As I sit here at the kitchen table in the semi-darkness, I am trying to wrap my mind around all of my thoughts, blessings, and sights of the last two weeks on the road with my son.
The sun has yet to cast its rosy glow over the horizon as I sip my new licorice/peppermint tea and reflect on another page turned in the time spent with my son. It’s a strong tea, the aroma filling the kitchen area, a good tea for getting my thoughts perked up and the day rolling forward.
Riley and I took off two weeks ago for our summer road trip 2013. Four weeks of school were already completed and visions of sandy dunes, leisurely biking, and quaint B&B’s stretched into our future. It continuously crossed my mind that this would probably be the last time my 16 year old would trail along with his Mom. I am keenly aware of the tick tock of my children growing up. Even though I was holding on to his childhood, I really knew I was letting go soon.
Our first stop was to visit the Cape. We landed in Providence, Rhode Island, rented a cute little cobalt blue car, breathed in the cool humid-free air, and leisurely drove the 45 minutes to Sandwich, Massachusetts.
Not only is the little town of Sandwich charming and quaint, but my heart started to pitter patter when we turned down charming Jarves Street. We pulled up the lush tree lined neighborhood road and turned our eyes toward the lovely Belfry Inne.
The Belfry Inne is a former Catholic Church (The Abbey) and it along with an 1830 Federal style building have both been transformed into 6 lovely period rooms.
Unfortunately, the only room that had 2 twin beds was on the very top floor of the less impressive adjoining restored Victorian house they call “The Painted Lady” (also owned by The Belfry). Note to self: Do not ask for twin beds at a B&B or you will more than likely get the runt of the lot.
The room was quaint and fresh but had the feeling of a children’s “nursery” to it. Around the staircase were teeny tiny steps that went up to a play area that must have been used by children when this was a stately Victorian. Delightfully fun murals were left on the walls and added whimsy and charm to the area.
However, “The Painted Lady” is a tired old home in need of sprucing up and a little more make up. The interior was a bit confusing as the lower level was also being used as a contemporary bar area. It’s a personal taste issue, but I don’t care for interiors of historic homes that do not match the exterior style. The bar area was modern and a bit sleek, not in keeping with the rest of the Victorian style.
If we were to stay here in the future, and I wouldn’t hesitate to book another stay at The Belfry Inne, I would request a room only in “The Belfry” building as that is where the beauty of this B&B resides.
The gardens around the Belfry were beautiful and sweet. After being in the summer humidity of Texas, it was a treat indeed to walk through the gardens, enjoy their beauty and breathe in the cool evening air.
Even though the Belfry Inne is stately and commands attention when driving down Jarves Street, it is situated in an adorable cozy residential area. Weathered grey shingled Cape Cod style homes are tucked behind lush landscaping and thick overhanging trees. This is definitely a residential area and the setting adds to the charm of the B&B.
Stepping into The Belfry Abbey feels like a step back in time. There are signs of the church’s past everywhere throughout the Bistro. From the heavy wooden front church doors to the stained glass windows filtering the outside light softly into the restaurant, one can imagine a congregation gathered inside the darkened space with only the hazy light streaming in from the stained glass windows.
The Belfry Bistro dominates the downstairs space of the Abbey and opens up to a second floor where the choir might have once sung their songs to the people below. Executive chef Benjamin Porter designs the meals at the Belfry Bistro. I definitely noticed that people were flocking to the restaurant all evening.
Subtle touches shouldn’t go unmissed like “the old confessional”, now incorporated into the bar area. Carved etchings of religious motifs can be found all over the dining space and add to the aura of whimsy as well as romance captured by the setting.
At breakfast the next morning, we were delighted with the garden view right off of the restaurant. The big double doors to the gardens were opened and the air was fresh and cool. The bright pop of color from the garden contrasted with the interior of the Abbey as the wonderful morning light fell into the somber dark woods of the bistro dining room. It was very beautiful, cozy, and (if I weren’t with my 16 year old son!)…romantic.
We were offered a menu of breakfast options. I ordered the vanilla french toast spooned with a strawberry compote and Riley had the waffles. Both breakfast dishes were delicious. The coffee was strong, the juices were fresh and we felt relaxed and ready to explore the northern shores of The Cape for the day.
A few houses down from The Belfry Inne are several quaint little shops, cafés, and antique stores. Strolling along the sidewalks and peeking into the shops was a perfect way to walk off breakfast and discover the charm of the little village of Sandwich.
There is a wonderful bakery, The Coffee Roost, on the corner that smelled of freshly baked goods and certainly is a favorite with the residents. Families, children, and dogs from the neighborhood were comfortably seated along the sidewalk at outdoor tables enjoying pastries, muffins, and scones.
The Sandwich Antique Store looked very inviting as well as did a cute little shop called The Heart of Stone.
Reluctantly, we took off in our cute little cobalt rental car, waved goodbye to The Belfry, and slowly ambled our way along hwy 6A to the very tip of the cape, Provincetown.
We had the windows down, breathing in the fresh air and rolled into the little town of Barnstable. Barnstable is perfectly delightful in every way. The houses were spilling with flowers tumbling out of their flowerboxes. As harsh as the winters must be, the explosion of flowers during the summer is truly remarkable. Barnstable with its picture postcard Cape Cod style shingled homes, lush landscaping around every turn, and multitudes of little artisan shops certainly deserves a return visit some time in the future.
We leisurely wound our way to the very tip of the Cape along Shore Road to the summer vacation destination of Provincetown. Bustling, lively, colorful, and boisterous are words that come to mind as we pulled into this well trodden and sought after vacation hotspot.
Before arriving here, however, we followed a few signs that led us to the beautiful Cape Cod Lighthouse (a.k.a. Highland Light). Quite something to stand under the lighthouse and look out over the vast sea and imagine the important role it had in guiding ships safely into harbor. Many ships crashed on the rocks and onto the shores and it must have been horrible to see these tragedies unfold down below.
The dunes all along the Cape are beautiful and alluring. The long grasses capture the evening light so beautifully. The grasses wave gently in the wind and between that soft sound and the sound of the water rolling into the shore, the Cape delighted us and surprised us with its quaint beauty perfectly nestled alongside its wild sweeping landscapes.
I’m afraid we weren’t prepared for the hustle and bustle of vacationers in Provincetown that literally brought the main road through town to a standstill. If we were looking for the center of the Cape Cod action, Provincetown would be it. However, we were looking for more of a quiet scenery so we turned from the tip and started our meandering back down the windy beautiful 6A.
|Little harbor of Wellfleet, Massachusetts|
As we were winding our way back down south from Provincetown, it approached mid afternoon and that lush breakfast now seemed long ago and we found ourselves hungry again.
We decided to pull off of 6A into a little tiny harbor town called Wellfleet. What a jewel of a spot and such a surprise discovery. It was just the type of landscape and lunch stop we were looking for. We crunched tiredly into the parking lot directly in front of the picturesque harbor area.
Wellfleet is a lazy calm little harbor town that has dunes, beaches, bobbing boats in the harbor, and sweeping landscapes. It wasn’t crowded but there were just enough couples and families milling about thoroughly enjoying the quiet beach area.
Certainly it was evident the hot spot for eating was a rough little seaside restaurant called “Mac’s Seafood”. People were lined up for their lobster rolls and fried belly clams, Wellfleet oysters, and lobster stew.
We had our first lobster roll here. As a bona fide officianto of Cajun Oyster and all manner of seafood Po-Boys, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach this sandwich spilling over with huge chunks of lobster. Would it be anywhere as good as the cajun po-boy?
We also got our first sampling of fried belly clams too. The lobster roll was a treat…admittedly happily enjoyed many more times during our roadtrip. The lobster meat was generous, mixed with creamy lemon chive mayonnaise and lettuce all spooned into a soft bread roll.
We sat there at the picnic tables situated right on the beach area, totally engrossed in this first taste of East Coast eats. The belly clams were crispy on the outside but meltingly satisfying and soft like oysters on the inside.
Sweet little kids, covered in sand, played around us excitedly chasing the daring seagulls. Dogs happily picked up scraps thrown their way, boats bobbed up and down in the harbor…and we hungrily dove into our first road trip seafood meal with gusto and excitement about the upcoming days along the coast of Massachusetts, Maine, and all the way up to Prince Edward Island.
Breakfast is one of the features of staying in B&Bs that is so delightfully satisfying. Each B&B has their way of offering unique buffets, signature dishes, or warm and filling puddings. Often, a family member’s china is used or other cutlery that is special to the family running the B&B. I love all of the details and hearing about the stories behind each place.
With the seasons soon to change, I was reminded of a breakfast that we make in our home that would be delicious served at a B&B. It is Sweet Potato Waffles made without sugar or white flour.
The aromas that infuse the kitchen while these thick hearty waffles are cooking signal the change of season from summer to fall. Compared to the heat down here in Texas, it surely felt like fall at times for us as we journey farther and farther north.
These waffles are made with sweet potatoes, almond flour, honey and cinnamon. They are thick, hearty, and taste so delicious. One might think, with eyes closed, one is eating a sweet potato pie in the guise of a waffle shape.
More delicious and lovely breakfasts were laid out in quaint or grand or historical B&Bs on our mother and son journey up the East Coast to Prince Edward Island, Canada. I tried to capture the essence of each one and will feature them here on ‘thyme’.
Also, inspiration has certainly struck for all things seafood. I can’t wait to drive over to the market this weekend and see what fresh lobster is available. I’m inspired to make fresh pasta after one lovely meal we had at an Inne on P.E.I.
But, for now, breakfast is the highlight of these B&B discoveries. Patrick and I are mulling over the possibility of running a B&B someday and we think these sweet potato waffles would make the queue.