The important part of Thursday was that we met with the CEO for coffee at 5pm. During this session, we discussed the last piece of the project that had not yet been addressed. At the end of the meeting, we talked about what we had been doing to enjoy Dubai. He had two suggestions:
1) Go to Oman
2) Go to Abu Dhabi
As the team broke from this meeting, we were determined to make both happen. On short notice, we booked a car and cleared our plans for Friday to make it happen. However, it didn’t go anywhere near the way we had hoped.
Sometimes it’s tough to sugarcoat a bad day and those stories also contribute to a great travel experience. Well, today, we got a boatload of great experiences from a bunch of messy one’s.
To start off with a brief background: Kate found some girls blog about a trip to Oman (https://blog.virgin-atlantic.com/t5/Our-Places/Mini-Road-Trip-Dubai-to-the-Musandam-Peninsula/ba-p/1408#.U3ZaW_ldWxk), which looked amazing. Our goal was to replicate the same trip.
1) In attempting to get to the first stop, it took Travis taking the car off road before we realized nobody knew where we were going. Matt then stepped in with the iPhone – this seemed good at the time but in the end the results were mixed courtesy of Googlemaps shortcomings. More to come on this. Regardless, this wasted a lot of time.
2) It’s Friday here and so everything is closed. When we got to the second stop, nowhere was open to eat but a mall food court.
3) I start driving with Matt giving directions from his iPhone. We drive 20 miles, which took 45 minutes because it was a windy road. We finally get close to the Oman border and the road becomes a dirt/rock path – Google was still telling us to keep going. We get to a checkpoint and the officer says its closed. Apparently it was only for Emirati’s and the military – not foreigners. Fail. Now we need to go back all the way to where we started from the mall.
Despite this being listed as a fail, there were some positives. First, we were winding in the mountains (we didn’t know they existed here) and saw a ton of wild goats on the side of the road. I even had to honk at one of them to get it to move out of the middle of the street. Second, the experience at the border gate is the type of story I enjoy. It was a mix of his confusion and our confusion – it makes travelling fun. Regardless, it didn’t help us get to where we wanted to go on this trip though.
4) We finally get on the right path, and drive another 20 miles up the shore to the Oman/UAE border. We go in to pay a fee to leave the UAE and we don’t have the car registration. No registration, no leaving the UAE. The rental company, who knew we were going to Oman never mentioned it to us when we picked up the car. Either way, we called them from the border, and they still couldn’t do anything for us over the phone.
At this point, we were 0-2 on entering Oman. However, this time, the border was 10 feet away and we could see the border check for Oman. But, we had to turn back.
Another positive side to this story was how nice their customs officials were. They let us use their personal cell phone, not the border office phone, to call the rental company. Give credit where it’s due.
5) We drive back 20 miles to find a Budget Rent a Car store. The guy gets us the right forms and now its 5:15 or so. The sun goes down here at 6:50 and most of the things we were going to do in Oman require sunlight – hiking around, boat ride, seeing the shoreline, etc.
Another shout out, the guy at Budget was awesome. He listened to the situation and responded as quickly as possible, and yes, he got results. Thank you Mike!
6) A 30 minute debate ensued as Travis frantically drove us back towards the border. I kept saying, when we get there, it’s going to be dark, and it’s going to be a waste, let’s go back tomorrow and enjoy it and not rush through it. Finally, the group agreed – but this will cost me Abu Dhabi. Either way, by the time the decision was reached, we had driven 15 miles back towards the border. Backtracking again, and now back to Dubai.
7) In the car, it seemed like a good idea to take the others to the shawarma place we went to a few days before – it cost $1 for a shawarma or fallafel. Well, again, Googlemaps had no idea what was going on. The voice was way off with what it was saying as compared to the screen. We have Matt trying to figure out whats on the screen, Travis is trying to drive and has no idea what to do. A couple times he stopped with a green light or even on a divided highway (with cars behind us) and broke the law with illegal turns. Not good, not good at all.
8) We finally get to the shawarma area and we can’t park.
9) Once we finally get the shawarma, we need gas. Travis pulls into the gas station the wrong way. Both the employees working there and other customers are upset. Not sure why this was a huge deal for them, but it seemed to be.
10) When we get back to the condo, we don’t know where to put the car. Most of the parking is reserved and while our owner has a spot we don’t know where it is. We’re driving around the lot, which has cars parked illegally everywhere, cars acting aggressively to steal spots or get around. Horrible. Finally, we share our problem with the parking attendant and not only does he not help, but he starts getting sarcastic with us and having a good time doing it.
By now, I have had it. Somehow Travis gets the job done after I took an aggressive approach with the guy. The issue was, he thought we were playing games and lying about staying in the condo above.
So I as I think about where today went south, sometimes you just have a bad day and tomorrow will be better. We plan to head back to Oman and hopefully we can make it 1 for 3 (because a .333 batting average is Hall of Fame status) and also get back to the UAE. If you click the link I included above, it truly looks incredible and I can’t wait to see it myself.