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Trip Report Plymouth MA weekend friends getaway

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After more than 30 years of September getaway weekends with friends, we have made some repeated trips to certain areas within driving distance of home. The only requirement is no kids or husbands allowed.

This year we decided to visit the Plymouth area again. We would have the beauty of the Cape Cod area without all the weekend traffic (Plymouth is on the coast but not on Cape Cod, you don't have to drive over the bridge.). Our weekend trip is almost always the third weekend in September just ahead of foliage season. The plan included going to King Richard's Faire that we had gone to maybe a dozen years ago. At first, it sounded fun, but as I read reviews I was worried that it was going to be over-priced and mediocre fun.

Since 4 of us travel together, we find it best to rent a cottage if possible for the roominess plus the convenience of a full kitchen. It's much easier to cook our own breakfast and have a big frig for snacks and adult beverages. One friend loves pumpkin ale which is only available this time of year and the rest of us have deteriorated into prefering sweeter drinks. Yes, it is possible to buy "Adult Chocolate Milk" (comes in a lovely frosted glass bottle with a bale and ceramic stopper I can use again for homemade herb vinegar) and this year's discovery was a pumpkin pie liquor. Beware of ordering pumpkin ale/beer in a restaurant since current practice is to dust the rim with cinnamon. A lot of guys don't like that.

Finding a cottage required expert use of google specifying someone willing to rent for only two nights (nightly rental). J found a pleasant little cottage with something of a water view for only $150/night (which included the cleaning fee). The cottage slept 4 comfortably if one (me) didn't mind a pull-out sofa. (It was a Clayton Marcus sofa so the mattress was decent if a little thin.) The ktichen was tiny but adequately furnished with everything we needed (if you aren't too fussy about how sharp your knife is). Extra towels and linens were available as well as books, magazines and games. Even a pair of binnoculars hung by the door for guests' use. It was a little too cool to enjoy the small patio. In fact, it was cool enough to want some heat but alas, nothing happened when the thermostat was turned up. The owner quickly responded to the problem but a repair was necessary and required a service call on a Friday night. The repairman came and everything was fixed. The cottage had wifi. The cottage:
http://www.vrbo.com/191477

We explored Plymouth's downtown area (bring quarters or credit card for meters) and located the visitors center (bring quarters or credit card for the parking kiosk and pay for parking in a numbered spot before you leave your car). The visitors center is staffed by very friendly, helpful people and also has wifi. This comes in handy when one has left their cell phone charging back at the cottage we have just checked out of and nobody has the owner's phone number which is on the forgotten cell phone. Friend used Ipad to email a message to the owner. You can book tours at the visitors center and it is also a pick up point for some tours.

We chose Colonial Lantern Tours for an 8pm Friday night ghostly tour of the cemetary and downtown area. Meeting point is the John Carver Inn. Carrying pierced lanterns is quaint but also necessary since it is very dark in the cemetary and there are steep steps to navigate. Not for anyone who has difficulty walking. We were divided on how well we liked the tour since my friends felt too much time was spent in a couple of areas and at one place it got a little hokey about feeling the creepiness of the area. The first ghost tour we ever took was in New Orleans and it was fantastic so we always compare to that. I enjoyed the history related by the guide. You have to wonder what it was like to settle in a wild place so far from home.

We could be lazy Saturday morning since we already had tickets to King Richard's Faire. You don't have to wait in line if you have already purchased tickets on-line. Good deal. The fair is held in a re-created village that contains several stages and locations for shows that are held during the day. It is not possible to see all the shows nor do you even want to consider some of them. In addition to the exhorbitant entrance fee, each actor will urge you to give tips at the end of each show. The first show we saw was a bawdy routine that involved fancy work with whips. It was mildly entertaining. The second show however was outstanding comedy by two young women posing as washer wenches. Their act involved audience participation. Although the basic jokes were the same, we decided to see the show a second time before we left. We decided to leave another show because it was too boring but sat thru a show about Torture that was not suitable for young children although there were many in attendance. The actor warned against trying anything at home but sheesh, you know kids. The fire eating was fine but the highlight of the show was a bit on the gruesome side. I saw one parent cover his young daughter's eyes. The 10 year old boys crouched on the ground near me, were groaning in horror.

The faire is a family event but some shows are PG13. The kids won't understand some of the jokes. We did not visit any of the shows geared for children and I only got a quick look at the jousting since it was near the "flush" toilets area.

Food at the fair is mediocre and a bit expensive. First you stand in line for tickets and must buy at least $5 worth of tickets (10 tickets) but since many sandwiches and soups are 15 tickets, you have to buy $10 worth of tickets. We carried in our own water which would have cost us six tickets. I guessed that they used a mathematician to determine that sandwich plus water would cost 16 tickets and people have to purchase in multiples of 10 tickets. Ergo, extra unspent tickets? We pooled our tickets to buy two whoopie pies (10 tickets each) to share. It is possible to cut whoopie pies in half with a coffee stirrer. The whoopie pies were good and freshly baked. My turkey feast wrap sandwich wasn't very good. My friends thought their stews in a bread bowl and pot pies were good. Different food items are sold at different windows in a central service area. I would hate to feed a family of people who all wanted different things. There were lines a each window. I chose the shortest line which was probably not a good idea. I guess everyone else knew that the food choices from that window weren't very good.

The other part of the faire is the costumes. Some people attend so often they have their own outfits. Others rent them on-site. Parents need to be forewarned that if kids beg to buy a shield and wooden sword, that's $36 total (per child). Most of the adult female costumes involved showing cleavage. In fact, some showed an amazing amount of cleavage that defied gravity. The costumed actors will interact with the visitors but it's impossible to tell who is an actor and who is costumed for the day.

If you've never been, it can be fun but I'm not sure I can recommend this event esp for family groups. Just entrance fee and food is very expensive.

But it kept us busy for most of the day and we had decided on an early dinner at 42 Degrees North. Since we didn't have reservations, getting there soon after 5pm was a good idea. The restaurant began to fill. It offers a very good variety of fish and seafood but entrees are a bit pricey. My complaint is the salads are too big so much of the food is wasted. My entree, lobster macaroni and cheese did not come with any sides so I ordered a salad. The waitress warned me that it was too big but none of us were smart enough to decide to share our salads which we later saw some tables doing. My salad could easily have fed all four of us. The "side" salads the others ordered were large, enough for two. Another good reason to have a frig since two of us took leftover entrees home.

Sunday morning we were scheduled for Betty Ann's cranberry bog tour. Pickup was at the visitors center but we did not understand that we would be following Betty Ann's in our own car and pre-paid for a day's worth of parking. It was kind of early so when another car full of tourists arrived, I told them to take our numbered space and handed them our parking ticket. I enjoyed the tour immensely. Betty Ann provides a lot of information about cranberries and growing them plus she has permission to take people into the bog areas. Expect driving on dusty sandy roads. Sunday was not a good choice this early in the season, however, because the bog workers took the day off. It would have been fun to see the equipment and people working. There is probably too much information for young children. Betty Ann gave us lectures at each stop. I recommend if you like to hear detailed facts and stories.

Downtown Plymouth has several spots for breakfast and/or lunch. We easily found a bakery on Friday and a place for coffee, hot or cold. You won't want to spend a lot of time browsing shops. We found the waterfront shops to have more tourist junk while the downtown area seemed to cater more to locals. We had visited Plimouth Plantation etc on earlier visits so we skipped them. There is plenty to do in this area so 3 days is not very much time.

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