Our last trip to Salem was in fall of 2009, so it was time for another visit, and what better way than on a mystery tour? Our departure time was 7:00 am, yet people began boarding the coaches at 5:45. Everybody wanted the best possible seat for a trip where nobody knew where they were going or what they would see. We passed out itineraries as we drove out of Lizak Bus Service’s parking lot. The foliage this year seemed better than other years, perhaps because of our hot summer or maybe because the rain we had in early fall. In any case, the riot of color en route to Salem was spectacular!
We made very good time and took a 45 minute rest stop in Natick before proceeding up route 128 toward Salem. Because of a road race that morning, we approached Salem through Peabody center and followed the old canal up into town. We met our local tour guides, Steve and Carol about twenty minutes early and began our tour by coach with the mansions on Chestnut Street. We ooohed- and ahhhed over the many sea captains’ homes we saw on this part of the tour.
Our next stop was the Salem Maritime National Historic Site which commemorates a time of prosperity when Salem was an important shipping town. We got off the coach to inspect the old docks and the replica of the cargo ship Friendship which was originally built in 1797. After about 15 minutes, we moved on to the center of this seaport town of 50,000 people and got off the coach near the old burial ground behind Peabody Essex Museum. We visited Jonathan Hathorne’s grave – he was the hanging judge who presided over the witch hysteria of 1628. He lived to a ripe old age and never admitted wrong-doing or regret for hanging the witches of Salem.
We walked down Essex Street past the many beautiful homes in this part of town. They were setting up for a witches fair that morning and many of us vowed to come back to visit this walking street. At the end of the street was our destination for lunch. We had taken the grand ballroom of the venerable Hawthorne Hotel for a lunch of Sliced Sirloin or Cornmeal Crusted Haddock with all the fixings. The room was enormous with tall windows, chandeliers and beautiful draperies. We were in heaven; and a good time was had by all.
After lunch, we walked across the street to the Salem Witch Museum which occupies an old brownstone church on the main square. It’s a hub of activity because the main pickup and drop off area is just in front of the statue out front and there are thousands of people who see this museum every day. The museum tells the story of the witches who were hanged so long ago through dioramas that light up as a guide tells the story of how it all came to pass.
After our museum visit, we had free time to shop, visit museums, or take in the witch psychic fair. At 4:30 pm we boarded our coaches and headed for home. All agreed that this was yet another wonderful mystery trip filled with great food, good company, and terrific sights. Everybody vowed that they would be on the next trip in February.