We develop perceptions of ourselves as we grow. And, as we experience different aspects of life, we sometimes discover that these ideas of self are slightly off the mark. As a teenager, and into my twenties, I always saw myself as a ‘gung-ho’ alpha male-type. I wanted to try skydiving, bungee-jumping, luge and everything in between. Then, one day, with a group of friends, I went rap jumping, off the top of The Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein, Joburg.
Rap jumping is essentially abseiling but you go down face first. Although I did four jumps, I was terrified. For the first jump, the instructor literally had to coax me over the edge – I later discovered that if you didn’t jump, they were fined. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, it seems. This applies to things like rollercoasters and waterslides – especially water slides since I still need to learn how to swim. So you can imagine my cautious angst when walking into Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi. And, once I got over the water stuff, I went to Ferrari World.
“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert
As I posted a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi with Montecasino as a precursor to the Scratch and Win competition they are running. The prize is a seven-night stay at Southern Sun Abu Dhabi and a trip to Ferrari World.
With the heat and humidity in Abu Dhabi, going to anything that involves water should be welcomed absolutely. I was tentative because of the above. It did help that we went through on a Sunday. With it being the first work day of the week in Abu Dhabi, because the United Arab Emirates is an Islamic country, there were no lines to the slides and, therefore, no-one (except the people I was travelling with) to witness my nervousness.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” — Jawaharal Nehru
The first stop at Yas Waterworld was the Bandit Bomber, a rollercoaster ride which was short and quick enough to allay some of my fears. I did, however, balk at pearl diving as well as a couple of slides but, once I got into the swing of things, you couldn’t get me off the slides. My favourites were the Slithers Slides which involves sliding down enclosed ‘snakes’ on a rubber tube, at points in darkness. I also did Falcon’s Falaj, a six-person rubber raft ‘hydromagnetic’ ride and slowly floated along the Al Raha River to chill in between the excitement.
The last ride, which was great prep for Ferrari World, was Liwa Loop. You are enclosed (read, locked) in the tube standing on a little platform. On the count of three, the platform disappears and you are sent hurtling down and round the loop to come out at the bottom in under 10 seconds – so quick I had zero time to scream.
With my confidence suitably bolstered, we headed over to the crowning moment of the trip, the 86,000 square metre Ferrari World, the perfect ode to everything Ferrari. When you walk in, you are submerged in all aspects of the world of Ferrari from motoring to lifestyle. Dotted around the theme park are the cars, vintage and modern, in repose, as art pieces, as a glimpse into the journey that Ferrari has taken since it was first established by Enzo Ferrari in the 1930s.
“I have yet to meet anyone quite so stubborn as myself and animated by this overpowering passion that leaves me no time for thought or anything else. I have, in fact, no interest in life outside racing cars.” – Enzo Ferrari
First stop – Formula Rossa, billed as the fastest rollercoaster in the world. Nothing can prepare you for the launch, going from 0 to 240 km/hour in just under 5 seconds. You are strapped in, given googles and instructed to push your head against the backrest because at those speeds, you can actually get whiplash as the rollercoaster, which is designed to look like a Formula One car, flips you around.
Taking a leisurely stroll around Ferrari World to catch my breath, I was struck by how much there is for you to do for everyone from the Fast Lane quiz, the chance to drive around Yas Island in a Ferrari, the Karting Academy and Junior GT to the 4D Adventure with Nello, the Made In Maranello Tour of the Ferrari factory, the Scuderia Challenge where you get to race on the Yas Marina Circuit in a simulator, the Tyre Twist, Viaggio in Italia, a simulated tour of Italy, and Bell’Italia, which is a relaxed ride around miniature-Italy with all its landmarks. You really need a couple of days to enjoy Ferrari World to its max. In between, you can chill at the various restaurants and buy souvenirs at the two shops.
My favourite part of the experience has to be Flying Aces. Billed as the highest rollercoaster loop, it truly takes your breath away. An experience that cannot be described in words. I went on it twice and, with more time, I would have definitely gone out a couple more times.
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
There are so many things to do on Yas Island and in Abu Dhabi, as I detailed in my last post. A once-in-a-lifetime that is also available in Abu Dhabi is the opportunity to drive the Yas Marina Circuit in a racing car that is as close to a Formula One car as an amateur can get. It is said to be the only circuit in the world where this experience is available.
Overall, the trip, which gave those of us fortunate to travel there with Montecasino, gave a snapshot of what the winner of the competition will experience, was amazing. I’m definitely going to go back with the family and more time. The competition ends October 31st and, after my time there, I can comfortably say, is well worth entering. To do so, spend R450 at Montecasino and get a #ScratchAndWin card. Good luck.