carry or push it I can say. Once done I start on my way out of Šibenik back to Split. I am planning to go straight to the recovery yard to check the bike is ok and get an update on what is happening.
The SatNav again routes me up into the tiny, narrow roads.. nooo I don’t want to go this way, so I make a left to try and take me back to the main road. I am driving down a particularly narrow, steep, windy road with cars parked on the left hand side and a tall old stone wall on the other. Most of the cars have pulled their wing mirrors in, but near the bottom one car has not so I turn the wheel slightly to the right to avoid clipping the mirror and hit the wall a fair old whack! WTF Pádraigín!!!! I was going so slow I have actually come to a stop, the right hand mirror is folded back and I can see it is touching the wall… I think this is going to be very bad, I imagine the wing will be scratched and dented. What I hadn’t noticed, in my need to clear the wing mirror, is that at this exact point in the road the wall juts out slightly and I have just driven into it. FFFFFFF
I gingerly reverse the car and then drive down to the bottom of the road. There is now another car behind me so I can’t stop to survey the damage just yet. I pull over as soon as I can and jump out….
Well, not quite as bad as I imagined, although it is still bad…. what to do? I think I had better drive to the car hire office and show them what I have done. As I drive down there I am shaking quite a bit and am being ultra cautious ensuring the car is well away from everything. I arrive at the office, it’s shut… ok, I park up and wait for a while, it isn’t 8 o’clock yet. There is a car park nearby so I pull in there. I then decide to give the office number a ring. It is answered by a man, I explain that I have had a small accident and have done some damage to the car… he explodes! ‘What…what… how, how? You only have the car one day’ I don’t know what difference that makes, if I had had the car for a week would that be ok? Or a month?? Anyway, he then goes on…
‘Oh I got lost and was trying to drive a very narrow road and a car…’
“Ok.. you have told the police?’
‘No, there was no one else involved just me… do I need to call the police?’
‘Yes… read the contract, it is in the contract… you must read before you sign, you should read it?’
‘Ok, so shall I call the police now?’
‘Yes, you must get paper from police or how do I know what you say is right… the insurance will not pay without police paper, you will have to waste 2-3 hours your holiday to do this.’
‘Ok, I’ll do that now’
‘Yes, yes you must… goodbye’.
‘Hold on.. do you know the number please?’
‘It is on contract, you read… goodbye.’
Ok so I see the number on the contract and call it. A woman answers. I explain I need to report an accident, she asks me where did it happen, I reply that I don’t know I didn’t see a street name at all. She asks if it was Šibenik? ‘Yes.’ ‘Ok, where are you?’ ‘I’m in the car park at the bus station.’ ‘Ok, you go to the F Club Cafe, it is in front of you and you wait there, police will come’ ‘Ok thank you’
I go over to the cafe and get a table outside. I order a coffee and settle down to wait. In about 5 minutes a mini police van drives slowly past and into the Car Park.. oh I wonder if they are for me… no can’t be, its only been 10 minutes since I reported it. I carry on drinking my coffee. A few minutes later I see the mini police van parked across from the cafe. Something in my water tells me this is for me, I think I had better pay my bill and check.
I walk across to the van, there are two male police officers inside. I walk up to the passenger side window; they are both staring at me. The officer in the passenger seat doesn’t open the window until I start to speak, I say…
‘Hi I just reported an accident, are you here to see me?’ The driver responds in English
‘Yes we wait here while you are having your coffee’, this is not said in a pleasant way, in fact it is an admonishment, I reply
‘Oh I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting you so soon’
‘You think we have time to sit waiting for you to finish your coffee?’
‘No of course not, it’s just in the UK you have to wait hours for the police to come, so I thought…’
‘Yes, yes come show us the car, where is it?’
‘Ok of course, it’s in the Car Park’
‘Ok you show us’
So I walk into the car park with them following in their van, very intimidating. I point in the general direction of where the car is parked and they drive near to it and park up. I arrive at the car and they both join me. Passenger cop has a large camera with him and starts to take photos of the damage. Driver cop asks for my papers, drivers license and passport. I give these to him.. ‘Ahhh UK’…. ‘ then ‘Come with me’
I follow him to their van and he opens up the side door to reveal a little office inside. He gets in and I go to follow.. ‘NO, you wait there’. He then takes photos of my drivers license and passport with his phone. Makes a phone call and then asks me what happened. I explain the story to him. ‘Where this happen?’ ‘Well, I don’t know, the street didn’t have a name I could see’, ‘It was Šibenik yes?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Ok… when?’ ‘This morning’. At this point passenger cop returns and driver cop says something to him, the only word of which I can understand is ‘tourist’… passenger cop answers and I get the impression he is almost smiling.
Driver Cop says… ‘Ok, we will send report to Nova Car Hire’
‘Ok, can I get a copy please’
‘No, we send it’
“The guy at Nova said I must get a paper’
‘No we send it, no paper’
‘Ok we finished now.. maybe you go have another coffee’, he’s definitely pissed off that I had a coffee.
‘Thank you… goodbye’
He waves his hand at me in dismissal.
I go back to the car and call the Car Hire guy back…. OMG what a fucking pain all this is…
‘What no paper, no he must give you paper, one for you, one for me, one for insurance.. this is always the way, we must have paper, you must get paper’
‘Well, he wouldn’t give me a paper, he was in his van, no printer I think’
‘Then you must go to the police station and get paper, we must have paper. You must waste 2-3 hours your holiday and get paper’
‘Ok. where is the police station please?’
‘I am busy man, I have other customer, you have internet you must look on internet’.
‘Ok, but is there a police station in Šibenik or do I have to go somewhere else’
‘You go police in Mandelina, go there and get paper’
‘Ok I’ll find it and let you know’.
He hangs up. I think, maybe I can find the police officers and talk to them again, their van is still parked up so they must be around somewhere. I get out of the car and as I’m passing the cafe I see they are there having coffee and talking with the waitress.
‘Hi.. I’m really sorry to bother you but the guy at Nova Car Hire insists I must get a paper’
‘No, no paper, I told you we will inform them’
‘He says I should go to the police station and get the paper’
‘No, you don’t go to police station, we will send it, that’s all’ – I can see he is getting uptight but I give it one last shot…
‘Maybe you could give me a reference number so I can give it to him’
‘NO, NO paper, no number, no station’
I walk away and am ashamed to admit am almost in tears. I kind of wander around a little bit lost for what to do. There is nothing I can do except phone the car hire bloke and tell him no paper. I do that and he seems to have calmed down now, maybe he has received the report, but he just says ok… very odd.
I get back to the car and I am pretty shaken up about it all. I still have to make my way to Split. I haven’t had any messages or calls about the bike so I text to ask what is happening and start to make my way over to the recovery ‘depot’. Quite some time later I get a text saying the driver will meet me at the bike and take me with them. I’m not really sure what that means but text back that I have a car so please send me the address of the garage and I will go straight there.
I am driving very cautiously and feeling quite emotional, almost weepy… I really hate feeling like this, it is so weak. I like to think of myself as a tough cookie, and indeed I can be very ‘hard’, but underneath it all I am just a little girl after all it seems.
I don’t really feel like being a tourist today, in fact I am extremely down and don’t even want to be in touch with anyone as I usually do, except my partner. I do take a couple of photos on the way,
The bike is gone! Oh, well that’s a good sign I guess. I look around for someone to ask about it, but there’s no one around. There is a hut with a car parked outside, maybe someone is in there. I try the door and it is pulled open by a young man wearing a Tee Shirt with security on it. I ask him does he know if any of the recovery people are around as I want to find out about my bike that was here, pointing in the general direction of where I last saw it. He has a look around and then asks if I want him to ring them.. yes please. He makes the call and then shows me over to an area behind a huge vehicle transporter, they have hidden Minnie here, so she still hasn’t gone anywhere.
Then one of the guys who picked the bike up from the port, the english speaking one, arrives in a huge flat bed truck. I ask him if he knows what is happening.. he doesn’t. He says he will ring me when he finds out. There’s nothing more I can do here so I decide to make my way to the accommodation I have booked for tonight. I text the property to ask if I can check in now, I will arrive about 11-11.15. They text back and say I can check in at 11.30, great. I am hating driving this car now and just want to get rid of it, but I need the transportation. My accommodation is the other side of Split so about 12kms through the centre of town and all the traffic, it is not helping my depression I can tell you.
I arrive at the accommodation and it looks ultra-modern on the outside, so bodes well I think. I’m right the accommodation is fantastic, but I am in no mood to enjoy it. I unpack and sit for a while, then I have a message from my mate Mark who suggests squirting some WD40 into the switches and trying the clutch lever a few times to see if the makes a difference. Ok, well that gives me something to do while I wait, so I get back in the car and drive over to the ‘depot’ again. There is no-one there, but the bike has been moved into the shade. I have WD40 in the small side pouch so get it out and give the switch gear and clutch lever a good squirting, but I can’t try the bike as I don’t have the key and there is no one to ask for it.
I go back to the car and remember I have my washing with me so I google launderette on my phone and there is one quite nearby so I drive over there.. its’s a car wash… I try another search under Laundromat, this gives me one a few kilometres away, it’s called ‘Speed Queen’, which I believe is an American company name so am hopeful this will be what I am looking for. I arrive but there is nothing here, just an apartment block… maybe it’s around the back. Just as I park up I realise I don’t have my wallet with me, I have left it back at the apartment… FFS!! Back to the apartment it is then.
By the time I get back it is 12.30 so I try again on my laptop to find somewhere to do my washing. I find a site that says Croatia doesn’t really have launderettes as everyone has a washing machine, there are a few in Split for tourists.. indeed there are 3 and the one that is open late is near the port. Ok am going to give that a go, but before that I receive a text from the recovery people, they say no one in Split will repair the bike as it is an unfamiliar make. I text back that there is a Royal Enfield dealer in Draganic, the only one in Croatia, can we take the bike there? She replies that I will have to contact the RAC to authorise it. I can’t believe I’ve got to phone France again, my phone bill is going to be enormous… Anyway, I do make the call and, after the usual 10 minute wait, get through. I explain the situation to Olga, she says Draganic is too far at 250kms, they cannot authorise this as it will be very expensive so she will have to speak to my insurance company. I ask what will happen if they don’t authorise it, she says then they would have to think about repatriation. I don’t say this, but does she not realise how stupid that sounds.. oh if it’s too expensive to transport 250kms then we will return it 1500 miles to the UK!!! After this I have a think about it and decide to ring my insurance company in the UK myself to try and get this expedited. I get through to Mark, who is very sympathetic and promises he will be sorting this out. I mention the RAC’s comment about repatriation, he says that is only in the case of the bike being unrepairable. He then reads out an email he is sending to Caroline, the head honcho in the customer assistance department apparently, he says when she gets this she will get right on to the RAC and sort it out and will definitely give me a call or email me with an update. Ok, I’ll wait for her call.
I make my way over to the launderette near the port. When I arrive I have to pay for parking, so I get a couple of hours as I will have an early dinner while I wait for my washing. When I get to the launderette there is a table across the doorway and a woman attendant who asks me if I want a full service, I say no thank you I will self service. She says it is finished at 5 so no time to start self service now, (it’s 4.20). I ask when would the full service be ready… 11.30 tomorrow.. oh no good, but thank you.
I decide to drop the washing back in the car and find somewhere to eat. I am in the old town area of Split and it is very chi-chi, with the waterfront dotted with artisan type stalls and a mix of cheap n’ cheerful to rather posh restaurants.
I have a seat on the waterfront and call home, I am very depressed and fed up. I really just want to give up and go home, but I can’t. I mean in reality I could just leave the bike… i.e. dump it, and fly home, but I’m not going to do that. After a long chat I feel a little bit better, but I still haven’t heard anything from the insurance or the RAC and am getting anxious about tomorrow as I am going to be stuck here with no transport or accommodation at this rate so I decide to call my insurance company in the UK again and try to sort this out once and for all. This time I get Paulo on the line, just what I need another person to explain everything too! I really lay it on thick, here I am, a lone older woman in a strange country where I don’t speak a word of the language, the bike has been sitting in a yard for 3 days and no one in Split wants to touch it, the only alternative it is to take the bike to Draganic for repair to get me back on the road and ultimately home. Paulo says,
‘Mrs Raghillig I understand, you do not worry I am going to sort this out for you, please hold the line.’
After a few minutes of the dreadful muzac that I have been listening to for days now, Paulo comes back on the line…
‘Mrs Raghillig, are you still there?’
‘Yes., yes I’m still here’
‘Good, I am talking with Caroline on the other line… hold please’… well, that’s progress.
‘Mrs Raghillig, are you there?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Good, please to hold the line, I don’t want to lose you’
This goes on for another 15 minutes with Paulo making sure I am still on the line every few minutes and promising he is sorting this out. He then asks me for the name and number of the person I am dealing with in Croatia, so I give him the details. He then puts me back on hold. About 5 minutes later he is back…
‘Mrs Raghillig, I am on the case, I am not giving up until I have sorted this out for you, but it is difficult because of Covid I am working from home so trying to get everyone on a conference call with Caroline and Croatia so please to hold the line and do not worry I am sorry to keep you waiting but please do hold on and I will get this arranged for you’.
‘Yes of course I am here and thank you so much’
‘Mrs Raghillig.. it is done. It has been authorised and agreed with one of the top managers at the RAC so your bike will be transported to the dealer in Draganic. You can expect a call from the recovery company in Croatia to make all the arrangements with you’
‘Paulo you are an absolute star, I cannot thank you enough you have been brilliant’
‘Thank you, I am very happy to sort this out for you so far from home. This is something that we have not had happen before so it has taken a lot of work and we had to get the top managers involved to get it sorted but I was not going to give up without getting the solution for you’
‘Well all I can say is a huge thank you.. is there anywhere I can leave some feedback about your service?’
‘Well yes if you have time maybe you can go on trust pilot’
‘Paulo I can assure you I will find the time to do that.. thank you again so much’
‘You are most welcome. Goodbye’
I can’t tell you how much better I feel. I pick myself up and find a reasonably priced restaurant for dinner… I treat myself to an artisan burger with all the trimmings… very nice it was too.
After dinner I text the recovery company to check if they have heard anything. No, not yet, she will find out and call me.
I get back to the apartment and am so tired that I just go to bed. At around 10pm I get a text to say it has been approved and she will call in the morning to make the arrangements to pick me up to go with the bike to Draganic… hurrah!!