Saturday, March 17, 2007

Have you been to Atlantic City lately?

This past weekend I took a trip to see the "new" Atlantic City. I was there for a bachelorette party. While Vegas was our first choice, various reasons made us pare down our ambitions. So, if not Vegas, where? Big hotels, pools, restaurants, bars, gambling... really!?, only just over 2 hours away from New York??? Wow! That sounded like an option. Truthfully though, I didn't know what I was getting into. I hadn't been there in at least 10 years and didn't have high expectations. I had heard changes were afloat but I had no idea just how many changes had been made.

I took the bus down there and as we went over the bay bridge and the tall casinos came into view, I got that genuine vacation feeling. A sort of excitement. I could have been approaching any resort strip. Certainly something different from my normal life. The water rippled. The casinos soared. The sand dunes rolled and new waterfront condos lined the bay. Sure there were still signs of the old AC; a few pawn shops and a street of buildings desperately in need of a fresh coat of paint. But what I noticed more was pretty plantings, flowering trees, new buildings... The seedy boardwalk is on the verge of major change. There are still some old souvenir shops, but the new development was much more prominent.

Shopping is a major part of this new development. Caesars casino has built a new mall out on a pier. Brand new outlets have been built in downtown with all the major brands. And aside from my new inability to buy anything, (Indian's only have one set of clothes... why do I need more?) there was plenty of good stuff there to satisfy any consuming American.

I stayed at the Borgata. Set about 10 minutes drive from the boardwalk, the Borgata is the first new casino to be built in Atlantic City. Its hard to just call it a hotel or a casino. Its almost like its own city. It has about 10 restaurants, 5 bars, a spa, an enormous pool, shopping and its own food court. All these places are placed amidst slot machines, roulette tables, black jack and poker. You name it, they have a way for you to bet on it. I don't really know how many people were staying there, but it had to be thousands.

I managed to make it through a whole weekend without gambling. Unfortunately the days are gone when you can walk up to a slot machine with a quarter from your pocket, drop it in, pull a lever and wait for you life to change forever. Instead you need a prepaid debit card and the levers have turned into electronic buttons that eliminates that satisfying pull.

Really though deep inside me is a blackjack high better. I sat and watched and was shook by that out of control gambling feeling. A slight shutter ran through me and made me think if I even played one hand moments later I'd be running to the ATM and blowing every dollar I had. No, its really better just to watch...

Luckily there was plenty of other things to do and so much great people watching that I was easily satisfied. And yes, that is said from the girl who goes to Afghanistan for thrills.

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