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. 

 

 

A Savannah Wedding Weekend

img_8048Destination weddings are always a blast, not only because you get to witness someone’s marriage and have a chance to reconnect with family and friends – but because you get the opportunity to do this in a completely new place! We just returned from such a wedding weekend in Savannah, Georgia, where we were able to experience this new city through the eyes of the couple. Since we both have some flexibility with vacation time, we tacked some days onto the beginning and end of the weekend in order to maximize our time with everyone, and get to experience as much of Savannah as we could. We were not disappointed! From the time we landed, we felt welcome in the city – our Uber driver giving us a synopsis of her time in Savannah up until the moment she dropped us at the front door of our VRBO rental – graciously booked by my in-laws.

When I say VRBO rental I really mean massive, sprawling, charm-infused Georgian home. The rental technically had three different living quarters: (1) the main house, which consisted of three stories; (2) the basement/ground-level apartment that ran the length of the home; and (3) the single bedroom carriage house that lay across the courtyard (yes – you read that correctly – across the courtyard). Each part of the property felt completely private, yet utterly connected because of the quaint courtyard area that joined them all.

From the top of the outdoor spiral staircase, we had a lovely view of our own carriage house accommodations and the nearest church (one of many), spiking up over the roof – swaying tree branches, Spanish Moss, and all. Not to mention it was a perfect 60-some-odd degrees and sunny.

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When you think “Savannah” I’m sure you immediately imagine parks, gardens, and squares – which we also did – but the sheer number of them is still striking when you arrive and start to walk the city. There are currently a total of 24 squares throughout Savannah that interrupt traffic as you walk about – making for a more pedestrian-friendly feel. Granted, we had our fair share of speedy Georgians motoring from intersection to intersection – but the squares every several blocks act as a bit of an oasis along the way to your destination. I usually recommend no destination though – wandering is when you find the best places. A few of our favorites are below:

Food & Drink

Collins Quarter – We ended up eating brunch here twice. It’s always interesting to find a foreign element in a city – which is exactly what Collins Quarter aims to do. They have fused the feel of Australia’s cafe culture into Savannah while layering on innovative and unique food. Two of my favorite things – caffeine and good eats. We would recommend them for any meal – the menu looked great regardless of when you arrive. Their website makes it clear that parties over 4 need a reservation – so run over to OpenTable and make a reservation if you’re in town!

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The Chromatic Dragon – This was another two-timer! As we Ubered into the city we saw a sign for this bar and I was intrigued – so like any good, older millennial, I ran to the Google Box and tried to figure out what this place was. Turns out it is a video game bar! Initially, I thought it would be rows of old-school arcade games, but instead, you actually sat and played pretty much any current game console and multi-player game of your choice, while you ate and drank. They’re also family-friendly, across all ages – so bringing the nephews was a-okay. Needless to say, I got my butt whooped by a 5-year-old.

For those that are a bit more old-school, there is also giant Jenga and giant Connect Four – as well as a plethora of boardgames I saw off in a corner by the bar. The menu is also full of amazing puns – icing on the nerd cake.

Kayak Kafe – Solid healthy choice when surrounded by traditional Southern food for four days! Towards the end of our trip, we were craving a salad and ended up walking to Kayak Kafe to get in some steps and take in some greens. The restaurant is actually the front-end of a local gym but has the feel of a small, local joint once you walk in and sit down. The guacamole and pita were to die for and the salads were exactly what we needed. We can speak to the “Vegetarian” and the “Greek” salads – both were home runs.

Gallery Espresso – A place that takes coffee, tea, baked goods, and employee wellness seriously. Just check out their website and read about their team and the training they’ve had while working at Gallery. We pit-stopped here for a midafternoon pick-me-up and ended up an amazing Red African iced tea and zucchini bread. They also feature a gallery space and host local artists which you can see here.

Clary’s Cafe – After in increasingly frustrating 2 hours trying to wrap up a work report I joined the family for breakfast over at Clary’s Cafe on our first full day in Savannah. The bonus here was that while I was yelling at Excel they were waiting in line, so when I finished and jogged over from the rental, they were walking in the door and just sitting down to our table! Sometimes timing really is everything.

Clary’s is a local institution from what we could discern – incredibly friendly service with photos of the owners, family, friends, and patrons all over the walls. The nephews seemed all in on the pancakes, while I inhaled one of the better omelets I’ve ever had. Breakfast potatoes – also delicious. Big diner-style fare if that’s what you’re looking for – which will provide you with a solid base for all that daytime walking/drinking

Savannah’s policy on open containers is: Open containers are a-okay! It isn’t shocking to see folks walking with a solo cup as they move from the bar to a historic site, to another bar.

Shopping 

ShopSCAD – While there are a ton of great shops and stores to poke in and out of along the way, I’d highly highly recommend the SCAD shop to anyone. Situated along one of the main roads running in between the green squares sits the SCAD shop. This shop features the insanely talented artists of SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) – everything from handbags and bowties, to candles and teas, to ceramics and furniture.

Brendan actually made a last minute bowtie purchase that made it into his outfit the day of the wedding.

Gallery 209 – great shop containing work from a variety of local artists. We ended up finding a puppy sitting gift, as well as a gift for ourselves here way too easily. The works featured here range from jewelry, to 2D and 3D work.

The Wedding!

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The wedding was a three-day event spanning the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on Friday, ceremony and reception on Saturday, followed by a casual Sunday brunch.

The weekend looked a little something like this:

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

And from there the bride and groom quite literally rode off into the night by horse-drawn carriage…and then met us at Pinkie Masters for a nightcap!

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I leave you with this:  when in Savannah take long walks through green, fountain-clad squares – enjoy a drink while maneuvering the city (on foot w/ a solo cup) – be awestruck by the churches, cathedrals, and other architectural beauties – look for a ghost or two – stay someplace that’s nothing like your home – embrace and eat some Southern food – and then…wash it all down with a salad from Kayak and video games at Chromatic Dragon. Because soon enough you’ll be flying back to reality.

 

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Bits of the beauty…