Eat, Shop and Gamble in Atlantic City

I didn’t have much of an idea what Atlantic City would be like. I knew that it is a seaside place in New Jersey and that there are casinos. People go there to gamble. There are buses from New York every hour on the weekend and every two hours during the week. They take you to the casino of your choice.

Our bus took us – Soh Ang and me – to Ceasars, where we met Soh Ang’s sister who had come from Toronto with a friend to spend the weekend there.
We did what we were supposed to do in Atlantic City: walk on the boardwalk, see the ocean, have lunch, shop, gamble and have dinner. In the evening we took a bus back. The bus was full. It had to leave people behind.

When we arrived we got our 10$ casino coupon, which was included in our 35$ fare, upgraded to a 25$ casino coupon. They wanted us in the casino.
We were lucky, it was a sunny day. So we really could enjoy the boardwalk. It is several miles long and is lined by hotels that all have casinos, by bars and shops of the kind people like to find on a boardwalk. Who doesn’t want to walk can take a kind of rickshaw.
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In a seafood restaurant in Ceasars we had lunch. I had a dish called Crab Benedict, that’s like Eggs Benedict on a crab cake. It was nice.
After lunch we watched a light-and-water show.
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Then we headed to the outlet mall, where we separated for an hour to explore the shopping opportunities. All major American brands have their shops there. You can get a pair of sneakers at Nike’s, new clothes from J.C. Crew, Calvin Klein or Michael Kors and a bag from Coach. Just to name a few. We met again at Starbucks where I had a Pumpkin Spice Latte that was surprisingly good.
Next on our schedule was the casino. We had to get rid of our 25$ coupons. We started together at a Dolly Parton machine. The classic game, where a set of equal symbols wins, accompanied by songs from Dolly Parton. Soh Ang was lucky. Her 25$ easily climbed to 40$, so she could play pretty long. I got bored because I didn’t really have an influence on the game. So I went for a Poker machine. It didn’t have a dealer with white gloved hands though, like the one where I had spent a considerable amount of time in Las Vegas.
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I started playing for quarters and did quite well. That means I kept the value of my coupon. When I changed to 50c I started to loose. Finally I had 20c left on my slip and kept it as a souvenir. No apartment in Brooklyn. No blog about a writer’s life.
We had agreed to meet again at 5pm and I found Soh Ang still hanging in front of her Dolly Parton machine busy spending her coupon.
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When this was done we had an early dinner at a food court where we had Japanese Udon soups. We could not really have it together because the guy was unable to prepare more than one at a time – what would have been easy because everything is pre-prepared. It just needs combining the ingredients and cooking the noodles.
After dinner Soh Ang and I walked to another part of the boardwalk into the sunset to catch a 7pm bus back home. It had been a fun day.
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What is Atlantic City like? Well, it is a fun place and its main attraction are the casinos. They are quite busy. The shopping mall attracts people as well. Sales tax in New Jersey is lower than in New York and the stores offer great discounts. I heard somebody call it a “country cousin of Las Vegas” and I think that describes it pretty well. The business is the same – gambling – but it does not have the glamour and the overall craziness of Las Vegas. The hotels are attractive but there is not this competition about the biggest, the newest, the most fashionable, the most expensive. The casinos are smaller and there are no people in glittering robes. There are shows but not the famous ones. Everything is a bit smaller and a bit less spectacular. It is just Atlantic City.

What I learned today:
Gambling apparently has changed. No more coins in a cup – you play on a plastic card and paper slips instead.

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