Croatia Sucks. Sorrowful, Sick, & Shameful Split And Its Hajduk Hooligans

Today I wake up late. Perhaps I should train better for these all-nighters and hanging with locals until 4:30 AM evenings. I pull myself out of bed and down the stairs a little after noon. The sleep served me well. I feel good, energized and not slow at all.

When I walk over to my bike, I suddenly feel sick and violated.

It doesn’t hit me right away, but something seems odd. That’s when I notice the dangling bungee cords that secured my Aerostich tank panniers to the bike. They’re gone. Next, I realize my tank bag is gone, too. Wait. There’s more. That wooden box with a bottle of Greek wine gifted to me nearly a month ago is also gone.

I’m shaking. My heart is racing. I look up the street, then down the street. Good god, I cannot believe what happened. They have ripped me off.

I pace back and forth by my bike. Lost at the moment, I feel sick to my stomach.

I’ve traveled on my motorcycle to over 70 countries including those considered being the most dangerous. Never have I been robbed, ripped off, or vandalized. Never.

Yet, here I am in Croatia, a country considered being safe and secure for tourists.

Bullshit. They win the award of “the only country to violate WorldRider.” They also lose. Croatia sucks. I know, I know. This can happen anywhere. You know what? That’s true. But it happened here, in Croatia. This is the truth, and Croatia, in my mind, is the only country in the world to rip me off. After nearly ten years, 100,000 miles, seventy-some-odd countries on five continents, it’s Croatia that gets me.

Sure, some people will tell me I’ve been lucky. Sorry, I don’t look at it that way. Read this blog, the whole thing. You will learn, see, and feel as I do about how I look at this world.

I don’t want to let this taint my perspective, nor my trip. But for the moment, I’ve got to let loose. I am pissed.

Oh, there wasn’t much value in the panniers and tank bag. I’m not stupid. I’ve always contended that if someone wanted what I had in those bags, go for it. But I never thought someone would grab the actual bags, especially the tank panniers.

I do a quick review of what was in those bags.


CONTENTS OF TANK BAG AND PANNIERS

TANK PANNIERS

  • Two spare fuel bottles, 1.5L each
  • Four small tie-down straps
  • 1 BMW accessory plug USB charger and iPhone and micro USB cables
  • Two Craftsman folding hand-tool sets, Hex and Torx
  • One waterproof envelope with duplicate copies of the title, registration, insurance, etc.
  • Original BMW F650GS owners manual and maintenance guide
  • One plastic camp trowel
  • One corkscrew bottle opener combo
  • Two Sharpies
  • One small can of chain lube

TANK BAG

  • One pair DITA reading glasses
  • One envelope containing stickers of flags of the last countries I visited, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece
  • One microfiber washcloth
  • One coin purse with about three Euros, used for paying tolls
  • One bottle of face shield cleaner and defogger
  • One small camera case, for my Canon G9X point-and-shoot
  • One Sea to Summit Dry Sack, 2L
  • One bottle of EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen
  • A hahandfull of WorldRider stickers and business cards


I could not care less about the loss. You know, it’s the point—the principle.

All of these items are easily replaceable on the road. The tank bag and panniers are not.

My instinct is to cast blame. With my heart still racing, temperature rising, I call the apartment manager who told me not to worry. She said this was a quiet, safe and secure neighborhood.

She suggests we ask neighbors if they saw anything, and looking in dumpsters to see if thieves discarded any unwanted items. This effort is fruitless. She calls the police. They cannot confirm if there are security cameras and ask us to wait 2-3 hours. I fear this would be a waste of time.

“I saw your bike an hour ago,” she tells me, “all your things were intact.” She explains that she walked by my bike and remarked about the items.

“Last night I was out until 4:30 AM,” I tell her, “My bike was fine and with everything intact. Indeed, I recorded a video showing that my bike was secure and safe.”

She tells me this never happens. I don’t believe her.

I tell her I don’t want to wait for the police. She will continue to ask people in the building and neighborhood. I agree to settle down.

The rider holds the cable that hooligans cut to steal two helmets.

A few moments later I see a man and woman standing next to a BMW motorcycle. I notice they have items strapped to the back. It seems to me that they are parking the motorcycle near other bikes and scooters. I run over to warn them. Don’t leave anything on the bike.

“Someone just stole our helmets,” the Italian man tells me while his girlfriend is on the phone talking to the police. “They cut through our locking cable,” he holds up the lock—it’s a thick cable, but cut cleanly.

So, it’s not only me. Croatia, you suck. Split, you make me sick.

This Italian couple riding a BMW had their helmets ripped off their bike in broad daylight as well. Thieves/hooligans cut right through the cable locking them to the bike.

“I could not care less about the loss. You know, it’s the point—the principle—and that it happened here in Croatia.”

ALLAN KARLWORLDRIDER

The Red Star painted on an original army helmet from the Yugoslav Peoples Army sold in a collectible shop in Split. This is also the name of the football team, and football in these parts breeds violence, resentment, racisim, and division. Yeah, I know it’s just a sport.

Later I would learn that many hardcore fans of the Split football (soccer) team, the Hajduks, are like a gang of hooligans. They challenge each other with rights of passage challenges, prove you’re tough acts and dangerous dares. It is well known they engage in violence, vandalism, and street crime.

Their actions taint and make a bad name for Split, and Croatia.

While I want to blame and condemn Croatia, and the city of Split for my misfortune, I am to blame.

I trusted you, Croatia. My fault. I shouldn’t have.

It’s a bit too late perhaps, but Doc goes undercover for our last night in sickening Split.

It’s rare that I park my bike in a larger town without covering it. I have a lightweight motorcycle cover. It’s the best security. I tell other travelers all the time, “nobody wants what they can’t see.” I even wrote an article about security for LifeLanes. I was too comfortable. I let down my guard and let myself down at the same time. I trust it’s my strength.

This time, however, I screwed myself.

I need to blow off steam. But I also know I need to move on. I cannot harbor negative energy or anger too long. This incident will be another story. It is a story, and I will tell it at the expense of Croatia. From the mass consumerism and amusement park atmosphere of Dubrovnik to the Hajduk Hoodlums of Split, Croatia let me down.

That’s right. I’m smiling. Because it’s okay. It’s alright. I’ve got the story, and they’ve got a bunch of crap that was weighing me down anyway!

To be sure, I cannot blame the entire country for my misfortunate and mistake. The people here have been great from Mr. Kralj in Mali Ston, to Antonio and Sabina in Mokolo, and my new friends, the restaurant workers of Split.

Everything will be all right.

It’s okay.

19 replies
  1. Jim Parker
    Jim Parker says:

    Sorry you got ripped off, Allan. I know the feeling. My art show trailer was stolen, completely, in Fort Worth, during a show. Hauled out of the hotel parking lot. It was recovered eight years later! And the new trailer’s been broken into, twice, at different times, and stuff stolen. Stuff that’s mostly useless to someone else, but maybe bought a few hits of some illicit drug. And each time, I harden my security, and eventually thieves find a way around it.
    Replacing those panniers and your tank bag is mostly just hassle for you. It certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
    Safe travels…

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Mr. Parker! Thanks for the reality check and sharing your stories. Wow, cannot believe someone hitched up and stole your trailer. Geez. Well, as they say, better late than never in getting it back eight years later! Amazing. Yes, petty crime is everywhere, and I’m moving on… if not a bit more hardened… thanks for chiming in here!

      Reply
  2. Bill Guertin
    Bill Guertin says:

    Allan,

    I’ve been watching and reading from afar for many months, and marveling at your ability to be and do exactly what you want to be and do. I feel your pain, as have many others that have been robbed. Mine was at gunpoint in Chicago many years ago, and I still remember the moment as vividly as it was yesterday.

    But in the spirit of Cavett Robert and all of your brothers and sisters at NSA, I say to you: RISE UP! (finger pointed in the air) You are GREATER than any ONE tragedy! And we’re still with you, brother. You’re still the guy who has the best stories of anyone I’ve ever met. Rock On!

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Mr. Geurtin, So nice to hear from you here on WorldRider. Glad you’re riding along with me. Love your spirit and I can hear your voice, Cavit’s voice and I am UP and MOVING ONWARD!!! Thanks for commenting and sharing your inspiration with me here on WorldRider !!! Cheers!

      Reply
  3. Aaron
    Aaron says:

    Bummer on the hooligans but as you say, but it sounds to me like the hospitality and friendship that bookended this travesty hopefully make up for it.

    Safe travels!

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Aaron it absolutely does. We can find bad people everywhere, and if we choose to look for the bad, we will find it. If we look for the good, and what’s right, we’ll find that! And that’s my philosophy and onward approach. Still the pain stings and a bit of venting and then slow breathing. Now: moving on!! Thanks for the nice words and chiming in here on WorldRider.com

      Reply
  4. Mike coan
    Mike coan says:

    I don’t understand. Did you leave stuff on your bike overnight? I had a small clip on mirror taken in Tunis and a helmet and intercom in Paris. In 30 years that is it but some places had 20ft walls or we were told to park in doors.
    I
    Let me know if you need more of our heated gear. We can send it over.
    On our way to Mexico.

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Yes, Mike, I did leave the stuff on the bike overnight. But it wasn’t overnight when the breach happened. It was broad daylight, as they say. Yes, there are always risks, but we ride, take them, and we hardly ever experience such headaches. This was one for the storybooks. Thanks for the offer on the gear, fortunately, all my heated gear is safe!

      Reply
      • Mike
        Mike says:

        i am so paranoid that i strap a cable lock around the bags to the bike even if we leave it to go in to eat. but i always try to park so i can see the bike. but i was in Cordoba years ago and some guy left all his gear plus his coat and helmet on his bike next to the fountain. i was having lunch and i was watching the cops because they wanted the bike moved. mine was near the restaurant so i was ok. anyway about an hour later the guy shows up. i asked him if he was crazy. he replied that he believed that if he left everything in the open then someone would think he was just there eating and watching the bike and not mess with it.

        Reply
    • STEVEN GREENBERG
      STEVEN GREENBERG says:

      Hi Mikey,

      I happened to be reading Alan’s blog and saw your posting.

      Do you have any heated gear for skiing?

      Cousin Steve

      Reply
  5. Bob Kulick
    Bob Kulick says:

    So sorry to hear about your experience in Croatia. I just read this on the morning we returned from Croatia. We were in Zagreb and also down on the coast near Pula. We had an absolutely amazing experience with great food and wonderful people. I’m hoping you experienced just the fringe of their society. After our trip, we put Croatia on our list to return to.
    Again, sorry for your experience, but I do love your attitude; blow off steam, then move on. You are an inspiration (and I so enjoyed meeting you a couple of years ago at the Dallas Motorcycle Show. Your book is proudly displayed on my coffee table in the living room!)
    Safe travels!

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Thanks Bob! I remember that Dallas show and meeting you! And so happy you are still a FORKS reader! And wow, just back from Croatia. Don’t get me wrong, as you already noted, it’s blowing off steam and charging forward. Off to the islands for the next few posts! And?

      Reply
  6. angel fredricks
    angel fredricks says:

    Allan, I have known you for almost 40 years (yeah, we are that old), I have never known you to be anything other than happy and easy going. Please find the old you and everything will fall into place. They will get theirs and you will recover plus some.
    Keep smiling and keep riding.

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Thanks, Angel! You’re right! And I’m on it! Thanks so much for your offer and kind words here. I like that: everything falling into place! Cheers and hugs!

      Reply
  7. bill phelan
    bill phelan says:

    Hi Allan sorry to hear about your mis-fortune,anyway it is only a small loss-it pisses you off,but you are safe and sound that is the main thing.P.S I met you in Nicaragua about 7 years ago (I had the beer cooler with a strap around my neck)
    Married and 1 boy now.Safe travels Allan. Cheers Bill

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Bill,

      So glad to hear from you, and I remember you and that evening well on Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua! Yes, you’re right. I’m safe, it’s petty and replaceable stuff, and it’s time to move on. Sounds like you’ve moved on and congrats on your new adventure as man married with child!!! Be well and thanks for stopping by and chiming in on the latest! Cheers!

      Reply

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