Part 1 America: get’n bewitched in Salem
Updated: Aug 26, 2019
Going to Salem felt a bit like a childhood dream coming trough. This meant that expectations were high.
We arrived by train during a thunder storm. So much for a good star. Ten minutes, on foot, later we arrived at our Airbnb where our hosts Helen and Dennis’s warm and heartly welcome more than made up for the weather. Drenched. We were shown around the house, a lovely big house with a rich family history. You could tell there had been a lot of children, small and grown up, that had already shared the warmth between the walls. And all the furniture looked used but well cared for and sturdy. Feeling tired from our long trip, we still unpacked, frechened up and took a walk into town, just 5 minutes away!
Entering Salem felt a bit like a childhood dream come true. It filled my every expectation. The houses are beautiful, the history rich, and the people warm.
The travelling also made us hungry, and though seafood was on the planning, we postponed it a little because us geeks stumbled upon the “flying saucer pizza company”... . Just in the center of the town, where the ‘Bewitched’ statue of Elizabeth Montgomery shines in the evening sun, there’s a corner where this restaurant thrives on other nerds and varia from Salem or visitors.
BEST nerdy dinner ever. If you are in Salem and would like to enjoy an exquisiten, nerdy, interesting pizza while in an environment of tie fighters, doctor who, unicorns and harry potter, go there!! We had the luck of being there on their Harry Potter trivia quiz night, so I had the luck of drinking some butterbeer after I finished my pizza.
Afterwards, we went home and I think we never slept better. And just a lovely breakfast later (note: not all airbnb’s give breakfast! These people were just awesome), we were on our way to our first stop: The Witch House. Not a 5 minute walk from the center you can find standing on a corner, an old black painted house, a perfect example of the 17th century architecture (for the rich) of New England. The house, entirely black and made of wood, was property of the Corwin family, most known for Jonathan Corwin, who was a judge involved in the Salem Witch trials. This, I would say was the most historically correct, and best preserved museum in Salem. If you really wish to learn something about the witch trials during 1692-93. The inside of the house still has the authentic furniture and everywhere you can find information about the customs/habits of that time. There are tourguides that walk around, readily to give information or just have a nice chat.
After the witch house, we enjoyed browsing around the tiny shops of Essex Street (most famous street of Salem). You can find all kinds of shops! Shops with witch books, witch garment, witch souvenirs, even authentic wicca shops with herbs, bones, stones and other ingredients. Harry Potter fans will also find everything here they couldn’t imagine in their wildest HP dreams. You’ll also notice a lot of houses around town that have their own monster or witch museum. Don’t fall for the term museum though, these are mainly cheap shows with just a couple of wax statues, eerie music with a jump scare in between. And every single one of em charges around 10 dollar a person...
I’d recommend going along Essex Street, and turning a right somewhere down the middle, where just not further you can find the Witch Memorial, next to the Old Burying Point Cemetery. The memorial is for the 14 women and 5 men that fell victim after the witch trials. Not all the victims were hung from the gallows at Gallows Hill, one man (Giles Corey) was even pressed to death because he refused to stand trial. And besides that, 3 women, a man and several infants died while being held in custody.
Even if you were found not guilty, some would still die in jail because they could not pay for the cost of the lawsuit so they ended up wasting away in jail...
Everywhere you can find plaques stating the victim’s innocence. The shame, the regret, and the hope that never again people will be the victim of collective anxiety, prejudice, bigotry, narrow-mindedness,...
Along the shore another pearl of Salem stands tall. There you can find the House of the Seven Gables, mostly famous thanks to the classic « the House of the Seven Gables » written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, also author of the book « the Scarlet Letter » We didn’t give it much attention since we didn’t read that book (yet...).
Towards the end of Essex street, near the Salem Common Park, you will see a reformed church that is the Salem Witch Museum. We paid it a visit on our third day in Salem, but were somewhat a bit disappointed. We were told we’d get two historical lectures about the witch trials (duration an hour at most). We didn’t quite expect it to be a historical show though. With dolls set up in historical settings, eerie music and a voice as if from a horror movie who read to us the historical « facts » (They were not compatible with the updated facts we received at the witch house). Not the lecture we were hoping for, but I guess amusing and easy for families with kids.
We finished our day in the best Mexican restaurant in Salem: the Howling Wolf. Not only did we have an excellent waiter, and excellent nachos as an appetizer, but their burrito’s are a real slice of heaven, andalso if you’re an avocado fan like me... Well, let me tell ya...they have slices of avocado, fried. Yeah, that is one I’m gonna remember for ever. Probably will be the reason I’ll ever buy a deepfrier...
We could’ve easily stayed in Salem for longer, but we had yet another city to visit shortly before heading to NYC. Boston.