Japan/USA diary, day 13

Saturday, 13 June, 2015. 19:30

We are on the ferry from Provincetown to Boston, after spending a full day over here at the tip of Cape Cod.

We got up early at 06:30 and quickly left the hotel to get some breakfast at Bruegger’s Bagels. M. had a pumpernickel bagel with peanut butter, while I had one with egg, cheese, and ham, which was pretty good. Then we got M. a coffee from Starbucks and went to the station to catch a train in to Park Street. There we changed to the red line for two stops to South Station, and then changed again to the silver line buses to take us out to World Trade Center, where the ferry wharf was located. I’d calculated a maximal trip time if we had bad connections to make sure we got there in time, but we had very good connections at each place, so arrived with plenty of time to spare.

We wandered over to the waterfront and located the ferry ticket office, where we picked up the tickets I’d bought last night. There was already a queue of people waiting to board the ferry, but there was so much time left that we took a walk out to the end of the wharf to see the view, before returning and joining the queue. More people arrived and the queue quickly doubled in length or more behind us. Lots of people had large luggage, much of it still labelled with airport tags.

Arrival in Provincetown.

The ferry was a large catamaran with indoor seating on the main deck and some seating upstairs under a roof but open on the sides. We chose a seat inside as the weather was cool and would be colder in Provincetown, and we knew it would get very windy on deck. The ferry was pretty full, with few spare seats.

We got underway right on time, spinning around and then chugging out through the port and nearby islands towards the open sea. The ferry put on a good turn of speed, cutting through the slight swell caused by the wind. It rocked on the swell a bit, but nothing concerning. Some people braved the intense wind on deck, their hair blowing wildly. I went out briefly to see what it was like, and it was pretty unpleasant. I’m not sure how anyone could voluntarily stay out there for very long.

Provincetown street
Commercial Street, Provincetown.

The trip took the advertised 90 minutes, depositing us at the wharf in Provincetown at 10:00. We walked down the wharf to shore, passing several small wooden shacks built on the wharf and apparently the sales studios of various local artists, but none of them were open. I hoped that the ferry would dock somewhere near the main shops and attractions, as opposed to somewhere remote that required a long walk to see anything interesting. My hopes were realised as we walked off the wharf and right into the middle of a bustling and colourful retail area full of touristy shops, restaurants, cafes, and artist galleries. An old man dressed in Pilgrim attire rang a bell loudly and welcomed everyone coming off the ferry to Provincetown in a loud voice.

Taffy shop
Taffy shop.

Bedazzled by the colour and activity, we decided at random to turn left down the main street, although right looked just as interesting. An early stop was a sweets shop selling salt water taffy and fudge. I grabbed a paper bag and dropped in one of each of a bunch of interesting flavours, including cinnamon, banana, cranberry, beach plum, watermelon, orange, and a few others. M. scooped up some dark chocolate coated almonds.

Peace, Love, and Ice Cream
Shops and Town Hall, near the farmer’s market.

We walked along the street, stopping in at various shops and admiring the views and taking photos of things. Near the taffy shop was a small farmers’ market, with about a dozen stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, honey, jams, and so on. One stall sold home baked dog biscuits, and there were clearly a lot of dogs in the town, as many people were walking around with one on a leash. Further on we passed a small wooden church, where people were emerging from what was obviously a wedding. M. commented that we should wait to see the bride, but it turned out to be two guys getting married. They led a procession down the street past us, followed by lots of guests in formal dress waving rainbow coloured ribbons.

Lobster roll
Lobster roll at 1620 Brewhouse.

After a while we were getting hungry and it was approaching noon, so we started looking for a place to eat. We stopped at a place called 1620 Brewhouse, to ask the guy out the front if they had sandwiches. He showed us several sandwiches on the menu, and then said they had just opened two days ago. The sandwiches looked good, so we got a table near the front of the indoor area, looking right out onto the uncovered patio, where other people were basting in the sun. Since it was a brewhouse, I ordered a beer: an Indian pale ale brewed here in Massachusetts. It had a fruity aroma and was smooth but had a very bitter aftertaste. To eat I had to try the lobster sandwich, which came on a hot dog bun. M. got a pita wrap with hummus, feta, rocket, chipotle aioli, and some other things in it, which she declared excellent and a bit spicy. The lobster was good, and both came with coleslaw and a dill pickle spear. The coleslaw had sliced apple and cranberries in it, giving it a bit of sweetness.

Cape Cod architecture
Architecture of the shops.

After lunch we continued walking in the same direction, as the street was long and had a lot of shops along it. We passed another good looking place to eat, called Local 186, which had custom built burgers with a wide range of ingredients. We decided it would be a good place to eat dinner about 18:00, giving us enough time to catch the 19:30 ferry back to Boston. I asked if we could book a table, but the lady said they only took bookings for parties of six or more, so I said we’d just show up around dinner time then. There were lots of wonderful looking bakeries and sweets shops, with too many sweet treats to even contemplate trying everything that looked good. I had a free fudge sample and turned down others. One place had chocolate turtles, with a choice of milk or dark chocolate, almonds, cashews, or pecans, and all dripping with caramel filling. I almost bought one, but they seemed large, and when a man near me bought one and the woman weighed it and declared it to cost over $7, I figured that I really wasn’t hungry enough to eat $7 worth of chocolate.

White Wind Inn
White Wind Inn.

We eventually reached a point where the shops petered out, to be replaced by accommodation, with house after house offering rooms, or rather not offering them as almost all had “no vacancy” signs displayed. We continued walking for a while, in case there were more shops further along, but after a while there were just houses with no sign of anything else, so we turned around and walked back. We passed the point where the wharf was and continued along the same street.

Livin' on the Pier
Absolute waterfront property.

It was getting hot now, especially in the sun, and we decided to stop and rest in a cafe and have a cold drink. We found a place called Wired Puppy, where M. got a coffee and I got some iced botanical tea, today’s blend being rooibos with blueberry, which was very nice. We sat for a while and had some extra water as well. When we emerged it was a little cooler and the sun was lower, making it easier to keep in the shade of the buildings, so that was more pleasant for continuing our exploration.

Hook Bike
Hire bicycle on the street.

We reached the far end of the the street to the right as well and turned around to slowly retrace our steps to Local 186, stopping in at various other galleries and shops along the way. At one point I spotted a good photo opportunity down on the beach, between some of the buildings lining the street. I found an access path to the beach and walked carefully out over the sand and then the rocky beach to a small sandbar on which a boat was resting. I took some close up shots of it with other scenery in the background. As I was doing so, I noticed the water coming in towards the beach in what seemed to be a fairly rapidly rising tide. The sandbar I was on would easily have turned into an island with a bit of water rise, so I beat a hasty retreat back to the beach.

Beached boat
The beached boat.


We reached Local 186 just a bit before 18:00, and got the last available table on the upstairs porch, which had a wonderful view across the street and out to the water beyond. We both assembled our own burgers from the menu instead of picking any of the pre-selected combinations. M. had a vege patty with Monterey Jack cheese, while I had the basic beef patty with the same cheese, Frenched onions (I had to ask what this was – it meant caramelised and cooked in stock), and sautéed mushrooms.

Burger and condiments.

The burgers came with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and dill pickle slices on the side, and a serve of thin chips, cut with the skin on. M. also ordered a glass of a local Cape Cod Merlot rosé, while I tried another Massachusetts pale ale. The ale was similar to the previous one from lunch, but a bit less fragrant and with a fruitier palate. The burgers appeared and the waitress also brought out squeeze bottles of condiments: mayonnaise, ketchup, and two types of mustard, American yellow and Grey Poupon. Then she also asked if I wanted either hot sauce or malt vinegar as well! I asked for hot sauce and she brought out two bottles: Tabasco, and another brand from Mexico. I should have asked for the vinegar too, so we could have had seven bottles of stuff on the table! The burgers were excellent and we ate them quickly, being hungry after all our walking.

Lobster Pot
The Lobster Pot.

Dinner done, we paid and walked back towards the ferry wharf. We passed the turtle place and I popped in to buy a dark chocolate pecan turtle, which cost just over $4, rather than the $7 the other guy’s had cost. But I didn’t eat it, because M. wanted to stop in the Portuguese bakery near the wharf to get something. They had Napoleons, similar to a vanilla slice, and after some deliberation I decided to get one. I ate it on the ferry and it had sweet vanilla cream as well as a layer of chocolate cream, instead of vanilla custard. But otherwise it was good, with nice crisp pastry layer.

Probable Cause
Fishing boat at sunset.

We got in the queue for the ferry and boarded soon after for the 90 minute ride back to Boston, arriving around 21:00. The sun set while we headed straight towards it, making for a spectacular ride. We hopped the silver, red, and green lines to get back to our hotel just before 22:00, where we have showered and are ready for bed.

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