Adventures Geek Life

Our Salem Adventure

Salem Cemetary Sunken Stone

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.

Salem New Hampshire Liquor Store 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.

Salem Salem Inn 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.

Salem Lobster Shanty Exterior 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.

Salem Lobster Roll Lobster Shanty 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.

Salem Turner House Ectoplasm 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?

Salem Gulu-Gulu Cafe 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.

Salem Bewitched Samantha Statue 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 (Essex 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.

Salem Fallout Shelter Sign 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.

Salem Friendship 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.

Salem Lighthouse Rick I even got Rick to pose for his “band photo.”

Salem Harbour Custom House 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.

Salem Home for Aged Women Although there’s still a lot of work to do, it’s nice to appreciate how much better we have things than our ancestors.

Salem Pirate Museum Rick 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.

Salem Sophia Hawthorne House Plaque Always read the plaque.

Salem Cemetary 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.

Salem Cemetary Susana Gravestone 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!

Salem Cemetary Sunken Stone 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.

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    B
    November 26, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Salem is on my list to visit! It looks like you had a fun time! And I love the photos!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks! I’m usually terrible about taking pictures on trips, but it was so beautiful the whole time we were there I managed to force myself.

  • Reply
    Jane Y.
    November 26, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Sounds and looks awesome! And love that picture of Rick!! Not sure if this is a really weird question, but did you have trouble at the border? Yangkyu and I always talk about driving over to Canada but we have heard so many nightmarish stories of difficult border patrol folks that we never went ahead and planned an actual road trip. What was your experience like?

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 27, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      Thanks! We had a great time. And it’s not a weird question, but we’ve never had issues at the border (other than long waits if it’s a holiday). As long as you have your passport and no felonies, you should be fine. Canadian crossings are kind of renown for being chill.

  • Reply
    Joie Fatale
    November 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit Salem! And (at the risk of sounding like an alcoholic) that mega-liquor store intrigues me!
    (God so help me, but I love cemeteries! I wanted to be a hurst driver for so long…ok, I still do. I blame My Girl).

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 27, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      The liquor store is definitely worth visiting, if only for the sheer novelty of it. And yeah, I hear you about cemeteries. I blame The Smiths.

  • Reply
    Ari Carr
    November 26, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Salem’s been on my to-visit list for years… However, given that I’m in Britain it might be a while before I get over! It looks like you had an amazing time. I hope it helped improve your shitty October!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      Thanks, Ari. And yeah, the commute probably wouldn’t be worth it just to visit Salem, honestly more than a couple of days and I would have been totally bored, but for a weekend it is perfect.

  • Reply
    margotmeanie
    November 26, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    This looks amazing, the town looks so cute! And now I’m drooling over the thought of lobster rolls!!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 27, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      It is positively darling. And we probably ate our weight in seafood while we were there. Hopefully we can do a longer trip going up and down New England later. Got a jones for Maine & R.I. now too.

  • Reply
    Ash
    November 26, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    UGH! Looks so amazing! I really hope I can visit one day! It’s a long way there from Ireland though πŸ˜› Also that lobster roll sounds amazing!!! Gimme!!! πŸ˜€

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 27, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Rick actually proposed to me over homemade lobster rolls, so they have a special place in our relationship. And yeah, I totally thought of you and your man at Count Orlock’s, but I guess it’s a little far for you for a weekend visit.

      • Reply
        Ash
        November 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm

        Awww, well I hope one day to be able to head over to America, give ourselves lots of time and visit all the places we want to πŸ™‚

        I can’t wait to try some lobster rolls now! πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    kaycreate
    November 27, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I actually haven’t been to Salem, MA in quite awhile! I think when my daughter is older we’ll treck down there during Halloween season sometime.

    And now a quick sidenote: I live in New Hampshire and we’ve been seeing construction on that monstrosity of a liquor store/visitor center for months when we head down that way! I actually didn’t know it was already open! Even as someone FROM NH, I think it’s crazy haha. The one they had previously was much smaller, but as you said, with no sales tax, LOTS of people from MA hit it up for liquor to bring back!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      I had no idea you were in NH, crazy. Thanks for your impression of the epic liquor stores, Rick and I were wondering what residents thought of them.

  • Reply
    nerdburger
    November 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I want to visit Salem so much. It looks so beautiful and I love that you got your photo with Samantha.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Hehe. Yeah, apparently there’s some drama because she’s actually happily pointing to the area where all the alleged witches were hanged during the witch frenzy. It is an absolutely charming place to visit.

  • Reply
    SailorJulyxo
    November 28, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Oh, I want to try that moonshine! As for Salem, MA. it’s a dream vacation of ours. Being Pagan and a Witch, it’s even more special despite what happened. Love the Samantha statue! Oh and tarot reading… I read tarot for friends and family, and myself. It’s wonderful! That ship. β™₯ That gallery sounds amazing! The cemetery is a beautiful one. They hold so much energy. Lovely trip, guys!

  • Reply
    Celeste
    November 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Sounds like you guys had a blast! Budd would kill to visit Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, monsters are right up his alley. Have you thought of where you next weekend trip might be?

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