John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Harbor view from our restaurant deck in Salem

Brenda checks out headstones in the Salem Cemetery

The Salem Witch Museum

June 24

I arrived in the lobby of our hotel to find there was no free continental breakfast on Sunday...bummer! I took a stroll to find some place to score a breakfast and lo and behold, found a corner café called The Corner Café, where I had my first Eggs Benedict in a long while. It's not something I need to do everyday, but boy was it good! I could hardly wait to tell Brenda as she admirably followed her strict regimen of oatmeal, fruit, yogurt and tea in our room.

Katie had asked us to see Salem for her to report on the witch-y thing. The first thing you learn is there are two Salems very close together...Salem, New Hampshire and the one we wanted in Massachusetts. You need to know that as the highway signs don't seem to differentiate, so you better have your cartographic senses on high alert.

We found the right Salem with minimal difficulty and parked right at the downtown Visitors Center. The reason I mention this is that most of these old towns have very narrow streets and limited parking; so good parking spots are highly coveted (a la George Costanza). With our info from the Center, we found the nearby historic cemetery and Witches Memorial. The historic area is not all that large and is a pretty easy walk.

We located a nice restaurant with an outside deck above the harbor, where we watched Brian Morris's eastern counterpart manoeuvre a Grand Banks out of its slip and out to sea. This guy didn't have to deal with river and tidal currents like Brian does, the piker. After lunch, we looked at the witch-y options we had in the one hour left on our schedule and settled on the Salem Witch Museum as offering the least sensational/most educational presentation.

We learned a lot about the difference between documented history and the outrageous legends from the witch hysteria of 1692. For instance, no one in Salem was burned at the stake or thrown into the water to test whether they were truthful. Twenty or so suspected witches were hung for refusing to admit to being witches and one man was crushed by piling stones on him. Some pre-teen girls who were bored and took a prank too far caused the whole incident. They ended up recanting and confessing several years later.

Salem is north of Boston via I-93, which is in an underground tunnel beneath downtown Boston. Officially, the tunnel is named after well-known senator, Tip O'Neill; unofficially, Bostonians call it the "Big Dig" as its construction took far too long, was far too disruptive and instead of the budgeted $2.8 billion, cost $14 billion and still counting. While we are onto Bostonians, they are among the worst drivers we have encountered as they drive aggressively, are always talking on their cell phones and consider highway white lines as mere suggestions as to what lane they should occupy. It's a good thing they are so friendly in person or we might have to write them off altogether.

Brenda made it back to the fitness center in time for a workout (they close at 6:00 pm on the weekends). The attendant remarked on her "cute accent" in the broadest Bostonian accent. The New England accent has a uniqueness only equalled by the Deep South, as they not only talk about the "Habbuh", but they drink "cacktails", confess to the parish "fawda" and drive a "care".

June 25

We most definitely left Nantasket Beach and the Boston area with regrets. We loved our time here with the beautiful homes and water of the suburbs interacting like living art, the city with its history and rich character and the very friendly people. Our next destination was Portland, Maine, a relatively short drive but one that would take us through 3 states.

The first bit of our trip retraced yesterday's trip to Salem and then into New Hampshire for a short distance before we entered Maine. New Hampshire has a sweet deal going as it places a government liquor store at each state line because there is no sales tax in New Hampshire...the Alberta of the U.S.!

We had a coupon (oh yeah!) for the Holiday Inn Express, which we found easily. We were able to get 2 nights at the coupon rate and found that our room was actually a suite. They had just renovated and the room décor was very bright and pleasant; not only that but the beds and bedding were brand new and the absolute best we have found on our entire trip.

We had extra time because of the short trip and decided to scope out the nearby Maine Mall for a grocery supermarket and a place to get pedicures. Once again, the Nordgren luck delivered as there was a nail shop right next door to the supermarket...can you believe it?! After our pampering and a grocery shop, we returned to the hotel for Brenda's workout and a catch-up on our accumulated laundry.

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