Our American mini-odyssey ended with a few days on windswept Cape Cod. Very much peak season inland, with the maples attracting tourists from far and wide, it was decidedly off-season at the coast, with most places ready to shut down completely for the winter. In fact, we were told repeatedly that certain shops and restaurants had been closed since Labor Day weekend at the beginning of September! I’m sure, therefore, that we didn’t experience the area at its best and would like one day to return in the summer, but there was a certain charm in walking across the dunes in the drizzle and passing ice-cream shops desperate for their last bit of trade. It felt like being at the British seaside…particularly when we were tucking into a cream tea in Sandwich.
Our time on Martha’s Vineyard – the affluent island a short ferry ride south of the cape – was definitely the quietest part of the trip. We’d driven to Woods Hole for our crossing to Vineyard Haven and then spent a day pootling round plush Edgartown, the clay cliffs at Aquinnah and Oak Bluffs, where we stayed in a grand but rickety B&B next to the gingerbread cottages of a Methodist religious community. Apparently a favoured vacation spot of the Obamas, as well as other past presidents and celebrities, we found the ghost town quite eerie at this time of year. After one drink in a spit-and-sawdust bar and a fish supper, we retired early to the inn to watch the Red Sox battle to win the World Series. Having never really understood baseball, we got quite into it once the rules were explained by a friendly American couple, and were pleased to learn on our return to England that the Sox had eventually been victorious over the St Louis Cardinals. Boston Strong!
While we weren’t overawed by the Vineyard, come rain or shine you can’t help but love Provincetown! Home to artists and writers, amazing pubs, beautiful homes, a delightful harbour and beach, and some of the best seafood restaurants on the east coast, the little town is such a great place to hang out. It’s famous mainly for being two things: the location of the signing of the Mayflower Compact in 1620, the first governing document of the colonists arriving from England; and a popular gay holiday destination, with its population swelling from 3,000 to close to 60,000 in the summer.
This is a thriving community that still manages to enchant on a chilly October day. We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel called 8 Dyer and enjoyed walking the streets, popping into little shops and galleries, racking up ideas for decorating our new flat. Think Whitstable, but multiply by ten. After driving around the National Seashore Park (First Landing Pilgrim’s Point, Herring Cove Beach and Race Point, with their little boardwalks and lighthouses), it was great to return to P-Town in order to sample the great food. Lunch one day at Lobster Pot, a New England institution where I enjoyed clam chowder, pan roasted lobster in sherry sauce and cod morney; dinner at The Mews, a sweet waterfront restaurant; and finally a great meal at the Squealing Pig where we shared Wellfleet oysters and a delicious pulled pork burger. My mouth is watering at the memory!
I’d recommend P-Town in a heartbeat. And I’d also recommend a diet when you get back!
Long Walk to Nowhere [Credit: Paul Adnitt]
Oh, I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside