UAE to Oman
Al Ain Travel Blog› entry 5 of 8 › view all entries
The complimentary breakfast at the Crowne Plaza is served until 11am, and that allowed me to sleep in after yesterday's two country marathon. While reading the paper over breakfast I learned of a football match. The United Arab Emirates national team was hosting the Iraqi national team at 6:30pm tonight in Al Ain. Al Ain is a bit out of the way, but is right on the Omani border. Being an American, I certainly wouldn't call myself football crazy (Unless you're talking American Football... Go Packers!), but I relished the opportunity to take in an international friendly.
I checked out at about 1:30pm, and grabbed a Caribou Coffee for the drive. The plan is to make a swing north to drive through all of the emirates on the way towards the eventual Al Ain destination.
I had pre-programmed the location of the football stadium into my GPS, but just after arriving in Al Ain I noticed a lit-up stadium on the right. Even though I still had seven kilometers to go I'd better check it out. I talked to three police officers watching traffic in the stadium parking lot, and they confirmed that this was indeed the correct stadium.
I was 30 minutes early, so I grabbed a Cuban cigar and my camera and made my way into the stadium. I immediately ran into a couple of British ex-pats that were attending the game also, and I relished the chance to have somebody to bounce my unintelligent football questions off of. We sat with the UAE fans on the north side of the stadium, and had a great view of the fervently cheering and packed Iraqi section. Two more Brits joined our group, and we appeared to be the only westerners in the crowd.
The later arriving UAE crowd got some good cheers going a bit into the game, but could not match the Iraqi gusto. Iraq scored first and played a more aggresive game, but the lower ranked UAE team came back to force a tie in the end.
It was getting late, and I still had a border to cross and 200+ kilometers to travel over unfamiliar terrain in the dark. So I said goodbye and hightailed it out of there. My thoughts of stadium food had been dashed when none was apparently available, so I settled for Burger King at a gas station. I also filled the tank again, not knowing about availability along the drive.
The border crossing was a bit confusing, and involved me making a u-turn just before almost accidentaly crossing back into the UAE. The Omani crossing facilities turned out to be almost 30km past the border, and had me wondering what was going on before eventually reaching them. I talked to a group of guys from Malaysia going the other direction at the border, and they gave me some travel advice on what they had seen.
Despite a good deal of road construction, the drive went as well as I could imagine. The GPS took me right to the Holiday Inn, and I checked in at about midnight. Tomorrow I explore Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman.