Travel: Provincetown - A sun-kissed, sexy and welcoming playground
|Travel: Provincetown - A sun-kissed, sexy and welcoming playground|
by Ron Anders -
SGN A&E Writer
For me, Provincetown, the little Massachusetts town jutting into the Atlantic at the very tip of Cape Cod, will always be the ultimate Gay playground. I have been visiting this jewel of a resort for well over 30 years and am always delighted to see that its essential, magical spirit stays the same. It is the hippest and most sensual of enclaves, yet is steeped in political, cultural and artistic history. It remains friendly, alternately bustling and peaceful, kissed by the sun and sea, flirtatious and seductive, welcoming and inclusive. Whether you come in high season, when the town is buzzing with activity, or off-season, when you can wander the streets with more elbowroom, Provincetown always supplies a haven that fits your style. If you come for the biceps and pecs, to worship the sun, to dance until you drop or to commune with the ghosts of Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, you will feel right at home. Go to www.provincetownchamber.com for an overview of the town's layout.
In all my years of travel, I had never taken a red-eye flight before and was pleasantly surprised Jet Blue (www.jetblue.com) fit my travel needs so well. Though the flight to Boston lasted 5 hours and 35 minutes, it felt like the quickest coast-to-coast flight I'd ever taken. With 36 channels of DirecTV available, there was no shortage of shows to watch (with individual monitors for each traveler). I watched the BRAVO network's presentation of The GLAAD Media Awards, as well as a showing of Brokeback Mountain. You can also choose from well over 100 radio channels, everything from the National Hockey League to Billie Holliday. Earphones are $1 (available only by credit card). Snacks are free, and you can ask for as many as you like. Jet Blue boasts having the most legroom (in coach) of any airline and, judging from this traveler's experience, they make good on their claim. As all flyers know, there's nothing more exasperating than having the person in front of you lean their chair back, making you feel like a sardine in an increasingly small tin. On Jet Blue, however, I really felt the extra legroom and it made a huge difference in my enjoyment of the flight. For a welcome wakeup treat prior to landing, we were given hot towels, Dunkin' Donuts and coffee.
Changing flights in Boston was very simple. The Cape Air (www.flycapeair.com) check-in counter is located in Terminal C at Gate 33, just a short walk from where my Jet Blue flight arrived. Since my last trip to Provincetown was about 20 years ago, I was expecting a DC-10 aircraft that seemed right out of the movie Casablanca, which was a treat to ride in back in the day. Instead, Cape Air has modernized their fleet for this short flight, using a Cessna aircraft with an eight-person capacity. For those who have never flown a small aircraft, this could be quite an adventure. (The crew is obligated to ask how much you weigh, so don't be tempted to fudge a few pounds, for the safety of all passengers!) A short 25 minutes later, we landed in Provincetown.
Both of the accommodations I stayed at offered a unique slant on Provincetown life. My first stop was the comfortable, quiet, beautifully restored Ampersand Guest House (www.ampersandguesthouse.com) nestled in the West End of town. Each of its 10 rooms are unique and beautifully appointed. This fine example of mid-19th-century Greek Revival architecture embodies quintessential Cape Cod charm. Hosts Robert and Ken create a mellow atmosphere and fortify you with a continental breakfast featuring homemade baked goodies. Rates range from $95 to $200.
For those who want to be at the hub of the activity, The Crown & Anchor Inn (www.onlyatthecrown.com), with a friendly and helpful staff led by host/manager Rick Murray, is where you want to be. I stayed in a spacious Deluxe Room with a balcony and a glorious panoramic bay view (with the Race Point lighthouse in the distance) - and a view of the hunky guys frolicking in and around the pool. Other accommodations include Standard Rooms (with either king or double beds) and Deluxe Superior (with king bed and whirlpool hot tub). Fireplaces and kitchenettes are also offered in some rooms. Rates range from $85 to $195.
EAT / DRINK
Great food can be had in Provincetown to fit every taste and budget. Many of the countless eateries have both indoor dining rooms and outdoor patios. For sumptuous, elegant dining, go directly to The Mews (www.mews.com), located on the waterfront in the East End. I dined ecstatically on the goat cheese and prosciutto tart for an appetizer and the almond-crusted cod for my entrée. The extreme chocolate cookies and cream dessert is enough to bring tears to a chocolate lover's eyes. Fanizzi's (www.fanizzisrestaurant.com) also has an awesome East End water view with an eclectic menu of seafood, burgers and sandwiches. Great casual fare is guaranteed at Frappo 66 (www.frappo66.com), an eat-in/takeout cafeteria-style gourmet eatery where an entrée and three side dishes will cost you under $20. I had the mouth-watering lamb kebob with apricot chutney, veggies and pasta - and yes, I still managed to have room for a white chocolate-almond torte dessert. At the spiffy take-out spot Relish (www.ptownrelish.com), I was treated to the best sandwich I've ever had (no, I'm not exaggerating): savory chicken salad with Gorgonzola and fresh pear. Very worth a visit is Far Land Provisions (www.farlandprovisions.com) for eat-in or takeout goodies. At the Central House at the Crown & Anchor I had had a mouth-watering lobster roll (wrapped in nan bread) and returned the next day for their mac-and-cheese with generous hunks of lobster. For a fast food fix, try Burger Queen (331 Commercial Street) - the name says it all.
Your visit won't be complete without making a pilgrimage to the daily tea dance at The Boatslip (www.boatslipresort.com), one of town's best-known and best-loved Gay venues, where the dancing frenzy reaches its peak in late afternoon. Another town staple is Atlantic House (www.ahouse.com) - the "A-House" to those familiar with it - which has a dance bar, smaller bar and a Macho Bar (use your imagination!). I always liked hanging out at Gifford House (www.giffordhouse.com), with its Porchside Lounge, a casual place to chat and catch up on everyone's adventures. Just inside is the Lobby Piano Bar for those who feel the need to break into song. Downstairs is Club Purgatory, a serious leather den. The Crown and Anchor has multiple bar venues: The Crown Cabaret (which featured Seattle's own Dina Martina among many other performers), the Wave Video Bar (right on the beach), The Paramount Nightclub (dancing and cruising) and The Vault (a leather and bear lair.) After dark, Provincetown's most famous hangout is the sidewalk in front of Spiritus Pizza (www.spirituspizza.com), where (after the bars close) you can find hundreds of revelers hanging out on the street to see and be seen.
You will no doubt succumb to the irresistible lure of sun and sand on Cape Cod. In fact, you don't have to leave town in order to go to the beach. The town beaches parallel Commercial Street for the entire length of the village. If you're feeling adventurous, hike along the breakwater (at the beginning of the West End) to the very tip of Cape Cod and take in the rays near the Long Point Lighthouse. You can also take your car, bike or a shuttle to Herring Cove, the most popular Gay/Lesbian beach. Stay for the sunset; it is as spectacular as it gets. If you're an early bird (or if you have not been to bed yet), go to Race Point beach for the sunrise. Cape Cod's unique light, captured by Edward Hopper in many of his paintings, will cast its spell on you.