Provincetown 2018: Vacationing in a Safe Space

Most people refer to their usual vacation spot as their happy place – in my case our usual vacation spot is not only my happy place but one of my safe spaces. This isn’t something I realized until this past June when we spent a week with friends in Provincetown (Ptown), Massachusetts. It makes all the sense in the world when I look back and reflect on the years of history I have with the town – nevermind the town’s own long and extensive history of inclusion.

This is the place we vacationed when I was a child – camping on Race Point.

This is the place I was first tattooed – and continue to be tattooed – thank you Coastline Tattoo!

This was also the place I became engaged to, and later on, married to my husband.

 

 

 

This is also the place where I’ve vacationed with friends for years and felt like part of the majority instead of part of the minority – and with that, felt safe to simply hold my husband’s hand while walking down the street. This simple act was thoughtless in Ptown, which is what makes it a safe space for me. I didn’t need to think if I should or shouldn’t hold his hand. We acted without reservation – which in itself was an absolute vacation from the reality of the constant act of filtering my brain does in other public spaces.

This is not to say our lives are lived quietly – we are both out and extremely proud gay men – but for me, there is a steady stream of thoughts and actions that pass through a mental firewall. Life is sometimes lived curated – a learned behavior of editing one’s actions in an effort to be comfortable and make those around you comfortable – or at least to be unassuming out of an ingrained sense of self-preservation. And the break from this almost involuntary (yet draining) task is one of the best vacations we take each year. The energy I have during this week to funnel into other things – conversations, exploring, photography – reminds me that while we have come so far, we still have so far to go.

Provincetown is not only a vacation and a safe space for me – it is also a place where I can see possibilities – possibilities for myself and for the world around me. Where the vast tapestry of people in the world can come together and coexist in a place that blends art, life, leisure, work, and passion (not to mention great food, great drinks, great shopping, and some bumpin tunes).

This very dramatically framed realization aside – our time in Ptown was yet another amazing 7 days of rest, relaxation, reconnecting, and rejuvenation (ask for Kevin Ptown Massage + Body!) If you ever find yourself at the outermost part of Cape Cod I’d make the following recommendations:

 

Dining 

Patio – American Grill & Cocktail Bar

Patio holds a near and dear spot in my heart, as it was one of the first places I ever ate when I started visiting Ptown as an adult. Since that first dining experience 7 years ago it has become a staple in each and every trip – most notably our rehearsal dinner. We usually have our first and last dinner of the trip here – when the food and drink is this good you keep the tradition alive.

Strangers & Saints

A beautiful copper-clad bar helps set the tone for craft cocktails and delicious bites and entrees. As always, I recommend the Manhattan.

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The Mews

Date night was brought to us by The Mews and my mother- and father-in-law who wanted us to enjoy an amazing vacation dinner. The view was perfect (a half-moon table right against the floor to ceiling windows so we both looked straight out into the bay at night), the wine was on point, and the beet and pesto buratta was to die for.

Mama Matcha

To satisfy all of your hippie, earthy, crunchy, healthy needs there is Mama Macha to the rescue. This quickly became an expensive but delicious habit over the course of the week. Favorites include the matcha latte, lox sandwich, and matcha protein balls.

The Canteen

Frosé, buddha bowls, and lobster rolls – Need I say more?

Local 186

We’ve been to a lot of burger restaurants in our time, but Local has and always will take the cake on this category. Whether you want a straight up burger, turkey, veggie – they’ve got you covered. The nicest waitstaff around and the best apps (fried pickles, yes please) and meals. Go.

Cafe Heaven

Amazing brunch and amazing art on the walls.

Drinking (+ Coffee)

Harbor Lounge

Where I recently learned of my love for Aperol Spritz – the view and the comfortable atmosphere can’t be beat – especially if you catch it on a quieter afternoon.

Spindler’s

An awesome two-story restaurant and bar – great atmosphere, great drinks, and even better rosé. If you can eat here you’ll find a blend of French and Italian coming from their kitchen – at the very least I recommend charcuterie so you have a delicious base to go with your beverages.

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Crown & Anchor – Dive Bar

During the later part of the week (specifically), I’d point you in the direction of the Crown & Anchor’s Dive Bar so you can catch Bobby Wetherbee at the piano (Thursday-Sunday). Several glasses of Rosé and some ballads later we called it a very good night – and you should too.

Dive Bar Rose

Joes – Coffee

Solid americanos and even better baked goods.

KoHi – Coffee

California vibe right on the beach.

Shopping & Art

The number of unique shops and galleries that line Commercial Street in Ptown are more than I could possibly list here – but a few of our favorites are below:

Tattoos (and aftermath)

2018 Tattoo
Fantastical Creatures & Icelandic Staves

So every year that I have gone to Provincetown I have had a new tattoo added – and it has always been done at the same shop in town – Coastline Tattoo. We start by scheduling our appointments and talking to the artists on Monday and end up getting our work done on Friday afternoon. I’m still working my way through collecting all of the artists in the shop – and I’ve only ever strayed once when I had my DC tattoo done…in DC. Appropriate, right? The collection of art I have assembled on my body is pretty amazing in my own personal, humble opinion. I have and will continue to recommend Coastline to anyone and everyone who’s in the area.

Afterward, tradition dictates we head to Tin Pan Alley and connect with the rest of our group to (against professional advice) numb our pain receptors with an adult beverage and pre-dinner apps. The bartenders are engaging and make a pretty damn good cocktail. If you hit this place in the evening hours you can usually luck out and catch some live music (piano bar!).

Other To-Dos (i.e. DESSERT)

The Nut House

This is all you need to know – homemade ice cream sandwiches on freshly baked cookies. Go. Now. Don’t walk – RUN.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten many great places, as there are just far too many to list – and it’s even more impossible to order them in terms of amazingness. We haven’t even touched on the beaches and National Seashore! The love I have for Provincetown is infinite as I have had so many eye-opening, life-changing, and heart-warming experiences within the small boundaries of its township. If you have the chance to visit this place take the time to observe the intermingling of people, personalities, and beliefs and see the inherent safety and love it provides its visitors.

It’s an altering experience. 

 

 

Day 5: Wrapping up in Reykjavik

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Our final full day! Since our glacier hike was canceled on Monday we decided to rebook and do the lava caves that I talked about in an earlier post, but we were staying in contact with Pink Iceland in case the option to go out Wednesday presented itself. Unfortunately, we got the call letting us know that due to the storm coming into the region all the trips out were canceled again. We were incredibly grateful we took them up on their offer Monday instead of just rescheduling and hoping for the best.

So, with a full day in the city ahead of us, we decided Wednesday would be our wrap-up day – we planned to do a few things we hadn’t gotten to yet, and a few things that we had enjoyed again!

The list included:

The Reykjavik Art Museum Hafnarhúsið

A contemporary art museum housed in Reykjavik’s old custom’s house – the great part about their museums is that several of them are part of the same system, so when you purchase a ticket you receive admission to all of them for 24 hours.

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Bren taking in the Fact of the Matter exhibit

Ida Zimsen – our LGBT coffee house from the Pink Tour

Because who doesn’t need more coffee in their life when you’re still adjusting to the time zone a little bit – or using the timezone as an excuse to drink excessive amounts of Americano.

The Harpa – again! 

I wanted to go back and photograph more of the Harpa without being on tour. They also have a pretty amazing collection of gift shops and restaurants – we managed to find a few items to take home with us and they were actually pretty reasonable given what we purchased.

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Harpa by night – photographer’s delight

The Sun Voyager

With a view of Mount Esja in the distance, the Sun Voyager sculpture is pretty phenomenal to see in person.

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Tip of the Sun Voyager and Most. Esja in the distance

Skuli Craft Bar

The beer and the bartender were both awesome last time, so as we enjoyed the last of our Icelandic beer we wanted to do it in a place we didn’t mind giving our money to.

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The National Theater of Iceland 

Purely for a couple of quick photos. The history is also interesting. During WWII England occupied the unfinished building as part of their military operations – focusing on preventing Germany from invading Iceland and using it as an outpost.

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A dusky National Theatre

The Canopy Hotel

This was more of a quick bit of research for future stays – it’s beautiful inside and is right in the center of the city. I think we’ll have to come back with folks and give it a test drive.

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Inside the amazing Canopy Hotel

Dinner at Krost

Krost was kind enough to like one of my Instagram photos earlier in the week, which sparked my interest. After a little research, we decided to give them a try – they’re basically a nice restaurant located in the Hlemmur Food Hall, not far from our AirBnB. If we only had known this place existed! It was a small collection of coffee shops and restaurants under one roof – like a food court…but classier.

Drinks at Kiki Queer Bar

Because how else do you close out your vacation than we a few final drinks at the local gay bar? Kiki was great – the evening started off with “quiz night” and wrapped up by turning into a full-on dance party.

Fun Fact – Kiki Queer Bar is pretty much the only “exclusively” LGBT bar in the city (Bravo is also known for being queer-friendly, but isn’t strictly a gay bar) and just celebrated its 5th birthday. 

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Inside Kiki Queer Bar – love these guys no the way to the WC

 

And that was our day! We managed to hit up all of our favorites and do a few new things before we ultimately went back and packed up for our flight out on Thursday afternoon. We did squeeze in one more touristy thing on Thursday morning, so more on that soon.