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Provincetown

We recently spent some time in Provincetown [1], the town precariously perched at the sandy tip of Cape Cod. It is easily one of my favorite places in the world. If I could, I would spend time there every year (hopefully someday). Provincetown is everything: a gay mecca, an artist colony, a place of extreme natural beauty, a family vacation spot, a town full of eccentrics, and a picturesque east-coast seaside village.

What Provincetown is not, however, is a dining destination. When we travel, we often plan our time around where we will eat. I think it is a useful method of organizing things. We’ll figure out where we want to have lunch and then think about what else is in the neighborhood: museums, shops, galleries, etc.. Because even more than I love food, I hate that feeling of meal-panic that can happen when you are traveling. The feeling of not knowing where to eat or what is good can be terrible. I get hangry pretty easily, and let’s just say it is not pretty. Provincetown is full of decent restaurants, we never had a truly bad meal there, but they are almost all forgettable. The “nice” restaurants are so stupidly over-priced that it is almost comical (Tangent: For some reason everything at these restaurants is served atop a strip of banana leaf on the plate—I guess it signified “fancy” to someone at some point?) I can understand the economies of a seasonal and remote location like Provincetown enough to appreciate the prices. But, oof. Who wants to spend that kind of money on that kind of food?

After lamenting this for a couple of days, I began to realize that it is part of what makes me love Provincetown. I don’t care about the food there. It is a relief. Sometimes, it is nice to travel to a place where the only things you are truly concerned with are what time to leave for the beach, how to keep your bottle of rosé cold, and sunscreen. As I have aged, I have understood the difference between Travel and Vacation, and I think the distinction is important. When I go to Paris, I am Traveling, when I go to Provincetown, I am Vacationing. Travel, though amazing in many ways, is not necessarily relaxing, there are maps, and reservations, and must-dos. It can be exhausting. Vacations, due in part to the lack of must-dos, allow you to rest and relax. My mom always wanted to spend her vacations at the beach, something I had always found perplexing. Why would you sit on a beach when you could be exploring a new city? Recently I have begun to understand the importance of an escape from life, of some peace and quiet. In an ideal word, there is time and resources for both regular Travel and Vacation. Maybe someday!

And all of my complaining aside, there are some things we really enjoy eating in Provincetown. Most everything at The Canteen [2] was good, and I especially loved their cod bánh mì. The oysters, the piles and piles of Wellfleet oysters that just jumped out of the ocean onto your plate. We had great burgers at Local 186 [3] and I’m always happy to eat a slice of Spiritus pizza [4]. And it is hard to go wrong with ice cream, I ate a cone almost every night. Oh, and the beach restaurant at Herring Cove is exactly what you want in a beach-side restaurant. There are some gems, but none of them will be what I look forward to when I am planning a return trip. I will look forward to the magical light, the crowds of happy people on Commercial Street, walking through marshes, and biking to the beach. I’ll look forward to taking it easy.