Ferrari World and the Grand Mosque

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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Abu Dhabi
September 29th 2012
Published: October 3rd 2012
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1: Prayer 36 secs
Saturday morning, Gwen and I lazed about, took our time getting up and ready (she had to pack too). Eventually, we went to the metro to Ibn Battuta where I asked a taxi driver if he would drive us to Ferrari World, near Abu Dhabi. "Ferrari World? Yes, that is a great place!" He was very excited. He told us a little about the rides and it was the second super friendly cab driver in a row (the guy the previous night was all excited about some Pakistani Cricket World Cup or something...)

We arrived at Ferrari World and wanted to put our bags somewhere. We posed at the entrance and made our way through security with our bags. Twice. Then we waited about 40 minutes in line to get tickets. I decided at one point to see about getting a locker, so I followed the signs to "Lockers" and after asking a couple of people, I was eventually directed toward reception with my backpack. I asked the woman about large lockers where my friend and I could store our bags. She directed me to lockers to just before the entrance. So, I returned to the line with Gwen and we paid extra for the Premium pass so we could legally cut lines (we figured we saved so much in Italy, why not spend it here!). Then we went to the lockers and the guard told us the bags were too big - we could not find out how to get an access card anyway. Then he directed us BACK to reception where the lady recognized me. "Oh you asked for lockers but you have LUGGAGE." DUH. I was standing there with the bag! Whatever, she was nice enough but not the shiniest apple in the bucket.

Anyway, we made our way into Ferrari World, starving, so our first stop was this nice little cafeteria. We got onion rings, spring rolls and quesadilla type things - you know: bad-for-you-amusement-park-food. It was ok, but we were set. While we were eating, we saw our first ride, basically flying over Italy (Italy? Really?) So we checked that out and it was nice - we saw almost everywhere we'd been in our trip except Pompeii. This place is also a very kid friendly park - lots of rides for kids, indoor playgrounds, and just a good general atmosphere. I wish I could bring my nephews here!

Then we went to Formula Rossa, THE FASTEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD! Because we had tickets to cut lines, we waited all of five minutes before we got on. We watched people getting off in the meantime and they were all cheering, so it had to be good, right? They make you put your excess garments in these locker things and women can wear a head covering for their head coverings, but everyone has to put on these glasses. We were strapped in (by a hottie Welsh guy) and as we waited and the anticipation built, I remember thinking in my mind "We could be relaxing at a Mosque right now, getting some lunch... but noooo... Gwen has to ride a roller coaster!" When WHOOSH!!!!! we were off SO fast! I have never experienced anything like that! It was not a very long course, but it was amazing. When we got back to the docking station, Gwen and I each sheepishly admitted that we drooled a little bit... You're going so fast that when you scream, your saliva is blown back on your face! HAHAHA!

We got off and I looked at Gwen once, while her hair looked like a poofed up mushroom, but figured it would fall down. Then when we walked back up to the entrance to the ride, I told her hair was awesome. She slicked it back down and pinned it back with barrettes while we waited for round 2! It was just as awesome as the first. We probably would have just stayed on this ride all day, but they were doing maintenance right after we got off, so we went to check out other places.

Next we went to G Force, where you sit around this giant column which zooms you straight up into the air. This type of ride always reminds me of Candi when we rode on it at California Adventure - the Maliboomer (I want to get off! I want to get off!!!! ..... THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!!!!). It actually was not as good as the Maliboomer. Then we went onto the flume ride where Gwen was worried we would get wet and have to walk around wet all day. Fortunately, it was super lame. Next we tried some competing race car roller coaster thing which was ok. Finally, we went back for one final trip on THE FASTEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD! While in line, we were behind a couple and the girl said she didn't want to ride. We tried to convince her and the cute welsh worker guy tried to convince her - "See these girls? This is their third time!" - funny, and maybe sad, that he knew that...

Anyway the last time was still amazing, but it was time to leave. So we grabbed our bags and wound up at a henna tent where each got our hands painted by this little indian woman. She was very nice and fast - when Gwen asked to take a picture of us, she thought that "Us" meant her and Gwen. So I did take a picture then asked her to take a picture of US = Gwen and me. I also love that since I got my henna tattoo, everyone asks me if I got it on safari and I always say, "Yes, i went on safari, but I got this at Ferrari World!" 😊

While Gwen was getting her henna, I saw a couple being escorted out by security. They were all very calm, but were not speaking so it looked weird. So when Gwen and I were waiting for a taxi, we noticed cop cars and this group talking to police. I wonder what happened. How do you get kicked out of Ferrari World???

We took a taxi to Yas Rotana (my current favorite hotel chain) where the management let Gwen keep her bags there while we got dinner and drinks (and they let us leave them while we went to the Mosque). I got shepard's pie and a couple of yummy martinis. Yes, let's go to the Grand Mosque drunk! (they were actually very wussy on alcohol I think)

So, we get a taxi to the Grand Mosque and it is around 7:30 pm at this point and the mosque looked A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It is this beautiful white marble, lit up with the moon in the background and reflected in the pools surrounding the complex. In order to go inside, we had to get covered with Abayas which were located down stairs just outside the entrances. We had a little difficulty getting them on (and Gwen's was too short while mine was too long), but we managed at least to cover ourselves. Then we could freely walk around the mosque and take our many many photos. It is just absolutely beautiful. Seriously, it is definitely worth a visit and I think night was the perfect time. It was quiet and peaceful and not crowded at all.

The Mosque was built by the previous ruler as a large central place for his people to worship. Sheikh Zayed (of whom many of these places are named after) was a well respected leader in his country and he is buried in a private little mosque just outside the main area (no pictures allowed here, but you can see his grave). He died like a year before it was completed. We wandered around and wanted to get into the main prayer hall, but prayer was going on at this point. You could hear the sound of the prayers all around and there was something a bit pleasant about it. I am trying to upload a video and I hope it works.

While we waited for the prayer to end, we walked around the grounds a bit, saw Sheikh Zayed's grave, and tried to get drops of water from one of the fountains to land on us. It was a bit windy and we were both having trouble with our veils. For a while, I just draped my full face with the thing so I wouldn't have to deal with it anymore. But it was just overall a very pleasant evening; I remarked to Gwen, "Can you believe you and I are sitting here, in Abu Dhabi, looking at a mosque???" Who would have ever thought, huh?

When we were allowed to go inside, we had to remove our shoes, which was so refreshing as it was a warm night and those abayas are not exactly cooling!!! We could see guys going in with shorts and polos, but we had to wear these restrictive, suffocating clothes. I'm sorry, I'll never understand that. It was fine for a little while, but at that point we'd been there about an hour and were over it. But when we went inside it was even more amazing than outside! (Females have their own smaller prayer hall which I am sure is just as lovely). The prayer room is huge and there are these gianormous chandeliers that just dazzle. There were flowers all over the place and Arabic writing and the largest carpet in the world. Gwen and I made the comparison of the overwhelming Catholic churches where they scare you into praying, while here it is peaceful, "la-la-la... have a seat in this beautiful place on the beautiful carpet..."

Anyway, we wound up getting a taxi back to the hotel, where I desperately got a drink of cold water before saying goodbye to Gwen - I will definitely miss her! She was a blast! I hope she comes back to visit and I hope all of you make it a point to come sometime too. As you can see, I'll show you a great time. 😊

Additional photos below
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Of course there is Gelato!Of course there is Gelato!
Of course there is Gelato!

Have we actually left Italy???

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