Yelp’s Winter Break in Atlantic City!

On Friday, my boyfriend and I drove up to Atlantic City for a Yelp-hosted weekend getaway trip, sponsored by Bally’s & Caesar’s. My best friends also came up with us.

Let’s just say it was an amazing time.

We got there too late for the registration happy hour, where there were some free drinks and munchies, since we were coming all the way up from the DC Maryland region and most attendees were from the New Jersey/Philly Yelp communities. It was raining and foggy and we got hungry, so we didn’t check into our room until about 8.

It was so foggy outside our window that, literally, I couldn’t see maybe 100-200 meters past the hotel. I couldn’t even see any lights from neighboring buildings or parking lots or roads or anything. Just the street directly in front of (or behind…?) Bally’s and the roof of a building and that was it. That was our view for the entire weekend (until the morning of check out).

Ben and I watched a little bit of Source Code, which was playing on TNT, until my friends were checked in. Then we headed to Mountain Bar for the first party of the weekend. We each got 2 free drinks and the bits of free food that was left. I wasn’t that hungry though after stopping on the way for dinner. I don’t drink much, but I did try whiskey for the first time. It made my mouth hurt and then numb… what? Anyway, I also got this cool souvenir jar that was for a promotion in the participating hotels. Each one had different signature drinks, and we got to keep those mugs yay. It was a really fun evening watching the go-go dancers, people ride the mechanical bull, and a random appearance by impersonators playing Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra.

The next day, we got up and headed to a local joint that had good reviews, but was not quite what we wanted. We were expecting a little brunch place for our Saturday brunch, but it was just a bakery and a rather mediocre one at that. We hid in there as lightning struck startlingly close and waited for the rain to let up before we headed to a proper lunch place. We just stopped into a chain place because we were pretty famished at this point and it was threatening to start raining on us again.

After lunch, we managed to complete the scavenger hunt (after skipping some steps oops), which means we each have a free night at Harrah’s sometime during the week. Then, we went to Piers Shops at Caesar’s to enjoy the fountain show and do some window shopping, since we canNOT afford most of those stores. (Yes, I see you Tiffany’s. No, I won’t even bother walking in.) Just some fun casual browsing, the highlight of which was getting massages in the chairs and foot-massage devices at Brookstone.

Hourly fountain show at the Piers Shops
Hourly fountain show at the Piers Shops

We were pretty tired at this point, so we all went back to our rooms for naps (haha). Afterwards, we went to Johnny Rocket’s in Bally’s for dinner. It was my first time in a Johnny Rocket’s, so I was a little surprised by things like turning off the lights for birthday celebrations, and the we-wish-we-weren’t-here performance in the middle of the restaurant. My burger and shake were yummy, but my milkshake may have given me a bit of a bellyache, so I headed back to my room for some hot water and The Big Bang Theory while my friends tried their luck in the casino.

Multiple cups of hot water for me (some pre-game beverages for other people) and episodes of The Big Bang Theory later, we got dressed for the final party of the weekend at Caesar’s. We were BLOWN AWAY by what we saw. There was an entire ballroom reserved for us, and the room was decorated in true Caesar’s style for our toga party. People went all out with costumes, there was an open bar (a mistake for Yelpers, trust me), lots of delicious food… it was way more than I was expecting and I was so excited!
I still had a bellyache though, so I didn’t get to eat very much. But the bites I had were delicious. Apparently, as my friends were coming back from the bathroom, they saw cops haul away some people fighting over a girl. I missed out on that action 😛

Swanky
Swanky

By the end of the night, I had an awesome goodie bag and was fully prepared to come back next year for another wonderful weekend. This was definitely a lot more fun than I anticipated and I have to give mega props to the Yelp organizers who put this together.

2014-01-16 15.35.48At least there was sunshine to send us off.

Winner Winner, Seafood Dinner

Last weekend was my dad’s birthday, so to celebrate we went to the Longwood Gardens on Saturday and then to Atlantic City on Sunday. We used to visit these places more frequently when we lived in New Jersey, and I don’t think I’ve been to the Gardens since we moved, so it was a real treat getting to go.

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Photos cannot do this place justice, and I will not overwhelm you with photos here. I have hundreds and I’ll put up a Flickr album when I get a chance.

I absolutely loved the Gardens. First of all, they are stunning to the max. If you like flowers, plants, biology, this place is just great. Also, the fountains are spectacular. One thing that was different about this particular visit is I really learned more about Pierre du Pont, who owned the property before it was opened to the public. He put so much of his time and effort into the gardens and was enamored with the magic of water. Also, it’s great listening to John Philips Sousa during the fountain show, as he was a personal friend of Monsieur du Pont. His house was beautiful and there was an adorable kitty napping 0utside of it, aw.

Maybe I’ll write a separate post about the beauty of the Longwood Gardens, but this post is going to be about that vice known as gambling.

Now, I am not a gambler. As a person, I shy away from risks and hate the idea of gambling. It was my first time in Atlantic City since turning 21, however, and I knew my dad would like to see my try my hand in the casino. I thought of it kind of the way you approach an arcade or something – this is money I am spending to have fun, I am not expecting to get it back, and if I do, hurray.

For example, earlier that day, we were at our favorite arcade – the Central Pier Arcade. We were trying to get those quarters to fall from where they were hanging so precariously…

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So… deceptively… difficult…

… when I was approached by one of the arcade’s staffers. “Would you like to win 300 tickets with just 50 cents?” “Oh, that sounds too easy to be true.” “No really! Come look! Just hit the jellyfish.” It was a game where you had to avoid hitting a bunch of other sea critters swimming about and harpoon a mystical jellyfish guarding a treasure chest. I saw another lady try and fail, but my dad ambled over and told me to go for it, so I humored him. I missed the first shot, but lo and behold, I HIT THE JELLYFISH. I was so pleasantly surprised and I couldn’t handle all the tickets. My brother was only a little peeved because I had reset the jackpot and the jellyfish disappeared, so he didn’t have his own shot at glory for this game. (Sorry!) I almost never win these arcade games by any substantial amount, so this was a refreshing feeling and set the mood for my day at high.

Later, at the casino, my dad had convinced me to try my hand at slots. I didn’t have to feel so personally responsible if I lost, because I didn’t have to make too many decisions, and so if I did lose, I wouldn’t feel so bad. It would feel more like an arcade game, I reasoned. So I put $20 on the card and sat myself down at a penny slot. I made about $3, but that was after just a few pushes of the button, and I think my dad and brother would’ve been disappointed if I cashed out there, although they said I could. I was here to make sure we all had a good time, and I committed to either cashing out at more than that $3 mark or just spending it all.

I was about to spend it all, yes. I was down to maybe $4 left on the machine, and I had no idea how these slots really worked as far as how much money they did end up giving back to you.

But then I WON OVER $50 and so I actually profited $31.35 that day. From the penny slots. I am never ever that lucky, and I did not expect to win any kind of double digits from a slot machine for sure. I was super pleased and more than happy to foot the bill for my dad’s birthday dinner. Red Lobster was so good for my mouth, which craved real food. OMNOMNOM.

A week later, my boyfriend’s friends and I were playing poker. They dragged me into it by buying me in, giving me chips and cards, and waiting on me to place my bets. I don’t really know all the rules of poker, and I especially am not sure which hands are better than others, but they paid for me, so okay. They started getting worried realizing they did not know my strategy and they had a difficult time reading what my strategy was.

Now, I’ve played poker a few times before, and always poorly. However, this time, I played quite well because there was a pretty aggressive player at the table. I am pretty bad at getting people to raise their bets when I have decent hands, but this guy was always raising my bets when I had pretty guaranteed wins. So at one point in the game, I HAD NEARLY $20. (Buy-in was $10.) My hands weren’t as great towards the end, and I don’t know how to play poor hands off as well, so I only walked away with about a $2 profit (in addition to the $10 buy-in) .

I’m really nervous now… because I don’t think I’m going to stay very lucky for very much longer. It’s as though much of my life’s game luck has been saved for these past 2 weeks and now I am back at zero.

I bet I don’t win anything again for a while.