Salem came as an unexpected surprise during my trip to Boston. It’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit and I definitely need to go back in October. But I certainly hadn’t planned for it.
If you know about my trip to Washington, D.C., then you know I have a habit of getting on the wrong train. But to be fair, I asked the attendant at the station which route to take to get to the Boston neighborhood I was looking for (of course, I can’t remember the name now). Instead, she sent me to the line that went out to another city of the same name. I found myself on the train that passed through Salem and decided to make that my stop instead.
From the moment I stepped off the train and began walking the quiet streets, I thought to myself, “I could move here and open up a little bookshop.” I made my way to the Salem Witch Trials memorial. The stones with so many names brought to life a history I only knew in passing, mostly through literature. The silence sits heavy over the former home of some of the residents of the witch trials. Unfortunately, many of the museums weren’t open during the time of year I visited.
I remembered reading The Scarlet Letter in college and loving it. So when I stumbled upon Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables, I made sure to take a tour. The most fascinating thing I learned was that his original surname was Hathorne, as in magistrate John Hathorne, one of the leading judges in the Salem witch trials. To distance himself from his family’s atrocities, Nathaniel added the W to his last name. Learning this history made my understanding of his famous novel all the richer.
Walking further out along the bay, I came upon the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, America’s first national historic site. I tried to make the hike out across the rocks to the lighthouse, but the winter chill was simply too much for me. Still, the sight of the bay and the maritime history monuments in the freezing cold was a beautiful sight.
I completed my visit to Salem with a stop at a local tavern and ordered a serving of New England clam chowder to warm me up. Maybe I was just tired and cold, but it was the best damn chowder I’d ever had. I finished and hopped back on the train as the sun started to set, making my way back to my hotel in Lowell.
Have you been to Salem? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!