Sunday, September 22, 2013

Taking the Cape: A couple's travels in New England

The Langham, Boston, and other photos of New England
Our room at the Langham... and a spy camera, of course
We came home to cat pee. Lots of cat pee on every seating surface. Oh, and poo. Don't forget the poo.

And so ended the high of a New England vacation.

It had started out so well: coffee and shortbread cookies in a comfy chair bathed in sunlight with a magazine. Sorry, FREE coffee and shortbread as Porter started out my morning right. We landed in Boston early, picked up our cute little rental car, picked up Gordon's latest spy camera in Cambridge (don't ask - OK, GoPro) and drove to our hotel, the Langham Boston, the cutest five-star hotel in downtown Boston.

On the Freedom Trail: Faneuil Hall 
We dropped our stuff in the cute room and headed out on the Freedom Trail. We followed that red line all around the most interesting parts of the city. I'd walked it before, but I loved doing it all over again. The best part of staying at a swank hotel is the concierge. He helped us pick the right restaurant in North Boston: La Dolce Vita. Fantastic italian restaurant (although we tried to get in a much smaller seafood restaurant but there was too long a wait). The owner and the rest of his family sat at a long table beside us. The walls were littered with pictures of famous people who'd eaten here. I loved it.

Cannoli at Modern Pastry: I love Boston!
We stopped at Modern Pastry for a cannoli dessert. Wow. Best cannoli ever. We watched the Mars Heritage chocolate-making demonstration. The taste: Spicy, intense, interesting. More historical sites and the USS Constitution (an old navy ship still in
service), Bunker Hill and a tour of gorgeous homes. Perfect.

Dinner was at Union Oyster House, the oldest pub in the city. For lobster, of course. And boston cream pie (which was a disappointment, gotta say). And back to the hotel for luxury, a bath, and a gorgeous sleep in the massive bed.

The next morning, after indulging in a luxurious breakfast (with mediocre coffee) at the Langham, we're on the road to the Cape. Aside from the usual driving anxiety, we arrive in Provincetown ahead of schedule. My husband wasn't prepared for the wonders of P-town.

Whale watching with Gordon's Borg-toy: GoPro
Yes, Commercial Street is technically meant for vehicles, but just ask the pedestrians and cyclists if they even noticed we were there as they criss-crossed and wandered in the middle of the avenue. Dubious. I thought it was wonderful and had a huge grin. My husband swore a lot until we found the massive parking lot and joined the fray.

Whale watching in New England - click for more photos
Whale watching: Click for more photos
We ate a fantastic meal at the Mayflower Cafe, a mom 'n' pop shop rooted in the history of the town as a Portuguese fishing village. We loved the tomato sauce (I had it on the skape) and want the recipe.

The Dolphin Fleet whale watching excursion blew our minds. Humpback and fin whales: Super awesome. I was in awe of the huge creatures. Of course, it's impossible to get good photos as they're not fantastic at posing. Buggers. You'll have to trust me.

We drove back down the arm of the Cape to stay with our friends Jon and Fran in Falmouth. There were a few wrong turns due to not having a GPS and similarly-named highways. In the end, we got there with only a few arguments. The next day, we were joined by our other friends from NYC, Bob and Melinda. We all went sailing in Jon and Fran's boat, in fairly grey, choppy weather. Hey, this is North America in September: you never know what you'll get. The grey-weather trend continued for the whole time we were on the Cape.

Cape Cod shores
Cape Cod shores
We still checked out Wood's Hole, walked along the beach, spotted lighthouses
and saw seals outside Chatham. We shopped in Hyannis and drove through numerous cute towns. Word to the wise: if you have the time, don't take the highway. The cute towns are, well, cute. "Ice cream and inflated whales," as Fran put it. Just what we were looking for.

I would have liked to do a bike ride on their many trails and gone to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket -- that's saved for our next trip.

Sunsets in Newport from The Mooring restaurant
On a rainy Tuesday we drove to Newport, RI. It poured, but we loved Newport. We shopped the first day, just to ride out the storms. We loved our cute vacation rental that was a 10-min walk to the historical downtown with all the shops and restaurants. We drove the picturesque Ocean Drive, getting out to enjoy the shore. We passed beautiful historic mansions, once owned by such big names as the Vanderbilts.

We strolled along the Cliff Walk as far as we could go -- it was shut down part-way due to damage from hurricane Sandy. We ate fresh seafood and watched the sunset at a wonderful restaurant, The Mooring.

USS Nautilus, Connecticut
One night, I walked as far as I could go in this cute town -- by myself. It was wonderful. I ate delicious interesting gelato from Cold Fusion. I stumbled on an antique market. There, a traveller was playing the piano there. He'd forgotten his guitar and needed to play. It was beautiful. I bought an antique necklace there for $15.

We drove along the southern coast to Connecticut to see the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine (vessel of any kind, actually). We watched a submarine go out to sea from the nearby navy base. It was a gorgeous day and Gordon was in his happy place.

We stopped in Mystic, CT, home of Mystic Pizza -- ya, the namesake of the movie. And the pizza WAS amazing. The town itself was super cute too. We walked around the shops, bought a piece of pottery from a local artist, some ice cream, watched the drawbridge rise and fall, and continued on. Again, the nature of driving as a couple is such that it challenges the relationship. Maybe someday we'll work out a solution and the rest of the world can learn from our perfection.

Along the Ocean Drive, Newport, RI
After a last stop at our favourite coffee shop in Newport (Empire Coffee & Tea), we drove back to Boston to return our car and hop on a flight to NYC. Our friends Bob and Melinda picked us up at the airport and brought us to their cute place in Kew Gardens, Queen's. We met up with our friend Bryn, who's recently moved to the city to further his acting career... and chase a girl. We walked around, saw some of the usual city stuff (I LOVE Grand Central Station and Bryant Park/the Library) and ate at an amazing restaurant, Calle Ocho in the Upper Westside.

At the Brooklyn Flea Market: I was in heaven
After coughing my way through the night (I'd been suffering for days already), we awoke to a lovely breakfast made by our hosts. Gordon and Bryn took off for the Intrepid Air and Space Museum to see the Enterprise. I went shopping. I took the train and ended up in heaven at the Brooklyn Flea Market. I bought my souvenirs from local artisans (as well as a homemade blueberry-nectarine popsicle) before the others met up with me.

We walked to Fort Greene where we stumbled on a live jazz show and sat by the park's monument to listen and play around with the GoPro some more. I loved Brooklyn and would love to walk around some more. But we had to get dinner. Bryn and Nilsa decided to stick out the line-up for renowned pizza. Gordon and I headed back to an indian dinner in Queen's with our hosts.

Murky was not pleased with our absence
The next morning after stellar bagels, we headed to Upstate New York to visit Gordon's family. We met up with his cousin, her kids and stayed with his aunt and uncle in Newburgh. The next morning, his aunt drove us to the Newark airport. Back to reality. Back to the cat pee. Yep, despite our cat-sitters' best efforts, our lovely Russian Blue cat, Murky, had peed and pooped all over our furniture. A not-so-subtle notification that he was not pleased with our absence and disruption to his schedule. What a princess.

Great food and friends. Ingredients for fun -- at least it's something I can try to replicate at home. (Note that Murky at least doesn't drop excrement presents when we're having fun at home...)

Check out more photos of our trip here >>

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