There once was a time when I traveled exclusively to big cities, anxious to fulfill a craving for a place full of energy, constant activity and millions of people. I loved the crowds, the noise, the smells, the pressure to move, move, move! to experience whatever was around the next corner.
But now that I live in one of the largest cities in the country, my daily life is filled with crowds and constant noise and my calendar is scheduled with that pressure to experience everything Chicago contains in mind. And while I absolutely love my new life, it has changed what I want in a travel destination.
For the first time in my life, I want calmness. I want relaxation. I want beautiful nothingness blanketed with quietness. And Cape Cod seemed like a perfect escape for that, for a weekend of seafood and serenity.
Cape Cod is as picturesque as a movie set, with cottages adorned in matching colors tucked alongside tiny buildings standing strong since the 1600s. It was as quaint as I imagined life to be in the colonial era and I was instantly smitten with the peacefulness in the air, the way the ocean hid behind the trees along the road, and how everything felt like its sole purpose was for relaxation.
We started our trip with a stop in Boston because, like last time I was in Bean Town, it just so happened that the Red Sox were playing and I couldn’t pass up a game at Fenway. We skipped all the tourist stops, having both been to Boston before, and headed straight to Neptune Oyster, where I fell in love with oysters and lobster rolls.
Lunch did not disappoint.
Later we spent the evening watching baseball from Fenway’s famous Green Monster. Our standing tickets provided a perfect view of the iconic stadium as we watched the game with a newfound interest in home run hitters — who were aiming directly at us. (Only one ball managed to hit the scoreboard above my head but it was enough to inspire me to keep my eye on the ball the rest of the game!)
The next day we bussed into The Cape, as it’s called, and spent the remainder of the week alternating between sipping cocktails next to the fire pit in the cottage’s hydrangea-covered back yard, clinking glasses of white wine while overlooking the ocean, and driving along the coast in the convertible while letting the sea-infused air saturate my skin. And seafood. There was lots and lots of seafood.
There are times when I bite into something so delicious, so pure and amazing that its authenticity makes me understand all the hype surrounding it and why facsimiles are created in other places. Like the bowl of ramen I slurped in Tokyo or the croque madame I had in Paris, the lobster I had in Cape Cod made me realize why lobster rolls are so coveted, why people attempt to recreate its goodness elsewhere.
The moment is bittersweet. Because deep down, you know you’ll never have anything as good anywhere else, no matter how hard you hunt it down. But that’s why the moment is worth savoring: the taste, the feeling, is fleeting but that flavor will forever be forged as a reminder of this moment, of this place.
The Wellfleet oysters, harvested from literally feet away, were that delicious. The lobster, cooked shore side and served in a plastic basket on a picnic table, the chunky clam chowder with the perfect mix of textures, and even the shrimp pesto pasta all contained those moments of absolute culinary perfection that I will forever search for until I return to Cape Cod.
There was a whale-watch, too. And lighthouses. And afternoon walks to centuries-old cemeteries. But mostly late mornings and long drives, memorable meals and, most of all, plenty of relaxation. It was exactly what I needed.
And then we returned home to Chicago, where we traded the convertible car for cabs, the quaint house for a high-rise apartment building, and the calm quiet for the crazy noise of the big city. Returning home was definitely the opposite of what it used to be, but miraculously, it felt more like home than ever.