After spending the week walking around the city and seeing all the sights of the Big Apple, it was time for us to head to state number 30, New Jersey. The drive was only about an hour and a half but it took us right through Stanton Island and over the longest suspension bridge in the Americas. We did have to pay $15 (£9) for the pleasure though!
As we pulled out of New York and into New Jersey, we were hit with the heat. It was intense but we were excited as we were headed to Seaside Heights, home of the US TV show Jersey Shore and would mean a day on the beach for us. We checked into the Knights Inn, dumped our stuff and headed for the boardwalk.
It was just like I’d seen on TV, a long stretch of white sand, a boardwalk lined with t-shirt stores and eateries and the chair lift running down the length of the beach. We were starving so we stopped by Jimbo’s Bar and Grill right on the boardwalk for something to eat. As we hadn’t had a proper drink for a while, we decided to order a jug of beer. We were met with a funny look from the waitress when we ordered a jug to share but we had no idea why – until she brought our drink over. It was just a small glass mug, it wasn’t even the size of a pint. Turns out Americans don’t use the word jug, they only know it as a pitcher, so when we asked for a jug, she thought we said mug. Now we know why we had the funny look!
When the jug did eventually arrive, it was only $5 (£3). What a bargain, you wouldn’t even get a pint for that price at home. We sat there and sunk two jugs, a giant hotdog, chicken tenders and some fries, topped with an extra large pickle! Feeling slightly tipsy but very full we made our way back to our motel room for the night.
The next day we were up and out and straight to the beach. It was a scolding hot day, right up there in the mid 90’s. Perfect weather to top up our tans. When we reached the boardwalk, we headed to the steps that would take us down to the beach. At the top there was a little booth with a guy inside – we had to pay to get onto the beach! $6! EACH! It cost us more than our two jugs of beer! It was a lovely beach though and with little else to do we handed over the cash and walked on down.
There were warning signs all around about how rough the sea was and the rip tide. The waves were crashing up against the sea with force. We wouldn’t be going for a paddle or swim here! We laid out our towels and let our bodies sweat out all the calories we’d been ingesting over the last 3 months since hitting the USA.
After a couple of hours, Barry went off to find us something to eat. He came back with a basket of chips and clam strips for me before going back to get something else for himself. What he came back with was typically American. A giant sized pizza slice. I say slice, but this one slice was bigger than an average size pizza. He brought it back cradled between two paper plates. It was humongous, so big that he couldn’t even finish it!
Feeling like we’d been cooking alive for the last couple of hours, we headed back to our motel in the hope that the air con would cool us down. Now over the last few weeks that we’d been travelling, the Ice Bucket Challenge had started to make its rounds. Being that we were out of the country and far away from our friends and family, we thought we’d been forgotten about and had managed to escape being nominated so far. However, when we got back to our motel and connected to Wi-Fi, we found that we had both been nominated by friends back home. Thanks Dave! Thanks Jade! Fortunately for us, we were currently experiencing some of the hottest weather we’d had since arriving in America, so the thought of dumping ice-cold water on ourselves was actually quite welcoming.
Barry being unusually enthusiastic about participating in a charity infused challenged (he always insists that charity begins at home) ran straight down to the local 7Eleven to get a big bag of ice. He came back, grabbed the empty cool box and camera and we headed down to the pool. There we proceeded to drench ourselves with ice-cold water with the help of Harry the manager of the motel, all in the name of charity. It was quickly followed by a dunk in the pool – Barry voluntarily, me unknowingly.
Before leaving Seaside the following day, there was just one more thing we had to do – visit the Jersey Shore House. As I said previously the American TV show Jersey Shore was filmed in Seaside Heights. It’s just a trashy reality show, but that’s my favourite kind. Barry will take the mickey out of me for watching them all, but he is the one that gets me started on them. Like the time I caught him secretly watching TOWIE, which in turn got me hooked! He was the one that introduced me to Jersey Shore. So although he won’t admit it, I know he was just as excited as me to see the house where it was all filmed.
Before we went to the house, we headed back to the boardwalk to visit the Shore Store. This was where the cast had to work in return for staying in the shore house. We felt we should both buy a t-shirt to remember our time at Seaside, so after much deliberation we picked two out and took them to the counter to be printed. There we were met by Danny. He is the owner of the Shore Store and featured on the TV show. I really wanted to say ‘You’re Danny!’ But I knew that would make me sound like a complete loser, so I played it cool. We engaged in some conversation about where we were from, and straight off, Danny offered us a tour of the house. We paid $10 each for the privilege, but it was worth it.
Our guide was Olga, who took us through the back of the store and through a door that lead straight out into the backyard of the house. I never realised it was so close to the house. All those times the gang were late for work – what was their excuse?? Once we were in, it was exactly like it looks on TV. Nothing had changed except for a wall in the kitchen which all the cast had signed when the show ended. We got to look in all the bedrooms and bathrooms and I even got to talk on the famous duck phone. The only area we couldn’t access was the roof terrace where the famous hot tub was. The area was hit by a hurricane back in 2012 and as a result this area was now too unsafe. We got to view it from another balcony though.
With my fix of reality TV and as near to celebrity stalking as I’ll admittedly go fulfilled, we said goodbye to Seaside Heights and drove onto our next destination in New Jersey – Atlantic City. But first, we had to make one stop along the way – White Castle. Barry had been banging on about it for as long as I can remember. It is just a fast food burger joint, much like McDonalds but a lot nicer, which happened to be featured in the film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. So in we went and were met by a very extensive menu of all sorts of burgers. They are sliders so they are very small, which is great as it gives you the chance to sample a few different ones. I ordered just two jalapeño cheese but Barry went all out and ordered 5 different combinations, including ‘surf and turf’ and ‘chicken ring’ to name just a couple. Needless to say he managed to scoff all 5 in no time.
Back on the road, we made it to Atlantic City about an hour later. We were only there for one night, which would give us just enough time to walk the famous boardwalk and win ourselves a fortune at the equally famous casinos. We checked into the Royal Lodge. Don’t be fooled by the posh name and fancy looking exterior, it was the biggest dive we’ve ever stayed in, but for £20 a night what did we expect? Not wanting to spend any longer in the room than we had to, we quickly headed out to the boardwalk. It was only about a 5-minute drive away, but as we drove through the streets, it felt like we were back in the ghetto that is Croydon!
We found some parking just off of the seafront and parked up. Once we got onto the boardwalk, we were not met by the fancy sights we had envisioned. It was filled with touristy souvenir tat shops and hot dog stands, with the odd traditional Salt Water Taffy store thrown in. The outside of the casinos looked like they’d seen better days and the benches were filled with people who looked like they hadn’t moved for weeks (if you know what I mean). Not wanting to have a wasted journey, we picked a casino to enter and try our luck. We took $20 each and picked a machine. I had no idea how to play the fruit machines so I sat and watched Barry. He just put in the $20 note and kept pressing a button, which sent the machine in a spin. It all seemed pretty pointless and after only spending $10, he let me take over. He won $3, I won $3.50. It was all ploughed back into the machine though, so really we won nothing. Gambling really is a fool’s game and I don’t see the fun in it. Feeling very underwhelmed, we left and headed to a hot dog stand.
We continued to walk down the boardwalk and found a few nice looking restaurants, which looked out of place amongst the riff raff. We did find something interesting though, the remnants of a sand building competition. The sculptures were completely made out of sand and were pretty good.
Overall, our experience in Atlantic City was pretty disappointing. We just don’t get what all the fuss is about!