December in Cape Cod
Someone has been paying attention to my writing. A few days before Christmas my son and his wife let us know their gift to us, was a two- night stay beginning the day after Christmas, in a boutique spa hotel in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I must confess that I have not been to Cape Cod much at all in my thirty years of New England living. When I want to go to the shore, I usually head to Maine. This trip has convinced me that I have erred in my choice of beach destinations.
After a wonderful holiday with family and friends on Sunday we hit the road and headed south towards Boston. Knowing that we were going all the way to the very tip of Massachusetts, we decided to time our trip with a break halfway there. Hyannis is close to the main highway that runs through the Cape. It has a lovely downtown and a museum I hope to return to, in honor of native son President John F. Kennedy. We found a fun restaurant called the British Beer Company, a chain I had never heard of. Once we were fueled it was back into the car for the drive to Provincetown, and our destination.
I have never had a spa vacation. I never thought I would want one. Carpe Diem has completely changed my mind. This quiet little oasis in Provincetown was rejuvenating, and delightful. A small hotel just a few blocks up from lively Commercial street, I felt as if I were coming home. The proprietors upgraded our room to the George Sand room after noticing no one was booked in it, giving us the use of a fireplace. Our room was located above the central courtyard, full of lovely serene gardens, and water features.
A short step away, we could walk over to the spa, which includes two dry saunas, a steam room and an outdoor jacuzzi. For an additional fee you can arrange for a massage. These spa amenities were included in the cost of our rooms, in addition to a wine and cheese hour each evening. The resident chef also bakes, a lot. Guests have access to the dining room 24/7. And that dining room provides delicious cake, or cookies, and I heard rumors that a pie was being baked yesterday for the evening treat. But wait, there is more. Breakfast, from 8:00-10:45 daily. Not your usual assortment of dry cereal and questionable pastries. This meal includes fresh fruit, amazing muffins, and the choice of eggs, or whatever the chef wants to feature that day. Our meals were so satisfying we quickly realized we only needed two meals a day.
Why would anyone want to visit the Cape in December? Well, it’s affordable. And it is lovely. The shops are all decorated for the holidays and the lack of crowds allowed us to comfortably walk the length of Commercial street, shopping in the stores that were open and taking note of the ones we wanted to return to on a future visit. All along the walk we could look through the alleyways and see the harbor. There were many artistic details to notice including this installation honoring the Portuguese women who were part of the rich heritage of fishing in this village. Provincetown has quite a history that includes the Pilgrims (yes, they landed in P-town first!). The Pilgrim Monument is the tallest granite monument in the United States and houses the Provincetown Museum. Currently closed for the season, it will re-open in April and appears to be a worthwhile stop.
We could have lingered, but it was time to hit the beach. Armed with a small map and some good tips from our innkeeper, we headed to Race Point. A short drive away it gave us the ocean views we were seeking. The Cape Cod National Seashore is extensive, you can walk for miles along the shore with just a few other hardy souls with their dogs. We lucked out and had fifty -degree weather on Tuesday.Be prepared with warm layers and a hat though, the wind blows quite fiercely, but it is invigorating.
New England shore towns are seasonal. There were many businesses, especially restaurants that were closed for the winter. But we did not have any trouble finding food, in fact we had a terrific seafood dinner at another small chain called Mac’s Seafood, another spot-on recommendation from our proprietors. In addition to the traditional offerings, they have an extensive sushi menu, and based on what I sampled, very good and well-prepared meals.
This trip was one of the most thoughtful gifts we have ever received. Instead of feeling tired and overwhelmed from all our holiday activities, and the onset of winter, we feel rested and refreshed. Next week I will continue our journey as we explored more of the Cape on our mini-retreat. In the meantime, if you can, try and seize the day and take a journey, perhaps to Provincetown.