If you're looking for speed, you can't get much better than Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. A couple of joint birthdays among my friends presented us with the perfect excuse to spend a day at the theme park, seeing as none of us had gone yet, and which teenager doesn't love a good roller coaster? Well, me, for one.
I love the idea of being brave enough to go on the fastest, scariest ones, which is why I was looking forward to trying out all the ones in Ferrari World. And I don't mind it quite so much when we're on one either. It's just the bit where you're waiting for it to start. You sit down and strap on your seat belt, and they pull the harness down on you, and the guy on the controls yells, "Are you ready?" Mumble mumble. "I said are you ready?!!" And you suddenly don't want to go any more and wish you could just cry "No!" and scramble out to safety, but you can't because you're trapped behind a harness.
No, I can't say I like the wait before a roller-coaster ride because I tend to start imagining all the horrible stuff that could happen - the car flying off the track and everyone dying, being stuck upside down and all the blood rushing to your head so you die, oh, I don't know, an overdose of adrenalin so your heart pumps too hard and explodes - and you die. Not pleasant thoughts, in short.
We set out from Dubai nice and early, blearily trying to put on some make-up but too groggy to do it properly, so I ended up poking myself in the eye with a mascara stick and didn't bother after that. We soon arrived, having swallowed more shortbread biscuits than would be recommended so early in the morning, and having taken copious amounts of those silly sorts of photographs only teenage girls can take.
We piled out, purchased tickets and toddled into Ferrari World, and it wasn't long before we'd pinpointed the first roller coaster to try out. The place was deserted, so we thankfully didn't have to bother with the queues that grow ridiculously long by evening, and none of us had the chance to chicken out either with a feeble "No, the queue's too long". OK, just me. Then again, if I had actually seen that roller coaster in action, I would never have wandered, even accidentally, within five feet of it.
We belted up. Louise gave me a comradely grin. "Ready to go on the fastest roller coaster in the world?" I smiled back sweetly, assuming, naturally, that she was saying that to scare me in a feeble attempt at humour. How could I have ever possibly known that Louise, accomplished teller of untruths, was actually being serious for once? I didn't have much time to think, though, because the next minute we had shot off, accelerating at an inhuman rate, and all I could do was silently scream and dig my nails into the seat and hyperventilate, gasping "never again" over and over.
I knew, of course, that the park housed the fastest coaster in the world, but I wouldn't have imagined in a million years that out of all the nice gentle rides there were, Formula Rossa was the one my deluded friends would pick to go on first. Maybe I should start reading signs more carefully.
I gratefully stumbled out when it was over, although that misguided trio I call my friends had about 17 more goes before the day was over. I suppose the next ride, G-Force, wasn't all that bad at all, but the days when I would spontaneously agree to go on anything that made your tummy lurch about were over. I carefully observed the rest of them do it once, made a calculated judgement about its safety, and then agreed to go on it. Well, all right, it took a bit of cajoling and dragging about, but I got in the end and started screaming, then shut up when I realised the ride hadn't started yet.
The rest of the day was bearable to say the least, and I even went as far as to tentatively let go of the harness and put my arms up in the air for a photo on a ride called the Fiorano GT Challenge, although I kept my distance from Formula Rossa. The best part was, in my opinion, a sort of 4-D movie called Speed of Magic, which consisted of chasing an alien that had stolen a bunch of Ferrari car keys. Mostly because it was all special effects and the only movement was the chair wobbling - completely gentle on a post-lunch stomach.
I wouldn't mind returning at all - as long as we take it easy on the coasters, sample more food from the excellent Italian restaurants, such as the exotically named Mamma Rossella and Ristorante Cavallino, and perhaps stick to the "Junior training centre" - if I'm not above the height restrictions.