Chatham & Provincetown: Celebrating Playful Seals & Colorful People (New England)
7 Oct 2012 - Chatham. Allow me to paint you a picture. Unspoiled and surrounded by water on 3 sides, Chatham is still populated by many descendants of its seafaring founders. The town offers a good mix of Cape Cod architecture, shingled houses, charming rose covered cottages, and sea captains homes. It’s main thoroughfare, tree-lined Main Street is crowded with with quaint shops, fabulous restaurants and small galleries, leading to a working lighthouse whose beacon at night still illuminates the harbor and seventy miles of coastline. Being October, one could feel the nip in the air as fresh sea winds blew in off the ocean.
Our Chatham Accommodation, The Captain’s House Inn:
Face it. One’s impressions of any travel destination begins with, and is greatly colored by, the accommodation. And as much as one researches and plans accommodation over the net, the reality does not always match the marketing hype. While The Captain’s House Inn was certainly favorably reviewed on TripAdvisor, we were delighted to find out that the reality far exceeded what I had read. Walk with me as I take you around the property:
The main building at The Captain’s House Inn is an 1839 Greek Revival style sea captains home. Surrounded by sumptuous gardens, it includes a herb garden, Italian water fountain and enough lawn out the front for a game of croquette. Along with the attached “Carriage House”, the 200 year old “Captain’s Cottage” and the luxurious “Stables”, The Captain’s House Inn provides 16 luxurious guest quarters, each decorated in its own unique style. The reception hall with its wood burning fireplace and the library with its original tin roof are peppered with antiques, period wallpaper and furnishings reminiscent of Williamsburg. But the beauty of The Captain’s House Inn is not just “skin deep”. Every gourmet breakfast and English Afternoon Tea is served by British Hotel Management students who will attend to all your requests, including dinner and tour reservations, with the utmost grace and efficiency.
So who is responsible for this inn that offers the air and seamless service of a 5-star boutique hotel? Enter Jill and James Meyer, a husband and wife team who bought The Captain’s House Inn in 2006 after a 2 year stint at The Carriage House Inn around the corner. James’ education in hospitality administration coupled with Jill’s degree in entrepreneurial studies, marketing, and prior inn-keeping experience, have coupled to create an unstoppable team who know their game and work hard at providing their guests with the highest standards of service and hospitality, from the complementary Morning Coffee Room Service to the open-kitchen policy, allowing guests to wander in after hours and help themselves to drinks and mugs of steaming hot chocolate.
Chatham Pier: Communing With Seals
While we earmarked a drive to Provincetown today, we simply had to visit the Fish Pier first. Chatham’s Fish Pier has a history that dates back to the 1800’s, when fishing was the main occupation of its villagers.
Parking in the upper parking lot and walking down to the wharf via the back of the fish market, we were told by the locals that if you visit the pier around 3 or 4 pm on a weekday, you can still see the local fishermen bring in their daily catch. Bummer. Today was a Sunday, and a long weekend at that. Still, the smells of the sea, gentle sea breezes and sounds of sea gulls and putt-putting of boat engines gliding across the water at 5 kms an hour made for a tranquil start of the day. And what we didn’t see in fresh catch was more than made up by a playful group of five sea lions that put on a performance for us in hope for some food. Watching some of their antics, you’d swear that they were human, and with far more dignity than most at that.
Provincetown: Heterosexuals Welcome
Provincetown. As far as you can go on the Cape, geographically and otherwise. A haven for artists and writers at the turn of the century, it has since morphed into the biggest gay and lesbian community in the Northeast. With narrow streets, impossibly quaint cottages with pocket gardens and a plethora of galleries, shops and eateries, the street scene is rustic, vibrant and alive. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (or martini), we loved the feel of this tightly-knit harmonious town.
“You must eat at the Lobster Pot. It’s a Provincetown institution.”, Jill instructed us at breakfast time. “But sit at the bar if you can.”
Armed with her instructions, we parked the car at the start of Commercial Street, the main one-way artery of Provincetown, and walked down towards the wharf, taking in the colorful street scene. After a fifteen minute stroll, we not so much came to the unmistakable two-storied white building with the “Lobster Pot” sign and lobster image in red neon as it jumped on us from the left.
“Do you think this is it?”, I asked facetiously.
“Dunno. Let’s go in and ask.”, Peter smirked.
“Table for 2. Can we sit at the bar?”, Peter enquired.
“No more room at the bar.”, the lady squawked without lifting her eyes from her computerized seating system. “What’s your name?”, she continued in a high pitched monotone.
“Fred.”, Peter countered, itching to find out what she’d sound like yelling out the name. He can’t help himself.
Despite the place being packed to the rafters, we waited for no more than five minute to be seated. Parties with four or more had to wait much longer. While the bar may have been THE place to be, we got the next best thing which was a table right by the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the gorgeous coastline and wharf.
Served by a delightful server named James, Peter enjoyed a Shellfish Algarve which was like a Bouillabaisse served over noodles, while I had the Lobster Scampi, fresh lobster sautéed in garlic butter with fresh vegetables served over angel hair pasta. After lunch, we walked down the Provincetown wharf and marveled at the eye-popping 360-degree view of the far reaches of Cape Cod. From where we were standing, life looked pretty good.
Lobster Pot Harborside at 321 Commercial Street Provincetown, MA 02657 www.ptownlobsterpot.com