New England Road trip part 2 – Salem and Portland

After a 2nd night in Boston (one that went on very late and may have involved a few “lemonades” and the crashing of a wedding… ), and following our trip down cape cod and to Plymouth (previous post) we were now setting off on the main body of the trip that would take us initially up the coast Northeast through Maine, then West into Vermont and finally south again down through Connecticut and end in NYC.

The plan (roughly as you need to stay flexible on big roads trips ) was to weave our way up the coast stopping at Salem for some Witch related tourist stuff (I’m a massive horror/supernatural fan .. but more on this later.. and the sobering aspect ), continue onto Kittery Outlets as my wife fancied some retail therapy at great US prices (cant blame her), take in some New England roadside seafood on the way , visit some landmarks and then end up in our next port of stay – Portland, ME.

After navigating the “bus” as I was coming to call our giant SUV out of Boston (not recommended if you are at all stressed by impatient drivers, tight confusing streets or are driving on the wrong side for the first time – as we came to find every other state says NEVER drive in Boston đŸ˜€ ) and onto the the I295 heading for Salem.

So, anyone who’s watched TV, knows horror or even has a passing awareness of Witch trials/”witches” in general has heard of Salem. Salem city as is today was founded in the early 1600’s on land previously known as Naumkeag by the native peoples at the time the Europeans began to settle. Its famous of course for the persecution of so called witches and one local wealthy merchant , John Hathorne, became known as the key judge (and the hanging Judge) in such trials which saw the hanging of 19 people (the vast majority women) and the pressing to death of one man – the trials only coming to and end when a member of his immediate family was accused of witchcraft (convenient).

The Witch House – Home of John Hathorne, Witch trial judge

Fun fact though…there were two Salems back then – the city that remains and is well known but also Salem Village, now called Danvers further south. Many of those arrested and “convicted” of Witchcraft (falsely of course !) hailed from Salem Village (now Danvers) including Rebecca Nurse, a 71 year old who despite there being no real evidence was hanged mostly due to one mans accusation and others who had quarrel with her claiming she had cursed them. Like the others he was Hanged and then finally 19 years later was fully acquitted. This is where the sobering part comes in.

Artifacts and items from the trials era
House interior
House Interior
Hathorns daughters in portrait

Touring Hathorne’s house (now a museum known as Witch House – and fascinating to visit) the horrific reality of the trials quickly dispels the fascination with “Witches ” in the Hollywood sense. This was an abhorrent period not only in the US but also sadly prolific in Scotland under James I (of England – VI of Scotland) . The town of course is awash with tourist elements and relies heavily on tat for trade and marketing – understandable in the modern age, but sad once you realise the underlying reality.

A very interesting place nevertheless to visit , and to learn of the real stories of the famous Witch Trial , and to give a moment to recognise those poor peoples plight.

“Sam” the witch from the TV show Bewitched in downtown Salem, a short walk from the Witch House

Heading out of Salem we continued up 295 hitting the Kittery outlets but more importantly grabbing our first New England chowder at a small roadside cabin type place , super busy , bustling and the food was amazing and fueled the wander round the stores! Prior to travelling, everyone we mentioned the road trip to had said we must try lobster rolls but honestly … lobster in a roll I don’t get so chowder was the go to – sorry New Englanders!

All shopped out the next stop was for bed and food – Portland Maine . We arrived pretty late and couldn’t really find much (more of that in alter report) so pizza and beer was the order of the day and feet up and sleep came pretty soon after !

Our next report covers our trip to Bangor Me, one of my favorite authors,Stephen King’s house and the most photographed lighthouse in America (I’m sure i read that)

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