Monday, November 02, 2009

Its a long way to Dubai...

Well, went to the F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit yesterday.  Niki & I went on Sat night for the Qualifying and then saw the Kings of Leon concert which was excellent!  And yesterday I took my father in law Geoff who is visiting to the race itself.

In the build up to the weekend, the media has been warning everyone to leave themselves plenty of time to get onto the island at Yas Marina as this was the first ever Abu Dhabi F1 GP and in addition everyone I spoke to said it was "going to be hell!".

So, when I was invited to get myself and Geoff onto a privately hired bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi that would take us in and pick us up, I jumped at the chance.  The alternative was to drive myself and then park at a place called Al Shahama about 10kms from the track and then ride the government supplied buses.  With rumours that there wouldnt be enough buses and long queues, I took the private bus option.

Niki and I however took the public park and ride option but in all honesty, it worked extremely well!  Suprisingly, we had very little waiting and were straight in and out.  The bus after the concert was packed, but we waited just 5mins and got on the first bus that came along.

But with the promise that the crowds would be massive on race day, I stuck to the option of the private bus for the Sunday.  With an 80yr old father in law in tow as well, it was the better option for sure...

Well, on Sunday the bus down was fine... no problem, the organisers had two buses in convoy and we trekked down the highway from Dubai to Abu Dhabi's Yas Island which was about 80kms.  We went straight in and the bus parked in the car park close to my grandstand and we were told that the bus would be here at the same spot at 8pm to take us home.  The race was scheduled to finish at 7pm at the latest, so no worries there!

Had a great day... the GP was fanstastic and all was well.

Got back to the car park well before 8pm and no bus... I called the organiser who was in a different grandstand and she said that the bus was running late in traffic and would get there at 9pm.  So we hung around the car park.... and waited and waited.

By 9pm, still no bus and there were now 9 souls looking for a ride home.  The deal was that there would be an 8pm bus for the people heading home and then another bus at 11pm for those who stayed for the Aerosmith concert... Geoff's not a big fan of Aerosmith, so we were keen to head home.

The organiser (Katie) rang the bus company and it was pretty heated.  Aparently the bus now wasnt coming at all and we were stranded... and now looking for a taxi amongst the throngs of people.

We walked out of the car park and asked the parking attendent for the nearest taxi rank.  Fat chance in my mind, but the guy said "15mins walk that way" and pointed down the road... which had no foot path and was choked with traffic.

But then Katie's husband (who was Finnish and had a couple of Finnish friends in our group) had talked the driver of a rickety labourers bus (think a 1970's school bus fitted to carry 60 Indian workers on a construction site) to open his door.  We all piled in and asked if he could drive us to the taxi stand.  This thing was a driving mechanical health hazard and we crawled through the traffic for ages and for at least 4kms (15mins my arse!).  We tried to bribe the driver to get us to Dubai and after 600Dhs we gave up... and then the Finns started singing and the driver turned up the Sitar music to 11 to drown them out...

Soon enough we reached a massive on grade carpark chock full of taxis.  Waving 100Dhs notes in her hand, Katie started calling for someone to take us to Dubai but all the drivers kept pointing us away to the far side of the carpark... here, there were taxis on the driveway out of the carpark with their engines going waiting for passengers.  Given that they were 4kms away from the circuit, not sure how much passing traffic we got, but we piled in to taxis and Katie handed out the 100Dhs notes to cover costs.  I can only assume this was the money for the bus driver, but he was long forgotten.

And then we were away with a happy Pakistani cabbie and we were home... we walked in at 10:30pm... some 4hrs after the end of the race!

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