Sun 30 Jun - Salem, MA

Our trip today from Concord, NH to Salem, MA was likely to take only 80 minutes of driving so we did a small detour along the way - via Burlington MA - to visit another L.L. Bean store. This one was supposed to have just 1 ladies Weather Challenger 3 in 1 jacket in Di's size (like Hans bought in Freeport, ME).

We found the store, but struggled to find the jacket. Whilst Di was rummaging, Hans got distracted by all the cool stuff in the store (again) and was smiling at this particular item - a CFD - "Canine Floating Device".

Yep, this is a life jacket for a dog. A dogs life in New England...

We headed into Mens Outerwear in the hope of finding Di a small man's jacket. Some staff in this section were very helpful but initially they had no luck in their search. Then one lady persisted "out the back" and ta-dah, a jacket identical to Hans' but in Di's (large female) size was found. Possibly the last one in New England! Woo hoo. Made Di's day. The jacket was bought and Di smiled. Of course today's weather was nearly 30 degrees so the joy of wearing the jacket will need to wait a while. Here is a later shot...

After our successful shopping trip we were still very early arriving at our motel about 10 miles from Salem, MA in an area called Danvers. Unfortunately, they would not allow check in before 3pm and yes, from what we could see they were very busy with checking out the punters from Saturday night and getting the rooms ready again. Fair enough.
So we got back in the car and headed to historic Salem to explore before joining a 3pm "witch walking tour" there, which we had already booked.

The historic waterfront area is where we started our exploration. Long before Salem was known for witch trials it was the biggest north eastern seaport. Bigger than Boston.

A tall shop replica sits alongside the historic Derby Wharf with Di (a bit hot and sweaty) in the foreground.

We wandered to the end and read the various plaques. It was obvious that the Derby Wharf was very old and had been well used. Lots of rusted old iron bolts in stones and old timbers.

At the end of the wharf, Di pretended she was the "queen of the world"...

Looking back towards Salem from the end of Derby Wharf.

Lunchtime was approaching and after exploring various overpriced options for 20 minutes or so, we settled for Rockefeller's, which had a menu selection that was wide enough for both of us. "Rustic Pasta" for Hans (penne in tomato sauce with artichoke and grilled chicken) and a "day after" sandwich for Di (meaning leftover thanksgiving stuff on a sandwich - quite good).

We wanted a photo of the restaurant as we left and as Di posed she was joined by 3 charming young period actors who participated in good spirits and also promoted their theatre play called "live witch trial performance". Sounded quirky enough - maybe for tomorrow.

Salem has been a tourist town since 1970, when some episodes of Bewitched were filmed here, but not much before that. Since the 70s, the town has attracted witches, psychics and performers as it thrives on the unfortunate witch trials of 1692. The witch with the broomstick "logo" is everywhere including on police cars we were told although we haven't seen that yet ourselves. There are even directions on telegraph poles for how to get to the various witch attractions.

No, Disney did not create the facade to the Salem Witch Museum, it is a revamped old church. We feel that we need to visit one of the many witch and witchcraft museum that can be found in Salem, and this will probably be the contender tomorrow as it is the oldest, looked the most popular from what we could see and our witch craft walking guide recommended it later.

The person depicted on the statue next to the museum is not a witch. First of all, the staute is of a male who was the original European settler of Salem named Roger Conant who arrived here in 1626.

Another photo of the outside of the museum, and it seemed to have some strange attraction for Di...

Across the road from Salem Witch Museum is a leafy and green park known as Salem Common. It looked very inviting on a hot day so we strolled the outer paths and sat and watched the world go by until just before our walking tour started, which was just around the block on Essex Street.

Hans was prepared to brave the hot sun so we could provide a good location shot of the Salem Common.

We sat on a bench in the shade for a while enjoying a light breeze, watching locals enjoying their Sunday afternoon. All very relaxing and nice.

The "Salem Witch Walk - Salem's only magical tour" started outside this old building, which is a Witch Shop called Crowhaven. The lady in the hat may or may not be a witch...

...she was promoting the store and based on this "help wanted" flyer she could be brand new to all of this.

Our "witch walk" is just that - a 90 minute walking tour led by a witch. A male witch. Tom was our guide and resident witch (not warlock). Hans thought that he looked more like a rock artist...

We started with a witch ritual in the courtyard/alley near the store. Tom chatted the whole time about witch rituals to call on energy from north, east, south and west and from earth, wind, fire and water and various icons used, like a sword and candles. The whole time, a strong incense was burning...

We participated. An interesting and quite light introduction to witchcraft and kept light with some funny discussions of key misconceptions of witchcraft etc.

Tom was an enthusiastic tour guide. We got a wide selection of information, about witches, Salem, some history and of course the witch trials. Tom walked and talked fast and was full of energy and passion.

We learned that all the original buildings in Salem with any link to the witchtrials of 1692 are gone (age and fire etc), except for one building, the home of one of the judges, but we did hear from Tom about various locations that are thought to have been key in the history and trials.

One fascinating story that Tom told us was about Giles Corey, a wealthy old man who was accused so that a trial could be held, leading to (of course) a guilty proclamation his land could be snatched by the government.

Giles refused a trial and this meant he was tortured first to force him to a trial. The torture took place in a field near the Old Witch Gaol. According to the law at the time, a person who refused to be tried was to be tortured - basically "pressed to death" - by being laid naked in a pit covered by a wooden board with heavy rocks added one at a time. Corey Giles took more than 2 days to die and never gave in, demanding "more weight". With his dying breath he cursed the sheriff and Salem. He won in the end, without a trial they could not snatch his land and it was bequeathed to his son.

The site of the old witch gaol, which was a dungeon and not a jail according to Tom. History somewhat rewritten. An office building occupies that location today.

We learn about various rituals and altars, including Halloween and honoring the dead, emphasised with dear Peter's skull below.

Our last stop on the tour was The Burying Point cemetery and its adjacent witch trial memorial ground.

We will spend more time here tomorrow - looks very interesting.

As a follow on to discussions of rituals, sacrifices and offerings, Tom did a small ritual in the graveyard to a goddess, sacrificing his favourite snack - a honey bun!

This is a memorial to the 20 innocent men and women who were executed during the witch trials of 1692, one stone bench for each of the victims. In addition, another 150 men, women and children were imprisoned.

Bridget Bishop was the first person to be tried as a witch and was then promptly hanged.

We finish our tour around 4.45pm back where we started. A small funny side note - the red trolleys roam the streets showing tourists the sights. Each time a trolley passed where we stood, Tom asked that we all enthusiastically wave on cue. Some funny reactions from those on board.

Back to our motel around 5.15pm to formally check in, get our key, and relax a bit after a hot afternoon of walking. Di had a swim in the pool while Hans was lazy in the room.

Dinner in our room, finishing up some our tinned provisions. Good night.

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