Abu Dhabi Weather

Monday, January 9, 2012

Porsche Club

My friend's 1996 Porsche 911. He wants a 2010 GT2.

Last Friday night I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Porsche Club event at the Yas Marina F1 Track. A friend of mine invited me to come along and it seemed like an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. I felt fortunate to be a part of such an event, but I felt completely out of my league.

I've been to the Yas Marina track a number of times for a variety of events and have been around the track a number of times, always on a bicycle. and sometimes even for triathlons. I felt out of place because not only was I one of the only people in the room who didn't own a Porsche, when people started talking about the specs on their cars, they might as well have been speaking another language. Plus, phrases such as, "That's the next Porsche I want to get," or even "My next Porsche," don't naturally come into conversations with my friends unless we're being ironic. Still, everyone was really friendly and more than happy to let me wander around taking pictures of their cars. There were even some Porsche SUV's out on the track.

For the actual driving, there are three levels, Novice 1, Novice 2, and Intermediate. The intermediates have been driving around with the club for a few years. (Previous to the fairly new Yas Marina Track, they used to rent out airport terminals.) The intermediate drivers got free reign to drive as fast as they wanted and were given three straightaways where they were allowed to pass. The Novice 1 and Novice 2 drivers followed an instructor in groups of four and were recommended to watch the driving lines and braking patterns. Unfortunately, while my friend is usually in the Intermediate group, he had to stick with the Novice 2's because of an issue with his car's clutch plate.

Even so, the ride was pretty cool. This video is of one of the laps we took around the track with a finish in the pit.

With the problems his car was experiencing, we were only able to do one of the 50 minute Novice sessions. The cost for this event with about 12 instructors and rental of an F1 Track for the evening? Even with the sponsors (Pirelli Tires and the Porsche dealership in Dubai) each member had to pay 1100 dirham or about $300. Considering the typical repair on a Porsche is way more than that, it's a pretty good deal. To quote my friend, "You have to have a monthly budget for repairs when you own a Porsche." I'll bet you do. I'm just glad that I got the chance to ride on the track in one and am hopeful I'll get another invitation.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Volvo Ocean Race

The Volvo Ocean Race, a 9 month sailing race around the world, is in Abu Dhabi right now. The boats are docked on the breakwater near Marina Mall and there is a little village set up for them. I took the kids there yesterday and there were tons of activities for them to do. There was a simulator and a 3D Movie to give everyone the idea of the sailing experience.

Only one of our kids was big enough to submit to torture.
This is the boat that is currently 5th out of 6.
 In addition, they had a lot of rides for the kids including a gyroscope, hamster balls which the kids could walk on the water in, and a jumpy castle.

This is the best I could do to keep my kids from fighting.

They even had stuff like free trials of stand up paddle boards and dinghies that you could take the kids out in. Because it wasn't crowded, I was able to take out the paddle board by myself then again once each with my kids sitting on the front. 

Paddling in the Abu Dhabi bay.

The village will be open until January 14th when the race commences and heads for China. It was a lot of fun and all the activities were free. Parking was limited, but you can park at Marina Mall and just walk there pretty easily. I'd recommend getting there early because parking filled up by the time we left at 3:30. We hope to go again next weekend and highly recommend that you check it out.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Breakfast after our first night in Egypt
 Without getting into too much detail, we went to Egypt over the winter break. The first thing I'd like to mention is that there was no reason to worry about going to Egypt with regards to any kind of political instability. There was only the usual hassles (challenges?) with traveling in a developing country. Since this was the first time my wife and kids have been traveling apart from visiting family, I was a little concerned, but there was little to worry about.

We arranged for our tours through a Japanese hostel in the center of Cairo, the Venice Hosokawaya hotel. about 75% of the people staying there were Japanese. The staff spoke English and Japanese and the place was run by an Egyptian man who lived in Japan for 14 years and is married to a Japanese woman.They can arrange for both Japanese and English language tours.

You'll have to ask my son where these hieroglyphics were. It's all a blur for me now.
The street outside our hotel in Cairo.

Relaxing in the Sleeper train.

After sightseeing in Cairo, we got dropped off at the train station for our overnight trip to Luxor where we transferred to our Nile cruise. The kids really enjoyed the sleeper train. Traveling with a family of four was really convenient because each compartment holds two people and there was a door between our compartments that opened up to make one large compartment for four.

An old-timey boat in the Nile.
The swimming pool on the deck of our Nile Cruise.

This guy happily drove us and posed for this picture. Then he asked for a tip.

Christmas hit our Nile cruise ship.
After we arrived in Luxor by train, we were met at the station by a driver who took us to our cruise ship, let us rest for a while, then took us on a tour of Luxor. The cruise was pretty nice, thought I was in the minority of English speakers. Most of the people seemed to be  either on a Spanish-speaking tour or from a group of eastern Europeans with the rest of us on our own. We were able to make friends because if we didn't meet on the boat, we were generally in the same tours on land seeing the same sights.

Once our cruise ended, we took the train from Aswan to Giza where we saw some pyramids. We all had a pretty good trip while meeting some new friends. I now feel confident with our ability to travel as a family without anyone freaking out.

No heads at Luxor Temple.

Family hijinx at an Egyptian Temple

Tia really getting into the Temple at Abu Simbal.

Pyramid magic makes you fly.