Today is a very busy full day with Rakela in Split Croatia!
First, a little background information about where I am! A very popular destination for visitors, Split has been around for about 1700 years and is the main administrative city to all of Dalmatia. It is also the main hub for visitors as they have a slew of ferries to choose from for exploring the popular Croatian Islands. From this view you can see the ancient town of Split with the orange tile roofs. And the expansion of the city under the recent Soviet influence with the basic plain white buildings on the edge.
Rakela, (nickname for his full name as Zeljan Rakela) whom you saw in the last posts mountain ride has invited me to Split today for an interview with a newspaper journalist.
Rakela is very well known here for filming his motorcycle adventures through Russia, India, Pakistan, and many more. While his current business provides security and is called “Protector Rakela Security”. (Yeah right, like I was there to take a photo of him with Mikhail Gorbachev.. photo is from Rakela’s website 😉
From the first time I met Rakela on the street in Split a few days ago until now, he never fails to tell me, “Shurrdi, if you have any trouble with anything, you must call me. I take care of for you..” 😉
Anyway, as far as the interview, that is all I know is happening. We decide to meet in a coffee shop.. and while I am sitting at a table answering questions, photos, etc..with journalist, so many bikers show up!! He must have called every motorcycle rider in town! It was really fun! The interview and meeting the other riders. The ones who spoke English said they have heard about my journey and that I am the most famous girl in Split at the moment! Wow! Of coarse not true, just feels that way amongst the riders.. 😉
From here it seems that Rakela has much more plans for today than I realize. Partly because neither of us speak the same language well, and partly because it’s natural for him to take charge. Rakela has made a lunch plan with some of his friends, but first he wants us to ride about 20 km south of Split to show me a favorite road for bikers.
Positioned on the rock overlooking the river below is a Statue of Mila Gojsalic. A local heroine who was forced to lose her virginity to the Turkish as they invaded the area in the Ottoman War in the 1500’s. She retaliated by sneaking into camp and blowing up their ammunition stockpile.. good for her!!
Urggg! That rain again… but I love the color of that river water.. it’s because of the limestone.
Back in Split we meet a couple friends as they show me their pride and joy, the Croatia Hajduk Soccer Field. Rakela provides security here, so we get to ride our bikes in. Cool! I don’t know, but I am guessing the limestone in the water makes the people grow extra tall in this country? Remember from Hari’s post, I am 5’9″ (175 cm?), which is not that short…
Inside wall says “Hajduk Lives Forever”
Next up! Ride over to Rakela’s Boxing Gym! This guy does it all!!! When we get there, he had pre-organized his buddy Miro to cook up a feast for us!!
You see the “Terminator” paper taped to the green wall? Not a wall, it’s a sliding door. And to the right is a picture, that IS the wall, opening to the gym. I wanted to show how thick that wall is, and the door of steel and concrete. This gym is in an old bomb shelter. No safer place in town!! Rakela-Protector!
While Miro is whipping up the HUGE Croatian meal in the gym, I had a chance to get to know everyone a bit better. I found a man, Ivan, who thinks I am crazy.. shock! And he says, I should be home in the kitchen looking after the house rather than riding a motorcycle around the world. Hmph!! Time to teach that man a 21st Century lesson..
Yep, aim for right between the eyes.. lucky for him Rakela gave him protection too… ;-))
Maybe with my very light weight.. (not).. Alpinestars Tech 10’s on, we can turn this into kickboxing!!???? Then I got a bit carried away.. (sorry for the blurry pictures, but I was moving so quick with my chunky riding boots, the camera could hardly keep up with me! ;-))
Take that, Buster Brown!!!
Now, let us sit down peacefully and have a nice meal together…
Whew! I have to say the Miro is a darn good cook. It was like having a Sunday meal with the family..
And for any motorcycle travellers passing through Split, Rakela wants you to know that his gym is open for a free place to sleep.. Soft floors if you have sleeping bag.. Shower, toilet, kitchen.. He loves paying it forward to all the hospitality he’s received on his journeys. To see more or contact him, go to: http://www.adventure-rakela.com
So I thought I was just coming into Split today for a simple newspaper interview and I got a whole lot more. After our meal, Rakela says he wants to show me his island… There goes the eyebrow raise again!! Can you believe it! But it was far too late in the day, rainy and going to be dark soon. The ferry ride over to his island would take too long, let alone seeing the place. I’ll have to pass on this one, and head back to Anton and Marija’s house in Trogir.
Next day raining like crazy, Rakela calls and still wants to go to his island, Brac. Not on the bikes though..
Okay! Why not! So he drives 20 km up to Trogir to pick me up in the Protector Hummer… Ha!! You don’t see many Hummers in Croatia, so this is a good advertisement solution for his business.
Onto the ferry for a 45 minute ride from Split to Brac Island. Some little patches of sun give us hope..
Onto somewhat dry land, Rakela drives me to the village where his family comes from and also to a property where he is building a little weekend get-away camp, similar to Hari~!
During our drive around he says that we have to be back to the ferry by 6 pm, because “I’ve organized a t.v. interview and after that a meeting at my Rotary Club where you will be surprise guest..” ??? What?? Tonight?? Really?? I didn’t dress well for t.v. today! (not that I could anyway..)
Before we return to the ferry there is popular place people like to see on Brac Island around Bol.
Rakela is rather low on fuel and it’s raining AND it’s getting dark, but he feels it’s important we try to go see it. The little pointy beach down there is called Zlatni Rat. It is very unique and constantly moving with the tides. AND completely covered with tourists in the summer.
It was a fun drive through the country to find this mountain top view.. I admire Rakela’s passion to share his favorite places. With no time to waste, we must make our way back to the ferry.
On our way back we are on a hillside and the HUMMER DIES...! Rakela is beside himself, he doesn’t understand! I remind him that he was low on gas the entire day, surely it had to end somewhere! 😉 But he feels that it doesn’t sound like a fuel problem. He tries to call people on the island he knows to come and help and bring fuel. No luck.. I suggest we take the brake off and let it roll on down the steep road and hopefully at the bottom is civilation where we have a better chance to fix.
He was hesitant.. but goes for it! Rather steep curvy slippery hill, the heavy hummer picks up speed rapidly! Nearing the bottom, a town is there.. yay! And coming up is a stop sign.. boo!! But he rolls right through.. yay!! But then a car pulls out in front and slows us down.. boo! With Rakelas flashing lights he gets out of the way.. yay!! And we LITERALLY ROLL into the gas station…
H I L A R I O U S!!!!!!! Big high five!!! This was worthy of a Hollywood movie scene.. for real!
However… the pumps are locked and out of fuel. Can you believe after all that!!?? S H _ _ ! now what? People are waiting in line and the fuel truck is actually there to unload. But he says it will at least be 30 minutes.. We have exactly 5 minutes to catch the ferry. Sounds to me I am missing t.v. interview and Rotary tonight!
I don’t know what happened, I went to the shop next door to get some juice, and when I come back, they are ready to unlock the pump. We get a few Kuna’s worth, push the car in front of us out of the way, and a mad dash to the ferry… we made it! Farrr out, can’t believe that either! Hummer on board, ferry ramp up and we’re off again to Split. Unbelievable….
Quickly ran into a building for the T.V. interview.. done.
Next stop, Rotary Club meeting in a really nice Split Hotel. Luckily we get there and they are not ready.. So we actually have some time to eat. A really really nice meal.. first fancy meal I have had since I can’t remember when! I am totally not dressed for this, but what can ya’ do.. beggars can’t be choosers and we had such a good time… and meal!
Now, in the other room, they come and tell us they are ready. I ask Rakela, “What do I do?” He says he doesn’t know. Of coarse, but… I’m nervous.., more than the t.v. interview for some reason ;-/
A few of the men spoke English really well and they had good questions.
Rakela explains to me that all the people in this room are highly successful and they can belong to Rotary by invitation only.. Wow! It was an honor to meet with them.. and yet another fun-filled day for me in Croatia. Thank you Rakela!!