Bohemian Provincetown Retreat

pilgrim-monument

The only way to Provincetown is a small highway through the center of Cape Cod, and the 40 mile trip was uneventful. You do see a number of small lakes, which I later learned are called kettle ponds — clear, cold lakes — that were formed and remain on Cape Cod as a result of glaciers from the last ice age.

Upon entering ‘P-Town’, as it’s called, we were at first unimpressed by the tiny seaside buildings tightly lining the oceanfront. They reminded us of those cheap beach towns that sport strip malls and overcrowded honky-tonk activities. We’d made a reservation at a local B&B sight unseen, and for a minute worried about the wisdom of doing so.

Then we turned a corner and found ourselves in the midst of a beautiful, quaint town that exceeded our expectations. I wasn’t surprised to learn that The National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected Provincetown as one of the 12 best historic destinations in the country.

Our B&B was Gabriel’s at The Ashbrook Inn. It’s tucked tightly close to the street, and is fabulous nonetheless!! We checked in at the desk, then made our way upstairs to our room. We found Gabriel’s to be the perfect blend of old-meets-new.  The accomodations included a modern TV, a sound system, Wi-Fi, a jacuzzi tube with steam and dual showers, a Kurig coffee maker, and a Temperpedic bed! All of these amenities are contained in a tastefully-updated 1800’s room named the Dorathea Dix.

We took a hot bath and watched a show, then decided to find a restaurant for dinner. Walking down the hallway, we noticed a charming courtyard below. Downstairs we were greeted by a large sitting room full of friendly people milling around.

We stepped out into the cold night and meandered down to the streets, looking for a fish dinner. Amidst a tempting array of places, we found a local spot – the Mayflower Cafe – which has been in business since 1929!  We enjoyed a tasty dinner of Firecracker Salmon, baked potato and salad. Rich ordered Indian Pudding for desert, a traditional New England dish, which I’d never had before.

We went back to the room, and turned in for the night – falling to sleep watching HGTV’s House Hunters. This is a treat for me, as I love HGTV and have barely watched it since we’ve been on our travels.

The next morning I woke up to the wonderful smell of coffee and breakfast wafting up the stairs and into our room. We dressed quickly and went down to the great room, where we ordered an omelet. We sat at a community table, chatting with interesting people from Nantucket, San Francisco and many other places and drinking in the congenial atmosphere.

The Pilgrim Monument

We went out into town and walked up the hill to the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.  This beautiful granite monolith is 252 feet tall, and stands over 325 feet above the town, and commemorates the landing of the Pilgrims. As kids we’re led to believe that the Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock, however they really landed on the tip of the cape at Provincetown first. After a day or two, they realized that the cape was a less than ideal place to get started, and sailed to the mainland where they hit Plymouth Rock.

At any rate, we climbed the long and winding mix of staircases and ramps to the top of the monument and were afforded a 360 degree view of the town, its’ harbors, wharfs and dunes.

The monument itself is styled after the Torre Del Mangia in Sienna Italy, and is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States. It was built between 1907 and 1910, and is well worth the $7 price of admission! Under the tower lies an excellent museum that is loaded with information about the Pilgrims and the town’s history.

Downtown Provincetown

Next we took a long walking tour through town, starting at the wharf – where there were whale watching boats, pirate museums and fishing boats.  The air was crisp and warm and we found ourselves ready for lunch.

We strolled through the streets and appreciated the array of bohemian shops that displayed storefronts named, “Spank the Monkey” and “The Purple Feather”.  A celebrated gay-friendly community, P-Town has a different vibe than most Cape towns, which we enjoyed.

We stopped at Napi’s which was recommended to us by the Innkeepers. A yellow tabby cat lay stretched out on the stairs and we sat down to a tasty lunch of salad, New England clam chowder, and a tofu wrap.

Cape Cod National Seashore

Before leaving the area, we went out to the famous dunes at Cape Cod National Seashore. We parked at Snail Road right off Rt 6, and entered via a short, tree covered trail.

The dunes transported us immediately to a world of quiet like I rarely experience! It was dead quiet except for the occasional sound of a jet overhead. The dunes are windswept and sprinkled with grasses, and at the bottom of one area I saw my first cranberry bog! We picked a few berries, then hiked up to the top of a dune where we could see a lone dune shack.

The Dune Shacks are another story, but in short there are a dozen or so shacks out in the dunes that have part-time residents. The Park Service is trying to reclaim the land, and the residents are fighting tooth and nail against it. Like I said, that’s a story for another time.

After about an hour we trekked back to our car and started the long ride back from Provincetown, feeling rested and happy from our exploration! Until next time, happy trails!

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