Jersey Shore!!! Tattoo Shop & Boutique Hotel Weekend

With all the hype over the Jersey Shore the last few years, I wanted to show a much cooler, laid back vibe than the fist pumping clubs of Seaside Heights.   Although we got caught up in the Guido club madness like many - it's not my speed anymore, nor my idea of a vacation.  Ronnie and I also enjoyed watching the first season of Martin Scorsese/HBO's depiction of Atlantic City during Prohibition, Boardwalk Empire.  There is so much rich American History on these shores, with stories of struggle and perseverance - look at what MTV has done to it!  Sigh... but if it's going to become a popular spot once again - we should scope out the best it has to offer, no?  

Asbury Park is known for its musical history and unique nature. Home to Tillie, the nickname of the grinning figures painted on the side of the Palace Amusements. The name is a nod to George C. Tilyou, the owner of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island. A very similar grinning face was featured on Steeplechase Park signage before Asbury Park.  Brooklyn, and all of the "Wonder" of Coney Island were the original, but imitation sure is the best form of flattery!  The mural has been featured in movies, TV shows and a famous photo of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band early in their career.  And you can assume what you will about the name of the bar/nightclub below...

After much effort from local residents surrounding the demolition of the Palace Amusements, Tillie and other murals from the Palace were salvaged and the carnival theme remained.  I was there a few years ago to visit and I can see progress on developments and new businesses - Asbury is definitely making a comeback!

The Great Depression and WWII were not kind to the Jersey Shore.  In the decades that followed, surrounding farms gave way to suburban houses, encouraging the city's middle-class to move into newer houses with spacious yards. With the opening of the Garden State Parkway, fewer vacationers took trains to the shore. After the Monmouth Mall opened 10 miles away in Eatontown in 1960, Asbury Park's downtown became less of an attraction to shoppers.  The opening of Six Flags Great Adventure also proved to be stiff competition for a mile-long stretch of aging boardwalk amusements. Although it was placed on the National Registers of Historic Places, in 1988 Palace Amusements was closed, and was demolished in 2004 despite attempts to save it.

Asbury Park could really use some tourist love!  If you were thinking of traveling to any of the local beaches this summer, take this one into consideration.  There is new energy in the air and hope for a great summer ahead.  This beach community is definitely one of a kind and is seeing a revitalization like never before!

I discovered Hotel Tides after searching a long list of Holiday Inn locations on  I called the most modern, expensive hotel (assuming they would be at full capacity for the following weekend), and asked what they recommended as an alternative.  This is really a GREAT way to find gems!  People love to be asked for their opinion, and most likely they will give you the local's favorite spot. 

This fabulous modern boutique hotel was located a few blocks from the boardwalk in a residential neighborhood.  It was clearly a remodeled one or two family home that after serious renovations; now holds 20 guest rooms, a restaurant/lounge, bar, spa, pool and beautiful enclosed front porch.  The decor was minimal with clean lines and local artwork.  But I have to say, the bathroom in the guest room was the total winner - Kohler fixtures, glass enclosed rainforest shower head with a river rock floor! (for well under $200/night).  The nod to Phillip Starck on the gorgeous front porch was welcoming and consistent with the entrance and lobby.

For the pain I was going to put myself through during our weekend trip, I was so glad we were staying in a quaint and serene establishment...The whole reason for this journey was for a tattoo!  I met my artist in 2002, when he was working at New York Adorned in the East Village.  Since then, Tom Yak has opened his own shop, Electric Tattoo in Bradley Beach a few miles from Asbury.  I am devoted to his classic artwork and solid lines, and wanted to keep my right arm consistent.  I'm so glad that we took the time to plan this weekend out and find some places we really love - I think I will be making the trip to visit Tom again very soon!

I had started a supplementary blog about my collection, and plan to fill in some more text when I get around to it.  They are all special to me in their own way, and most of my work reflects the road I have traveled so far.  I have wanted this particular symbol for a long time & this was the perfect time to finally adorn myself!  The swallow is related to sailing and is on earliest record in the 1500's, though it probably has much more ancient roots. As sailors traveled by sea, swallows were seen flying above when land came closer. So a swallow in flight is a sign of land ahead or "safe return home".  Many sailors would wear these birds with pride after returning home safely, to show off where they had been. 

I hadn't earned the stripes to wear these birds until I traveled to Europe for the first time last year. Since I'm not a sailor, nor are we in WWII, a simple trip across the pond was my own modern right of passage. When I returned from my trip to Madrid and Barcelona, I realized that Brooklyn had become my home.  It is where I found my true love and plan to grow my roots.

I forgot to smile

Owl graffiti

This weekend also marked a very special anniversary for Ronnie and I.  We returned to Langosta Lounge, a restaurant on the boardwalk that we ate at over a year ago.  It was a special night then, and even better the second time around! 

After dinner we took a peak at the newest attraction that Asbury has to offer.  The Silver Ball Museum turned out to be the treat of the evening.  With over 200 pinball machines going back to the 1930's, it really is the best place for a vintage throwback party!  Each machine has a brief history above with the original date it was released.  It does seem like the business is just getting off the ground and this will be its first official summer on the boardwalk, but I have a feeling it is going to be a big attraction.  My only suggestion would be to fix the lonely skee ball machine and add some friends on either side!

As far as my photos, as soon as I turned off the flash I was getting results.  The only thing wrong was how long it took!  The bells and whistles sounds charming for only so long and it was time to call it a night. 

La vita è bella,

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