Friday, August 21, 2015

UAE Trip - Part 4

Welcome to the fourth and final part of the “Trip to UAE” series. We started with my arrival at Abu Dhabi at night, then spending the next morning visiting various famous locations in Dubai (Palm Island, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and its dancing fountain). That same night we managed to rent a Corvette C7 Stingray for 24 hours from Dubai and left our car there and drove back to Abu Dhabi to get a night’s sleep. Next day we drove to the top of Jebel Hafeet mountain in the Corvette, went to JBR in Dubai for lunch, then finally returned the Corvette and drove back to Abu Dhabi in our car.

All of this happened in the matter of 48 hours and I only had one other day to spare in UAE. In this post I will tell you all about what we did there. Hit the jump.

After getting a good rest at night, we were ready for our final big day of fun. The main event of the day was to visit Ferrari World in Yas Island; a few kilometers out of Abu Dhabi city center. I saw Tiff Needell and Jason Plato spend some great time there on Fifth Gear, and I was eager to see it for myself. The day started with a late breakfast at home, then we headed to Abu Dhabi mall and I bought a few gifts for my family. I didn’t take pictures there, but the mall was much more relaxing and enjoyable compared to Dubai mall. There were not a lot of visitors. The streets leading to the mall were not crowded. Parking was simple and straight forward. And the mall had almost everything that Dubai mall had.

Around noon, we went directly to Ferrari World. There is a (yet another) huge shopping mall there. It was a very nice mall with lots of sunlight and very large spaces giving an airy feeling. Crowds were at a minimum too. After prayer, we spent some time looking around the different shops that I didn’t see before. One shop that caught my eye was an antique looking shop called the “Tea Shop”. It had large walls filled with lots of yellow cans filled with all sorts of tea. It was very eye catching, and I made a mental note to visit it on our way out. Finally, at around 2:30pm, we headed for Ferrari World.

At the entrance, I was already in awe. The place is crazy huge for something indoors, and the ceiling was a massive piece of art held by what seemed like just 2 huge columns. I only had the LX100 with me, but it didn’t matter. I started taking lots of pictures of the ceiling trying to convey its sheer size. After I peeled my eyes from the ceiling, I was able to see Ferrari demo cars all around the place. The ones that caught my attention were the 458 Italias. I only saw them in red before, probably all Ferraris I saw either came in Red, Yellow and sometimes Silver or Black/Dark Blue. But I found there my favorite 458 Italia color of all, a very handsome off-white 458. Wow. It was a piece of art. They also had a big Ferrari gift shop outside the gates that once can visit without paying for tickets. I left that shop till the end.

When it comes to tickets, there are two main options. Option one is the normal ticket which grants you access to all the games inside. The second one is almost double the price, but it gives you priority access to pass any queues and go ahead to the games. We chose the first option as the tickets were not what you’d call cheap. Me and my friend decided on three games that we had to try first: world’s fastest roller coaster (0-240 km/h in 5 seconds), Formula 1 simulator, and Go Karts. At the tickets window and before buying the tickets, we asked the operator if there were open slots in all of those three games and he confirmed there were. Excellent.

We went inside and decided to catch the go karts first, only to find that go karts were more like stop karts. The track was a very small one, and it was filled almost bumper to bumper with karts not moving any faster than 10 km/h. Moreover, no more bookings were available for the day. We left it and went to the F1 simulator that I saw on Fifth Gear, only to discover that there were several small ones for free; which were all booked for the day, and two large ones (F1 and F430 Scuderia simulators, the ones I saw on Fifth Gear) that cost 60 Dirhams each. So in order to ride the F1 simulator, I'd have to pay again above the ticket price, and I haven't even played a single game yet. Anyway, we queued for the F1 simulator for almost 30 minutes, and when we finally reached the reservation desk, we were told that the nearest appointment would be in 3 hours. I asked the lady if I could leave Ferrari World to go to the mall and return back at the appointed time, she told me that I can't!! I left the queue and didn't look back.

At that stage I was quite furious. I wasted more than an hour and 250 Dirhams for nothing. The last worthy thing I could do was to ride the roller coaster, but there was a 45 minute waiting time. That was enough. I went to the help desk and asked for a refund. The guy refused a refund and offered me a priority pass to the roller coaster (no waiting) which I didn't accept. I was told that there were F1 simulator and Go Karts availability before paying the tickets, while there were not. He called for his manager who accepted the refund without a single question. So we left Ferrari World and went inside the mall for lunch and a promise from my friend to invite me to a "Tea Shop".

We had lunch at a very nice place over looking a large fountain. They offered very tasty steak and mashed potatoes. The funny thing was the peanuts they brought as an appetizer until our meal was ready. After lunch, we went to an interesting looking place called the "Tea Shop". The shop featured walls covered in yellow tea tins from floor to ceiling, and there were these classic looking chairs and tables with white cloth covers. It turns out that you go inside and either buy exotic types of tea and take it home, or have a seat and enjoy a full pot of the tea of your choice. We went for the full experience. The menu consisted of at least a thousand types of tea: black, red, blue, white, jasmine, expensive, more expensive, way more expensive, etc... Oh, and they had a "Tea Book" that described the origin of each of the tea types.

I don't remember which tea types we chose, but the waiter brought each of us a full tea pot, and we had tea cups, sugar and a spoon on the table to enjoy our tea pots. I didn't really fancy the tea, but the shop was a very photographic place. Everything looked classic and elegant.

At night, we went to a very fast outdoor Go Kart track in Al-Forsan club to have my Go Kart dose that I was denied at Ferrari World. I can easily say it is the best Go Kart track I have ever driven. It had steep slopes, blind corners after hill climbs, vast run off areas (which helped me once), etc... I was able to come in 3rd place among the 12 competitors we had, which is not bad for a first timer like me. And I had the fortune of racing with the fastest-time holder of the track, who of course won the 1st place.

That mostly sums my first time experience in UAE. Next time I go there, I will try some water activities. I hope you've enjoyed the series, and I am sorry for the long time it took me to post all of it.


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