Considering this was Saturday, the fact that Atlantic City is two hours drive from Newark airport and that Nancy was going to drive us in her own car (featuring the EZ‐Pass device with which you skip long toll lines), today was a perfect day to stay in the room and do the minimum required for survival. After falling asleep relatively early yesterday (2:00am; for the first time this tour, I went to sleep before Jeroen did), I woke up at around 8:00am, still tired (I suspect my irregular sleeping pattern plus the increased caffeine intake may have something to do with it).
Answered quite a few emails and had to attend a few burning issues that came onto my plate.
Met with Nancy at around 11:00am. Three of us were hungry, but I guess everybody was too hungry to search for any sophisticated dining options. We ended up at the IHOP (International House of Pancakes, or, in some states, International House of Old People), about one minute walk from the hotel.
The IHOP specializes in pancakes (duh), providing you with way too many varieties of pancakes to choose from; they also offer other items such as burgers, sandwiches and pretty much whatever most American restaurants offer.
Looking through the menu, I realized that they had an entire page dedicated to “healthy picks”. Sounds interesting… so I thought, until I came to realize that most “healthy picks” come with something called “eggs substitute”. “Eggs substitute” can only mean “poison” to me, so that was the end of that.
The did have one reasonably healthy alternative—Harvest & Nuts—which blended quite impressively with peaches and strawberries. As starving as I was, I couldn’t finish more than one half (why most restaurants here strive to shove as much food as possible into people’s mouths, that I can’t understand).
Not very interesting, is it. Well, nothing really interesting happened during the first part of the day—I intended it to be boring in the first place. Too many things seem to be happening recently and it’s hard to keep track.
At around 3:00pm we left the hotel towards Atlantic City. Was weird to be in a non‐convertible car for the first time in over a month. Nancy has been quite the driver, driving through lanes filled with obnoxious and crazy drivers. Weather was sunny and pretty, however considerably windy which made it hard to keep the car stable on the road.
Two hours later, we arrived at Atlantic City; my first time here.
Atlantic City is the closest thing to Las Vegas that the east coast can offer; but the two are miles apart, and not only in physical distance.
I am not a big fan of gambling; been to Vegas about six or seven times already, out of which I played Blackjack for maybe two hours in total, with utter failure. I simply don’t get the same rush from gambling as other people do (some of which are very close friends of mine). But still, I enjoy Las Vegas a lot: endless options to dine; endless sights to see; people in all shapes and forms; and a feeling of total and complete freedom.
Atlantic City, on the other hand, gives a different feeling. I sensed it right as we arrived, and it took me about 20 minutes of deep thought to figure out what it is, and I can sum it up like this: In Las Vegas, you feel unbound and independent, while in Atlantic City you feel like you’re in a big mall.
Nothing is “wild” in Atlantic City; really, just a bunch of big hotels by the Atlantic Ocean (the boardwalk, though, is a nice walk). I’d take Las Vegas over Atlantic City as a vacation destination any day of the week.
The show took place at the Circus Maximus theatre, which is located inside Caesar’s Palace, one of the prominent resorts in Atlantic City—still, nowhere near in size and beauty to its Las Vegas counterpart. Not much to do inside either, unless you’re into gambling (although gambling action was pretty low too).
First task was to find a place to eat. Cafe Roma nearby the theatre has two parts—a cafe and a buffet‐style restaurant. You can only guess which one had a line‐up to it, and which one we ended up going to (hint: I wouldn’t be caught dead in a buffet‐style restaurant).
Not the best food in the world, let alone for the prices they’re asking. Jeroen ordered some tortellini with some kind of sauce, and got the opposite—a plate full of sauce with bits of tortellini swimming in it. My Reuben sandwich was swimming in cheese—I guess cheese goes with everything here in America. So I guess that Caesar’s Palace Atlantic City differs from its Las Vegas counterpart in food quality, as well.
Off to Starbucks (that’s the only coffee place we could find) for some decaf coffee for me. We took the boardwalk for that. We actually walked, contrary to some other people.
Another hour passed by and we went to the theatre’s box office to collect our tickets.
Rows AA and BB for this concert were not sold through a channel open to the general public; that I know for sure, as Nancy verified that fact against the box office. Why was it like that? I can’t tell with 100% assurance, however Nancy is convinced that the best seats in the house—when the “house” is a casino resort—are often given to “high rollers” (namely, people who make the resort richer by losing more money than others) as some sign of appreciation for their continuing business. So, for the second time this tour, people were sitting between the stage and me.
At 8:50pm, the band took the stage and the concert started.
The first two rows, being mostly empty during the opening act, filled‐up quickly once the band took the stage. The last ones to enter the second row were a mature couple, sitting right in front of us, who reeked from perfume (her) and cologne (him; or was it the other way around? who knows. You can never know these days). Seemed as if the two were doing experiments in their room as to who can spend more time underwater while in a bath filled with perfume.
Breathing became a tricky concept.
At the front row, an important looking guy was seated at the centre along with his lovely wife. He made sure to show us all that he feels at home: one foot on the stage during most of the show, arm around his wife / girlfriend, beer on the stage as well (within safe distance of the foot though; you wouldn’t want to knock it down and spill the beer all over the equipment—why waste beer?). That very same bloke later started video‐recording the show using his BlackBerry; surprisingly enough, the finger of death has not been employed towards him (or the other 3 or 4 recorders I was able to track from where I was seated). Here he is, towards the end of the show. Note the beer at the right‐hand side:
My previous experience with concerts taking place in casinos were terrible. This time, however, it was different. Other than one severely drunk individual at the back, who howled random song names at Mark after each song, the crowd was actually of the quieter crowd I’ve seen so far this tour.
Well, maybe “quiet” isn’t be the right word; “disinterested” was more like it. I found it pretty puzzling when, just after Speedway at Nazareth, most of the occupants of the second row simply vanished and it remained mostly empty. Occasionally, someone from the back rows would notice the vacant row, approach forward and gambled on the seat remaining empty till the end of the show—which, for the most part, was exactly what happened.
While the concert by itself was good, it wasn’t great. It couldn’t have been great, if only for the fact that there was no real “connection” between the band and the audience. As I wrote above, while Knopfler fans did exist there, still a large part of the audience appear to be completely disinterested, often interrupting others with their repeated entries and exits to and from the hall (again, for beer), chatting, howling random noises.
That was the last concert for Nancy to attend. So sad that our ways have to part tomorrow morning, but what can you do. Thanks Nancy for everything, it was great spending time with you!
I slept half way through the ride back to the hotel, ready to take on some good night sleep before the last concert of the North American tour, tomorrow in Albany, NY.