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DalmatiaOutdoors - Željan Rakela
Željan Rakela

Željan Rakela

Sunday, 12 January 2014 03:47

Australia

AUSTRALIA

Dear friends,

I'm leaving for Australia on the 7th of July 2013! I'm flying Split-Frankfurt-Dubai-Sydney, and I'm to arrive there on the 9th of July around 7 AM. I thank all those who helped me so far!

My flight is to be 32 hours long. Return ticket for myself cost 10.500 KN + 3.500 KN for the boat transport. I have so far collected 40.000 KN from sponsors. Boat with my bike on should arrive in Sydney on the 11th of July 2013.

Flight

On the 7th I took off for Frankfurt in the company of my colleague Hrvoje Šimac, the owner of security company City Security. We talked about work so time just went by. Now I'm in Dubai after 16 hours of flight and there's a huge queue for the tickets. I still have 16 hours in plane in front of me.

3rd day

I came to Sydney around 8 o'clock: dealing with visa, luggage, search and police dogs sniffing, all passengers go through the same thing. I flew with an A380 plane, I think it is the largest passenger plane there is. It has 3 floors and 10 seats, the food is great, we ate 3 times and the flying company are the Emirates – what more can one say?

After 33 hours, finally Sydney. I got out of the airport and was greeted my Željko, who was a Serbian boxing representative, he has 30 professional fights and he worked as security in European discos. There are a few things Željko hasn't seen in European night life, but now he's a deacon in Catholic Church and wants to become a priest. He was in company of his fellow deacon, an Indian man. They took me to their monastery where we had breakfast, I had a shower, and then together we went for a common 13 o'clock prayer. It was really special, a singing prayer with a guitar. After the prayer we went for lunch, but something was peculiar there. In the main table there were priests and their passersby being served, but in the other, smaller table, there were passersby who are serving the others. The groups change places each day and there are rules and obligations for all work, they remind me of an army. Amongst those strict rules there is also one forbidding me to sleep there, so Željko took me to 7 Hills to stay with Miličević family who originate from Herzegovina, Raketno near Posušje to be precise. Drago and Ljubica Miličević invited their family and neighbors and made a big dinner for all.

4th day

In the morning breakfast, getting ready and we go to Sunday's mass. We sat in the car, they remind me I need to put on my seatbelt always otherwise both me and the driver have to pay the penalty. After putting on the seatbelt we pray a couple of prayers, and only when this is over do we start for the Croatian Catholic Church to mass. I noticed they collect money twice on the mass and after it the priest gives lollipops to his parishioners and hangs out with them.

After the mass I went with Branko Miličević to Croatian Club where we had lunch. Club just had their annual assembly, so I heard they are having financial problems and meaning to sell the club, i.e. the building which contains a large congress hall, wedding halls, cafes, pool halls and restraints.

The other day I got an e-mail from Steve from Sydney who wants to meet me, so I called him and he picked me up. Before I went with him and his girlfriend, I gave an interview for Croatian radio in Australia. Downtown Sydney is beautiful even though only 200 years old. We even went to see famous Croatian painter Bilić's gallery downtown, a huge house on 3 floors between the Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

We took a couple of photographs in front of Opera House and Harbor Bridge, then went to have a drink in Shanghai Hotel, to a 36th floor cafe where we enjoyed the beautiful Sydney view and the sunset.  I notices a lot of young men holding hands – no wonder for Sydney is the 2nd biggest gay city, right after San Francisco.

I came to my hosts' in the evening and met with Mate Litrić and Željko, so we decided to hang out till 22 o'clock because they have a permit till then.

5th day

After a large breakfast at Miličević house I called Boris Tošić who is my friend Marin Papić's uncle and Tanja Papić's brother. I met him only once before in Split and he told me to get in touch with him if I ever came to Sydney, so I did just that. He came to pick me up with his brand new ML and took me to his company downtown Sydney. It's a fine building with 5 floors, his offices take up 2 floors and other floors he rents.

As a big Oakley fan, I asked Boris to take me to their store to get a mini backpack where I can put my iPad and camera. As soon as I entered the store my heart flashed with excitement for in the window I saw an Oakley watch Time Machine which I shown to Boris, then I went to find a backpack. I found a great one, 100$, I also bought 2 T-shirts because all I have are those for driving, so I needed to “polite“ shirts. I went to pay, but Boris wouldn't let me, I tried to convince him, but he insists. After paying for everything he gives me one more Oakley bag and tell me there's a small present from him. I open the box and see an Oakley 1000$ watch.

I get completely lost and speechless, on one hand a man whom I've known for 20 minutes just bought me the watch I've been planning to buy for 4 years, on the other hand I'm currently on a trip scheduled for 50 days and 20.000 km in front of me and only 2.000$ and I don't know what to think about all this. Besides all this, Boris also arranged for one of his workers, who is also from Split, to pick me up in the morning and takes me to get my bike. Then we plan to take it to Boris's furniture factory for assembling and servicing for the road.

Boris came here in 1990, he got off a boat he was working on and stayed in Sydney without speaking English, with no papers or anybody he knew there. As a true Split citizen, he now wants to invest in our town, last year only he invested around 600.000€ and plans to do that in the future, and I took the obligation to help him with that. The watch he gave me is worth much more than 1000$ because now it has its story too.

6th day

In the morning around 8:30 Boris' worker Joško Đogaš comes to pick me up with a truck and takes me to Boris ' furniture factory. All there are Croatians except 2 Chinese, listening to the radio and working. I check if the bike came, looks like the papers are still not done, so they tell me „maybe tomorrow“, same as any other cargo in the world.

Soon Boris comes, I tell him bike has still not arrived, so he suggests we get my stuff at Miličević's place and he'll put me in a downtown Sydney hotel so I can take walks around the city, and I'll have Wi-Fi. So as of today I'm in hotel Vibe, with breakfast, Wi-Fi, TV and swimming pool on the roof.

7th day

In the morning Boris picks me up, calls the cargo company, some woman tells him I haven't paid for the import papers, 1300$ total, and when I pay she'll start looking into getting my bike. She was very impolite, so Boris finds one of his own agents who deals with cargo for his furniture.  We get there, Boris says he pays them 50.000$ each month and that they'll take care of everything. The company's name is Tigers and the nice lady working there is Margaret, she informs me that total cost of the paperwork will be 100$. Boris wanted them to get him an offer for returning the bike to Frankfurt, so the prepare everything in front. After Cargo Company we went to get one of those highway machine, just like we have ENC in Croatia. We went for a walk downtown and climb Sydney Tower.

In the evening we went to Balkan restaurant and I had the best stake of my life. The meat comes from our Sydney butcher Viktor Puharić, a 62-year-old from Makarska who won an award this year as the world's best butcher.

8th day

After breakfast Steve Kušto comes to pick me up. I tell him about the bike, he calls Margaret and tells her I really need my bike because here are all my sponsors, TV and radio and everybody's waiting for me to get my bike. Margaret apologizes, says she didn't know and that she'll do her best to do it as quickly as she can and call us back in 15 minutes. That's exactly what happened and she tells me to come on Monday at 7.45 am with my tools to open the bike case in order for inspection to check it. That means these five days the bike was just sitting there and wasn't checked at all.

Later we went to Steve's friend Thomas who is Polish and a professional photographer, several times he travelled all over Australia, so he had a lot of useful information. As a true adventurist, he has two BMW sin his garage, on one of which he travelled across USA.

Afterwards Steve and I went to take a walk over the bridge and have a beer next to Opera House. Working people culture is very interesting here, each Friday after work pubs are full. Work colleagues meet and drink – we went to a great cafe on the Sydney coast. In the evening Kušto took me to dinner to one of 10 world’s best restaurants, Wildfire, who's owned by a Croat from Korčula, Tonči Farač. His daughter work as receptionists and gave us a fine table, and in couple of minutes Tonči came to meet us. I conveyed greetings from our mutual friends and he gave me a tour of the restaurant which is impressive. He told me the whole story of the most expensive T-bone steak. When they buy meat they know exactly which cow it comes from, it must be fed only with corn, the cow isn't allowed to walk and after it's killed, the steak must be contained for 40 days in specific conditions, and that kind of 900 grams steak costs 144$. I was lucky enough to get one from Tonči, it was wonderful, so tasty and juicy it really is worth 900 KN.

3 beers, 3 waters, cold appetizer, sea food appetizer, without the T-bone steak total of 180$, and if we had to pay the steak it would have been 324$, which equals 2.000 kn. Don’t forget that Sydney is after New York and Moscow most expensive city in the world. Big thanks to Mr. Tonči and Steve for a wonderful dinner.

I still didn't get my bike, if I don't get it tomorrow I'll have to wait till Monday. They say it's being quarantined to check if there are any bacteria, mud or insects on it. I'm going to take a walk for like 10 km to calm down. From the hotel to Opera House by a shortcut, if I go correctly it's 3.2 kilometers. After an hour of walking through the city and Sydney botanical garden I come to the Opera House, it's very nice and clean, with white plates all over it, with big glass surfaces and brown frames, looks like our Koteks in Split.

Right beside it there's the beautiful Harbor Bridge built in 1932 and even today the bridge toll goes to the Queen of England.

In the evening I came to Boris' business building, there was some art gallery on the ground floor and in the roof there was a party, DJ, free beer. Beautiful view from his building over the entire city, we were there till 21 o'clock, then went to an Argentinian restaurant and had great dinner.

9th day

Kušto and his girlfriend Irem are picking me up and we again go to Boris' building around 14 o'clock. Boris is again organizing some party market. Kušto says there are big penalties if you sell drink without a license, but Boris is not concerned, I guess he knows what he's doing.

Afterwards Irem and Kušto take me to a famous tourist resort, Manly. Before going there I gave an interview for Croatian newspapers Boka.

10th day

Sunday around 13 o'clock I'm being picked up by Luka Vrščaj, also a guy from Split, he's been here for 4 years. He took me to famous Sydney beach Bondi. The beach is fantastic, the sand looks magical, but the waves are too big. Luka says that shark sirens go on every once in a while, so everyone runs out of the water. For that reason they have sea water pool where you are safe.

11th

I've been in Sydney for 9 days now and I'm still waiting for my bike. Joško Đogaš picked me up with a truck this morning and we went to the cargo company to get the bike. Around 8 o'clock there came an inspector, check the bike. When my package came I noticed it's been hit on multiple places and that safety board was broken in several places. After dealing with all the papers the bike is being loaded to the truck and we go to Boris' factory to assemble it in peace. It took me 3 hours the get the bike ready and I instantly filled up its gas tank.

I said goodbye to Boris, thanked him for everything, when he gives me 400$ for gas, he insisted, I was embarrassed, the man bought me a 1000$ watch, paid for the hotel which must have been 1500$ and now he gives me more cash. Overall he must have spent more than 2.000$ on me. Once more, great thanks to Boris!

Đogaš and I go to dinner, when after only 14 km my tire breaks. I pull over to patch it and I make it to the hotel. We took taxi to go to dinner, he bought me a large portion of pork ribs, I enjoyed it immensely because when you are on the road you don't eat when you're hungry, but when you have a chance. ;)

12th day

I got up around 8, had breakfast, packed everything, the tire is not completely flat yet because I patched it well and then I checked out of the hotel. The price with breakfast and Wi-Fi was 1550$. Poor Boris, I must have cost him more than 3000$ these 7 days, once more a big thanks to Boris Tošić.

After checking out of the hotel I went to Sydney BMW, but they sell and service only cars, not bikes. I go to another store, BMW Procycles ST Peters. Luka Vrščaj used to work there so he recommended me the place. Even though the owner of the store is a man from Macedonia called Vik Popovske, I can't get new tires on sponsorship, so I had to pay for two new tires with the assembling 550$. Vik calls BMW assistance for which I'd already paid 100$, it’s valid for a year and everywhere in Australia except the deserts, I get a free towing service to first official BMW service. Thanks to Vik for a good advice.

After servicing the bike I went to the monastery to say goodbye to Mato Litrić who was my first contact for Australia tour. I had lunch there, a priest blessed me and my bike too, and I joined them for an afternoon prayer and then went to meet Miličević family. Tomorrow I plan to rise early, start around 8, go to Canberra and get to Melbourne till 18 o'clock. That's about 950 km. I haven't ridden my bike for more than 2 months, so I think I'll manage to drive this route in less than 9 hours and then spent an hour on sightseeing Canberra.

13th day

These two days I made about 250 km and I plan to do 950 more today. I got the following advice for touring Australia:

1. Avoid motto-clubs because they make trouble here in Australia, they kill each other so the government plans to make a law which will forbid club markings for any motto club in Australia.

2. Never ride very early in the morning or late at night because there are many animals on the Australia roads and lots of birds they can be dangerous too if they crash into you.

3. Carry lots of water through the desert; it’s not recommended to go alone to pubs and pay attention to your drink because it's not uncommon for somebody to slip you something then mug you.

4. Pay attention to other participants in traffic because there are some very bad drivers; mostly trucks with big bull bars are driven in Australia because of constant crashes with bit animals such as kangaroos, so crashing them on a bike would be very dangerous.

5. Avoid driving behind big trucks who have 3 or 4 trailers because they make big air turbulence so you have a feeling of a flat tire when driving behind them.

6. Every 250 km fill up your tank in case you ran out of gas, it's also recommended to carry an extra gas tank with you.

After 250 km I arrive to Canberra, climb to the viewpoint to take a shot of the town panorama, it's a very small town. As soon as I got there I filled up my tank when a gentleman comes to me and asks me to take a picture of my motto club markings BMW MC SPLIT, he was very surprised since he himself is from Croatia, from Slavonski Brod. However, when he saw that the bike also has Split plates he became very excited, I take my camera to make a video, but the gas station worker immediately comes and tells me to put the camera away because they're not allowed in gas stations in Australia. After sightseeing Canberra I go further towards Melbourne when I see a huge submarine by the road as a part of some museum; it was so huge it couldn't whole fit my frame.

Today I was surprised to see how many dead kangaroos, carcasses and big blood stains are there beside the roads, as well as lots of tire parts, smashed car bumpers and rear truck fenders. The roads are like in America, there are no fences and animals have no problems getting into the road. Maximum speed limit is 110 km/h, there are cameras all over and everybody sticks to the speed limits.

Tomorrow and day after I'll stay in Melbourne, I'll try to find an interesting person from Split and get in touch with other bikers. On Saturday I plan to go to Tasmania. I have so far crossed 1200 km.

14th day

My host Željko Lonac took a day off and we spent the entire day together in Melbourne. After breakfast we took a walk in the city and I ask him is there some viewpoint from which I can take a nice picture of the city. He says yes and takes me to Eureka Skydeck. I had no idea what it was all about until we got there, it's a huge skyscraper with 80 floors and, of course, we went to the very top. There was a great view on Melbourne, but it was very windy and the glass windows were shaking like mad.

As if Željko hadn't had enough, he insisted we also try The Edge. It's a glass cage which you enter and hydraulic cage pulls out of the building and becomes a terrace, but there is also a glass floor and it's very interesting when under your feet on 88 floor you see an abyss. Unfortunately, taking pictures is not allowed in there, but besides the building entrance and The Edge, Željko also bought me a picture of us in the glass cage and a hat as a souvenir.

Afterwards I gave an interview for Melbourne radio 3ZZZ. After dinner I went to book ferry ticket for Tasmania and was very unpleasantly surprised. Return ticket was 550$ which equals 11 full gas tanks or 11 nights in road pubs, i.e. 3.000 KN. I took a second and thought: „Tasmania, you're not worth so much money to spend it on ferry tickets, I should leave on Saturday and get back Tuesday morning. I'd rather make a tour in Melbourne and Phillip Island, find somebody interesting in Melbourne and save up a few days because I'm behind schedule for waiting my bike for 9 days.“

15th day

A lot of things happened to me today, first I gave an interview for CRO TV CH31 to Yanya Yaman in Croatian and then to Max Penn in English. Afterwards I've found the best security officer in Australia named Ivica Glavaš. He recently won an award for best security officer in Australia because he noticed a vehicle turned on in the forest he guards each night. In the vehicle was a person trying to commit suicide, but Ivica saved him. He said he wished to come to Split and would like to meet my employees for whom he says they look like mercenaries after he saw a YouTube video. A lot of serious Croatian media wrote that Ivica was a cop, but now I can set that straight, he is not a cop, but a security officer.

After Ivica, to my hosts' house came the founder and president of Croatian motto club Yashi, Mr. Tony Kašić. He organized a club ride for me on Sunday to go on the Great ocean road to the 12 Apostles. Tomorrow I'm going with two of his members to take a ride to Phillip Island.

In the end I found one person about whom I was always listening in a certain song and, ladies and gentleman, I present you Mr. Renato Grancijeri, i.e. Renato from Australia. I gave a live interview to Radio Dalmatia and gave the phone to Renato to say a couple of words on the air.

He's been in Melbourne for 20 years now with his wife, who is also from Split; he also has his band here and gigs quite often, now he's working on a new project with Neno Belan. He also did a song for Hajduk and he was very glad when I gave him a couple of Hajduk souvenirs, he had tears in his eyes.

16th day

Two members of Croatian MC Yashi picked me up in the morning on their Harley Davidsons – Damir Maković (from Slavonija) and Gordan Pastuović (from Zadar). We went out of town and pulled up at McDonalds to have breakfast. There we met with Silvija and Pero Ribić from Karlovac. Also riding Harley. 100 km away we stop to a cafe/restaurant which is integral part of a chocolate factory whose owner is from India. I had hot chocolate there and we some fried chicken and French fries.

Afterwards we went to motto GP track on Phillip Island. They wouldn't let us on the track, but we took some pictures. Then finally we arrive to the central place of the island, where a large number of world's smallest penguins live. They have some kind of small wooden cabins in which they live as infants, while the older penguins spent their days in the sea hunting fish and feeding their young ones. Each of those penguins knows exactly which cabin is his, and they are extremely faithful to their partners so there's no infidelity with penguins. Each night you can see a penguin parade when thousands of them come out of the sea and go to their cabins to feed and sleep. After penguins we went to see koalas, those slow little animals that live on trees.

We did 450 km today. Tomorrow we get on Great Ocean Road to 12 Apostles, a lot of members of Croatian MC Yashi will come along.

17th day (12 Apostles)

I haven't slept all night out of pure excitement, I rose early and met members of Croatian MC Yashi in Croatia Melbourne Club. After breakfast a team of 15 bikers, all Croats mostly on Harley Davidsons, went on Great Ocean Road which will take us to the 12 Apostles site. However, that wonderful road has lots of curves and there was a little white car in front of me driving really slowly and turns slightly to the right, like giving me a sign to pass him by. I pass and thank him, but 16 minutes after police stops me and tells me I went over a full line 16 minutes ago. It turns out the driver of the white car was also a policeman intentionally driving slowly to make you commit a traffic violation. I explained to him that he'll be the first policeman giving me a ticket in all these 250.00 km, he said: „C'mon, am I really going to be the first a**whole to punish you, I'm really sorry for that, but I have to“. He was really embarrassed, but still he gave a ticket to pay the 280$ fine. When I told him I was from Split, he immediately said „famous club Hajduk“. In the end he also told me he was jealous of me for all my journeys.

After the policeman we stop for lunch, one of them buys me food, other a Coke and Goran Pastuvić paid for my full gas tank. What can I say, the people are wonderful, and they tell me they're honored to have met me and driving with me. After 300 kilometers in total we come to the magnificent 12 Apostles. We took pictures and went sightseeing, then went back to the club. 250 kilometers later we were back.  I held a lecture on my previous journeys and I notices people were tired, but still stayed for my lecture from 19 till 22 o'clock and had fun. I thanked them for their hospitality, food, drinks and gas when one of the gentleman gives me another 100$ for gas.

YASHI thank you so much!

Yesterday we had a 450 kilometers trip and today we made a second trip of 550 km. enough tourism, tomorrow I start adventure – I won't go to Adelaide as planned, but to the desert towards Uluru. Its 2.500-3.000 km of the desert in the middle of Australia. Today was raining a bit, just as the day before, I' m really fed up with rain, so I go to the desert towards Uluru, 3.000 km to there and 3.000 km back.

Uluru, Australia - 21st day

Woke up around 8, packed, had breakfast and started my adventure to the desert. I was well wrapped up and in my rain coat. Soon I enter Northern Territory. It was raining all the way and after 750 kilometers I finally arrive to Red Rock or Uluru. Luckily, the rain had just stopped. 3-days ticket to the national park costs 25$ for me and the bike. There's this beautiful magnificent red stone. I took some pictures, took a walk, the rock is 6 kilometers long. Afterwards I went to this special place where everyone’s comes to watch the sunset and take pictures of Red Rock changing colors every 30 minutes.

Now it’s getting dark and I must find a place to stay. I go to a camp, but they say it's full and send me back to hotel. I already thought that I'd have to pay 200$ for a bed, so I tell the receptionist to give me to cheapest accommodation they have, so Anna puts me in a room with 20 other people and the price was 35$. It's great, large room, 2 stories beds, toilet and a shower separated with the room, just like in a camp. It also has Pionir BBQ and it looks like this: you take a tray, buy a piece of meat and chose one of the grill where you cook for yourself. Around 22 o'clock I went to sleep, but it looks like I was the only one who actually slept that night. Judging by the looks on my roommates' faces, I guess I was snoring too much.

22nd day

I left the room around 7 apologizing to everyone and I have a feeling they all finally manages to sleep after I left. What can I do, they could have paid for a single room if they wanted a quiet night's sleep. When I got off my bike I still hear humming in my head for two hours.

I thought about going to Perth from Uluru, but for the rain that red dusty road is now a muddy puddle it's recommended to travel there only by 4x4 vehicles and to have a satellite phone or CB station with you. Furthermore, for some parts you need Aborigine permission to enter their land. All in all it means 1500 km of going back. Navigation says 3.700 km from Uluru to Perth. I have no other option, I cross 750 km and I'm back at Marijanović's tonight. 3.000 km more till Perth, like from Lisbon to Split. I plan to cross that in 3 days.

Through the Northern Territory there are big Road Train trucks, some of which are 50 meters long. When they pass you by its tremendous wind blast and especially when it's raining they make such a water cloud that you can't see a thing for several seconds. No wonder they often crash into cows and kangaroos, they could go through a wall huge as this.

23rd day

I woke up at 7, Josip made me eggs and bacon, and I packed and got my rain suit on for it was raining again. I started for Perth. I look at huge salt lakes and can't believe what a lucky guy I am – I go to Australia's hottest part and I'm freezing and completely wet. I drove from 8 to 18, rain non-stop. A lot of kangaroos are drinking water by the road and I see they are not at all afraid. While I was driving I was thinking – it's not very smart to go in the middle of Australia alone on a bike. It's not just the problem of being alone, but there are really few travelers on these roads. There's also no cell phone signal. God forbid my bike breaks down or a tire flat, what then? My tires are now cubes by now. I wait for these massive truck to pull over, but they don't, it can be very tricky if something happens – you hit a kangaroo, get hurt, nobody will stop and help you. Here is like in the USA: people are afraid to pull over because there are a lot of cases when people stopped to help other people only to be mugged. Another thing is that bikers are quite unpopular in Australia, people are afraid of them, so it's even harder for a biker to get help in the middle of the road.

I'm back to the ocean road in a little town called Wirrula, there's practically nobody here and looks like a ghost city. I found a hotel for 45$ - I'm the only guest and one family runs the hotel and lives here. It's just a bigger house with very old bedrooms. The family living there reminds me of Adams family. Today I crossed 1000 km and I plan to cross approximately the same tomorrow. I still have 2000 km till Perth, distance like from Split to Moscow. I plan to cross that in 2 days.

24th - 26th day

Happy Easter everyone.

Today is Easter and I’m on the road by the ocean. I was hoping there’ll be a highway and more traffic so in case something breaks on the bike so I can get help easier. But I ran out of luck, there no traffic at all and no highway either.

I crossed 1100 km today, I’m very tired, and I’m sleeping in a town called Balladonia. The price is 130$. The room is neat, but too expensive. Next room I can get is 180 km away, do they use the distance to make money. It’s already dark and kangaroos are coming to the road. I plan to arrive to Perth tomorrow and have at least 2 days of rest. Tomorrow will be the 10th day I’ve been traveling without some rest:

1. Trip to Phillip Island 400 km

2. Trip to 12 Apostles 500 km

3. Melbourne - Broken Hill 850 km

4. Broken Hill, Cooper Pedy 700 km

5. Station Coober Pedy 350 km

6. Cooper Pedy URULU 750 km

7. URULU Coober Pedy 750 km

8. Coober Pedy Wudinna 1000 km

9. Wudinna - Balladonia 1100 km

10. Balladonia - Perth 900 km

7.300 km total, average 730 km each day, 10 days with taking pictures and sightseeing.

25th day

I rise around 6 and I’m on the road in half an hour. I have my tank filled and in the town the gas price is 15.5$ for one liter, but in the desert it’s 20.2”. In the middle of nowhere, the prices go up. I have before me 1.000 km more and I enter Western Australia. There’s more danger here, see camels on the warning signs. It’s still lonesome, very few traffic, no cell phone signals. I come halfway and finally get a signal, traffic increases, there’s even some curves on the road. It’s very hot and I like it, temperature is over 30 degrees Celsius. I speak to Vjeran, he gives me the address and I come to Perth. I drive around his neighborhood in search of his house when I see him and his son Darko, both in Hajduk shirts, and I see Hajduk flag in front of their house, I almost cried of joy.  After being in the desert for days, now lots of food and around 20 people in dinner. It’s a big shock after hunger and silence, you have all days when you don’t utter a single word, and now you have to answer so many questions, introductions, interviews, etc. Next to the room there’s a pool, I’m really surprised and I thank God for this wonderful reward after the loneliness, hunger and cold. I’ll stay here for a while to have proper rest, then on Thursday I got back on the road to Darwing.

26th day

Morning, we have breakfast and tea in a special cup, these people really pay attention to details. I have Mr. Milivoj Balić picking me up and helping me find GS service. I’ve already crossed 10.000 km since the last servicing and there now total of 260.000 km.

I don’t want to go to BMW so I ask him if there’s any garage so I can change the oil and filter by myself. Balić and I go to buy oil to BMW and he insists he pays for it. Afterwards we go to a mechanic Joe Kovač who is of Slavonia origins. He also changes the oil on the road next to his garage, tell me a couple of jokes and the bike is done. When I asked him how much I owe him, he just waves his hand and tells me” #When I first tried to escape from Yugoslavia I told those who locked me down - ‘Guys, I’m an adventurer, I just wanted to see some world.’ They let me go right away”, hahaha. Since we’re both adventurers, he would let me pay. Afterwards Balić took me to a souvenir shop and bought some souvenirs for me, then we went for a beer in Perth.

In the evening Vjeran took me to see a priest Nikola Čabraja who found contacts for me n Darwin, so I gave an interview to Nikola for his Catholic radio. In the evening, families Duplančić and Balić together went to Davor Mačina’s family who has recently bought a Hajduk dress for 7.500$ and the money was intended for a Perth girl medication.

Davor comes from Otok near Sinj. He tells me how he came to Australia in 1975. In Otok there was just one car then, there was no electricity let along something more, so he had quite a shock coming here and seeing all those cars, His uncle came to pick him up at the airport with a new Ford Falcon, the same model Mad Max drove, just without a turbo charger. Then he’d fallen in love with that car and promised himself if he ever could he’d buy that car. Only 200 of those cars had been made for Australian market and Davor has no less than 3, in total value of 250.000$. I couldn’t believe he has 3 Interceptors in his garage. The most valuable of those cars has a Hajduk stick on it. When we were saying goodbye he gave 200$ for the gas. Tomorrow I plan to take one more walk in Perth, then tomorrow morning again back to the desert, I have 4.500 km to Darwin.

27th day

Next day I woke up, had breakfast and was going through my e-mails when I get a shock! Swedish cargo company sent me today, 18 days after I took my bike, an invoice that I have to pay 1050$ for all the paperwork. I immediately called Boris in Sydney to check this for me, but they explained to me that these are normal paperwork cost. I also contacted a company from Kopar who dealt with bike transport, but they say they charged me with price till the harbor, the rest goes to my costs. Usually when I send my bike by a plane I’d pay 100$ maximum for the paperwork and take the bike. I’m now completely disappointed in all cargo companies because these from Kopar should have told me about the cost and these in Sydney should have given me the price right away, not sending me the bill 18 days later.

My host Duplančić said not to worry. I went with him and Balić for a walk to beautiful Kings Park and in the evening we went to a football club Gweul Croatia Soccer Club. There I met Mato Jurčević and Jure Denon. I gave them a few Hajduk flags and they gave me a sweatshirt and 2 club shirts. Afterwards we had dinner in Frank and Jelkica Turibak and Nikola and Ankica Čavlović’s who fixed me up with accommodation. These two families own a beautiful penthouse in 23rd floor with a view on entire Perth. Besides visiting all these people, Duplančić and Čajić collected 1800$ donations for me so now I have money for gas, but also to pay this stupid cargo. That was Duplančić’s “Don’t worry”, and now I’d add “Be happy”. They did everything in under 3 hours. I thank all the donors and organizers Duplančić and Balić, as the rest of the members of Duplančić family. As soon as I come, I’ll take my wife to Perth.

28th day

At 8 I was on the road, driving towards Carnarvon. The roads are great, there’s traffic and big heat, better than the cold. After some time I cross the 26th parallel. I drive for 900 km more and come to my hosts Matija and Vinko Durmanić. She is from Vodice and he’s from Tribunje. They’ve been in Australia for more than 50 years and here they have grapes and banana plantation. They have 200 yards of land that I went to see and I tried some bananas. It’s a jungle of bananas, that’s how many there are. I tried them and they are really tasty, a bit smaller then ours which I think are African, but very tasty. I lack sleep so I went to bed around 20 o’clock. Tomorrow I cross 900 km.

29th day

I was on the road at 9 and driving to my destination for today, Port Hedland. There’s not much traffic and it’s very hot, over 35 degrees Celsius, but I drink a lot of liquid. There are thousands of ant-hills along the way, some are even higher than 3 meters. There are much more dead cows than kangaroos and it smells really bad.

Around 17 o’clock I arrive to P.H. and call my host Perica Gavranič who is from Blato in Korčula Island. Perica builds houses and lives in Perth, but here he rents a house for his workers for 2200$ a week. While I was showering I noticed my hands were burning, I got sun burns even though I drove without my gloves for only an hour. It was great hanging with workers and the dinner was great.

30th day

Port Hedland is most famous by its world’s biggest iron mineral mine. It’s also known for the biggest train in the world who had more than 800 trailers and was over 7 km long with 12 locomotives. There I noticed even bigger trucks that have 4 trailers. One of the monuments here is world’s biggest wheelbarrows which is the symbol of this town. We also visited biggest bulk cargo port where 30 tankers are waiting for iron mineral to be loaded, 90% of which is imported to China. In this area the difference in tides’ levels can be more than 8 meters. 

After sightseeing Tom made me breakfast and at 11 I started for my new destination Borromeo. After a 100 km I filled up my gas tank and didn’t want to fill it again at the next gas station 100 km further. I meant to wait for the next one, but there was none full 450 km more. I drove very slowly, 90 km/h, and there was nobody along the way. At 17 o’clock I arrive to Borromeo, I call my host Matej who is from Zagreb. When I came to his place he told me his mother and father in law are staying at his house, so he rent a hotel for me. The hotel is great and has swimming pool, I went for a swim as soon as I got there. Matej advised me to stay one more day because the town is wonderful, it has one of 10 sand beaches in the world longer than 25 km.

31st day

It was a great day in Borromeo today. First I went for a swim in the Indian Ocean, after that Matej picked me up and took me to lunch at his place, then took me to a crocodile farm. Entrance is 35$, but there’s plenty to see. I bought tickets for both of us and we took pictures with a baby crocodile who live in the sea and are very aggressive. They can grow to be 2000 kg and be over 6 meters long. The staff was about to feed them and we went to watch. You see a still and calm green lake, then in a second all come out. They have 7 times faster reflexes than humans and are so aggressive they often fight during feeding.

Later we went for dinner. I wanted to try kangaroo, crocodile and Camille meat. Tomorrow I got to Kununurra and have 1100 km to cross, one part of it being without any gas stations again. So I’m taking with me a little canister for gas. Broome is a beautiful tourist town and I thank my host Mater for paying for two nights in a wonderful hotel and his wife for preparing great food for me.

32nd day

I woke up at 6.30 and the sun was high up above, I knew I should have slept less. I started for Kununurra which in aborigine language means “Great leader”. Matej warned me that great vastness awaits for me where there are no inhabited towns and not much gas. Right after 130 km I see the first gas station and I pull over. Since almost all gas stations outside of towns don’t have asphalt in front of their entrance but red sand, so has this one too. I slow down, turn left and I get stuck in the sand. I try to balance the bike with my left foot, but it gets pinched by the bike.

First I turn off the bike, I pull off my boot and set the ankle (the pain immediately stopped when I set it right) and walked to the gas station and asked for help to lift GS. We barely made it, it stared right away, but we had trouble in getting it out of sand. The workers there explained that recently they had a lot of rain so that’s how those big holes in the sand came to be. I felt my ankle getting worse, so I put a few handfuls of ice, poured a liter of water in there, sealed my boot with tape and drove like that for 300 km till the next gas station. There I tried to pull off my boot but I couldn’t, so I repeated the procedure with ice and water. After few hours that water becomes hot and my ankle is getting worse, so I lift my leg on the tank and came to my destination driving like that for more than 1000 km.

In Kununurra I got a wonderful apartment, I have a pool in the backyard and my host Nikola Čavlović made me dinner. I managed to pull off my boot and I put ice on my ankle, but it’s all swollen. Tomorrow we go sightseeing and try to fix my ankle, I hope nothing is broken. I have 5.000 km more till Sydney, but I have so far crossed 13.000 km.

33rd day

Today I put ice on my ankle and it’s a bit better. Around 10 I went with Nikola to the town, it’s very small – barely 7.000 people. Nikola and his daughter Donna and son Rick are convincing me to take a small plane to see a big lake Argyle and purple diamonds mine and national park Bungle Bungle. Since there were great rains recently there the roads are all closed and the only way to see this is from the air. Hanging out with Rick and his godfather was fun, they laugh and drink a lot. Donna and Rick got this 26-apartment hotel from their father and the hotel’s value is estimated to 10.000.000$. Nikola came to Australia 50 years ago, with no education, he taught himself English and started working in constructions, just to have the biggest Kunanarra construction company years later. He moved to Perth, but both Rick and Donna wanted to stay here and work in tourism, so their father built this wonderful hotel for them.

That’s Australia – with no education you can work and become a billionaire. I know no foreigners who came to Croatia and managed the same thing, but unfortunately I do know lots of people who speak several languages, are greatly educated but can hardly be waiters and most of them are unemployed.

34th day

I rose at 4.30 and put cold wraps on my ankle and exactly at 5.30 the flying agency picked me up. The drivers was also the Cessna pilot. We got to the airport, he briefly introduced to us the plane, safety exits, etc. After 15 minutes five of us sat down in the plane and we took off. It was my first time in such a small plane, it’s very noisy and shaky, but the view from the air if wonderful. We see the purple diamonds mine, workers there work in 15-days shift and travel there by plane. Each worker goes through numerous checks in order to prevent staling the diamonds.  The flight lasted for two full hours, afterwards they brought me back to hotel. The plane tour costs 315$, but my hosts have discounts, so it cost me 275$ and I can confirm it’s worth every penny.

In the afternoon I went to Rick’s and together we went for a tour on a boat on a river which I saw earlier today from a plane. 35.000 crocodiles live in that river. Rick and his godfather were great, there was lots of beer and a full gas tank. We went 40 km far from the town, after that we took a turn to some kind of jungle where everything was crowded with big spiders. They told me they’re not dangerous, that once you’re bitten you have 4 hours to get to the hospital, some spiders it’s 2 hours, it’s nothing. Rick had to stay up front of the boat to break the branches that prevented us from passing through. We were killing those spiders all the time, there was so much of them.

But the nature is really wonderful. In one moment we all yelled when we heard something in front of the boat. A bird that was on the water in front of us just disappeared, it was a crocodile. We decided to go back, but the boat propeller got stuck, so Rick was cleaning it with his hands in the water, like he didn’t care he could get bitten by a crocodile. It’s very dangerous there and it’s forbidden to get close to the dam which was opened today. It started to pull us in more and more and we barely escaped. Those two guys are completely mad, but I had great fun and my dose of adrenaline.

35th day

I woke up at 4, packed and I was on the road at 5 am. My plan should have been Townsville, but I couldn’t find a host there so I went towards Brisbane. After 1150 km I arrive to town Tennant Creek. I find cheapest accommodation there in a camp, a trailer without a toilet for 50$. I have to confess it was very old, but it was clean. For dinner I had chees and salami given to me by the host. My ankle still hurts a bit, but it’s ok when I put ice on it. Tomorrow Brisbane.

36th day

I rise early, fill my gas tank and I’m on the road at 7. 400 km later I enter Queensland. It was raining which isn’t unusual for this area where it sometimes rain for 3 months non-stop. After 1150 km I arrive to town Winton. Again camp, again cheapest old trailer, but it’s great for sleeping. Clean, a few bugs here and there. Ankle is healing up slowly, yesterday and today was a great therapy – 2350 km in 2 days, with this pace it will be like new soon. Tomorrow I plan to cross only 850 km to Rock Hampton, so I won’t force it very hard. From Rock Hampton to Brisbane I have 600 km.

37th day

I wasn’t early when I finally rose, I got to the road late because I have only 850 km to cross today. There are more and more curves and works on the roads. I don’t care, it’s an easy ride, but every now and then a dead kangaroo reminds me to be careful. Now I also see black wild pigs, haven’t met those before, but besides them there are also some nice animals, such as parrots, white and green, flying in flocks, very nice to see. After three days of driving some 2400 km crossed, I get a signal in town Longreach. I get messages from Robert Homki from MacKay who is a Croat and a friend of Sherri Jo from Australia who’s been her motorcycle trip for 3 years now and who was also my guest when she was in Split. His messages made me cross 100 km more and visit him. I arrive to town Alpha and I wish to go to Clermont, but the roads are closed for the rain. That means 100 km, in total it’s 300 km more. I drove through hills 550 m above sea level, it reminded me of our Lika.

The Australians have a special way to warn you about things, such as “rest at the next resort or die”. Same goes for cigarettes, all must be packed in black and white and they have pictures of people who died of cancer, a bit morbid. It doeasn’t really affect the smokers much, but I do think it might impact those who haven’t started smoking yet.

It’s getting dark as I arrive to MacKay. Homki family greeted me, we had a nice talk and great dinner. I’ll stay here till tomorrow and go to Brisbane on Monday. Today I crossed 1000 km, yesterday 1150 km and day before yesterday 1200, it’s 3350 km in total in 3 days. I think you can’t cross more than 1300 KM a day in Australia if you want to stick to the speed limits and don’t want to drive at night.

38th day

After breakfast Renay, Boris and I went to see MacKay. First they took me to see beautiful sand beaches. They say that when it’s very hot in the summer they can’t swim because there are lots of jellyfish who can kill you, as well as sharks and crocodiles. They dealt with thise problems by making a big pool which is free of charge for all inhabitants and safe for swimming. Still, there is also danger of snakes – this is Australia, there’s always some kind of danger.

Afterwards we went to a big parking place where each Sunday people with oldtimers gather. It was really nice to see them, so shiny and well kept, not to speak about the sound, I think each of them is V8. Later we went to a big shopping mall Mayer for which they say it’s like their living room. Since they have tropical climate it may happen that it rains for months, so everyone comes to this mall. After we came home I took kids for a ride on the GS, then packed because I rise at 5.30 then go to Brisbane.

39th day

I got up early, at 5.30, said goodbye to my hosts and went towards Brisbane. I made almost 1000 lm today and I came to the city by night. The drive was hard because there were works on the road all the time and lots of jams because of that.

My hosts in Brisbane are the Jakovac family who are Croats and have been in Australia more than 50 years. They own a company Majestic pools and they are one if best swimming pool companies in Australia. They have more than 700 employees and more than several awards for their pools. They do the most demanding works such as pools in tall skyscrapers, etc. Željko Jakovac is a passionate biker and has been driving all his life, he proudly showed me his Harley Davidson which is wonderful. Tomorrow morning older son Jason will pick me up with his Jeep Wrangler to give a tour of the city.

40th day

Jason arrived at 7 and we went for some breakfast. He was born in 1977, now he works with his father. He is really interesting, we like all the same toys, cars, lift kit, etc. Afterwards we took a drive over Brisabane, I took pictures of their Story bridge. After several hours he took me to a place where ships serve as city transport and there his younger brother Andy took over. He’s a lawyer working for their father too. Andy can speak Croatian good, as well as his brother, and we took a walk downtown and had a few drinks. They are both married to Croatian girls and they very much like coming to Croatia. They both also like jeeps and off road riding. They asked me to stay a couple of days longer, but I simply don’t have time if I wish to stay on my schedule and make to my Frankfurt flight.

40th day

I woke up around 5 and started for Sydney. The road was good, I even had some 300 km of highway, without bigger problems I arrived to Sydney, back to Miličević family who were also my first hosts when I came to Australia. Tomorrow will have been exactly 30 days since I took the bike and in those 30 days I crossed around 18.000 km and closed a full circle around Australia.

41st day

In the morning I packed my stuff, separated everything which goes with me with what I shall send back with the motorcycle. At 10 I was at Boris’ factory and washed the GS. Then I started putting together my biggest puzzle so far. I had so make a cage out of bunch of iron plates. After several hours we managed to make a box.

I called Margaret, a lady who helped me before when I just came to Australia. She’s in charge of sending the motorcycle back to Frankfurt. I wanted to pay 2240$ as was written, but she says she still need to check upon some prices, so I can pay for all on Monday. Since I’ve already had bad experience with their late invoice on 1000$, I’m a bit scared how much will it cost me now. I’m no longer in a position to bargain since I’ve already given them GS.

42nd day

At 9 Steve picks me up and takes me to his parents’’ house in Concord. Later we went to our Croat Charles Bilich’s gallery. Charles was there, a very pleasant man. I told him about my Australia tour, he asked how I finance it all, so I told him about the sponsors and donors. He gave my one of his paintings with an inscription, with the Opera House motive.

Afterwards we went to an Argentinian club where I was invited by Duško Jurčević called Pedro, a fellow from Split. As soon as we got there we ate Argentinian BBQ and which was extremely tasty. I gave Pedro Hajduk flag and he was very glad that we met.

43rd day

Pedro’s house is very interesting, like you live in some kind of antique shop, everything is full of old and beautiful things from all over the world. There also lives his wife Suzy which has Irish origins and who also taught herself Croatian.

At one point his Mexican friends came. Suzy and Pedro really love Latin American music and have many friends from Mexico, Peru, Argentina, etc. After we ate they played the guitars and we had great fun. Later we went to Steve’s for BBQ where we ate kangaroo meat. I wasn’t really thrilled with it, it’s a bit weirdly black and not really like our meat. I ate just one piece of meat, Steve wouldn’t even try it, so we both switched to normal meat – fried chicken and veal.

Today we also went for a souvenir shopping in Sydney. My biggest wish was having a hat with crocodile skin and teeth. Steve bought me the hat and I had to promise when I get to Split that I’ll take my helmet off and come with the hat, which I’ll certainly do. The hat is truly wonderful, made of cow skin, an original Australian product and costs 150$.

44th day

In the morning Steve and I went to a boat ride to Sydney downtown. That boat is actually something like a city transport, just like in Brisbane, but except inhabitants a lot of tourists use it too for sightseeing. The boat also has its stations just like a bus.

When we got downtown we took a walk and then had a beer near Opera House. Later we picked up Irem from work and went to Croatian club Punch Ball. Tickets were 20$ each, food amazing, music Croatian and lots of familiar people.

45th day

Steve and I went to Tigers agency to pay for everything and arrange all the transport details. There we found Mrs. Margaret who was very kind and explained to me why I had to pay the invoice sent 15 days after I’ve already picked up the bike. It’s simply their paperwork price and that the guys in Kopar should have told me that. All in all I paid that 1050$ bill and it came almost twice more money than transport via truck from Kopar to Hamburg, which is ok price. Margaret gave a discount for Boris Tošić who is their big client, so the price would actually be even bigger.

Afterwards I called on the phone all the people who helped me in any way in Australia. When I called Pedro and told him I was going home, he invited all of us to dinner to an Asian neighborhood where he usually gets food and most things are 5 times cheaper than everywhere else in Sydney. We met in Lebanese restaurant Jasmin’s. It was unusually decorated, give you the feeling like you’re in Syria. I understood that Pedro and Suzy are regular here and we ate some of everything – chicken, lamb, etc. Pedro explained to me the exact way of eating and I have to say it was much tastier than when I ate in Syria, Jordan, Pakistan and Iran because I didn’t know that this thin slice of bread should be crossed and other food put inside, like a tortilla. Steve and Irem also enjoyed the food and all everything for us 5 cost only 70$.

Later we went to Shangri-La hotel to its 56th floor where we saw a marvelous view to Harbor Bridge and Opera House. This is where I was with Steve on the beginning of my journey and now, at the very end. Tomorrow I again fly, this time from Sydney to Dubai, then wait 4 hours to catch a plane to Frankfurt, 25 hours in total.

46th day – Going back home

I said goodbye to Kušto, his father Ante and mother Ivka who were all great hosts. I got on a plane at 16 o’clock.

47th day

After 15 hours of flight I come to Dubai, there I wait for my next plane and then fly for 6 hours more to Frankfurt. There’s no one to pick me up so I take a taxi and pay 50€ to get me to Croatian Catholic Church to my host Marinko Vukman. 20 minutes after I came they called me that GS has arrived too.

I and Fra Marinko went to Mediterranean restaurant because tis owner wanted to meet me. He also drives BMW and has heard of me before, so now he didn’t want to miss the chance of meeting me. There I gave interviews for three newspapers. After good food and red wine I went to bed around 7 pm already for I haven’t slept for more than 32 hours.

48th day

In the morning I packed and got my tools ready for bike assembling. Unfortunately I again had nobody to take me to the airport, so I again took a taxi and went to cargo agency. The price should have been 40€, but the driver was also an adventurer in his earlier days, so he wouldn’t let me pay.

In Tigers’ office I was greeted by a nice gentleman, an Englishman James Andrews. He arranged that my bike is taken from the customs to their office so I can assemble it in peace. It’s not just that, he then spent full three hours helping me. All that cost me 250€, including paperwork and customs.

At exactly 16 o’clock I started the GS and went toward Munchen. I crossed about 400 km and arrived at my friend Jure Jurčević’s place. It was nice to hang out with Jure and his wife made us a wonderful dinner.

49th day

I rise at 5, say goodbye to my hosts and leave for Zagreb. After 550 km I come to Croatia. After servicing the GS, which cost 1100 KN Igor took me to dinner, then I went to Boris’ for a good night’s sleep. Now its 1 AM, I plan to rise in 5 hours because I want to come to Split tomorrow. See you tomorrow after 50 days on the road.

Good night.

Wednesday, 08 January 2014 12:03

America

3-2-1... day before the start of the trip

Before the start of our trip BMW MC SPLIT’s second birthday was celebrated and there was around 200 friends. Still, we had to go early in the morning, so Ivana and I went home to sleep. The plan was to cross around 1.100 kilometers and come to Stuttgart. Lanes of BMW MC SPLIT members had seen us by starting and blaring their motors while we left the party driving on the red carpet.

Start / Days one and two

Around 8 o’clock I got my motorcycle ready and members of BMW MC SPLIT again came to the club to wish us a safe trip, so we drove to Dugopolje to have coffee all together. After that, Ivana and I started for Stuttgart. Rain caught us passing through Slovenia and it didn’t stop raining all the way to Stuttgart. After 12 hours of driving and 1.180 kilometers we arrived at our hosts’ Danijel and Dijana Blažević at whose place we would stay for two days for Ivana and Dijana are childhood friends. The weather was rainy, temperature around 18 degrees Celsius and GS counted 192.000 km.

3rd day

Around 22 o’clock we came to Brighton, a town 70 km from London. We came to England by ferry, ticket cost 90€ for two persons, a motorcycle and two lunched on the ferry. We crossed in total 1.100 km through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and England. Now we are staying at our host’s Alex who came from Nigeria, but lives and works in Brighton as a dentist and has a girlfriend from Iran. Tomorrow we go to London to cargo airport to leave our motorcycle and check our flight to New York.

4th day

Today we started at 8 o’clock towards London. We found Jeams Cargo, fulfilled all necessary documentation and took care of our bike. After that we went to airport and bought tickets to NY. Return ticket London-NY for two persons is 8.000 kn. The flight lasted for 7 hours, we had no problems entering USA at the airport and now we are at our host Ivan Mikas’ place. The house is great but the hosts even better! Tomorrow we plan to go sightseeing together.

5th day

Yesterday after breakfast we went to a cargo company to solve the documentation for motorcycle import safety to get motorcycle import approved. After the cargo, our hosts took us to Veslo (“Paddle”) restaurant where they serve pasta, filled peppers and other Croatian food and, of course, the owner is Croatian. After we had great lunch we went to NY sightseeing. The city is enormous and nightlife is completely crazy from illuminated advertisements each night seems like New Year’s Eve. In the evening Ivan made barbecue and we drank quality Croatian wine. Tomorrow we again go to NY sightseeing. It was 39 degrees Celsius here today.

6th day

Yesterday I got mail from USA import controller which shocked me. The controller, Ronald, says it is impossible to import my motorcycle because its owner is a company, and besides that, Croatian Automobile Club’s authorization is not valid for it is written by hand. In this moment our trip longer made no sense and I immediately started solving the problem. I called my employee Anita (who is now director since I am absent) to expressly send mail and fax of motorcycle invoice as well as conformation from the Court register that I am the company’s owner. I also called CAC’s director to send an official mail in which she would confirm that it is practice in Croatia to have had-written authorizations. I also requested confirmations that I took carnet from them and left a 2.000$ deposit as a guarantee that I will return the bike in Croatia. Now I will wait for confirmation that the bike can be imported.

In the evening we went to soccer game and all I know is that Red Bull was playing and we cheered for them. 2500 Croatians came to the game to support Red Bull because they were told that if there was 2000 Croatians in this game, a friendly game between USA and Croatia’s national teams will be organized. A guest who won some kind of award in the game was Mr. Šuker. The atmosphere was great, like I was back home and not in America. 

Besides Croatian shirts, everything was also full of Hajduk and Torcida shirts, but also one of Dinamo’s. It was worn by don Tomislav, a priest who conducted the wedding ceremony of my host Ivan Mikas. Hajduk and Dinamo together!

7th day 

Morning and rain, we went to Astoria area to buy some clothes and an umbrella. Ivana and I sat down for a coffee when one of the waiters comes to me and says “Hi, Rakela, you’re a legend”. I don’t know the man but he tells me that he knows me from Baška Voda where I have gone all my life at my friend Staničić’s café “Bili”. The man’s name is Andrija, but people call him “Jeza” (Eng. “Horror”); I immediately take my cell phone and I call our mutual friend Duško and I tell him: “Duško, here I am in New York, taking a walk in the city, when a man comes to me and asks me if I know you!” Duško couldn’t believe I met Jeza. Jeza came to New York 5 days ago, yesterday got a job in that café, today was late to work because he also went to game yesterday and got drunk there. Later we met in a café Scorpion where Croats meet for 15 years.

In the evening our hosts Ivan and Sandra made fish for dinner which was great. Tomorrow we go to a party in Croatian land, but I have to wait till tomorrow to see what it is all about. The motorcycle is still in London and I have no other information.

8th day

Mikas family is taking us to a picnic to Croatian land in New Jersey. The land was bought by the Church and it serves for Croatians to meet, play bocce, football, go to masses, eat lamb and pork, to dance and sing. We came, set the table for ourselves, and took drinks from travel cooler and the party started. It was really crazy, around 100 lambs and 50 pigs were roasted there. I talked to a bunch of Croatians who were interested in my past travels. It was really nice to see Croatian people together there.  Tomorrow I need to solve the paper for motorcycle to finally arrive.

9th day

Sandra took us to Harlem, I took some pictures and there really are all kinds of types, but they don’t allow to be photographed. I tried to take a picture of one huge guy of approximately 110 kg of muscles standing in the middle of a crossroad and training while a hundred people were crossing the street, really crazy. After that Sandra gave us a ride to Manhattan. While touring there Ivana and I came across a Croatia Catholic Church. Afterwards we climbed onto the 102nd floor of Empire State Building – up to the 80th floor you climb up in 26 seconds, like in my own building back home up to 8th floor. Judge for yourselves the view from 102nd floor. We came home by train in a ride that lasted for 40 minutes and cost 100 kn.

10th day

Early in the morning we went to an American restaurant and I ordered all typical American – eggs and bacon. Eggs were pretty much ordinary and bacon too fried, so it was tasteless, like plastic. After breakfast we went to Manhattan again and were amazed at so much neon lights and buildings. We also saw a priest driving a skate in the middle of the street, a biker dressed as a Spiderman… We had coffee in Hard Rock café, bought some souvenirs and went back home. Today is the 6th day I’ve been waiting for my bike, today I again got some papers to sign and send it back. I hope I will soon get an approval to import my bike. It was much simpler to send it to Canada, but there I don’t have hosts like here at whose place I can easily stay for 10 or so days. Tomorrow we go see Central Park.

11th day

Central park is beautiful and huge – it has 4 lakes, cycling tracks, a zoo, playgrounds for children, restaurants… In total we walked 18 kilometers and in the way we met drunks and homeless people sleeping in the middle of the road while business people in suits walk past them. And today finally good news – I got a letter from American control saying I can import my bike, I immediately forwarded it to London. Now I’m waiting for them to send it from London, I can hardly wait when GS will arrive!

 

12th day

Since Ivana and I walked 18 kilometers yesterday, today we spend more time at home with our hosts because Ivana has sore muscles and I am tired too. I was very interested in my host’s life who came from Omiš, lived with his mother in barracks for workers in Zakučac near Omiš and was abandoned by his father. They lived on his mother’s small salary who worked in factory Galeb. Very modest and hard-working young man, he saw no future in our country, he wasn’t satisfied by being a waiter and felt he could do more. One day in Omiš he saw a parked car with USA plates and waited for 4 hours next to it till the owner came. He asked him for a guarantee letter, he got a visa and came to NY with 400$ in his pocket. He went to Astoria area where mostly Croatians live, luckily of the Croatians there who worked in electric engineering gave him a job. In Croatian church he met Sandra whose family originates from Zadar (her maiden name is Peša), but she was born in the USA. After a year they got married and now have two wonderful sons, James and Francesco. Now he owns a company and employs around 20 people, lives in a beautiful house in NY and plays golf in his spare time. He managed all this in just 4 years. One is for sure – if you are hard-working, honest and modest, you cannot go down in American. Yes, he works each day from 7 till 19, but he knows what he is doing.

Tomorrow my bike finally arrives and I hope I’ll be able to take it right away.

13th day

Today Ivana, Sandra and me went to JFK airport to pick up the bike. They sent us from cargo to the customs, no smiles at the customs, all employed there are dead serious, perfect uniforms, all have batons, CS gas, a gun, handcuffs, cell phones and they stay behind the counter and deal with documents. The boss says I don’t have some kind of paper… I give him the paper, he gives it to someone else to check, and that guy comes back and says “this is not valid in USA”. After 4 hours they finally find the paper among their own papers and realize that Croatians don’t need carnet for USA. We take all the papers, again go to cargo, finally getting the bike! They bring it in a box and ask which truck to load it onto. No truck, I say, we unpack it and assemble it. After that I start the engine.  That room has only one exit and, of course, the bike can’t get through it. I wait for an usher who will take me over the airplane runway to the exit. Again filling up the paper forms for that procedure, I start the bike and drive behind a white van on the runway. Airplanes pass us, park and I proudly drive my GS, finally getting out and driving behind Sandra to the house. The traffic is horrible and, of course, it’s raining heavily and I’m in summer shoes and light jacket, completely wet. We come home around 19, 9 hours after we started today. Now we are complete and tomorrow we start for Toronto or Chicago, we’ll decide in the morning. I’m thinking about my brother Ante who is in Foreign Legion and who sent me a mail from Ivory Coast today.

14th day

Today around 12 we said goodbye, almost in tears, with our hosts here, the Mikas family. On the very start through the busy NY we almost fell, traffic is jammed, the trucks driving around us at the speed of 5km/h… Sun is up, helmet glasses are down, I’m getting under some overpass and it’s dark, I’m driving between cars when my front wheel gets stuck in a gap between two lines. I can’t move my steering wheel! We start to fall to the right and I barely manage to straighten with my right leg, I turn the wheel sharp right and pull up from the gap. The rest of the drive was ok, one of the interesting things was that prior to entering Canada there were lots of dead deers by the road, killed by cars and trucks.

We went little less than 800 km today and now we are in Oakville, near Toronto. Our host is Leo Marasović, a Croat with Dugopolje background. As soon as we came the host toasted with some kind of tequila. At 3:30 we went to sleep. Tomorrow we’ll check out the neighborhood we’re staying at and which was designed by a Croat. The streets are called Jezera, Milna, etc.

15th day

We had a good sleep and went downtown Toronto in order to visit CN Tower. We found it quickly, the tickets were 54$. The elevator is incredibly fast, of course the view is perfect, even better is the glass floor under which you see the abyss. After the CN Tower we went back home and went to picnic with our hosts. It’s pretty much the same thing as in NY and Croatian Land – bocce, football, lamb, singing and drinking… Croatian shirts, flags like we are on some national party back home. We were a real attraction when people saw plates from Split. Plan for tomorrow are Niagara Falls.

16th day

It was a full day, we crossed 400 km, all around the town we’re staying in. First we went 100km from home to Niagara Falls which are magnificent! We had lunch and started for downtown Toronto, 130 km, when I got the message from my friend Trutina da Croatian bikers in Canada want to meet me. We started for a town called Norval where a large fascinating Croatian Catholic Church is set. I met Croatian bikers, amongst them Dean Vrcič who also drives GS, he immediately noticed I lack one screw on my visor, he pulls out one screw from his own and puts it on mine, a true GS brother! He also gave me a knob for gas so I can rest my arm while I drive. When we were parting Dean wanted to give me some money, he put it on my seat and said it was for my lunch. I didn’t want to take it, however, he insisted, when I came home I saw it was 200$ and it was the first time I saw the man.

Later we came to Leo’s neighbor Trutina where other 3 bikers came. I talked about my adventures and they were laughing. We parted late in the night, to Trutina and Dean I gave Hajduk scarf, tickets and a flag, all made for 100th anniversary of Hajduk. When I started for home with Leo, Trutina put a 100$ in my pocket, completely crazy. In the morning we’ll go to Chicago where another host, Rita, is waiting for us.

17th day

In the morning we got up, our hosts didn’t go to work to see us off. Leo made breakfast and we had a talk after eating. Lea and his brother were born in Canada, Leo spent some time in Croatia where he played football for Mosor and Split, but is a big Hajduk fan otherwise. Most interesting detail was that one day his mother went to a store to buy food and a casher asked her if she wanted a lottery ticket instead of change. She took 3$ ticket and won 5 000 000 $! His father build a big house in Dugopolje and bought a tourist village in Mala Luka near Omiš hoping his sons will return to Croatia and deal with tourism. However, Leo met his future wife Ivana, with Metković origins, who is a broker. He starts doing the same job and now he is one of the strongest Toronto brokers. Together they have two daughters and a son. When we were leaving Leo gave me an envelope with 400$ in it.

We started for Chicago, the weather got bas really fast, with a strong wind, very strong. We stopped in a gas station when some man comes to us and says we should be careful on the bike for there’s a tornado coming (I thought he was some drunken fool). Then thunders began like an explosion, the sky started changing colors, we came to Chicago, there was no traffic jam like in NY. Then the weather got worse, I could barely drive but luckily I have experience with our bura, but this was much stronger. I find Rita’s house and she thanked God when she saw us and said we really came in the last minute. We quickly store the bike in the garage, watch the news and everything is under alert, a whole station with 45 000 people was emptied and 300 planes were put to the ground. I understood now why there was no traffic jam in Chicago. We had a great American BBQ chicken for dinner which Bill made. Following the news we realized the danger was over, the tornado missed Chicago, but the damage was large.

18th day

After breakfast I planned the American route in detail and made a list of everything we should visit. First thing next we went to Milwaukee where Harley Davidson was formed and went to HD museum which was really beautiful. Among hundreds of Harleys, there’s also my BMW… After the museum we came home and together with Rita and Bill went to Chicago, we climbed the Willis Tower – the highest building in USA. After a beautiful view Rita and Bill took us downtown to have pizza which was massive! Then Rita took us to Croatian Catholic Church of St. Jerome, we talked on our way back home. Her parents have Split origins, she doesn’t speak Croatian, but of course she knows about Hajduk. Tomorrow we go on…

19th day

We packed and said goodbye to wonderful Rita and Bill and we went on for St. Louis. Right after exiting Chicago we came to the mother of all highways, ROUTE 66. The road is two ways, there are a lot of railways and it goes parallel with highway 55 all the way to St. Louis. We pulled up for some gas and lunch, for 10$ you can eat anything you want: salads, soups, main courses, deserts and drinks as much as you want. After 6 hours of driving and 500km crossed we come to Croatian Catholic Church St. Joseph in St. Louis, caretaker Berislav and our host Pero Radoš Okič meet us and later comes fra Stjepan Panđić whose contact we got from Sani Kozin from Toronto. After the dinner together and talking late at night we decided to stay a day longer. Tomorrow we go to see St. Louis.

20th day

In the morning we went to St. Joseph Church and made an interview with fra Stjepan. When we were leaving he gave us a money donation collected by the parishioners. We are surprised how people see our trip, everybody is helping us in so many ways. With our host Pero Okoč, called Radoš, we go to see St. Louis. We come to the well-known Arch, the doors of the West, where military helicopters and planes fly, the army is in inflatable boats, and along the coast you can see military tanks and transporters. We were lucky to see a day-long parade of American Marines. I sat in fighting Hummers, helicopters, transporters, held guns… it was crazy! After the Marines we visited a St. Louis History Museum which is wonderful and mostly depicts gold fever time. We managed to go to sleep around two o’clock. Tomorrow we plan to go to Oklahoma City.

21st day

We packed and went to fra Stjepan who blessed both us and the bike, said goodbye to our host Pero and went to Oklahoma City. On our way there we took a turn to the town Joplin to see the damage done by the tornado, the sight was unbelievable. After Joplin we go to Oklahoma City, but 60 km from the city my tire broke. I tried to fix it, the spray doesn’t help, I try the injection, I manage, but there is no more air to pump the tire. For 2 hours I try to stop a car, nobody stops, I call 911. After 10 minutes police comes. They ask me if I have 250$ for road service, I agree for I have no other choice. After 1 hour road service comes and takes me to a gas station, I buy the spray and the tire is now ok, but still they advise me to wait for next day and find a mechanic.

22nd day

After sleeping in a very bad hotel we went to find a mechanic, while we drove the tire again starts to blow air and on last air reserves we come to a mechanic. I was so happy thinking that the problem was solved. Still, they immediately warned me that they usually work only with cars, not bikes. I ask them to leave the bike in their garage while I search for some hotel nearby.

Accidentally I meet Jeff who lives in Oklahoma City, works as a professor as a graphic designer, he drove us 4 hours around the city searching for tires and a hotel. Meanwhile I contacted BMW Europe CEO who put me in touch with BMW America and they gave me information for a BMW service here, they work in the morning so I hope all will be settled then. We are sleeping in a nice hotel and for 65$ we have the pool, breakfast included and the room is great. In the evening Jeff took us to a big country cowboy restaurant.

23rd day

In the morning I called BMW service, told them about my problem and asked them to pick me up at the hotel. The servicer came and we went to the mechanic’s where I left GS. We took off rear tire and went to BMW service. It is only for motorcycles, they have everything besides a tire, so I suggest that they take off a tire from brand new GS and put it on mine. So they did just that. There I saw a BMW run down by a tornado, judge for yourselves the strength of it.

Servicing cost me 600$, a new tire, installation, balancing, patching kit, transport and a few more little things. It is expensive, but what can you do, I go to pay and realize my wallet is gone. I remember that last night I paid for the ice-cream because I wanted to treat Jeff. I tell that to the mechanics and they say there is no way that a stranger will give back a wallet with all the cards and money. I call Jeff and tell him to check if my wallet is with him, he checks and finds it, says he’ll be there in an hour. So it happened, Jeff came, brought me my wallet and all the mechanics said I was such a lucky guy to have come across Jeff.

I paid for all, said goodbye to the mechanics and went towards Texas. Tire problem cost: 250$ transport and a new tire 650$, 900$ in total and an extra night in a hotel 75$. It is the stupidest thing that when you have a flat tire in USA you can only change it in motto service and there is no way some car mechanic will do that for you because those are the rules. We are now at Amarillo, had dinner in a real cowboy restaurant and tomorrow we go on Route 66 to Flagstaff, Arizona.

24th day

We started to Flagstaff, we have around 1000 km till we come there, and we soon passes Texas and entered New Mexico. We drove on the previously mention Route 66 and when it was closed we went to Road #40, it was an 1800-2100 above sea level ride. It was incredibly hot. In one moment we see dark clouds in front and we cheered up thinking some rain will refresh us. However, when we came close we saw twirls, horrible thunders, lightning… There was so much dust, I needed to put my lights on, and then it suddenly started raining ice?! The temperature fell down for 20-25 degrees, incredibly strong wind was blowing, I barely managed to cross that area, we escaped further 100 km but the wind was still blowing.

We pulled up at an American-Indian shop and an American Indian girl selling souvenirs told us that there are strong storms in a large area in American interior and that there are also large fires because of the droughts. She recommended that we go no further at this point, but still I decided to try, I drove carefully and we entered Arizona and arrived safely to Flagstaff. We crossed 1000 km, drove for 11 hours and tomorrow we have Las Vegas planned.

25th day

This morning we started for Las Vegas. I got an e-mail from Rita who made us reservations in a good Las Vegas hotel. We again went on Route 66 and entered Nevada. On our way to Las Vegas we made a turn to visit the biggest dam in the world, Hoover Dam. It is really huge!!! Around 17 o’clock we came to Las Vegas and were speechless... the city is completely crazy! We came in front of the hotel Tropicana and saw queues there for cars, limousines, buses… and we came by GS. They usually take your car and park it by themselves, however when they’d seen us they didn’t even think of it. We came in a hotel, there is a big casino, I mention a reservation in Rita’s name, and the receptionist gave us the room card and wished us welcome. I ask for the price and she replies that Rita paid for 3 nights. We almost fainted, we couldn’t believe it, and Rita and Bill paid 3 nights for us in Las Vegas center! Besides the room, we also got 50$ discount for the helicopter flight over Grand Canyon.

Big thanks to Rita & Bill. We now go to sleep on 15th floor of the hotel.

26th day

This morning we took a walk in Las Vegas, had lunch and went swimming in hotel pool. The city is beautiful and it is so far the most interesting city I’ve ever been to. The streets are clean, filled with tourists and the casinos are great. After swimming we went to a wax statues museum and it was very interesting. On our way back to the hotel we stopped in front of Bellagio hotel in front of which there is a largest fountain in the world. I don’t know if Las Vegas is more beautiful at night or in day, I just know I was thrilled. Tomorrow we plan to visit Grand Canyon and, one again, I thank Rita Viggiano, Bill and my friend Simunić for providing for us free nights in the beautiful Tropicana hotel.

27th day

Today we planned to visit Grand Canyon, however we gave up on the idea and decided will visit it on our way back from Los Angeles. We spent the whole day in the city, wonderful and full of surprises, the streets are filled 24 hours a day. In the evening we hang out with local bikers who mostly ride HDs. Every hotel, i.e. casino, is special for something, for example our neighboring hotel MGM is known for having live lions in the hotel, and often famous stars perform there. In our hotel there is performance by Rihanna, in Cesar Palace Celine Dion. In our hotel there is also a performance of a famous TV comic Brad Garrets. That’s how it is in Las Vegas, always some entertainment. Tomorrow we leave this beautiful city and we go to San Francisco to stay to meet our host Pablo.

28th day

Today we crossed 900 km and came on schedule in San Mateo, 20 km from San Francisco. The drive lasted for 11 hours and it was quite tiresome through the Mojave desert, horrible heat. We came to our hosts’ Pablo and Nikola. Pablo owns the most popular motto forum in Serbia, BJB. His contact was given to me by Zoran Livaja, the owner of security company in Belgrade, who made a trip around the world on a motorcycle in 2007. Three days ago I sent mails to Patrik and Grba, 2 Croats on a trip through America at the moment, they are doing the around the world trip, may they have a safe trip.

29th day

Today we went to see San Francisco with our host Pablo. We were at the docks where lots of tourists come and traditionally eat boiled and roasted big crabs. From the docks one can catch boats who take you to the famous prison Alcatraz. Later we went to see cable train who transports passengers with a cable. We took a ride over a well-known bridge and symbol of San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, which looks fantastic. In the end we went to see national park Muir Woods, the day was so filled, a tomorrow it is 4th of July, USA Independence Day!

30th day

We were on the move today all today with our hosts Pablo and Nikola. First we went to Twin Peaks viewpoint where we took some nice pictures, after that we went to Market Street. While we were crossing that street we saw a complete naked man, walking with a purse and a helmet. I didn’t manage to take a photo because I was in such a shock. After a walk in the city our hosts took us to try cakes in Cheese cake factory, we waited for 2 hours to get a table, but when we tried the cake it was more than clear why the queue was so large, they were perfect. After that we took a boat ride over the gulf, below the Golden Gate Bridge and then the prison Alcatraz. We had dinner together and then went to docks where there was a magnificent Independence Day fireworks which lasted for 50 minutes. Now to bed, its past 1 AM…

31st day

Today is already a month since we started this trip, we dedicated the whole day to resting and packing for our goal for tomorrow in Los Angeles with our host Bane Obranović. Ivana cooked today for our hosts Pablo and Nikola, they were a little surprised cause we managed to find famous Vegeta in their neighborhood. We’re looking forward to meeting Bane.

32nd day

We started for LA around 9, drove by the ocean on a great highway 1. On half the drive GS turned 200.000 km. driving further to LA we came across a lot of sea lions. After 11 hours and 800 km we finally arrived at our host Branislav Obranović who has been waiting for me for full 3 years.

In 2009 Bane had a serious accident in the Mexico desert when he broke his neck, clavicle and shoulder blade, 14 fractures in total. He doesn’t drive big GS anymore, but he and his fiancée both have their own GS 650 and two more in the garage. Plan for tomorrow is to go sightseeing.

 

33rd day

This morning we went to see LA with Bane. First he took us to a Catholic Cathedral of St. Alojzije Stepinac, we were so proud. After the church we went to Hollywood and took pictures next to the famous sign which was quite hard to find because the roads are like labyrinths, and there is no sign so that the tourists don’t disturb local residents. After Hollywood we went to the Celebrity Street and Beverly Hills which is beautiful and wonderfully designed. Later we went to take pictures next to the table that marks the end of Route 66. In the evening we came home and Pablo and Nikola came to visit from San Francisco. Together we had dinner and tomorrow we all go to Disneyland and to visit Akrapovič store.

34th day

Getting up at 7 o’clock and going to Disneyland. Bane, Pablo and Nikola went by car and Ivana and me by bike.1 person entrance is 80$, but it’s worth every penny of it. Disneyland is a place for everyone to go, you have to wait for some things over an hour and a half, but everything is great, for example Star Wars or riding the Indiana Jones tracks. We got in at 9 o’clock and got out around 18 o’clock and we’ve seen about 70% of the park. There are two parks, Disneyland Park and Adventure California Park.

In the evening Bane did barbeque and later we went to Bane’s neighborhood swimming pool to relax our muscles of all the walking and standing. We rescheduled our visit to Akrapovič for Monday and tomorrow Bane and I will make a big service on GS. It’s been 15.000 km since the last service, so it is needed.

35th day

Today was a hard-working and instructive day. Bane and I did service on the bike and for the first time I set up the valves. We changes the bulbs, air filter, oil filter, etc. After the service we took a walk and went to a Vietnamese restaurant. In the evening we took a walk to the sea, the beaches are of sand and filled with tsunami warnings. Tomorrow we plan to go to Dalmatia night in Croatian club in San Pedro, we mean to meet Grba and Patrik to wish them a safe trip through Russia.

36th day

Ivana and I started this morning to Mexico, we heard there was an art festival in a town called Tijuana, so we’re going to see that. It took us 140 km to there, we entered Mexico without any control or stopping, but there was control and traffic jam on our way back. We were walking around the town for 3 hours and then went back to come in time to Dalmatia night and meet Grba and Patrik. Grba gave me an address, e-mail of Mr. Bezmalinovič as well as his phone number.

I called Grba and Mr. Bezmalinovič this morning before going to Mexico and also send them mails, but nobody is contacting me yet. Turns out the phone number were incorrect. Still, Ivana, Bane and I went to Mr. Bezmalinovič address. I took with me the gifts for them and for Dalmatians, but in from of Croatian home there was nobody. Bane took us to Croatian restaurant Ante’s where a nice waitress from Komiža told us that Dalmatian night was today from 12 PM till 17 PM and on an entirely other address. She also said that there was a skinny guy there, blond and also travelling by bike. I presume that was Patrik, I ask for Grba, but she said there was only one guy. We stayed for dinner there and then went back home to Bane’s place. I can’t believe that at one point there was 6 travelers on bikes in 3 groups from Croatia and nobody met each other. I had the will, but… On this trip I realized how emigrated Croats stick together, but we others not really.

37th day

Today Ivana, Bane and me went to the Akrapovič company. Michael Larkin waited for us there, and when he, lead manager of Akrapovič for USA, saw that my bike has over 200.000 km crossed, he simply knelt down and kissed the air exhauster. He drives Kawasaki GTR 1400 and from 2008 to 2011 he crossed 100.000 km and he made a bet with a colleague when he meets somebody with bigger km average crossed than him, that he’ll kiss that bike in the air exhauster. The colleague works with him so he couldn’t avoid the bet.

Later we took some photographs with the whole team who works in LA. We said goodbye to all, including Bane who was a great host. He took us everywhere, each day we had breakfast, lunch, dinner, desert. He serviced my bike, bought all the parts, filters, oil and didn’t want to take any money for it because he said he waited 3 years for me to come. Once again, many thanks to Bane, it was an honor to meet him and his fiancée Christine.

Ivana and I started for Williams in Arizona, back to Route 66, by the part we didn’t drive on when we were coming to San Francisco. We came across a town called Oatman, full of wild donkeys roaming around freely. 100 km before our goal it was raining heavily, so when we came we found a cheap place to stay for 50$ and tomorrow we go to Grand Canyon.

38th day

We’re going to Grand Canyon. Entrance to the national park is 25$ for 2 persons, the park is huge and lots to see there. It is located 2100 m above sea level and through the canyon run Colorado River which is on 600 m above sea level. Temperature was comfortable, and maximum temperature is never above 35 degrees Celsius. After Grand Canyon we set on towards town Gallup. On our way there we made a turn to visit Barringer’s crate with 1.200 m in diameter. The crate looks astonishing, but it took only 2 seconds for the meteor to create it. After the crate we entered New Mexico and here we are in Gallup. Today we crossed just 600 km, but we’ve seen a lot. Tomorrow we plan to visit “the aliens” in Roswell because on official FBI site there is a confirmation from 20th May 2011 that in 1947 a UFO crashed here. We’ll go check it out.

39th day

Woke up around 10 o’clock primarily because whole night trains were passing 30 m from our window. Now I understand while the room is only 50$. We packed in hurry and went to chase UFOs. We drove 500 km till Roswell, last 250 km there is nothing there, no gas stations, no villages, nothing but pastures and lots of cows. It was again raining heavily those 250 km, but when we entered the town the rain stopped, but the town was flooded and most roads were closed.  We found the UFO museum, he ticket was 10$ for two. At the entrance, when they saw how wet we were, the cashier said this was the first rain in 5 months and that everybody was cheered by it no matter the flood. The museum was interesting, lots of evidence, photographs and testimonies on aliens exhibited. For a moment I thought about those aliens and that they are actually like us, adventurers, just from some other world. Rain started again as we exited the museum, we sat on the bike and drove 200 km more. We barely made it to Denver in Texas, a little town in front of which there are countless oil wells. Everything was also flooded here and cars can barely drive through the water, but people are cheerful for the rain. Tomorrow we go on to Dallas.

40th day

I got a mail from Sputnik last night, telling me that he’s continuing his trip alone because his driving partner has to go back to work. He wanted us to meet and drive together for a while, but we’re headed in opposite directions – me to Florida, him to Alaska. I’m glad he contacted me and I wish him a safe trip. Ivana and I left for Dallas on schedule, we drove 750 km without stopping before we came to a town called McKinney. There we visited a copy of our Supetar – a luxury quarter made in Dalmatian style. It was built by a billionaire Jeffrey Blackart who made a church like one in Supetar. Another 10 or so houses was build and sold to millionaires. But the name of the quarter is neither Dalmatia, nor Supetar but Adriatica, there are lots of Brač, but also Italian motives.

In front of the grand bell tower you can buy products of honey, peach, watermelon, asparagus, etc. However, not one of the salesmen knows about Croatia or Supetar, they were surprised when I told them that the investor made a copy of Supetar church. In Adriatica we stayed for 2 hours, going through Texas we saw 300 km of processed desert, everything is watered and processed. What would they do if they had the Sinj field, and we barely touch it. Now we are in a town Mt. Vernon I crosses 850 km today. Tomorrow we go towards Florida.

41st day

On our way to Florida we took a turn north to Memphis. There we visited Elvis Presley’s house, tickets were 35$ each. For that price you may enter all rooms except the room where he passed away – the family forbade that room to be visited. The house is really nice and everything is authentic, his grave is also located in the big yard of the house. After the tour on the house we went to see a museum of his own cars and it was great, he had from Mercedes, Ferrari, and Rolls Royce to big American convertibles. After the cars we went to see two of his private jets, one even has a room, conference room, etc., and the other is rather small compared. We went to a museum afterwards, spent 3 hours there, and this was all included in the ticket price. Our heads were full of Elvis, so we sat on GS and drove another 180 km and now we are in town Tupelo. Tomorrow we plan to cross 1.100 km and make it to Orlando Florida. I’m supposed to meet Igor Mužić there whose contact was given to me by Nikola Baran. Thank you Nikola.

42nd day

It was tiresome today, we drove 12 hours and crossed 1100 km. We came to Orlando, first our navigation died, then it was raining hard. Around 22 o’clock we came to a café owned by our host’s brother. Unfortunately Igor couldn’t come, so he sent us to his brother Mick Mužić. We arrived in front of the restaurant, I can hear our language, all are Croatians, there’s some celebration going on. Then the owner, Mick, comes. He is from Rijeka, lives and works here for 20 years already. I ask him for accommodation and he says he already has guests. I say there is no problem, we’ll go to a motel. We’ve been driving all day and didn’t manage to eat, I ask for some food. The waitress brings us filled peppers, a stew and two drinks, all for 30$. We paid the bill and went to find a place to stay. We found some motel for 50$, just want to sleep, it says it has a pool, but in reality it is a swamp filled with frogs. Tomorrow Miami.

43rd day

We could hardly wait to leave this motel and went towards Miami. After 400 km we arrived to Miami South Beach. We are staying in Howard Johnson Hotel. Behind the hotel there is a few km long sand beach, the sea is warm but you cannot swim because of the huge waves. We paid for the hotel 100$ which is actually not much considering that in Zagreb in Movie Pub it is also 500 kn. It is said that Miami is USA’s most inhabited city, has 2 million inhabitants and every year 9 million tourist’s visits, all on 92 m2. It is also said that it is third most dangerous city in USA. In the evening we went to hotel’s basement where they have laundry room, we washed and dried 2 full machines of clothes for only 5$. Tomorrow we go sightseeing.

44th day

We rested today, we were too tired, so we stayed at the hotel and made arrangements for our way back home. It took most time to organize cargo transport for the bike. I don’t do cargo with James Cargo Services Ltd from London anymore, but with Demars International Inc, owned by Dean Dujmović from NY. Tomorrow we start for Key West, most Southern point of USA.

45th day

We almost got burned today! Here’s how, I filled up the gas tank, everything was set, we started for Key West on schedule. While I was driving through Miami I smelled the gas, I just thought I’ve filled it up a bit too much, I’m trying to see if it is leaking anywhere, but there’s nothing. I continue driving, but it still smells, I find the gas pump with my hand and it’s all wet. I pull over, dry it then start the engine again, but it’s still leaking onto the air exhauster. I quickly turn the bike off, take from Ivana her bottle of water and I spill the water on the place where the gas was leaking. I think in that moment: it must be 40 degrees Celsius outside, there are 35 l of gas in the tank. I search for help immediately in the house where we pulled over when it turns out to be Baywatch headquarters, we called the nearest BMW service which is only 30 km away, as well as towing service which came in 30 minutes. We paid the towing service 130$ and in the service they said one part of the gas pump was broken, but it must be whole replaced as well as the pump’s electronics, no matter that it is still functioning. All in all, installation and parts with tax cost 767$, I thought that the old pump was over exhausted, it was time to get a new heart for GS, it deserved it.

After 3 hours all is done, my GS now has Miami’s heart. The service team was thrilled by the number of crosses kilometers and one of them reported me to BMW America and they will sent me some kind of award for crossing over 100.000 miles. For these sudden costs and 5 hours lost we decided to skip Key West and drive to NY. We went only 400 km and now we’re in a place any biker would want to be if he were on the road in America, Daytona Beach! We had great BBQ and in the morning we go on for NY, 1400 km to go. The plan is to get there in Thursday.

46th day

This morning after breakfast we went to check out Daytona Beach and we went to the biggest Harley Davidson store in the world. It’s one of the 6 big stores of world’s largest dealer, Bruce Rossmayer. Bruce died two years ago and his daughter runs the business now. We spent 3 hours in the store, there are over 300 bikes there and a big service on top of the building. Afterwards we drove 1000 km and now we are in Roanoke, Virginia. We have exactly 700 km to get to the Mikas family in Port Washington, NY.

47th day

Going “home” today, to Mikas family’s place in NY where we first started our American tour. After 300 miles we came to Washington DC, coming closer to the White House we saw tons of police on the crossroads. First we got nearer, I can see the turning for the White House, but everything is forbidden. I pretend dumb and turn right to the White House entrance. Suddenly there is an iron wall of 1.20 height, army comes out of the gates and tell me to immediately turn around and go. I wanted to say something, but there is to be no discussion with them, they insist we go away. We go further down the street which is parallel to the White House street, again I see signs of forbidden ways, but I pull over at the sidewalk so Ivana can take a picture and as she was about to take the shot when a policeman runs to us and tells us we can’t park no stay there and to go away immediately. I just started to explain that we are from Croatia and we just wanted to take a picture, but he very rudely interrupts, gets all serious and tell me we’ve got 5 seconds to move or he will take me into custody and take our camera away. I put my helmet down, say goodbye politely and he’s counting 3rd second, counting like a bomb about to explode. On the 5th second I was already on the other side of the street and he proudly went back to his gate.

Then we went to JFK airport to change the tickets for us. Instead of flying tomorrow we booked 2nd August flight so we have the time to deal with GS cargo. In London we were told that changing your flight costs 800 kn, but here they charged us 800 kn for one person plus 100 kn commission, 1800 in total. We are at Ivan Mikas’ place now and we feel like home…

48th day

It was incredibly hot to sleep last night. In the morning we started for Orange Lake, 140 km till there, we drove for 5 hours. There was a 90 km long traffic jam and we barely made it. We had to pull over in Bronx to drink something because the heat was too strong and the temperature in GS started rising. In Orange Lake we‘re going to visit the legendary factory Orange County Choppers. The factory is huge, we were allowed to take pictures of the garage where they shot for Discovery Channel. Within the factory they have a big store with around 30 bikes, all from the series. Live they look like pieces of art, factory manager came to see us for he realized we were from Europe, he let us take pictures in front and gave us a plaque.

We came home around 20 o’clock and Mikas tells mi he heard today people saying that there was a heatstroke today, +47 degrees Celsius in the sun and there hasn’t been such heat here for over a hundred years. That’s why we were so hot. Now it’s 23 o’clock and the temperature is 34 degrees. In NY there are incredibly huge traffic jams and bad roads, you wouldn’t believe it, huge holes and bumps. For all the traffic jams it is impossible to service roads.

49th day

We took a day off today. Mr. Grek, president of BMW America, called me today and invited me to come to the 39th BMW Moa Rally in Bloomsburg, a town in Pennsylvania. I apologized to Mr. Grek, but simply wasn’t up to driving 280 km to Bloomsburg and 280 km back, and the financial situation couldn’t keep it up too. We rested and packed the stuff which we’ll send with the bike. On Monday I’ll take the bike to cargo and then we’ll see how much will it cost. Tomorrow will take a little ride on the GS because it needs to be taken to cargo on reserves for transport.

50th day

We finished packing and finally packed everything, after that we took a ride in Port Washington. We saw beautiful houses and came across a sand beach full of dead crabs looking like some kind of aliens. We didn’t swim but left for more sightseeing. Along the way we stopped in a large supermarket and bought food for dinner, large stakes which Ivan Mikas grilled. Tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock we need to be in Astoria at Dean’s place, so we’re taking the GS on the airport. I hope Dean will go easy on us with the price…

51st day

Morning spent in Dean’s cargo company Dermas, he got right onto the documentation. He’s a big biker, Dean, and has 9 in total. He tells me: “I’ve been riding my bike for 35 years, it’s 65 years old and never broken, you crosses 210.000 km on your, and that’s what quality is all about”. After dealing with papers we went home at Dean’s, he showed me the pictures of his old BMW. Afterwards we went to cargo and left the bike, dealt with all dangerous cargo papers. In the end he took us to dinner and gave us a ride in NY. We spent the whole day with him and he’s great. Cargo price for a bike from NY to London will cost me 1800$, the bike will be sent 28th of July and we’re flying to London on 2nd of August.

52nd day

This morning Ivana and I went to Astoria again to pay for the cargo, we went to Dean’s bank and provided my credit card, ID and passport, but was unable to take that much cash. I had to go to an ATM, but I managed to get only 400$. After the bank Dean took us to lunch in a Polish restaurant, the food was great, and for “desert” he offered one of his bikes for us to use. So Ivana and I spent the whole afternoon driving around NY and again went to cargo to check the bike situation. It’s been packed safely, I additionally asked for it to be wallpapered with foil and tonight it should be sent to the customs. Besides giving us his bike, he also gave 100$ to Ivana to buy something for herself. He’s an incredible guy, you give him 400$ and he gives you his bike, takes you to lunch and give you extra 100$. Tonight I managed to get 500$ more from the ATM so tomorrow I’ll pay everything to Dean. One more thing, Dean brought his old BMW from Rijeka to NY in 1985. and he drove around NY with Rijeka plates.

53rd day

Today we finally paid the whole bill, the bike is now at the customs and waiting for them to do their part of the job and check the bike. After paying the bill we visited BMW Manhattan, took a walk in Manhattan and got back home around 22 o’clock.

It is interesting that in these almost 2 months in America we’ve never seen nobody smoking, other than that in America there are no cars such as Peugeot, Renault, Fiat, Opel, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, but all cars are BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, etc. BMW bikes and cars are cheaper in America than in Germany, so the salesman tells me and shows me the price of new 6 cylinder GTL, with all equipment it costs 26.300$. Tomorrow my GS should be sent to London, but I kind of doubt it. We’ll see.

55th day

Today we spent the whole day sightseeing Manhattan and there’s always something new and interesting. Manhattan lives 24 hours a day, there are lots of tourists, taxis, police, jams, etc. We were in Plant Hollywood restaurant, along the way we met a man selling Obama condoms on the street, I remember meeting a naked cowboy last time, now we met a naked cowgirl, and she didn’t look very good. We came to Time Square and visited the biggest store in the world Macy’s. Even though we are in America, everything you grab was made in China, all except Oakley glasses who are still made in the USA. GS is still at the customs, I hope it will be sent tomorrow.

56th day

Today we spent the whole day in Port Washington, it’s a bit expensive to pay for train 29$ every day and take a 45 minutes’ drive to Manhattan. Ivana washed all the clothes and we packed for the plane, we have a lot of luggage, so when we come to London we’ll need a lot of luck to manage to load it all on the GS. I have to tell you some interesting things: we travelled 18.000 km through America and went through just one tunnel on our exit from Washington. Diesel fuel is more expensive than gas here, only trucks and big pickups are diesel fueled, they have a theory that if you drive a truck you earn good money, so you can pay more. Bane told me that in California there are no criminal careers like in Croatia, if you do a criminal deed three times you get sentenced for life, and in Texas if you carry weapons, you just need to wear it visible.

57th day

We had a night tour of NY, first Ivana and I had pizza while we were waiting for Astoria train. It took us 45 minutes to get there, then we waited for Dean for hour and a half, he took us to some fabulous places to make pictures. He took us for a hamburger and since it was already 1 AM he gave us his cars to go to Port Washington. In the morning we’ll go to the customs together to try to speed up the cargo process.

58th day

Around 8 AM we started for Dean’s office to get his car back and go to the customs. When we arrived to the office Dean had already gone to the airport to finish the documentation. I called him and he says he’d just finished and we made arrangements to meet at his place. He gave us all the papers, took us to the train and we went to Mikas’. We packed our stuff and Mikas took us to the airport. Even though we started 3 hours before the flight we barely made it for there was a big storm and ice everywhere, the roads were flooded. After 6 hours here we are in London. We’re very tired, haven’t slept in 20 hours. We go find a hotel now and wait for the GS.

59th day

We found a hotel near the airport, Ibis Hotel, those were the ones I used when I went to Morocco and Tunisia, they were pretty cheap, but still this is London. We paid 100 kn for the bus ride to hotel which lasted for 15 minutes, approximately 10 km. Hotel price without breakfast, Wi-Fi or hair dryer was 690 kn, all extra pays extra. The room is small, we can barely fit there. We were really tired this morning and we badly needed to sleep. It took some time to get a room at 10 am because they usually don’t give rooms before 15 o’clock. Breakfast costs 65 kn for 1 person, and if you want Wi-Fi in your room it’ also 65 kn for 1 day. They have a cell phone charger, I thought great because we don’t have charges for their sockets, but it’s also charged extra, 15 kn for half an hour. God bless America. Dean sent me an e-mail that GS should arrive tomorrow at 11 o’clock London time, I can’t wait to start it and go home!

60th day

I haven’t slept all night thinking will GS arrive and will I be able to pick it up right away. I caught a taxi driver on the reception and asked him to call DHL cargo to check if the GS had arrived, they said it did and I have to go to the customs to deal with the papers. The taxi driver is an Indian Bal, he takes us to the customs and politely asks the lady there to try to solve our papers today. She says she’ll try and that she’ll call us in 3 hours. Bal takes us back to the hotel and charges us 30£, 255 kn. We were in the room till Bal called and said the papers were done, we go to the airport to get the GS.

First we had to get the papers from the customs, and the whole documentation service cost 127£/1100 kn. From the customs we took a taxi to the airport and it cost 20£/170 kn. I see the GS, but they wouldn’t give it to me, they say they need to load it to a truck and take it to customs and I can take it there. I call Bal again to pick me up again, he calls the customs lady and says this is crazy, that I have to pay extra 20£ for the taxi again, she apologized and said she’ll cover the taxi bill. We came to the customs, lots of regulations and protocols, we had to put on reflective vests and come to the hall with security. Finally GS is brought, I unpack it and it starts at once! We picked it up around 17 o’clock and till 23 o’clock we were around London. We saw Big Ben, Royal Palace, Big London Eye, the cathedral where the Prince and Kate got married, Piccadilly Square, etc. All in all, very nice, luxurious and expensive. Now we’re packing and we plan cross 1200 km tomorrow and get to Rosenheim in Germany where our host Davor is waiting for us.

61st day

This morning we woke up at 6 o’clock, it was raining heavily, we got all our things and started for Davor’s. We lost 2 hours exiting London and got rid of big traffic jam on the highway. Rain was strong all along, and the last 100 km of England there was some dense fog too. We waited for a ferry for France for an hour and the whole ferry trip lasted for an hour and a half. There we met a Frenchman with GS who was in London for 3 days and now was going back home to Paris. Besides him there were 3 Englishmen who are on their trip over Europe on motorcycles. After the ferry we drove 600 km and at 22 o’clock we came off the highway in a little town 150 before Stuttgart. There we had dinner and met a nice waiter with Kosovo origins. He took us to find a hotel, but all were closed, he had to go back to work so he called his cousin to help us further. The cousin managed to find a hotel and make receptionist lower the price from 100€ to 55€. I thank them for that and big thanks to Davor who offered accommodation at his place, however we really couldn’t make it. Tomorrow morning Ivana and I are going directly home. Tomorrow we have to cross 1300 km, today we did 900 km. It’s scheduled we arrived home in Friday, 5th of August, to BMW MC Split.

The End!

Today is exactly 2 months since Ivana and I went to our journey. This morning we started at 8 o’clock towards Split, we drove for 14 hours and crossed 1.350 km. In front of BMW MC Split there was dear friends waiting for us and whom I missed greatly. They barbequed, I really ate well and talked to my friends. At 3 o’clock Ivana and I were still unpacking, what you see in the picture below is somewhere 70% of thing we loaded onto the GS which made 211.000 km and is ready for new adventures.

Route 2011 America - Summary

Number of days on the road = 61; KM crossed = 20.000; Plane tickets price = 1.100 €; Motorcycle cargo price = 2.500 €; other costs = 5.000 €; Free accommodation = 43 days; Paid accommodation = 17 days; Days on the motorcycle = 29; Resting days = 32

The trip was great. Ivana and I started it without knowing anyone, nor the route, nor what are we going to visit exactly. Everything just ran by itself, we’ve met all our hosts in America for the first time. The contacts didn’t come from Croatian emigrant societies nor consulates, nor any state institutions, but via common people, my friends, which makes these friendships even better and warmer. We slept at people’s homes, and some even gave us their own bed while they slept on the sofas.

When I realize that 43 out of 61 day we slept for free at our first-time-met hosts’ places I see just what a gift that is and that people are much more valuable than money in life. We never brought a tent with us, not because we’re not adventurous, Ivana and I proved we can sleep in a tent, but when you can pay for a cheap hotel and more that 50% sleep at someone’s place for free, then the tent is unnecessary, especially for extra luggage on the bike with all the equipment. Some people like to be scouts and sleep in tents, some don’t have enough money, so go on trips and save money with tents, some cross kilometers and collect state stamps, some like races so they travel around, it doesn’t matter, what matter is that you’ve found something that makes you happy and you should enjoy it.

I lot of people doesn’t know that it’s not really an adventure to travel across America, but it is big space and fairly uninhabited in the middle, nor is the nature as tame as ours is, you often get into stormy weather, tornados and heavy rains. No matter where you did 20.000 km in less than a month is an adventure, as well as going with your wife on 1 bike. Stupid tire flats, you got nobody, just the two of you, when it’s 2people on 2 bikes it’s easier. My travels are not just about crossing kilometers which I did before, now it’s enjoyment to the fullest. I wish everybody to travel and do more than 200.000 km, meet other countries, cultures and friends around the world because I think it’s the biggest riches one man can have.

For any kind of advice or questions, I’m at your disposal.

Preparations for journey to Australia have officially started. As usual, and according to the protocol, the most important is to prepare a bike (a small reminder for those who are not informed- BMW GSA 1200, year 2006).

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