Fun in AC for Everyone!

Never in a million years would I have believed that I’d be anxious to go to Atlantic City. Not even once, much less twice in one year! What do they have to offer little, innocent me? Aside from parties, great food, a beautiful beach, amazing hotels and casinos, gorgeous people, and an indescribable energy….

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This time I was in Atlantic for two days and a night with the fella to whom I introduced you last time, and his son. They really made the experience even better. We drove the two hours from Jersey City to Atlantic City in their family Lexus with Top 100 Hits playing in the background as we discussed life, death, and everything in between. Let me tell you, these two are quite a pair; the laughs and fun are endless!

A great soundtrack for your adventure:

You Want It Darker

My one concern was that his 19 year old son would be bored! However, we discussed the plan and made sure everyone would be entertained and content. After all, drinking, gambling, and partying are not the only things to do in Atlantic City. Not to mention, there was plenty of food! What does a teenage boy love more than food?

When we got to AC, we were tired, but not ready to stop just yet. We ate at the Asian restaurant in Harrah’s Resort and Casino- where we were staying for the night. They didn’t have too many vegan options, but I had edamame and they each had sushi and sashimi.
After some wandering and window shopping, the young guy was exhausted and went to hang out with my dog in the room. Meanwhile, the two big kids went to Harrah’s ‘Pool After Dark’! Considering how many cars were in the self-park garage, the crowd seemed slim. Still, we grabbed a drink and partied with Ja Rule; he was the guest host that night.
Now, that’s a name I haven’t heard in awhile!

The funny thing about the ‘Pool After Dark’ is that no one ever seems to be in the pool. Everyone creeps around it, trying not to fall in. Though, two brave men were chilling out on pool floats in their swimming trunks this time. They looked comfortable. Everyone else just congregated in cliques and danced like only people from New Jersey can dance. new_jersey_pumps_fists_classic_round_sticker-re4aea560380e431e9890426d396bd2a9_v9waf_8byvr_324We did what we came to do: pump our arms and lose money! Well, he lost money. I did my usual one-game-only: one roll in roulette– black. Doubled my money and walked away. Like a champ. Once hunger struck, we went to the 24 hour hotel cafe. He got a fruit tart that looked a bit frigid and sad, and I got an apple. A green Granny Smith apple. Will I never learn to carry snacks with me everywhere I go? We ate our late night snack, and went off to bed just in time for the sun to rise.

Next time, I’m bringing these:

KIND Bars, Dark Chocolate

The next day was no less fun or eventful. After a long, satisfying meal in the Borgata’s buffet, we did a little more window shopping. This time we made a huge purchase- a black and grey hoodie with the name ‘Borgata’ on it. For me, of course!

Unfortunately, we once again did not plan ahead well enough and missed out on seeing a show. The shows were later in the evening and nothing that we were too interested in seeing. Eyeing the rain outside, and knowing how anxious his son was to see the movie Jack Reacher, we went to a movie theatre not far from Tropicana . It looked like a shabby theatre from the outside, but the inside was large, clean, very buttery smelling, and, once the movie started, the darkness was impenetrable. The movie itself wasn’t my cup of popcorn, but it was lively and fun to watch it together. The group who fights bad guys together, stays together.

After this, just as we thought we we were ready to pack up and go, there was a realization that everyone was tired and hungry again. Hungry and tired. Driving two hours in a car together when everyone is hungry and tired is just asking for trouble. We couldn’t do much for the sleepiness, aside from some energy drinks, but the hunger could be solved with no difficulty at all. When we discovered there was a Buddakan in Caesar’s Palace, we knew where to go.

The Buddakan in New York City is absolutely awe-inspiring, but I’ll admit, I think Caesar’s version may have it trumped. Starting with the hotel’s recreation of Ancient Greece, and then a major scenery change into a faux boardwalk, we were under the Greek spell. We walked down the “boards”, looked out at the real beach with its setting sun, and entered a darkened hallway. Once you start down this pathway, you can’t help but turn your attention to the long, amber glass table leading to Buddha himself. Sitting with legs closed and heart open, he entices you to come forth, be seated, and eat!

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We did eat. Although the waitress tried to convince us that a salad and two entrees would not be enough, we restrained our grumbling tummies, and decided to only order more as necessary. We’re very responsible… and stubborn. Nonetheless, the waitress and all the wait staff were extraordinarily friendly, patient, and concerned with our comfort.

I was surprised at the limited number of vegan options, but some of the dishes could be adjusted to fit vegan needs. In the end, I went with the tofu and cashew dish and requested a side of spicy sauces. Can’t skimp on the spice!
Considering that 2/3 of the members of our table were staunch animal eaters, the salad really did get nabbed up quickly. Between the voracious hunger and the amazing ginger dressing, that salad didn’t have a chance.

As far as the main meals, I can’t speak for the shrimp lo mein, but the cashew and tofu was a delight! Being slightly less starved and deprived at this point, we had an opportunity to appreciate all aspects of this dish and its elements. Cashew and tofu protein aside, there was mint and pineapple and eggplant, too! Truly a little of everything, and all the parts of the puzzles added their own unique touch.

When it came time for the end of the meal, we were all completely satisfied and ready for the drive back. Stuffed to the gills and all! Good thing we had mentioned it was my birthday! Not that it was my birthday, but it “was” my birthday. Y’know? It was quite a surprise when along came a little cardboard box wrapped in a red bow. There was no birthday song, but the single lit candle was perfect. I unwrapped my gift and smelled the most amazing chocolate stank of my life. It was glorious.

Unfortunately, upon asking, we learned that the waitress had forgotten I was vegan. Goodbye, my sweet sweet! Fortunately, I was with two men who truly cared about me and were willing to eat my brownie for me. Plus, the embarrassed and guilty waitress brought over a strawberry sorbet that I could eat! Not my ideal dessert, but I ate it without a care or fret in the world.

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No hard feelings, Buddakan, this was my punishment for lying, I suppose.

Once fed, packed up, and filled with a heart full of joy from a marvelous day, we headed to the car with feet dragging and a little whisper in our ears to “stay… staaayyyy!”

Finally, having forgotten my phone in the hotel earlier in the day, I asked for photos that my younger comrade collected throughout the day. With all we had done and seen and all the unforgettable memories and moments between the three of us, I was anxious to have images to hold onto and share. He forwarded me the three photos he took:

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Pictures of advertisements for chocolate from the hotel wall

That says it all, folks. That’s everything.

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In the meantime, get satisfied!

‘Things to Try’ (click the link)


Asher’s Gourmet Pretzels, 1Lb


Vegan Street Food

Fantastic Atlantic

When it came to my trip to Atlantic City, I had no idea what to expect. Extravagance and sleaziness? A bunch of old people in scooters and cargo shorts? Maybe all the college students of New Jersey gambling away their college savings?

What I got was everything and then some. Atlantic City has no particular type or crowd, it was everyone in one place! You definitely had your dirty and crooked folks, but they were alongside the young and naive and the old and debilitated. It was a free-for-all, and everyone was welcome! Some people even brought their kids and babies. That seemed a odd to me. What do the kids do all day? Aside from planning how to get alcohol, I guess….

Oh, and for the record, it’s true, there were no clocks and the alcohol was free. Yet, I didn’t see a single person passed out on the floor. Either AC has class, or is really good at sweeping up its deadbeats.

My friend and I had a room reserved at Harrah’s Resort and Casino for 2 days. We only planned to stay 2 days and a night, but we kept the room to avoid early checkout. Very much worth the extra cost.

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Harrah’s was a beautiful hotel! The room wasn’t overly ornate, but I am sure they are trying to keep people out of their rooms! Fair enough. The room was functional, either way. Plenty of space and lights, comfortable accommodations. That’s all I ask for in a room.

The rest of the space was quite shiny and exciting, so I definitely was ready to walk around. People were friendly and cheerful…. Though, I didn’t feel the excitement and thrill that I was expecting. There was no champagne flowing and glitzy cocktail dresses and screams of joy/dismay. Everyone at the tables looked quite serious.

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Note all the button-up checkered shirts. Looks like a bunch of computer guys took off for the weekend. They’re so used to sitting and staring at a computer screen that they don’t know what to do with themselves.

This trip made me rethink my camera choice. Using my iPhone 5c camera wasn’t really doing anything any favours. Most of the pictures are grainy, dark, and blurry. Sorry about that.

After some initial gambling and a couple free drinks, (I had me some champagne) we went to find food. The earliest reservation that we could get at the hotel’s Italian restaurant was for 10 PM. I guess that’s the Atlantic City life for ya! No problem, though, we had more casinos to see and wristbands to purchase. They were offering bracelets for $20 that would allow us into Harrah’sBorgata, and Golden Nugget. In just 4 hours we did a complete tour of these three, along with Trump’s Taj Mahal, (which is closing in October!) Caesar’s Palace, and Bally’s.

My friend and I agree that Golden Nugget sounded the most unpleasant. Neither of us liked that name, but their music was the best by far. Harrah’s Pool After Dark was the coolest, I think. It was beautiful and felt ritzy. The atmosphere and energy really pulled us in and got us excited. Not to mention, Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell made an appearance. After running into him and chatting with him throughout the day, I had no idea who he was until we went to the club and saw him signing autographs and all. Talk about big name celebrities!

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Upping my quality of life

We bounced around a bunch and felt out which spots we liked the most. We agreed to hang out at Golden Nugget and Harrah’s… after dinner, though. We were hungry by 10!

The Italian Cafe Martorano was not your typical, nor traditional Italian dinner experience. It was modern with a touch of the 20s. There were disco balls and the floor was checkered with shiny black and white. The waitstaff all wore newsboy caps with suspenders. Don’t ask me what this look was, but it was gorgeous!

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I cut off my friend’s head for the sake of privacy!

Even after waiting 4 hours for our reservation, we still were asked to wait at the bar. Now, that’s how you sell a drink! While my friend ordered a Moscow Mule, or a Sicilian Mule, as they called it, I tried something a little sweeter, a Sicilian Kiss.

Sicilian Kiss – Imperia vodka, monin mango syrup, monin blood orange syrup, fresh blood orange juice, lime juice, garnished with a blood orange wheel

They made and sold those real fast! These were both very tasty drinks. Although the prices weren’t insane, I still don’t recommend looking at numbers. Just enjoy.

When we were finally seated, we looked upon the menu and drooled a little bit. Having only eaten a few bites of a huge apple that afternoon, I was ready to mangiare!

Guess what? Atlantic City doesn’t do vegan. It’s not in their vocabulary and they don’t care if it’s your thing. They don’t.

We went with antipasti dishes:

Eggplant Stacked

lightly breaded fried eggplant, homemade mozzarella, marinated tomato topped with arugula finished with balsamic and DOC Parmigiano Reggiano cheese $22.00

Antipasto

Homemade mozzarella, prosciutto San Danielle and marinated cherry tomatoes $24.00

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Mozzie and tomat

He ate the cheese, I ate the tomato, and we shared the eggplant. We were fed. Kind of. We distracted ourselves on the dance floor. There was a DJ and a small area for dancing, so we boogied. The music was a remix of old party songs turned into electronic house music. It was really cool! The older and the younger people could appreciate their jams. Jam… boy, I could have gone for jam on toast at that point. Not to say our food wasn’t yummy, but neither of us were really full.

 

Fortunately, there was a little food spot on our way back to the room. We grabbed some buffalo wing pretzels and a cup of grapes. That hit the spot.

After feeding ourselves, I walked my pup. Oh, yeah! Dogs. They’re allowed. And mine happened to behave super well during this trip. I think she was so confused that she forgot how to bark. I can’t say all resorts in AC are dog-friendly, but I can definitely tell you that Harrah’s loves your dog as much as you do!

Once she was happy, we went to the boardwalk and then explored the clubs more.

In spite of some grey and cloudy weather with some drizzling, we walked and had fun. The boardwalk was very low-key and the lights were pretty. Reminded me of Coney Island back home, but quieter.

Finally, around 4 AM we decided it was time to stop bouncing. Enough bouncing, said we! We went back to the room and pretty much fell asleep in the doorway. It was amazing. I woke up around 8 AM and put myself together. My buddy waited until 11 AM to get up and figure out what planet we were on. Surprisingly, though, I was the most well-rested and energized I have been in a long, long time. I felt super clear-headed and fantastic! Still starving, though. That feeling wouldn’t go away. The good news is, we had a breakfast/lunch buffet right downstairs! We bolted in that direction.

The buffet was perfect… for non-vegans. Plenty of meat and eggs and all those things. There was a little fruit and veggie salad available, though. Some mini-bagels which were adorable. I wasn’t complaining. However, we probably would have done just as well having bought bagels and peanut butter and passing on the $20 buffet. But it was extremely meditative and added to the fancy feeling of the trip. Those are very important things to take advantage of while living the luxury life!

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Breakfast with a view

After breakfast, there was a little more depositing of money at the casino bank, and we headed home. Happy, relaxed, and really anxious for our next trip! Peace out, AC, don’t spend all your money in one place, now….

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In the meantime, get satisfied!

Packing for the city… Atlantic City!

I’ve been to Israel and Ireland and India, but I’ve never made the 2-hour drive to Atlantic City. Why is that? I don’t gamble, I don’t drink much, and I don’t really like beaches, or New Jersey… that’s why.

But I am going to Atlantic City this weekend.

What changed the tune of my whistle? A friend offered me a trip there. I wasn’t busy this weekend, so I was like, “Let me check with my… uh… oh. Let’s go!”

The details have not been shared with me, but I know there’s a hotel where I can bring my dog and many clubs and restaurants from which to choose. That’s all I really need. Well, maybe a few other things, but that is on me to bring from home. You know- clothing and whatnot. That silly stuff.

In preparation for my journey, I did what any seasoned traveler would do…. Yep, without procrastination or hesitation I went to Rice Cream Shoppe in the West Village. I tried my first ever vegan rum raisin rice pudding with toasted coconut on top. Seems raisin-able.

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It’s a store I had passed a million times before, but I’d never gone in. Rice pudding was never really my thing. I don’t like eating something smooth and then dealing with unexpected chunks. It’s weird to me. Especially in the case of rice pudding where the chunks are little and slimy. But, being that it was apparently the week of doing things I didn’t really want to do, I decided to try the vegan dessert. Or, lunch in this case.

Rum raisin is not a flavour I’d had before, actually. You guessed it- it’s another thing with components I don’t necessarily want or need. Rum is nice, I like being a pirate. Rum and raisin, though? Pirates don’t do that. Today, this pirate did that. I’m a rebel pirate. That’s a double rebel.

Turns out, rum raisin tastes like vanilla. With raisins. And coconut if you ask for coconut on top, as I did. I was sticking with my Caribbean theme. It was a nice dessert. Not overindulgent or sickeningly sweet. It was tasty and refreshing. Left me with room for more food. That’s good or bad, depending on your goal.

Admittedly, the rice pudding confused me a bit, though. I needed to walk around a bit, take a breather, procrastinate on my packing… that sort of thing.

I was in Brooklyn…

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Then I took a bike ride in Jersey City to the waterfront. I waved at Manhattan.

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I did so much. Man, I was tired at this point. I took a nap.

Good nap. Good job, self. What to do with the rest of my evening…. OH, RIGHT! PACKING! Let’s do that.

Packing list for Friday, Friday night, and Saturday. Short, simple, and sweet. Now, I should keep in mind that it was a little chilly and rainy today. Still warm enough for shorts and dresses, but I may want to bring a sweater. Yes! Nicely done. Planning ahead with the weather. That’s something responsible travelers do.

Friday wear: Cute top and pants or shorts with sneakers

Pack: Super cool dress for Friday night. Like, so cool you might freeze the place. Maybe even heels to make everyone stop and stare when you enter a room. That’s another thing that actually happens in reality. All the time.

Also pack something comfortable for Saturday and the return trip.

Now I am thinking, “What do people do during the day in Atlantic City?”

Though, I guess the casinos don’t have clocks, right? I’ll never even know whether it’s day or night! Night is when you’re passed out on the floor from the free alcohol. Is that only in the movies? Maybe they DO have clocks and you DO have to pay for your drinks?? I don’t know what is real anymore!

All I know is, I’m probably not going to the beach. No bathing suit or any of that business necessary. I should just wear sweatpants and a bib since I’m really just going for fancy food. Vegan food in Atlantic City, you ask? No. Not so much. I can’t find any vegan restaurants in Atlantic City. That’s going to be interesting. Whatever I end up eating is going to be expensive, though. That much I know.

I’m still not packing, though. I’ve thought about what I should pack, but I’ve not even brought my bag up from storage in the basement. Ugh… I forgot I had to go downstairs and get it. This is so much work.

Here’s my packing list: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, makeup, cellular device, and charger. This is a good start. Although, I’ll need these things in the morning, presumably, so let’s wait to pack those. And try not to forget them.

Now, let’s step it up. Undergarments, deodorant, socks, pair of sneakers (or sandals), pair of heels, and razor. For shaving… or shivving someone. To be determined.

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Final round. I got this. 2 tops, 1 pair of jeans, 1 skirt, 1 dress, and a sweater.

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Cute, girl, cute. You got all the matching happening and the style and the fun but flirty. That’s exactly what magazines suggest. Magazines know best.

Anything missing? Something’s missing. Something is always missing…. SHOOT! I nearly forgot pajamas! You ding dong, how could you? Sleep is the prerequisite for being awake and alive. These are such important things! Do not forget your “No one will see these anyway” jammies!

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Now you have all yo junk together. You’re set. Oh, and a cherry Blow Pop. Because.

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Is, “Mmmm…” a scientific explanation?

Then just shove all that beautiful and expensive clothing in a bright pink bag you got for free at Victoria’s Secret, and you’re off!

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Don’t no one get in my way, I’m ’bout to take over AC! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it when I get back in a couple day!

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If you’re curious about Rice Cream Shoppe, I’d give it 7/10 unicorn hugs.

Their website is: http://www.ricecreamshoppe.com/

In the meantime, get satisfied!