Friday, October 10, 2014

A Fall Day in Salem

(Photo credit:  Teresa Nevic Stavner)

While we wait for the signs of the fall season to arrive in San Diego,  over half of the United States will experience rain and flash flooding over the next five days.  My daughter, Lindsay and her husband, Scott, will be taking cover from the storm in Tennessee, while our lawns brown and die, our plants wilt, and did I say that it is hot, hot, hot!?  It's really hard for people to get into that fall and harvesting state-of-mind with no leaves dropping and apples are few for the pickin'.

If you're looking for a special town to really celebrate the fall season, head to Salem, in Essex County, Massachusetts.  Salem is a residential and tourist area which includes the neighborhoods of Salem Neck, The Point, South Salem and North Salem, Witchcraft Heights, Pickering Wharf and the McIntire Historic District.  Salem was one of the most significant seaports in Early America.  The photo above is the Friendship, a reconstruction of a 171-foot three-masted Salen East Indiaman built in 1797.  It is a part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.  It's worth your time to visit the museum.

A huge reason I'm in love with Salem is  because of all the colorfully decorated doors of the stately homes and cottages.  They are so charming, no matter what season!

Salem was also the place of the Salem witch trials of 1692.  Much of the city's identity is reflective of its role in this horrific event, featured notably in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, which I must admit was difficult for me to read.  I simply could not grasp the language.  Click here to read about this crazy part of our early American history -- so totally insane!  To completely understand the events that led to the witch trials, it is imperative you visit the Salem Witch Museum and the Witch Dungeon Museum.  Then continue to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.

 This cemetary is next to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial

This candy store is a short walk from the Maritime Museum.  We couldn't pass it up!

Situated on the shores of Salem is the most popular tourist attraction in Salem, the House of the Seven Gables which features a secret staircase where you least expect it.  The mansion is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden structure in New England.  The house inspired author Nathaniel Hawthorne to write his legendary novel House of the Seven Gables.

(Photo credit:  David Charney)

(Photo credit:  Turner-Ingersoll Mansion)

Tourists know Salem as a mix of important historical sites, New Age and Wiccan boutiques, Halloween-themed atrractions and a vibrant downtown that has lots of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops.  I inquired about Salem's official witch, Laurie Cabot, who was featured on the Travel Channel.  I was directed to the Enchanted, her shop located a few paces from the House of the Seven Gables.  I also found Laurie, and though I don't believe in witchcraft, I found her fascinating from an interview travel goddess Samantha Brown did on the Travel Channel.  When I found Laurie, she was sitting at her desk/sitting room, and although a posted sign said that we're not to disturb her, I couldn't help but stare at her.  She literally is a colorful figure, inside and out.  When Laurie looked up and saw me staring, like an idiot, I quietly (nearly whispered) told her that I'd been wanting to meet her since the Travel Channel episode.  She was impressed, and agreed to a photo with me.  As luck would have it, I cannot find that photo, but as soon as I find it, I will post it on this page.

Police cars are adorned with witch logos, a local public school is known as the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, the Salem High School athletic teams are named the Witches, and Gallows Hill, a site of numerous public hangings, is currently used as a playing field for various sports.

Several years ago, my daughter, Summer and her husband, Mike, did a fall tour of Boston.  I suggested they do a day trip to Salem on Halloween because the town becomes one BIG party!  Salem is just a 30 minute commuter train ride from Boston.  It departs on the hour, every hour.  Here are a few of their photos.

I've escorted many groups to Boston over the years.  If you'd like travel advice, suggestions or if you'd like to share your favorite Salem locale, please leave a comment.  It's always good to share!

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