This is the third of three posts on our visit to New York, Boston and Cape Cod in September 2018.
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Plymouth and the early settlers
Sunday was a good day to choose to drive out of Boston. It was fairly quiet as we went south to Plimoth, as it is spelled, Plantation which is a kind of museum cum reconstruction of what life was like when the early settlers arrived on the Mayflower. This covers a large area and, unusually for the US, you have to walk round it, all of about half a mile.
We started in the Wampanoag Homesite, a replica of how the original inhabitants of the area lived. Inside a house we met modern Wampanoags who answered questions about their ancestors’ way of life. We had an interesting discussion with one of them about their language which is being revived.
The Craft Center houses examples of historic crafts and a few people were on hand to explain their crafts. This Center was in a modern building which was perhaps as well as it began to get much colder as the wind got up.
The so-called “English Village” is a re-creation of a community built by the early settlers near the shore. There are wooden houses, mostly consisting of only one room, all equipped as they would be in the 17th century.
Each house is named after a family of early settlers and in some of them guides dressed in costume were on hand to talk about life at that time, as if it was still happening.
After leaving Plimoth we paid a short visit to the actual Plymouth Rock at the site where the Pilgrims landed in the small town of Plymouth. It is inscribed with the date 1620.
The wind was much colder by then. Thank goodness for Dunkin Donuts where we got some hot tea. Nowhere else in Plymouth appeared to be open at all.
“Treasured Memories” and fish and chips
In Cape Cod we stayed at the “Inn of Treasured Memories” – not the typical name of a B&B in the UK – where we had a large and warm room. It was in the town of Harwich, pronounced Har-witch, which is close to the bend in the Cape Cod peninsula. We were the only people there and the hostess was very pleasant and helpful.
For dinner on the first evening our hostess directed us to Kream ’n Kone in West Dennis which turned out to be self-service fish and chips. They were good but not quite what you can get in Yorkshire and there was no vinegar. But we did get salad. In the next couple of days we saw far more fish and chip restaurants than we have ever seen anywhere else in the US.
Wind, lighthouses and seals
On the Monday it was cold and so windy that you could hardly stand up. We battled to the lighthouse at Chatham then went north to the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor Center and drove round the loop road by the sea to Nauset Light – the Americans seem to just to call them Light, not Lighthouses.
We drove on to Provincetown at the far northern end of Cape Cod. When we were last there in 1977 this was quiet sleepy place. This time the tourists had descended in force, presumably because it was far too cold to be on the beach. After a very slow drive along the main street, passing among other things the Queen Vic, we did find a nice (and late) lunch.
We went out to Race Point at the far tip, walked on the beach and were rewarded by seeing some seals in the water very close to the shoreline.
On the way back we took a detour round the National Seashore again and Martin went on the guided tour to Highland Light, climbing up the narrow stairs to the Lantern Room.
It was soon back to the B&B and then after some research online, out to a nice dinner at Pate’s at Chatham.
Another lighthouse and glass-making
The weather was much better the next day. Picking up a sandwich on the way, we drove west, first through Falmouth to the lighthouse at Nobska Point then to Woods Hole where we ate our sandwich on the beach. We could easily see across to the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Most of the houses around Woods Hole are rather large and are in a grey shingled style, a contrast from the painted wooden ones further east and north.
Our last stop was at the Glass Museum at Sandwich on the north coast. Sandwich was first settled in 1637 and, as we learned from the movie, became a large centre of glass making built up by Deming Jarves in the early 19th century. There were some excellent examples of glasswork in the museum but the highlight was a live demonstration of glass blowing.
We couldn’t leave Cape Cod without going to the largest town Hyannis where we had an excellent fish dinner outdoors right by the harbour, after the obligatory visit to Macy’s in the mall.
Any plans for sightseeing the next day on our way back to Logan Airport were gradually scuppered as we became caught up in Boston’s notorious traffic. It must have been really awful before 2004 when they finished the “Big Dig” which took Interstate 93 underground through the centre of Boston.
Why choose Cape Cod?
Cape Cod is a pleasant part of the US. Much of it is wooded and if you drive along the main road through the middle of the cape, you hardly see any buildings for much of the way. However, except for the Cape Cod National Seashore area, Cape Cod is fairly built-up, but with individual houses surrounded by trees. In the US there is a house style called Cape Cod which is rather like a chalet bungalow in the UK. We saw many examples with painted clapperboard sides. It’s such a shame that so many residential streets in the US are marred by overhead electricity cables. Fortunately ours at Florida Breeze Villa isn’t.
Many of the place names are British, but it is slightly unnerving that they are in a different geographical relationship to each other than they are in the UK.
As we saw from the air going to New York there are plenty of good beaches, but there’s not a lot to do if it’s not beach weather. Much of the accommodation is rental houses or apartment rentals which seem to be catering for families and are thus expensive for two people. Overall it is definitely not the cheapest area in the US, but is worth a visit for a few days.