As you know, I was in Atlantic City this past weekend. Atlantic City is like Vegas' smaller sister: there are a bunch of resort-style casinos located in groups along a boardwalk instead of all together along the Strip. These resorts are much smaller than the ones at Vegas and aren't all connected with inside paths, but they're nice. Smoking is allowed in designated areas of the casinos, some hotel rooms, and outside.
Getting to Atlantic City is no easy feat. I heard that they're trying to get more people to go there and if that's the case, they'd be well-advised to have more direct flights to and from their airport. I got there by flying to Philadelphia, taking the train to the main train station, and then taking a train to Atlantic City. Traveling by train is one of my favourite ways to go - I love seeing the land pass by.
When I arrived in Philadelphia, I had no US money with me but I figured that I'd see a bank machine or ticket machine on the way to the train platform. I didn't see either one so I asked someone waiting for the train about paying for the ticket. She told me that tickets are purchased from the train conductor and that if I didn't have the money, they'd just fill out a form and I could pay at the main station.
She also said that if there were any problems, she'd just pay my fare! She ended up not needing to do that because they did have me fill in a form and I did pay the fare at the station. Even if she'd had to pay for me it would only have been $7USD. But still, I was so touched by her generosity; her offer meant so much to me because I was worried about how I was going to pay. What a nice thing to do for someone! I feel like I should pay that offer forward somehow.
My friend picked me up at the Atlantic City train station and we drove to the hotel. We stayed at the Showboat, a New Orleans-themed hotel. Well, they called it "New Orleans" but really it was more a Mardi Gras theme. They even had a very loud, energetic, parade of performers circle around the casino floor three times a day. They stop right beside the check-in desk at 3:30pm. Coincidentally, that's when we checked in.
The noise made it kind of hard to hear the person behind the desk tell us that we weren't supposed to be in that line, and it made it harder for her to hear from her manager that she was supposed to take us because we were the group they were expecting. Fortunately, the person behind the desk was well able to convey her feelings about having to check us in when she didn't want to do it even though she could barely be heard above the din.
The group of us were supposed to get rooms near each other but we ended up spread out on different floors. The front desk person said that they could only "try" to get us together and they couldn't promise that we would be near each other. I'm thinking that this particular front desk person might not have tried as hard as another one would have. Not that it matters; it would have been nice to be near each other but being all over the place was ok, too.
The rooms themselves were quite spacious and every one had a view of the ocean. The tub was deeper than most hotel tubs and I was able to have a really good soak in it. The bed was also comfortable. Strangely, my king-size bed didn't have a fitted sheet and only had two double-sized pillows. Usually king-sized beds come with several king-sized pillows and have sheets that fit all the way to the end of the bed.
The major problem with the room was sound-related. Every room we saw had a connection to the room next to it; the connection doors were right across from the bathroom doors in each room. There didn't seem to be any insulation in the doors or anything so every time the next room door opened, I thought someone was coming into my room.
Also, when I was in the bathroom - whether or not my bathroom door was closed - I could clearly hear my neighbours. And by clearly hear them, I mean that I could hear everything they said in the room or did in the bathroom. For example, one of the guys did a fine a-cappella version of some popular songs while he showered. My appreciation for his singing was somewhat diminished by the fact that I'd had to listen to him grunting on the toilet only moments earlier, however.
I've stayed in rooms with connections to the neighbouring room before and I've never heard my neighbours so clearly. At least the neighbour room was occupied for only the first night and I had ear plugs with me
The boardwalk is one of the features in Atlantic City and I spent quite a lot of time walking there. On one side of the boardwalk is the beach and ocean and on the other are tourist-type shops. If a person didn't want to walk, they could be pushed in a rolling chair (for a fee). Closest to the casinos there are some decent food places but mostly the shops are filled with almost identical selections of poorly-made clothes that get destroyed in one wash and knick-knacks. The most original and varied pieces in the stores were the bongs. There were a lot of those.
There was a mall with restaurants and good shops near Caesar's and just up the road there are outlet stores. I'd thought about going shopping but I decided that I didn't need anything, really. Besides, there weren't that many stores in the mall and the outlet shops were all freestanding and it was so hot out that I didn't want to have to go from store to store.
When I wasn't with the group, I spent a lot of time walking along the boardwalk. On Friday morning I walked to the end of the boardwalk away from the casinos to see what the "real" Atlantic City was like. The buildings were fairly run-down and the boardwalk itself was badly maintained. Near the casinos the boardwalk is very well maintained and there's no rotted wood but away from the casinos part of the boardwalk was completely torn away.
While I walked along the boardwalk I couldn't resist the pull of the ocean. Watching and listening to the waves is very relaxing and each time I walked on the boardwalk I spent some time getting my feet wet in the ocean. I'm not a swimmer and the water was cold but I love the feel of the little waves crashing over my feet :) I also played the slots when I had some time but I don't like gambling all that much - I don't like to lose money - so when I got to a point that I won back my money, I cashed out and stopped. I prefer to be out walking over gambling.
Thursday night we had a bite to eat and then walked along the boardwalk for a while, just to see the sights. We poked around in the shops and wandered around. Some people gambled and went to the bar after that but I decided to get some rest as I'd been traveling most of the day.
Friday night we went out to a buffet dinner after hanging out in one person's room. I didn't really eat enough to justify the buffet but it tasted ok. After dinner I had some trouble sleeping so I went for a walk down the boardwalk - the casinos are open 24 hours and there are people out all the time - and when I got back I felt extremely nauseous. I think something from dinner didn't agree with me. I ended up awake very, very late.
The next day we thought it was going to rain and thunderstorm in the afternoon so we all decided to go to the nearby (about 30-45 minutes away by car) town of Wildwood. There's a boardwalk there, too, with better stores and restaurants along each side. We figured that we could duck into the stores if the rain came.
One person had done some exploring early in the day and had driven herself to this town. The remaining six of us had two cars available but the drivers of those two cars decided that the drive wasn't that long and so it would be silly to have to take three cars back. They figured we could all scrunch together in one five-seat car to get there. I ended up in the back with three others, half on the seat and leaning on the front passenger's headrest. Somehow this position made my feet go numb a couple of times and my adjustments started a cascade of other adjustments by my companions.
Thankfully, we arrived at the town in the right number of pieces. When it was time to leave, I went with the other driver and two other people. It was a much more comfortable ride back.
Most of the others were hungry and went to eat in a pizza place but I still wasn't feeling well from the night before and couldn't bear the greasy smells. I went looking in nearby shops to see if there was anything interesting there but bought nothing. When everyone was done eating, we walked down the boardwalk. Even though the forecast had called for rain and thundershowers, no rain fell and no thunder boomed. We spent the afternoon under the very hot - well over 30C - sun without any relief from it. I hadn't brought my hat with me so I had to buy another one there.
At one point during out walk, we had a choice to go straight to the parking lot or to take a detour down the midway (there was an amusement park there). Several of us (including me) were exhausted from being in the heat for several hours but some people - including the two drivers - really wanted to see that part of the boardwalk. Those of us who went straight to the parking lot ended up sitting and waiting for a while.
We got back to the hotel not quite two hours before our 7pm dinner. This didn't leave much time to rest and get ready since it took about 25 minutes to get to the restaurant, but it was long enough for me to have a bath at least. The Saturday night dinner was the only thing we'd really planned because a couple of people who lived nearby wanted to drive in and join us.
We went to Continental for delicious global tapas. Tapas are usually a Spanish thing; they're like appetizers that you share. It's a great way to eat if you've got a big group because you can order and try a bunch of different things. This place had tapas-sized items from all sorts of cultures and they were delicious. They also apparently had very yummy drinks.
After dinner I decided to go back to the hotel because I was very tired after not sleeping well the night before and having been out in the sun all day. We'd made vague plans to have breakfast the next morning and someone was going to drive me to the train station. Unfortunately, I couldn't reach the person by texting her so I didn't see anyone that last morning. I went for a walk along the boardwalk instead and took a taxi to the train station.
I'm so happy to be home. It was good to get away and see people but it was even better to come home.