First of all, let me welcome you to 2014! It's a new year filled with promise and possibilities and, as I said in my last post, I hope greatness finds you all in every aspect of your life. For me, I knew 2014 was going to start off with a celebration. January 5th marked my 10 Year Anniversary with my girlfriend, Eileen and, to celebrate, we spent a relaxing weekend at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. Now, I could go on and on about how I met her in high school, how I was only 16-years-old, how we were Prom King and Queen, are best friends, blah blah blah.. But after 10 years, most of that goes without saying and, be honest, you're not all that interested in all that. But since The Holidaze is entering it's boring phase of the year, I had to find something to talk about so, here it is..
Whenever we make the 2-hour venture down to Atlantic City, we always stay at the Tropicana. One, because it's usually the cheapest hotel on the boardwalk and, two, it's beautiful. I love the way it's designed. Even with it being 5 degrees outside, they manage to make it look and feel like you're in a tropical environment. The atmosphere and ambiance throughout the entire hotel is, in my opinion, better than most in Atlantic City. Sure, you can stay at Harrah's and Revel for a more unique, modern, and younger experience, but they're so far away from everything and I like to be close enough to walk. Of course, on this weekend, we did very little walking and spent all 3 days at the Trop. It was way too cold to start wandering around outside.
Most people go to Atlantic City for the gambling, but I'm not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I love the thrill that comes with the pull of a slot machine or spin of the roulette wheel, but I don't get too crazy. When I first turned 21, I was in love with gambling. I was betting more than I could afford and, surprisingly, came out on top most of the time. By 5-years later, I've learned my lesson. The house always wins and, if you're not careful, you'll end up losing money you could have spent on a good time. That's what this trip was all about! We wanted to relax, enjoy our time off from work, and indulge in nice restaurants, bars, and stores. The first, for a late dinner, was Broadway Burger Bar.
I really liked the decor, especially the booths where we could sit next to one another. It always adds to the date, even after 10 years. To start off, we ordered a spiked milk shake because that's what we had in a similar restaurant in Las Vegas. There, we had amazing milk shakes and one that had Pop Rocks thrown into the mix. That was special, but this one? Ah, I ordered a Root Beer Float spiked with Root Beer Vodka and it was just okay. I drank it and it served it's purpose, but it didn't taste all that great. After a while, I just started to drink the Stewart's Root Beer and ignore the float. Ya can never go wrong with Stewart's!
Now, I'm a picky eater, but this just sounded too good to pass up. Macaroni and Cheese on an Applewood smoked Bacon Cheeseburger? Yes! Yes! Yes! There was nothing I didn't like and everything I loved, so I knew it was a must for me. Eileen got the same thing because, c'mon, who could pass up a burger like that? Now just imagine how much better it would be with additional toppings that you like. Lettuce? Tomatoes? Pickles? That's all you, friend! But I stick with the cheesy carbs that almost guarantee an early death. Oh well, It was worth it!
I'm not sure if Broadway Burger Bar is a chain or exclusive to Tropicana, but I bet a quick Google search would give me the answer. Okay, so I'm too lazy to do it, but you should because in all sincerity, this might have been the greatest cheeseburger I've ever had. It wasn't the mac & cheese or the bacon. It wasn't even the cheese, it was the burger itself. I don't know what they did to season the meat, but it's heaven. Seriously, it's amazing. Even the fries deserve a prize because they were the perfect compliment to the main event. The only thing I should have done differently? Shoulda picked beer over that shake. Luckily I'm a smart one and did just that when we went back for round two on Sunday. Yeah, it's that good.
You can't go to Atlantic City without getting a little tipsy. Whether it's Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, you have to throw back a few drinks. I don't care if it's beer, vodka, Jameson, Straw-ber-ritas, or Cosmopolitan's, you just have to enjoy yourself. Now, for us, we wanted to check out Wet Willie's. It's been a while since we've been to AC and this was new to us. We saw tons of these daiquiri dispensers in Las Vegas, but this was the first time we'd ever seen one in Atlantic City. Despite the rule that said "no hats," we walked in there with my Nets cap and defied authority. Who gon' stop me, huh?
The bartender was a very good salesman and did a great job convincing me to not only buy alcohol, but buy two of the largest cups of alcohol they had. First, he gave us a few samples which were all great. Then he told us how strong they were - 190 Proof Grain Alcohol. Finally, he made one and called it "The Superman." Well Superman, meet Clifftonite because I'm about to destroy you!!
Correction - you don't destroy Superman, he destroys you and that's exactly what this drink does! It's insanely strong. I couldn't believe how buzzed I felt after only 3 sips. I've never had Everclear, but that had to be what this was mixed with. Believe me, there was no way I was going to finish the entire drink. I barely made it halfway through and that's a good thing because, had I killed it, I can't guarantee it wouldn't have killed me right back. This is Mark Henry strong, guys!
The next morning was beautifully cold. Thanks to Winter Storm Hercules, there was snow everywhere, but still much less than what we had back at home in Jersey City. It's always weird seeing snow on the beach, but I still find it very serene. It's nature at it's finest and, at the same time, it's most brutal. The ocean had to be ridiculously cold and just the thought of it all made me so happy to be in a warm hotel room with the heat blasting.
After sleeping in and making up for the work week, we finally did head out and I found this. I mean, this IS The Holidaze so I had to mention the fact that Valentine's Day candy is out in full force. Plus, Valentine's Day has a special connection to our 10-Year Anniversary - it was on that day that I first told Eileen I loved her.
*Girls says "awww"* *Guys say "grow a pair, bro."
Yep, we were in high school and had only been going out for 1 month. I have no idea if I really knew what love was at the time, but here we are 10-years later so you'll never hear this guy judge any 16-year-old kids when they say they're in love. Ya never know, maybe they are! But anyway, we'll get to Valentines Day candy down the road. That's one holiday that isn't worth rushing - at all.
After getting all dressed up, we went to Carmine's for dinner. If you've never been there, you're really missing out. I love Italian food and this is one of the better restaurants I've been to. Whenever we go to The Tropicana, it's always on our list of things to do. I didn't take any pictures, because it's a little bit more ritzy than the Broadway Burger Bar, but we went with the family style Chicken Francese and Penne Vodka. Of course, a beer for me and Sangria for the lady were a must before ending with cheesecake. I'm now making myself hungry.
We did play a little blackjack, roulette, slots, and the big six, but we lost after going up and knew it would happen. Still, like I said, it's always a thrill and leads to a few laughs. But the coolest part about walking around the casino is seeing how many awesome slot machines they now have. For some reason, security doesn't like you taking pictures, but I snatched that one of a giant Ghostbusters display that preyed on my sense of nostalgia to steal my money. No, Slimer didn't win, but I was mesmerized by the man playing. He managed to make Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow man flash and fly on his screen every few minutes. I have no idea if he won any money, but I still think I had more fun than he did. Thanks, stranger!
Because I wasn't allowed to take pictures in the casino, I used Google to my advantage to show you one of the cooler slot displays at the Tropicana - Monster Jackpots! I watched this one for a while just because it featured Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, and the Bride of Frankenstein. The Universal Monsters were out in full force and it was just enough of a Halloween fix for me to remember how awesome of a season just ended and is only 299 days away. Start prepping your costume, now!
On our last day, we went to an overpriced candy store called "Lick." It's an incredible store with a vast variety of items to choose from, but way too expensive for my liking. For those prices, I could have gone out and at least had the opportunity of doubling my money. The same box of Peppermint Junior Mints I bought for a dollar was 5 bucks at Lick. Really? Still, they had more than enough for me to photograph and share with you. Above are Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. I love soda flavored anything and still hope to find the Dr. Pepper Ice Pops in the freezer section but, alas, we're stuck with these beans. On the bright side, I've had them before and they're delicious!
You'd need a sugar daddy to buy you that Sugar Daddy because it's gigantic! You'd also need an amazing dentist because, after eating one pound of sticky caramel, I don't know if you'd actually have any teeth left! The Hershey's and Reese's are nothing new to me, but always fun to see. I love the big candy even if I know I'd never buy them.
I couldn't bring myself to by these Gravy flavored Candy Canes. It wasn't the price, because I would have paid anything for a Holidaze post that revolved around Gravy Candy Canes, but I wasn't in the Christmas spirit. I don't know about you, but Candy Canes represent Christmas and I am already past the season. Dipping into these now would be extending the season beyond its limits and I can't do that. I like to start early, but rarely celebrate much after one holiday is over. It's on to the next phase and that's why these Gravy Canes stayed on their shelf. I'm sure they're disgusting, but I would have tried them had it been December 24th. Maybe next year - remind me!
There was one section dedicated to Halloween candy and another dedicated to Christmas. This is, of course, perfect for The Holidaze and I just loved seeing them last longer than their shelf life. Most of the items have been reviewed or seen before, but I was disappointed to realize that I'd never heard of those Holiday Sugar Babies. I should have picked them up or at least taken a better picture. They were red, green, and white candy coated Sugar Babies decked out for Christmas! How did I miss those? They're either old, rare, or I underestimated baby caramels. I know that Snowman would have caught my eye, but now he'll have to wait until next Christmas. Again, remind me!
These were the coolest items in the store and it's for obvious reasons. I'm a sucker for retro packaging and these two wrappers are absolutely classic! I don't know, for a fact, that these are reproductions of original designs, but I'd bet they are and, even if they're not, they're still awesome and evoke enough nostalgia for me to snatch them up. Remember when Pepsi released the throwback cans? I LOVED that! Same goes for Mountain Dew! I want every major brand to release retro art, much like General Mills did with their cereals, so geeks like me can save them and enjoy what was, again. Good times, good times!
Before we checked out of our hotel, we threw up the double 5's to celebrate our 10 years in what is a grainy, pixelated, orange filtered selfie. It's not my favorite picture in the world, but I blame Steve Jobs and Apple for not putting a flash on the front side of my Iphone. Regardless of what I think about this photo, it's symbolic and represents a major accomplishment that I couldn't be more proud of. There are marriages that don't last 10 years and I couldn't be happier with the fact that we made it that far. The best part is what the future holds. The first 10 years were great, but the next 10 will be even better. Of course, most of the texts I received said "Hey, when ya gonna put a ring on that?" I get it, I get it.. But all I can say, for now, is stay tuned.
To end our trip, we drove home in this. Oh yeah, this is fog and we couldn't see further than 3 dash marks ahead of us. A 2-hour drive home turned into 3 because we couldn't see a damn thing. We should have gone even slower and made it 10 hours. That would have been fitting, no?
Hey, if you read this post that has nothing to do with any of the holidays, I appreciate it. Like I said over the Summer, I want The Holidaze to be more about my life and what I do to celebrate the major moments in life rather than just the holidays. I even want to change the name of the blog, but still haven't come up with anything creative and really like the Ghoul-Aid inspired logo so, for now, it is what it is. In the end, there will be posts you like and posts you don't. My goal is to throw it out there and hope you join me on a journey through life, filled with as much as we can possibly get out of it :)