Exploring, Middle East, Travel

Abu Dhabi-do at Yas Marina Circuit

March 2018 was, like every year, my mum’s birthday. 2018 however was not like the other years. 2018 was her 60th birthday and this was a feat that needed to be celebrated bigger and better than any other birthday, and why not? So after sifting through seemingly endless ideas and countless cities and countries across the globe, she picked Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for the celebrations.

At the time, I did not have a blog, and my Instgram was in its infancy, so I am writing a travel throwback post, in the spirit of the upcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend. Varying slightly from my typical ‘Unconventional Travel Tip’ posts and my ‘Eating Out in…’ series, this will be more anecdotal as I look back over what I can remember of my time at the track.

As soon as my mum booked Abu Dhabi for her birthday celebrations, I instantly knew what I wanted to arrange for her. However, as is the way with these things much of the time, it was never going to be as straightforward as hoped.


After making the booking in the early January of 2018, I made immediate inquiries about what we could do as a celebration based around the Yas Marina Circuit. An avid Formula 1 fan, my mum had always wanted to go around a race track in a safety-car, during a race. Whilst I knew that during a race may be a little far fetched, I was determined to see what I could do. Knowing that many tracks have ‘experience days’ where you can drive yourself around at lightening speed, I wanted to find something similar but where someone else would drive for my mum.


With their ‘experiences’ being unavailable on the date of her birthday, I was looking for an alternative. I didn’t have much luck – simply nothing compared to my original idea. We were now into mid February and time was running out. I was stuck for a gift. Then, about three weeks before the big day there were some openings on the website for a Mercedes drive, which included being suited and booted and driven around the track by a professional driver. Perfect. I had to snap it up. I contacted the team at the circuit and advised them of the situation and exactly what I wanted to arrange, given that my mum was turning 60, I needed to make sure there would be no restrictions in place that would prevent her from enjoying the experience once at the track.


Everything was good to go. I provided my details to the team in Abu Dhabi and asked that they send me some paperwork, so I could make my mum a card, detailing what would be happening and give it to her on the morning of her birthday. With everything arranged, I told my dad what I had done, wrote out everything, tucked it into a birthday card and put it with my passport, so I would not forget to take it with me!

On the morning of my mum’s birthday, after breakfast at the hotel – I distributed my gifts for her, keeping the envelope for last. With a few other little gifts already unwrapped my mum tore into the card, and for use of a better phrase, promptly lost her s^$&.

Me, my mum and my dad jumped in a taxi later that day and went across to the Yas Marina area of Abu Dhabi, which took about 30 minutes from where we were staying. The three of us spent the whole day at the track, looking around and enjoying the hospitality, which was a completely fantastic way to spend the afternoon, even for my dad who cannot stand Formula 1 under normal circumstances.

Boys playing with their toys

With the 30′ Arabian sun beating down and the track temperature pushing 50′,  to my mum’s delight, the drive was scheduled for sunset, just like the start of the actual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. After the safety briefing, it was time to put on the headgear to stop bones from being broken and necks from being cricked by the g-force going around the track. Making sure to capture each moment as best I could, it was time to get in the car. I don’t really know what happened after that as that part of the experience was for my mum, but the car drove off.

Anyone that has ever tried taking a picture of a supercar flying past will understand how hard it is to get it right…

Several minutes later, it was all done. Slightly dazed, and high from adrenaline, my mum emerged from the car, with the biggest smile on her face. Greeted by me and my dad as the sun completely dipped below the stands, the burnt orange, Arabian sky was subdued against the glare of the white hot lights, illuminating the track.


With my partners thirtieth birthday coming up next spring and my dad also coming up to 60 himself, I am already thinking about how I can help those birthdays be just as epic as this one.

Is this something you would like to do? What is the best birthday surprise you have ever arranged for someone or had someone arrange for you? Let me know in the comments below.

36 thoughts on “Abu Dhabi-do at Yas Marina Circuit”

  1. This is not personally something I would do but my partner would LOVE it! So definitely think it’s a brilliant idea for a present 😊 glad you all had a great time! I can’t really think of times I have surprised people, there is too many! Maybe one of the best is surprising my best friend with a trip to Disney land 😊 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’d give it a go if it was there but it not on my list of musts! It was a fantastic day for all of us and the best for my momma which was of course the point! I’d love to go to the race there one year – I’m excited to watch this afternoon β™₯️ All trips that are surprises are such awesome ideas 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ellie, I don’t suppose you’d like to be my daughter by any chance??

    This is actually the most amazing gift!

    What a wonderful surprise for your Mum.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with for the 30th/60th celebrations.

    (You’ve got a few years till your blog mumma’s 40th… πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. πŸ˜‚ Thank you for your kind words here Claire β™₯ My mum truly loved it and each time she sees the GP in Abu Dhabi (like today) she tells the story about going around the track! I like to make sure I give a great gift as I try to only give one or two, so I try to make it count as best as I can. A few years to go – well, I will have to get my thinking hat on! x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 🀭 Thank you so much – that’s a lovely thing to say β™₯️ My mum loved it so very much – I was so Literally proud of myself for pulling it off after all the back and fourth 😍🏁🏎️ x


  3. This sounds amazing!! I love cars and formula 1 and I’ve always wanted to to go to Abu Dhabi, so this would be the perfect birthday for me! I might have to suggest this to my boyfriend lol πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t have time to get to Ferrari world on this trip, plus it was a bit Mercedes themed, with my mum being a Lewis/Mercedes fan! I would love to go back and spend more time in the marina area and to get to Ferrari world and the roller coaster there β™₯. Thank you for reading my post and I’m glad I could bring back some lovely memories for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sunshine fast cars! Yes, please!! I have been wanting to go to Emirates but on a family trip and wasn’t really sure what we’d do there besides go out and eat. This is a great idea, especially since my son would really enjoy it. So glad you shared!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was perfect! There’s so much to do there. We were there for five days and that was about the right amount of time. I didn’t get to go to Ferrari world but that’s on my list for next time. I did manage to get a day trip in to Dubai as well – there’s lots of parks and water parks in Dubai which might be of interest to your family β™₯️


    1. Thank you – I was so happy that she liked it. I did have that feeling in the back of my mind that it may be one of those things you want to do but when the chance comes, you pass on it! Luckily that was never going to be an option for my momma! 🀩😍🀣


  5. I’m the “mum” in this story…..The dreaded 60th turned out to be the best and most exciting birthday EVER.
    I’m Team Mercedes through and through so it had to be a Mercedes the surprise was amazing it was truly one if the BEST days of my life…And she’s right every time I see Lewis on that track I always say “I’ve done that”
    LOVE YOU ALWAYS 🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎🏎β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️β™₯️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. β™₯ I love this so much – I am so happy that you liked this present. I worked and worked, so determined to get it done for you πŸ˜€ I did not give up even when they said that there was nothing available – I was basically like *but there has to be!* x


  6. I couldn’t help but smile when I got to the bit where your mum opened the envelope and lost her shit (uncensored!). In fact I cant even imagine how much of her shit she lost when she was in the car because those Merc AMGs, as we both know, are absolute beasts to drive and be a passenger in. Happy that she had an amazing birthday and you and your dad went heaven and earth to make it happen. What a cool throwback post (I fully approve of course πŸ˜‰)

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much β™₯ I figured the timing was perfect with the race being in Abu Dhabi over the weekend. They are such epic cars! Now that she has got the ‘safety car’ out of the way, I think the next step is actually going to a race there β™₯


  7. Sounds like an incredible experience. I know my parents would be equally happy with something like this. Think I’d definitely go down the route of having someone drive them too πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly can’t recommend it enough – it was an epic day. The hospitality was great too, even as visitors who weren’t having the driving experience – still awesome. The race in Abu Dhabi is always fantastic to watch! 🏎️


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