Last weekend, Maggie Muldoon and Naomi Solomon won our Atlantic City guest-blogger contest and went on a freebie-filled overnight trip to Jersey’s most debauched city. Here’s what happened:
Friday afternoon, 2 p.m.: When we arrived at Port Authority, Greyhound, the trip’s sponsor, welcomed us onto their fancy new bus, complete with plush leather seats, extra leg room, wi-fi and power outlets, along with a slew of bloggers from Off Manhattan, Hipster Travel, Unapologetically Mundane, Scouting New York, Short & Sweet NYC and others.
We sat down directly behind the CEO and COO of Greyhound, whom we got to interview. Driving the bus was a man named Leon, the most decorated driver in Greyhound’s history. If we could compare the group of us onboard to a family road-trip then the two of us were definitely the proverbial dogs with our heads out the window, excitable and giddy amongst a very cool, collected group of adults, tweeting amongst each other and relaxing while we, the non-pro bloggers who are not used to getting cool free swag, bounced around, Naomi taking copious notes about EVERYTHING the whole way down.
Friday, 5:45 p.m.: Maggie arriving in the hotel room was one of those do-they-know-who-they’re-giving-this-swag-to moments. It was huge and had all the amenities: giant TV, coffeemaker in the bathroom, safe in the closet. Then on to Top of the Trop, where we were welcomed with amazing appetizers, generous amounts of wine and a marvelous view.
Friday, 9:30 p.m.: We stepped onto the floor of the Tropicana Casino with $25 vouchers in hand, ready to make our fortunes. Eventually, and after flagging down waitresses for numerous free drinks, the voucher money was gone and we’d won about 20 real dollars each. We were ready to move on.
Friday, 11:30 p.m.: We then wandered into Tropicana mall, a place made to look like a Spanish village. In the center of the room was a bar with a live band and a fierce woman covering Journey and Whitney Houston, surrounded by a crowd of leathered geriatric gamblers, Jersey Shore cast look-a-likes and bright-eyed vacationers dancing, singing and smoking indoors. We joined in for a while, then spent an hour looking for a way to spend our $25 gift cards from Tropicana.
Saturday, 1 a.m.: Maggie loses. We left the Tropicana on foot for the Hilton and it was cold. Very cold. We’re from California. We ran. At the Hilton, our $10 in slot play was worth only $5, which made Maggie decide that she was feeling good and psychic and would win lots at roulette. Negative $20 later, she was on to Big Spin. Negative $30 after that, time to eat our loser feelings with the food vouchers from the Hilton.
Saturday, 9:15 a.m.: The next morning, we may have missed the sunrise due to some super-comfortable beds, but we did take an ill-advised stroll on the freezing boardwalk after sitting at the slot machines just long enough for a cocktail waitress to bring us some hair of the dog: Irish coffee! We then realized we were late for the bus to the spa.
Saturday, 11 a.m.: Everyone at the Bally’s spa was ridiculously nice. We had appointments for mud-wraps, because they were the thing we were least able to see doing in our normal lives. We stripped down, and then got wrapped up by our spa person (mud-wrapper?), Nadia, who told us things like: I wrap you up good, make you like hot dog, you will feel great, like the baby’s skin!
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: We walked out of the muggy warmth of the spa to see snow falling like mad on the fake Old West streets outside. With the cold and quiet, there was a kind of muted serenity you’d never expect in Atlantic City: everything covered in white, tall beach-side grass bending gently beneath the snow…
Saturday, 2 p.m.: We killed the rest of our time by pandering for more free drinks at the penny machines at Bally’s Wild West Casino: a place wrought with over-the-top Old West imagery and scary animatronic coal miners and donkeys.
Saturday, 2:50 p.m.: We realized we were again pushing our deadline for getting to the bus. Thus began our mad dash across the snow, through the casino, over the many moving sidewalks, almost literally bumping into the CEO and COO of Greyhound, who thanked us profusely for taking time from our busy schedules to take this little trip. (Chyah!) Thanks for an amazing 24 hours, Brokelyn!