This post continues with the NYC travelogue which had its inception here.
After all the fun of the previous night, I woke up the next morning to the delicious smell of frying onions. S and M were still asleep while P was no longer in the room. S then slightly opened her eyes and I immediately started chatting with her (I really am one talker I guess) while S groggily replied. M woke up with all the racket. It was still only 8.30a - about five hours of sleep - but oh well, who needs sleep during vacations!
We were still yacking from our sleeping positions when P poked her head into the room. I asked her what the cooking smell was. She replied that she was grilling onions for the cheese sandwiches. Oh :-(! I had thought that married people have more elaborate breakfasts than that. Well, I don't add grilled onions to my cheese sandwiches so this was in any case a slight improvement.
Then P said she had made coffee for us. When we stepped into the kitchen, I saw P placing idlis into the cooker and then proceeding to season the onion chutney. Slllluuuuuuurrrrrppp! P had just been teasing me when she had talked about grilled sandwiches for breakfast. I love married friends :-D!
Even as we stuffed ourselves well, P asked us our lunch choices. Being typical "nice" friends, M, S and me all came up with three different menus, each one more elaborate than the last. P declared that we were mistaken - she had not yet started a restaurant! Finally we settled on vegetable biriyani and raitha and chutney (don't remember what variety - it tasted awesome though). It turned out extremely yummy :-D.
Phew! Thats a lot of writing about food. I swear, no more descriptions of food (well, almost no more). Anyways, morning went off in eating, chatting, watching a bit of the Soccer World Cup on TV and getting ready. We were supposed to leave for Atlantic City (AC) towards late noon.
P was unsure about accompanying us to AC as D was not coming due to some office work. But we persuaded her for come for an all-girls trip. Around 3.30p, all our stuff was loaded into the boot of the car. A big bag of snacks sat in the back seat. A minor collection of CDs sat in the front seat. We were all set to go!
I decided to be very smart and offered to drive the first stretch. After all, going to AC must be all freeways and if I put in driving during that segment, I could happily relinquish responsibility when we had to drive inside the city in NYC during the final return trip to the airport. Well, you know how God loves to arrange such things and then sit back and have a hearty laugh.
I took the wheel. S was the navigator. We all waved hearty goodbyes to D and set off. The first u-turn occured in about three minutes. D had not even gone back into the house after seeing us off when we returned back the same way we had started off on. Sheeesh! Anyways, after some more confusion about east and west and one more u-turn, we made it to NYC. Then S said I had to take the Battery Tunnel (I think). What? Wasn't that supposed to be inside New York city? Why on earth were we going through the city? (It turned out later that the directions, which I had got from the hotel's website, was about the most convoluted, long-winded and confusing directions that anyone could have come up with).
Oh no, oh no! After crossing that tunnel, within minutes, I was staring at huge buildings right in the heart of downtown. And was right in the middle of the aggressive New York drivers. Well, I made the best of it. And managed to nose our way through all that traffic. Obviously, we got lost there too and when we finally got on the freeway to AC, it was around 5.00p. My friends were suitably impressed with my driving efforts (collars up :-D - I myself was amazed that I did not get the fingered salute from anyone)!
After one more hour, S took over the driving. The journey was a pleasant one - lots of catching up was done with each other's lives. After no further hurdles we arrived at the hotel around 7.30p. After quickly freshening up (of course, with lots of tussles over all kinds of silly stuff - its unbelievable how childish you can get when in the company of old friends!) we set off for the Boardwalk in AC.
We parked our car right at the begining of the boardwalk and started walking down it. Boardwalk is just this stretch of casinos, restaurants and shops right along the beach by the Atlantic Ocean. Its very lively and colorful. This time round, S wanted to try Greek food - I love Greek food too and so we both had located a restaurant on the boardwalk on the internet. Of course, given our wonderful luck, we couldnt locate it.
By this time, M was famished and looked like she was starving to death. So we settled for pizza and fries at a nearby place instead. After dinner, M and P went shopping for souvenirs while S and me continued down the boardwalk, leaving them to follow us when they were done. We took about a zillion pictures. Our final destination was the Trump Taj Mahal casino.
On the way we saw these cute tents which looked right out of the Arabian nights on the beach. I took plenty of pictures. They all turned out like this unfortunately :-(!
S had been to the Trump casino during her previous visit to AC and said that it was worth visiting. The casino was located very much farther down the boardwalk and weaved in and out of our view. So we could never judge how close or far from it we were. I think, finally, we would have easily walked more than 2.5 miles down the boardwalk to reach it.
When we finally reached the casino, our legs were just beginning to ache. P and M reached it almost immediately afterwards. We went inside and then took some more snaps before the security guard came running to stop us (why was taking pics inside this casino not allowed? Las Vega casinos did not seem to have such rules). Unfortunately, the poor guy whom we had persuaded to take a group picture of us was the one who would up with the majority of the scoldings (I am sure he would have cursed us :-().
Then, it time to try our hand at the slot machines. I am not inclined towards any kind of gambling. But just for fun, I set a small dollar amount as the limit and tried the machines. Finally, Lady Luck smiled at me. Within 3 minutes I had made a profit of 20 dollars. We all tried our hands with various slot machines for sometime. But it was quite late by then and we were beginning to feel the effects of sleep shortage.
When we all were all done half an hour later, my profit was still hovering around 20 dollars (which, my friends generously decided to use for all the umpteen tolls on the return journey).
Now, we had to begin the looooooooooooooooooooooonnnng return journey back to the parking lot. The way which seemed long even during the forward trip seemed to almost be infinite on the return trip. So instead of walking back, we decided to ride on one of the hand pushed rickshaws which were being plied up and down the boardwalk.
I did not feel quite comfortable about sitting in a rickshaw pushed by another human and protested for quite sometime. Then S pointed out that I was robbing someone of their wages by my so called convictions. Oh well! Our pusher was a young chap who looked very much like he was pushing rickshaws to supplement income for college. At least he was athletic and seemed to enjoy his job!
Sitting in the rickshaw, our long journey return was completed pretty fast. We got off about a half mile from the parking lot and walked the rest of the way to the car. When we reached the hotel again, it was again some unearthly hour. Even then, we chatted for some more time, before finally crashing. We were planning to leave AC fairly early the next day.
And now for the ominous words ...to be continued :-).