Big Question Marks

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yes, We Really Did Go To The Jersey Shore (day 3)

For our last day in Philly, we thought we'd likely have covered the sights by now and decided to book a rental car and head to the beach. After all, we rarely get to see the ocean anymore, and the New Jersey coast was just an hour away from the city! So we said a teary goodbye to our giant hotel room and our giant free buffet breakfast, and hit the road in a Zipcar (yes, it's true — our Zipcar membership works for U.S. and U.K. cities too! Amazing to not have to deal with all the usual rental-car hassles.)

We took our time meandering through New Jersey on the way to the beach, stopping in towns we liked the names of — like Egg Harbor and Pleasantville — and later got sidetracked with some pirate-themed minigolf just blocks from the beach when we finally made it to Ocean City. By the time we set foot on the boardwalk, the sky was clouding over and the wind had whipped up. Ah, well! We got our beach gear on anyway, strolled past the "frozen custard" stands and saltwater taffy shops, and staked our place in the sand at the surfing beach (the ocean was ice-cold so there was no chance of swimming anyhow). Not five minutes later the sky turned a shade of black and we found ourselves sunbathing in the rain...

But even in the rain, Ocean City was as adorable as our Lonely Planet had suggested. It was definitely a family resort town, but perhaps that made it all that more full of kitsch: carnie rides, minigolf courses, t-shirt shops and the like. The seaside promenade definitely had that old-timey, living-the-good-life-on-summer-holidays, blast-from-the-past kind of feel with its old buildings and wholesome fun (reminiscent of Brighton Beach in England, I thought). I half expected to see sunbathers in those full-length striped swimsuits frolicking around in the surf. It was definitely not the Jersey Shore everyone now thinks of, thanks to Snooki and "The Situation" and their gang of supertanned reality TV stars; from what I hear, THAT Jersey Shore was several towns north of us, in Seaside Heights. There were, however, many Jersey Shore references on t-shirts and souvenirs in Ocean City, which I totally had to get my TV-savvy sister to translate for me from my photos later on.

Our doomed travel time-management skills caught up with us again, and after some moseying around the century-old Shriver's taffy shop, unfortunately we didn't end up with much time left to explore Atlantic City. Someday I'd very much like to go back to Atlantic City though, fully taking in the flashy town that Monopoly (the game) was based on, a little fact we learned just days earlier. Apparently the streets in the board game are all named after Atlantic City streets, and from what we heard, over the years the real-life property values have remained pretty proportionate to the properties in the game. I managed to get some photos of places like Kentucky Ave. and Ventnor Ave., we cruised by the massive casinos, did a wee bit of outlet shopping, and had to dash back to Philadelphia to make our overnight bus. I never would have thought that three days in/around Philly wouldn't be enough, but I guess I was wrong... and now I'm sure we'll be taking a trip back there one day soon. (-D.)

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