10.01.2010

adventures in Salem, MA (*cat and broom not included)

Two Saturdays ago we were going to shop the SoWa Open Market then spend the afternoon in Newburyport. Until we found out the market is only open Sundays and our ZipCar wasn't in its spot because we made the reservation for the NEXT Saturday.

So there we were, standing in the parking lot with a book bag full of snacks, when I remembered Dan and Kristin said Salem was lots of fun and only 30 minutes away on the commuter rail. We meandered through Pod and Starbucks on our way to catch a cab to Long Wharf for the Salem Ferry.

After a lovely hour-long ride on the open seas, we were walking up to the House of Seven Gables — the home that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's book of the same name.

ian and anna at the house of seven gables
unidentified pink flower
chatting at the front door
on the grounds of the house of seven gables

Our tour guide was new — a former elementary school teacher who retired instead of accepting a new position teaching middle school. He was very thankful we weren't middle school students who, he insisted, would eat him up like piranhas. This sentence, repeated often, was accompanied by a hand gesture to illustrate the gnawing on his arm. He also reminded us multiple times throughout the tour we could go to high tea the next day for a hundred dollars a head.

He was sweet in spite of his quirks, and I'm sure he'll get better (and faster) with practice. He did a good job of highlighting the affluence of the homeowners (always in comparison to Hillary Clinton, Martha Stewart and Oprah). And we got to climb up the secret stairway behind the fireplace. I want one.

After the tour, we spent a little time wandering the grounds and Nathaniel Hawthorne's childhood home.

nathaniel hawthorne's birthplace

A short walk along the Salem Heritage Trail brought us to Salem Commons, where Ian promptly took photos of the view along every path radiating from the entrance.

salem commons

We also bumped into a National Puppy Mills Awareness Day event. The sign seemed a bit too perky considering their cause...

national puppy mills awareness day!

We arrived at the Peabody Essex Museum at closing time (we will be going back for this), so we explored the small shopping district nearby.

entrance to the peabody essex museum
revere and sons bell
samantha and anna

Salem really plays up its history, but it's not all brooms and twitching noses — there are lots of occultic shops. I don't think I've ever been in a place that felt so heavy. Whether or not the women in the witch trials were dabbling in dark magic, that history seems to have created what they originally attempted to eradicate.

On a lighter note, the rest of our evening in Salem contained a lot of humor. After a fruitless attempt at finding a restaurant (two promising options were packed for special events), we settled on The Upper Crust.

As we waited for our (tasty!) pizza, a guy stumbled in with his bike and asked Ian if it was okay to use the restroom. Ian directed him to ask the employees. After he finished, he walked his bike out the door, hopped on, wobbled straight into a granite curb and wiped out. The waitress was unconcerned — "He followed me here, and I think he's been *bottle motion*. He's creepy."

After dinner, we stopped by Ben and Jerry's for dessert. Cups of coconut seven layer bar ice cream in hand, we walked straight into an almost fight in the Boston Hot Dog Company's parking lot. A belligerent drunk guy was yelling at a man who quickly hopped into a minivan. As the vehicle drove off, the belligerent drunk hollered, "Take that hot dog and shove it up your %#@!" Very pleasant.

We quickly made our way to the train station to avoid any further drama, and an hour later we were home sweet home. Adventure accomplished.

For more photos, click here.
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