Books I've read

Sandra's book montage

The Catcher in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
Little Women
A Tale of Two Cities
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Lovely Bones
The Secret Life of Bees
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Da Vinci Code
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Hobbit
The Golden Compass
Pride and Prejudice
The Time Traveler's Wife
Jane Eyre
The Notebook

Sandra's favorite books »

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Boston to Nantucket (or how an Elephant in the room can be a really good thing)

This was my seventh trip to Boston but I had never been to Nantucket (or Martha's Vineyard for that matter but that's for another time!).  I really liked the idea of visiting one of the islands because they always look so lovely when you see pictures of some US celebrity or another vacationing there so I took the plunge checked the web-sites and booked myself into The White Elephant hotel on Nantucket.  Then it was just a question of how to get there.  Now, if you have a private jet it's easy, you just fly into Nantucket airport and you can also fly commerical from Boston or New York or somewhere on Cape Cod but as I don't particularly like flying I needed another way.

There are actually a number of ways you can get to Nantucket by ferry and from different points on Cape Cod but I needed something that was easy to get to from Boston and that might keep me entertained for a while rather than just getting off the transport and onto the ferry.  I ended up on the Hy-Line fast ferry which would only take an hour from Hyannis to Nantucket town and let me have a couple of hours in Hyannis which as a Kennedy fan meant I could visit the Kennedy Hyannis Museum.  It would be pretty easy to get here if you rented a car but I travelled by the Plymouth & Brockton Streetcar (unfortunately just an ordinary bus but it's a nice image) from Boston.  It took about 1.5 hours and I was fascinated that most of the stops where people got off seemed to be car parks outside of the towns and villages for which the stop was named.  Luckily the Hyannis stop was at the Transportation Centre which was something of a hub for the Cape and therefore there was a sign-post to the town itself.

As you can see from the picture the museum itself is not huge.  There is a nice introductory film about JFK and Cape Cod and then about four or five rooms full of photographs of the Kennedys on the Cape.  It's very sweet and as the entrance fee is only $5 I think it's worth a visit if you are in the area.  The really sad thing for me was the comment that when John Kennedy Jr. was still alive he used to go so that he could look at the pictures of himself as a child.  There was a sort of rememberance wall for both he and Edward Kennedy but otherwise the focus was very much on JFK.  After that it was the 'Walk to the Sea' in beautiful sunshine.  It's only about 15 minutes down to the harbour for the ferries - I'm sure you could get a taxi or possibly a trolley but this was the perfect day for a walk.  I've attached some photos of Hyannis & the harbour for your entertainment:

Artists huts at the harbour

View down to the Harbour

Hyannis is a commercialised town, for Cape Cod, but I thought the harbour area and Main Street looked interesting.  There were plenty of shops and restaurants and obviously you have the JFK Museum.  Other Kennedy related attractions are a memorial just out of town and you can take a harbour cruise which will take you past the compound in Hyannis Port.  I think it is pretty difficult to get anywhere near the houses in a car so this is the best way to see anything.

I had a bit of a wait down at the harbour and then onto the fast ferry which I have to say is an exhilirating experience on a lovely day as that was.  It's pretty slow and calm until you leave the breakwater of Hyannis harbour and then you go rather fast and get full effect of the wind!  You go past some rather nice houses on the way out of the harbour but cannot see anything of the Kennedy compound.

Just an hour later you're entering Nantucket harbour and if you have the same reaction as I did, it's love at first sight!

This is my room at the White Elephant - isn't it beautiful.  The room at the back contained the wardrobe & the dinkiest (and yet fully appointed) bathroom I had ever seen.  The spoiling began at the dock where the hotel's van will meet you off the ferry (they contact you in advance to see if they can do this for you).  I discovered it's less than 10 minutes walk but I did have a bag - honest!  Then they take you to the room, which was blissfully, shaded and cool, and show you round a bit.  It's a beautiful place - more photographs to come later.  On the bed, next to the elephant cushion, was a box of the most delicious chocolate covered cranberries and a card/post-card of a water-colour of the hotel.  The cranberries were absolutely delicious.

Whilst the hotel was enticing I wasn't there just to enjoy the room so I wandered out into Nantucket itself.  One of the things I learnt very quickly is that Nantucket town is very small and very walkable.  The cars stop to let you cross and people said hello as they passed me.  One gentleman was even kind enough to stop me and show me where the good restaurants are (and there are plenty of restaurants in Nantucket let me tell you!).  I was more in love with the town than ever after about 2 hours - thank God I had given up the job otherwise I think I would have been putting down a deposit on some property there (not that there was much I could afford).  I even sat on one of the benches on Main Street deciding how I could persuade my parents to sell their home and pool resources to buy something!!!  Anyway here are some of the pictures I took that first night:
An 'Olde Englishe' pub
Shops on the way to Main Street

Flag on an inn

Bank at corner of Main Street

It's beautiful isn't it?   Anyway I'm afraid I was too tired to find a restaurant that night so I went back to the hotel for rather delicious room service - lobster roll - I'm sure I can blame the sea air for making me tired!

Next update - my days on the island.


All the coaches go from South Station in Boston.  I was lazy and took a taxi from the hotel but it's very easy to get there using the T.  The station itself is fine - there are two separate parts for the Amtrak trains and for the buses.  The better food court is in the train part and you can get there quite easily from where the buses go, sign-posting is clear.

The Plymouth & Brockton line fare to Hyannis was $19 one way which I thought was pretty good.  They have decent service to other places on Cape Cod too.  The journey is not particularly exciting - you are on highways most of the time but it's reasonably quick.

I took the Hy-line fast ferry Grey Lady to Nantucket.  Hy-line also do a slow ferry and there is also the Steamship Authority.  The fare for the fast ferry was about $76 return, the slower ferries are cheaper.   The fast ferry times worked better for me but I think the slow ferry could be very relaxing.

The White Elephant is just amazing & has some good deals on rates.  I don't know any of the other hotels on Nantucket but there were plenty of inns, including the Jared Coffin House (which looks more like a hotel) which is owned by the same people as the White Elephant and is just off Main Street. 

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