The sun had yet to rise at the start of the final day of the ECC Arabian Adventure trip, which saw us going up the world's tallest building and visiting Adventureland in Sharjah, before an eventful trip back to the airport ready for the journey home.
The final day of our trip in the UAE began very early, with the group having checked out and ready to depart on our coaches by 7:15am. The reason for the early start was our pre-booked tickets to go up the Burj Khalifa as the first tourists of the day.
The Burj Khalifa, at 2720ft high, is the world's tallest building. Luckily, there is a lift to take visitors to the viewing platform on the 124th floor. This is actually only two thirds of the way up the tower, although it is more than high enough to offer some amazing views over Dubai and out into the desert and sea beyond.
Although still a little hazy, the dust clouds and rain of the previous two days had dissipated and we were able to get some spectacular photos looking down onto the rooftops of the city's giant skyscapers far below.
After spending over an hour at the top, everybody made it safely back down in the elevators and, after stopping for some photos at the bottom of the tower, returned to the coaches for the journey to the final park of the trip, Adventureland Sharjah.
Adventureland is the largest Family Entertainment Centre in the Middle East, and is housed on the top floor of the Sharjah Centre mall. In common with many of the FECs in the region, visitors purchase a plastic card that can be topped up with credits to pay for each ride. It was quite a sight, then, to see 138 coaster enthusiasts forming a giant queue at the pay kiosk outside the entrance to Adventureland!
The park hosts three rollercoasters. We headed first for Rocket Cycles, a MotoCoaster from Zamperla. At 45 feet high, the top of the lift was tall enough that riders could almost touch the ceiling as they reached the crest. They've definitely tried to maximise their use of available space! The ride itself was good fun. The trains are similar to Vekoma's Motorbike coasters, although they feel a little more compact.
The other two rollercoasters at Adventureland are both powered coasters, again from Zamperla. Their tracks sprawl over the park, and burst through the park's entrance to give mall shoppers a sight of the fun they could be having inside.
Having had our fill of Adventureland, most of the group opted to have lunch in the giant food court on the same level of the Mall. This provided a nice variety of options to suit most people's tastes, so everybody was well fed ahead of the short coach drive back to the airport to begin our journeys home, a successful trip complete ...
... Almost. As we travelled along the main road to the airport, our coach driver (as I have mentioned previously, we were in the lead coach of the three) got a call from Bus 3 to say they had broken down. And so followed a rescue mission - not quite as slick as Thunderbirds maybe but still heroic - as we, with Bus 2 following, began navigating the backstreets around Sharjah to get back to where Bus 3 was parked. Luckily several of those on the trip had already left the coaches as they were extending their stays for extra days in Dubai, so between the two remaining working coaches we were able to host the poor stranded Bus 3 souls. We'd eaten all our chocolates though, so they didn't get to share in that aspect of Bus 1 awesomeness! ;-)
Rescue mission accomplished, the rest of the short drive to the airport was uneventful. And there ended a trip which will go down in ECC fokelore as an absolute classic - brilliantly organised all the way through, fantastic parks and great friends. Thanks must go to the ECC team, but especially to Ben for providing such a wonderful experience. I don't think this will be the last time the European Coaster Club visits the Arabian Peninsula!