Abu Dhabi Formula 1 2014: Part I

All Roads Lead to Abu Dhabi.......
Lewis Hamilton took the crown in the last race of the season, and I couldn't be happier for him. I've been an avid F1 viewer for years and an even bigger Hamilton fan since he blazed onto the track. Earlier this year I got to experience the Monza race from grandstands ….but the cries from the Dubai-ites have all been 'if I'm not on a boat; I'm not going'

So, super yachts - here I come.

'Mr B', a London-based banker, and 'M' (my Dubai girl pal) were my chosen partners in crime.

Lunch: Bussola, The Westin
It's been a month or two since I saw Mr B in London, so I suggested we catch up, and fuel up our bodies with a spot of lunch before we head to Abu Dhabi. I arrive at The Westin, where Mr B has booked a table for two at Bussola. First time here and the view over the pool, beach and ocean is stunning. Just a shame it was so empty. Mr B then informed me he was running late. Mr B is always running late. As someone who is perpetually on time I decide to ignore this fact and bask in the sunshine and order a glass of Rioja. Three quarters of a glass later, Mr B finally arrives, all bright yellow trousers, reflective Ray Bans and 'babe, I'm so sorry, I'm late'. The latter repeated a few times as he clocked my almost empty glass. Over tales of our recent travels and adventures we order.

We ate: 
Burrata cheese, with wedges of marinated Italian tomatoes 
Beef carpaccio, rocket, radicchio, grana padano cheese, caramelized Tropea onion 
Fillet Steak
Homemade ricotta cheese, black truffle and spinach ravioli with crispy mushroom and parmesan sauce. 

We drank: 

Lunch at Bussola at The Westin, Dubai before F1
Lunch at Bussola, The Westin

Beautiful meal and lovely surroundings with a dear friend. What more could you want? Well, a few more hours to enjoy it... however, we have a race to get to.

Yas Viceroy Hotel
M picks us up and we hit the road for Abu Dhabi. Qualifying hadn't started so the marina was relatively quiet. The race itself is just background noise for the glitz, - glamour and the good times. I was determined to see some qualifying though. I deposit M and Mr B in the Mumm champagne bar, ready to drink some champers and brighten up the marina with their presence. I head to the Viceroy which guarantees a great viewing spot of the cars racing under the hotels promenade and wasn't disappointed. Well, except for Hamilton not securing P1. #noonesperfect

Haylan Halls view from Viceroy Hotel for F1 Qualifying
View from Yas Viceroy Hotel

 I head back to the Mumm bar for a post-quali glass of champagne and to pick up Mr B and M. The Yas Marina circuit is a fabulous place for people watching, as the race brings together the hard-core race fans as well as the jet-setting party crowd.

.... is the place to dine on F1 weekend. Live music provides a divine atmosphere and a ready-made catwalk of the fabulously dressed patrons is enough to fascinate between food courses.

We drank: 
Belini's Champagne 
Pinot Noir 

We Ate: 
Sushi platter 
Tuna shasimi 
Rigatoni siciliana 
Saffron risotto 
Braised veal ossobuco with saffron risotto 
Milanese veal escalope 
Vanilla meringue cake
Sushi Platter from F1 menu at Cipriani Yas Island
Cipriani Sushi Platter

I can't praise the food enough. The simple pasta was rich and full bodied in flavour and the risotto was a creamy infusion of saffron and veal that worked perfectly. I imagine it to be the essence of Italian home cooking. I'm not a fan of sweet things so rarely bother with desserts. However, Mr B and M hadn't stopped gushing over the vanilla meringue. Meringue has to be one of my least favourite desserts. I would happily turn away pavlova or the English favourite Eton Mess. So I'm demonstrating all the ambivalence of someone over the age of 18 at a One Direction concert, - but since the two of them are still orgasming over this meringue I decide to get on board.

Vanilla Meringue from Cipriani on F1 Menu at Yas Island
The Cipriani Vanilla Meringue #foodporn
I take back all the bad thoughts I've ever had about meringue. It was like sex on a plate. Like, really epic sex. But on a plate. I would happy take a de-tour to Cipriani for this little dish alone. It's not like the traditional meringue I was used to. More like a cake infused with delicious American frosting, but without the sickly sweet after taste. Heaven.

Tyrese passed our table and headed out to the balcony. I'm a huge fan of the Fast & The Furious franchise (hot boys and fast cars? What more do you want?) so this made me smile.

Food, coma. I am craving my bed, but its not even midnight. Mr B orders a round of espresso martinis to perk us up. They do the trick.

Ferrari, Yachts, Tequila......
We head to the Ferrari Yacht Party. Michelle Rodriguez is chilling with some guy pals on the gang plank. She reprimands her boys for making us side step to get around them. Too cute. Natural stunner in real life. Beautiful boat and a bartender that doesn't look lost when I ask for a tequila and coke with fresh lime. Oh yeah, and there's a hot tub on board. No one in it though. Tomorrow is race day so no one is getting buck wild. I imagine it will be a different story the following night. The lights from the Yas Marina provide one of the most breath-taking back drops I have ever seen and I have a brief reality check of how lucky I am to be able to experience such a sight. I believe it's very important to appreciate these moments in the present. For a lot of people happiness is a retrospective feeling, and I never want to be in that position.

View of Viceroy Hotel Yas Island from Ferrari Yacht
Emma Haylan Hall on Ferrari Yacht, Yas Marina

View of Yas Marina Hotel and Yachts
Yachts around Yas Marina
At 2am the crew comes on the loud speaker and announces - “Guys, we have a race to win tomorrow. So please, get off the boat!” - Gotta love the Italian hospitality.

We head back to the hotel and try to get some sleep. I can't sleep. I'm too excited for the next day.......

To continue to the next instalment of my Abu Dhabi adventure, click HERE

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