Provincetown: A Bygone Bohemia

We stayed out of town at Eastham and drove 1/2 hour to Provincetown for two days and evenings. We wanted to savor the "downtown" atmosphere, the dunes, and the ocean.


Provincetown: A Bygone Bohemia

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by kjlouden on February 7, 2001

Hearing others' narratives of whale-watching, I realized we had chosen the best boat. The words "oldest family offering whale-watching in Provincetown" were in their ad. We saw whales, and the boat was nice. See "activities." In the evening, we strolled through shops with unique items and past "downtown" activity on the street: clowns, jugglers, mimes. Oh, yes, and afghan hounds! I hadn't seen such beautiful dogs since the last time I was in a beach town with theater people. It was a canine and feline gala! A reminder that we were "downtown," and Provincetown is as downtown as you can get. We chose a Carribbean restaurant and kept warm after dark by their gigantic heater while we watched the sidewalk activities. See "dining." Next day was for seal watching ("activity") and the dunes (best "activity"). In the dunes, I discovered why Provincetown has always been a haven for experimentation. The topography is the best part of it to a lover of dunes and sea oats. Then there was the sunset at Race Point, as unique as the sidewalks downtown. The sheer number of cars there for that purpose testifies to the popularity of this end to a day in Provincetown.${QuickSuggestions} Whether you want to go whale-watching or spend an evening shopping and dining, park at the Pilgrim Monument. Parking there is abundant and free. It isn't far from the center of things, and you'll be glad you got your car out of the center, so congested is the traffic there. Our first experience, we wasted at least an hour looking the place over from the car and finding a place to park. If you have to choose between watching whales and seals, choose the whales. The tour is much better. You can't get close to the seals, the boats are small, and the trip is short, about 45 minutes, compared to 3 hours or more on the whale trip. See my pictures, and you'll see all I saw of the seals. Finally, don't miss the dunes on past Provincetown up the Provincelands Road to Race Point. We made the mistake of planning just a short time in the late afternoon for the dunes and wished we had planned a day there biking and hiking. This is the best reason to go to Cape Cod in the first place! There is a surprise around every turn. Stay for the sunset.${BestWay} You can get to Provincetown by ferry from Boston, or you can drive up Route 6. Once in town, you can hike or bike anywhere you want to go.

Four Points by Sheraton Eastham Cape Cod

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on February 8, 2001

We had no interest in staying in Provincetown; our hotel was in Eastham, an ideal location as close as one can get to the National Seashore. You can see the hotel at their website by going to www.fourpoints.com and entering "Eastham" and "MA" into the search. The picture on the front page shows you the tiki bar by the indoor pool. Look closely, and you can see the balconies and patios that adjoin the rooms surrounding the pool. Ours was on the second floor, and we enjoyed our balcony, where one could smoke.

The best thing about this hotel was that it was free for us--we belong to Sheraton's Preferred Guest (www.preferredguest.com) and we had points: only 4,000 for weekdays in July of 2000; now 7,000, I see at their website. But they were remodeling, and their food service areas were a mess and chaotic. It took half an hour to get coffee at the counter. Even worse, there were no coffeepots in the rooms--imagine! I''m one of those rare breeds of humans up at 5:00 a. m. when I''m on vacation, and I am dangerous until I've had my coffee--they told me to drive to the nearest convenience store! But I must stop complaining, for housekeeping solved the problem by finding me a coffeepot by 9 o''clock. I had endangered the lives of the locals only once! Now I''m sure they have brand new coffeemakers in every room.

Everything else worked well. The rooms had all the standard Sheraton touches, including a fridge. We enjoyed the pool and hot tub, and the parrot--or macaw?--added some excitement to the pool area. He was never still until the bartender covered his cage at dark. This location was the perfect place to situate ourselves on the Cape. We "moved" after two nights down to the Sheraton in Hyannis and found ourselves in the midst of a nightmare traffic jam all around that town.

Four Points by Sheraton Eastham Cape Cod
Route 6
Provincetown, Massachusetts
(508) 255-5000

Bubala's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on February 7, 2001

Bubala's is as far down Commercial Street, the main street downtown, as we got before we had to sit down and sample the cuisine. It was early in July, but cold after dark, but the 7-foot tall heaters were doing a good job of making the large outdoor space comfortable. We got the first table by the railing--that was all that separated us from the parade of pets strutting their hairdos. I was content. Afghan hounds seemed to fit with rum-broiled cod and mango chutney. Dinner was delicious. As I recall, Bubala's offered an extensive and varied menu of exotic dishes, and the service was excellent. Others seemed to agree, as the place was crowded. We were too content outside to check out the bar and other dining facilities inside, but we could hear the island music from our perch by the sidewalk. We realized it was getting late when the pets were finished walking and the sidewalks were clear, so we headed back to our hotel at Eastham. We'd be back in the morning for some ocean activity.
Bubala's by the Bay
183 Commercial Street
Provincetown, Massachusetts, 02657
(508) 487-0773

Whale Watch: Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kjlouden on February 8, 2001

We got our tickets at the Chamber of Commerce building at the head of the wharf and stood in line on MacMillan Wharf for a little while until our "Dolphin" was ready for boarding. The sound system announced that the biologist wanted everyone on the second story deck for the beginning of the trip. There were comfortable benches with backs, where we listened to his explanation of how the whales' feeding grounds had been formed by glacial deposits of rock and how the currents had trapped the nutritious sediment there in the bay to make this one of the best feeding grounds for whales in the world. Then the biologist disappeared to a microphone down under and narrated the entire trip.

"Look at three o'clock," he said, and about 100 people ran to the right side of the ship. Then, "Eleven o'clock," and we ran to the left side, cameras flashing. We saw a few backs and tails before the lightning started, but we were told it would pass. It did. Nothing to worry about. The restaurant was out of the weather and had good hotdogs and muffins, among other food items. Soon the rain and thunder abated, and we were running from side to side on the first deck to catch the sightings and photo opps, bumping into strangers, hardly strangers anymore, and laughing with them. The biologist knew each whale by name, including two mothers and their babies, so we heard info on each one. I believe we saw about 14 breaches, at least two full breaches. When the last whale jumped w-a-y out of the water and flipped her tail as she dove back in, the biologist knew it was over and told us, "Say 'Bye, Bye'." So we did.

It had been a few hours of magic. No better way to spend a summer afternoon on the Cape! The trip back took about a half-hour, and the biologist told us stories of whale rescues he had directed while we soaked up some sun.

Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch
20 Kellies PA / MacMillan Wharf
Provincetown, Massachusetts, 02642
(508) 240-3636

Seal Watching

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by kjlouden on February 8, 2001

Call before you go. You'll need detailed directions anyway, and reservations are essential, since these boats are small. One nice thing about the seal boats: the tour directors will drop you off in the morning or early afternoon on Monomoy Island, where you can fish, sun, or try your luck getting close to the seals. Then the boat will pick you up when he has space on the return trip or at a predetermined time. That way, you get to spend the day on a beautiful island wildlife preserve. The island isn't deserted, as many folks enjoy the beach there.

As for the seal cruise, it's a bird-watcher's delight also. Two people on our tour were just as interested in the birds as in the seals. One grey seal got close enough that I could see the expression on his face, but we were still a little disappointed with this tour. It was expensive for a 45-minute tour, and there are so many things to do on Cape Cod, each activity had better be great! The tour owner narrated, only he didn't have much to say. We did see many seals, but mostly just heads. Then we stopped to let two fishermen board and ride back with us, and that's when I learned that I should have planned to spend the day on the island. Taking a good look then at the beach, I saw that it was beautiful and unique, a real taste of the seafaring topography that Cape Cod is all about. Next time, I'll pack a lunch. With this information, I'm still recommending this tour. To make your reservations, call (508) 430-7772.
Seal Watching
Rt. 28
Provincetown, Massachusetts

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