In the midst of my ‘super crappy October,’ Rick and I realized that it had been far too long since we’d actually given ourselves a real vacation. Together. So we decided it was time to plan a little roadtrip. I’m not really sure why, but I suggested Salem, MA. It’s only a 5 hour drive from Montreal, has enormous historical significance, and it’s also home to lots of cheesiness thanks to their witch hunting past. Also, New England seafood.
Our first stop on the way down was the New Hampshire Liquor store and Visitor’s Center. No, I am not making that up. I guess because NH has no sales tax and no alcohol tax, they’ve become the place New Englanders buy their hooch. We stopped in mostly to gawk, because seriously, the scale of the place is bonkers. And there’s two of them, on opposite sides of the highway. Just sheer nuttiness.
Because the place was so gigantic, in addition to ludicrously cheap prices, they also had all sorts of alcoholic bevies I had never seen before, including an entire shelf of legal moonshines. Tempted by the sheer novelty of this, we got a small jar of Apple Pie Moonshine to try in our hotel room. It was so amazing, we stopped on our way back to get two more jars to smuggle home. Seriously, that stuff is a revelation.
We stayed at The Salem Inn, a rather large hotel spread across three different heritage buildings right in the center of historical Salem. Since we were only there for the weekend and we were feeling indulgent we got the honeymoon suite, with 2 (!) fireplaces, a mini-couch, king size memory foam bed and a Jacuzzi tub. Totally worth every extra penny. Falling asleep to the sound of a crackling fire (well, safety log, but whatever) is something I would happily pay for at every hotel I stay at from now on.
We decided that our first meal in Massachusetts needed to include lobster, so we wandered down to The Lobster Shanty, since it seemed to have the right mix of dodgy and delicious. We could not have been more right. Turns out they’d actually been featured on Dinners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which was exactly the sort of thing we were craving.
Rick got the classic lobster roll and I got the Connecticut style, which is just lobster in warm butter in a bun. Holy sweet crustacean. I’m not sure I can do it justice with words, other than it was exactly as good as I thought it would be. The sweet potato fries were pretty delish too.
After dinner we decided to do an evening ghost tour of historic Salem. To say we were spoiled for choice would have been an understatement, but we decided to avoid anything too cheesetastic and went for a more “authentic” experience lead by an actual paranormal investigator. This may not have been the best choice as Rick and I are skeptics at the best of times, judgie snarks at the worst, and no one was having any of our good-natured banter. That said, one of the pictures I took of the notoriously haunted Lyceum did appear to show some ectoplasm when we looked at it the following morning, so maybe the joke was on us?
The next day started with brunch at the charming Gulu-Gulu Cafe, which also has an exhaustive list of microbrews. I had the sweetest latte of my entire life and couldn’t even finish my waffle, which I know would be very disappointing to Leslie Knope.
Next we decided to walk around Salem and see the sites in the light of day. I did a little shopping in some witchcraft supply stores (street is lousy with them) and even had a tarot reading done. Apparently this Bewitched statue is on loan from TV Land and the only people who seem to like it are tourists.
Saw a bunch of these around town. Funny the things you take for granted living in Canada, although I’m sure we must have one or two of them around somewhere.
After brunch we wandered down towards the waterfront and walked out on what had once been Salem harbour. It was cool, but not too windy and the fresh sea air was so clean and refreshing.
I even got Rick to pose for his “band photo.”
I love all the red brick in colonial architecture. Also, golden eagle statues are enough of a novelty to us Canadians that I had to snap a pic.
Although there’s still a lot of work to do, it’s nice to appreciate how much better we have things than our ancestors.
While we didn’t actually go into the Salem Pirate Museum where this picture was taken, we did indulge our kitchy tourist trap yen by going to Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. I’m so sad they didn’t let us take pictures inside. It was actually really great. Basically a wax museum of cinema monsters, it was exactly what was advertised, only $8 and worth every penny for a monster kid like me. I also got to show off my horror movie knowledge like a mo-fo. I only wish we’d come when there was a celebrity guest in attendance, but it was mega cool in any event.
Always read the plaque.
One of our last stops was the cemetery in the center of town. It was small and crowded, but full of history. In fact, it’s probably one of the oldest cemeteries in North America. There are even people who came over on the Mayflower buried there.
I wish I’d brought a copy of this with us to explore the cemetery. Most of the stones were very crudely engraved, but there were more than a few with decorations like this. I was surprised at how thin the grave markers were. I’d actually thought the first batch I saw were leftover Halloween decorations!
It was a short trip, but a much needed one, and although Salem itself is pretty small, it was just right for this type of trip.