Monday, August 21, 2017

Salem: The Witch City Part 1


Andrew (the hubs) and I take a trip once a year. It's really hard to do when you own a business, especially when that business is a retail store, but we have an online shop (www.catslikeus.com) that customers can still take advantage of when our boutique is closed. We decided to close for a week in August ~ the longest we've ever been closed ~ and take a road trip across New York State to Massachusetts. It's Andrew's birthday in a week and we want to celebrate our 15 year wedding anniversary by going back to our honeymoon spot...Salem, MA. Yes, you read that right. Andrew and I were married 15 years ago on Halloween and we took our honeymoon in Salem. Sooooo goth. We've been to Salem for our 5 year anniversary too, but we always fly to Boston then take a train over, and this time we are going to drive and stop at some attractions along the way including any Polynesian/ Chinese / Tiki restaurants, The Edward Gorey House, the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum and some antique shops. (These stops will be included in a different blog.)

The perfect day for a drive across NYS.

This time in Salem we were able to skip some of the things we saw previously like The House of Seven Gables (if you do go, check out the secret narrow staircase behind the mantle), The Friendship of Salem Ship (which was in repair and not available to tour anyway), The New England Pirate Museum (when we went, we had a tour on par with any historical tour, but it had a Disney display flair!) and some of the witch museums we already saw...

Me in front of the Salem Witch Museum 2002. (It resides in an old church. I'm sure the architect would be pissed!) Been there, done that.

Side note: the witch hysteria in Salem started in 1692, 20 people were killed for being "witches". I put "witches" in quotes because they were just regular people being persecuted, as you can imagine it was all loosely based on politics and who had more money.

Several people I know have commented that they can't believe we LOVE Salem so much ~ to them it seems like Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, touristy with worn down museums, and greedy stores cashing in on the witch craze. Let me be clear, it's true there are a bunch of witch museums but they are all a little different, one might be a wax museum, one is a re-enactment, one is more haunted house etc. It is worth it to check out more than one. Pick the museums that appeal to you. I like more history and less haunted house, so those are the ones I stick with. You'll get the same story, just a different presentation and possibly more information to piece it all together. Some shops are a little hokey too, BUT if you can look past the kitsch it's a beautiful little city right on the water with history beyond witches because of it's placement as a port town.

Me walking out to the lighthouse in Salem 2007.

 Andrew at the lighthouse this year.

You'll be surprised how close everything is, almost the whole city is walk-able and for this reason, Andrew and I have said there's a lot to see and do in Salem, but if you are just there to sightsee more than four days is too long. You can really walk the whole town in that time.
 
We stayed at a centrally located Air BnB (that was the best thing about it.) It was small, the set up was in an awkward-shaped basement-type room, a little dirty, the a/c struggled to work and so did the TV BUT it was around the corner from the Peabody Essex Museum in the middle of town, so there's that!

Our first day we decided to take it easy and just do some shopping, have dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in town and go on a night walking tour ~ which we've never done before in Salem!

The first stop was Witch City Consignment. It's an awesome little junk shop that you can find reasonably priced stuff in, but what I love is that 100% of their proceeds go directly to the Northeast Animal Shelter! Win - win. I HAD to find something! I picked up a large vintage glass jar that matches another trick or treater jar and candle holder I already have and Andrew bought some comic books. Make sure you walk though Witch City several times because you may have missed something the first time around, there's a lot to see!

Witch City Consignment.


My new-to-me vintage jar.

We shopped at a few more places but a must-stop is Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie. It's the oldest candy shop in the US! I picked up some Giberalters and Black Jacks candies ~ they are both still made the original way! Even if you don't like the taste of molasses, you'll love blackjacks. p.s. you can buy their candy online too. *wink*

Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie.

Then we went to Bella Verona for dinner. If you can imagine the little Italian Restaurant from  the Lady and the Tramp that's what this is. It's small and intimate, the service is outstanding, the workers are nice, the food is good, and it's romantic. I wasn't super hungry because earlier in the day we had lunch right on the water at Victoria Station where I had the best crab salad sandwich I've ever eaten. At Bella Verona, we just split a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, I should mention, NOT Lady and the Tramp style. Lol. We were glad to see that Bella Verona has been around 20+ years and we can't wait to visit again.

Bella Verona with red line walking map on the ground.

Interior of Bella Verona.

We killed it.

Us by the "Bella Verona 21 years" sign.

A block away is an outdoor installation art exhibit called Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty put together by the Peabody Essex Museum. It's free and open to the public and you can walk through and around the structures. They take up a street corner and are made of large branches that are formed into vertical cones with open circle window type holes you can look through. The ground inside them is dirt and the tops are lit up at night. They remind me of birds nests but if people were to make them ~ very cool to see in real life.


Stickwork Art and me for scale.




Finally to end the day, we took a walking tour from the husband and wife team at Hocus Pocus Tours. It was a long historical tour and we learned lots of tidbits that you wouldn't normally get from a museum. (ex. two dogs were hung as familiars to the witches. So sad.) I highly recommend Hocus Pocus, they are very knowledgeable and local ~ not just actors. The tour ended at the memorial for the innocent people that were killed as witches.

Meeting place for tour.

Hocus Pocus night tour.

Sure I took a picture with the Bewitched statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, but the witch craze was no joke and impacted a whole town for many years to come. This tour shed some light on what was going on in that time period when fear and accusations take over. Just like the many witch museums you can choose to visit, there's lots of guided walking tours too. The historical ones might not be kitschy, but they sure do provide perspective.

 Elizabeth Montgomery and I.
 
 
This is the memorial next to the cemetery with all the names and dates of the accused that were killed in the witch hunt. The names are engraved on to slabs where people still lay flowers and pay their respects. I was told we shouldn't say Giles Corey ~ the only man accused of witchcraft ~ was "crushed" to death because "pressed" is the preferred term. Either way it took him two days to die by being CRUSHED by boulders. He never admitted to practising witchcraft. (We came back the following day and took pics in the daylight.)


Look for Salem: The Witch City Part 2 blog this week, that picks up right where this one left off...the death of innocent people. (Ugh, I know, but I promise it will end on a high note.)

2 comments:

  1. I really want to visit there one day! I loooove the brushwood castles!

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    1. It's a great little city as you can tell, I highly recommend it! Yes, Stickwork is very simple and beautiful. It was on the corner where we were staying, so every time we walked by we took pictures.

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