Despite living in New York for ten years, I’ve never gone to Atlantic City. I’m not sure what’s held me back – the lack of a car is certainly part of it, but I think the main reason is that the whole excursion has always felt like too much planning…Which hotels, which casinos, how much to spend, how to get around, where to eat, what to do in between gambling…In the end, I’ve always just spent the effort on other destinations.
Out of the blue, I got an email from a rep at Greyhound asking if I’d like to go on a NY blogger event to Atlantic City. They’re trying to spread the word about their Lucky Streak bus service to AC from NY, PA, DC, and Baltimore, and I’d get a free night and a few perks out of it, with no requirements to write or tweet or facebook anything. To be in line with my blog, they suggested that I spend Saturday exploring some of the the older sections of AC for a potential post on what you don’t tend to notice notice in the shadows of the modern casinos. That’s pretty much the clincher to get me to go anywhere, so I signed up.
We left on Friday, and I now realize that the least of my troubles was the actual travel aspect. $35 -$40 is the roundtrip fare from New York City, and the buses drop you off in 2.5 hours or so right beneath the hotel you’re staying at. I know, I know this is old news to 95% of you reading this, but it’s sort of an eye-opener for me. I always figured the buses cost more and just dropped you off at some enormous AC bus terminal or something, leaving you to pay for a cab to get to your actual destination…Not the case. Also, they’ve been upgrading their Lucky Streak buses to the Bolt bus versions, meaning free electrical outlets, wifi, leather seats (ha, take that Chinatown bus to Boston), and leg room. You even get a slotcard for $10, depending on the hotel you’re going to.
Friday night, we checked into the Hilton, then headed over to the Tropicana for a rooftop reception. Ultimately, after a night of gambling and some comp cards, I walked out net positive with (1) a new Brookstone scale, (2) a copy of the 2010 Old Farmer’s Almanac, and (3) $23 more than I came in with. Clearly, I must have stumbled through rip in the space/time continuum (probably next to the buffet line) into a bizarre alternate dimension casino where these are the sorts of things that slot jockeys pray for. Ha, well, I’m pleased.
The next day, I was all prepared to go walking around Atlantic City, cold weather or not. While driving in on the bus, I saw a ton of things I wanted to look at up close, including some awesome architecture on the older motels (and by awesome, I mean 1970′s seedy-chic). People were telling me about a number of interesting sights I had to check out, and I was all excited to go walking. Around 10 AM, this was the view out the window of Bally’s.
Then, within an hour, the boardwalk was engulfed in a snow storm:
Clearly, I should have consulted the weather forecast in my new 2010 Old Farmer’s Almanac. Needless to say, with a blizzard in full swing, I had to cancel my much-anticipated walking tour of AC. I’ll definitely be returning in the warmer months, and thanks to Greyhound, I think I’ve finally got a handle on how to do such a trip. Let me know of your favorite sights for when I finally get around to it.
PS – While it seems like a thing of the past to most New Yorkers, nothing says gambling degenerate like smoking indoors, which is still legal in AC (and Vegas, of course). Best way to avoid having your clothes reek: I found that the Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino’s enormous ceilings really got rid of most of the smoke.