New Jersey’s answer to Las Vegas, Atlantic City would be our next pit-stop. Pit maybe a good adjective to describe a city in decline. Hit hard by the global recession plus an end of season feel made for four days that would’ve been better spent elsewhere.
Again we hitched a ride via craigslist and made the short journey from Philly in good time, arriving early afternoon. We stayed at the dog friendly Sheraton just off the main tourist area and next to the Convention Centre. The room was clean and comfortable, typical of what you’d expect from a large chain hotel. The weather was also good with barely a cloud in the sky for the duration.
As we began to explore, we quickly realised this was not for us. Fashion outlets, poor quality over priced food chains and casinos littered the cramped downtown area. We struggled to find anything healthy to eat, with the exception of a Mexican restaurant called Los Amigos and a place called Wingcraft, there was very little on offer. We took a thirty minute bus ride with Hamish to the nearby Ventnor City and a great wee juice bar called Green and Grains where Tracy bought a one day juice cleanse…. anything to avoid the poor quality fare on offer in Atlantic City.
More of a plush neighbourhood than a city, Ventnor City joins Atlantic City via the boardwalk which runs along the Jersey shore. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on the beach or boardwalk at any time of the year so we caught another bus back to Atlantic City where the restrictions were slightly more relaxed; after September 15th dogs could be taken on the boardwalk and beach as long as they were on the leash. As it was the 15th we decided to ingnore this and walk him there a day early and give him a run off the lead. The local police we spoke to told us they didn’t enforce this rule as they were busy enough.
Tracy went for a massage and we both went for a quick look round Caesar’s Palace as people threw their money into slot machines.
Statistics say Atlantic City is the seventh most dangerous city in the US with crime rates well above the national average. On the two or three occasions we had to venture out of the main tourist area to go to the supermarket to purchase dog food we did feel pretty uncomfortable and the area had a dangerous feel to it. Unlike Harlem where we walked everywhere and felt reasonably safe, here we did not and this part of town it was better to avoid especially towards the end of the day. Hamish who likes a late night walk would have to make do with a dander round the hotel grounds as any further could see you stumble a street too far and into unfamiliar territory.
All in all we were glad to be leaving and will probably not return any time soon. If casinos is your thing then you’d be better saving a little more and going to Las Vegas as Atlantic City is a very poor second.
Our next stop would be Asheville, North Carolina and a twelve hour journey beckoned, our third time hitching a ride.