Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Boston Fly Drive: Mums on the Run! Three MORE Awesome Day Trips: Cape Ann, Manchester by the Sea & Salem!



Last week I told you about three awesome day trips from Boston, you can catch up on that post HERE. This week I’ll tell you about the day we spent in Cape Ann whale watching, spooky goings on in Salem and a last minute road trip to Manchester by the Sea. One of these trips was the highlight of my trip I’d go so far as to say it far outstripped NYC in my books. Can you guess WITCH before I tell you? 



1. Whale Watching in Cape Ann



Sue adores whales; she has loved them since she was a little girl so when I was researching and saw that we could go whale watching it was immediately put on our itinerary. I found a company that looked great, a 4 hour trip cost just $48/€41 per person with guaranteed sightings and free parking too but then I remembered a Mum in our Mums on the Run Facebook group gave us a genius travel hack, check Groupon for deals at your destination. So I did.

I couldn’t believe it when I found the SAME trip for $28/€23.93 each, saving us $20/€17.09pp. I decided to go one better and Googled Groupon promo codes and I got a further $10/€8.55 discount. I also found a deal for a local restaurant $10 for lunch for 2

Fresh Chowder made daily by the Captain himself. Not chowder, chowder, say it, CHOWDERRR

It took us less than 40 minutes to drive the 36 miles to Cape Ann and park up dock side at Cape Ann Whale Watch. We were brought 12 miles off the coast to one of the top 5 whale watching locations in the world, Stellwagen Bank. There are a few different species of whales that can be spotted at the national marine sanctuary, we were lucky to get a glimpse of Minke and Finback whales. But the humpbacks decided to put on an amazing show, flipper slapping and repeatedly leaping out of the water. 

We were in awe at the tail-breaching; it truly is a breathtaking sight. Admittedly though at one stage we found it hilarious, everyone was staring out one side of the boat when the whales were behind us, it reminded us of the Kit Cat ad with the panda.

There’s a full service galley on board selling hot food and cold drinks at great prices. We hadn’t eaten in at least 10 minutes so we had to refuel. Sue had the chowder while I scoffed mac’n’cheese.

Lunch at Zeke's, accompanied by NOT very sweet, sweet tea. Bleugh. 

Lunch at Zeke’s Place was a lovely dining experience; it was an old school diner with the chef cooking behind a low counter in full view. It was like walking onto a movie set, the only other customers were two elderly army veterans chatting over bottomless coffees and pie. The food was all made from scratch as was the iced tea, simply delicious. They were delighted to hear Irish accents, so much so they asked would we stay to help clean up! Nice try, lads. 

2. Salem

These two lads wandering through town silently, standing out from behind trees and popping up on walks were easily the creepiest thing we've ever seen...

Salem is by far my absolute number 1 favourite place to visit in the USA, yes over NYC, LA and even Vegas. To this day I’m still kicking myself that we didn’t spend at least 2 days. The drive to Salem was easy taking us just 30 minutes; parking however was not as easy. 

We went Friday 13th October, we figured it’d be pretty busy so we aimed to be there for about 9am but as we drove around they were closing all the car parks because they were full. We eventually got on street parking just off Washington Street which is one of the main streets, I preferred to have the car as it meant we could stay much later into the night.

Every month of the year there are different events. We visited slap bang in the middle of Haunted Happenings, the whole town was buzzing and the atmosphere was fantastic. Nearly everyone was dressed for the occasion, all of the shops and houses were decorated for the season, so we had to buy some fab witches hats from a market stall for just $10/€8.55 to join in the spooky fun.


After a quick visit to Destination Salem’s offices to pick up our complimentary VIP cards we started with a Trolley tour to get our bearings and got caught up to speed on over 400 years of local history. We learned about the witch trials that lasted thirteen months, 156 people were accused, 19 were hanged. One man was pressed to death and two dogs were hanged because the children said they gave them the "evil eye".

Salem is gorgeous it really is as you see it in the movies especially when you see the filming locations from movies such as The Lords of Salem & Hocus Pocus. Pumpkin spiced latte was the order of the day while we decided which attractions were top of our list. We had already snapped the Bewitched statue and saw an absolutely hilarious street act of witches cat calling and slagging people who were getting their photo taken with them. If you were following along on Snapchat, you'll remember!

Witch Dungeon Museum

First up we went to the Witch Dungeon Museum from the moment you walk into the museum you’re transported back to a court room in 1692 to a re-enactment of the trial of Sarah Good who was accused of being a witch. It’s only a short play but it gave me chills hearing the crazy accusations that were held up by a court of law. In the dungeons there are replica standing room only cells where some of the accused were held. There’s also a replica village of how Salem was in 1692. Admission is $8/€6.84 per adult but our visit was covered with our VIP card.

Shopping and Eating

We stopped for lunch at Tavern in the Square where Sue had the most delicious pumpkin cider seasonally brewed by Downeast. I only had a sip to taste but oh my gourd! It was that nice that I’ve already sought out a place where I can get it when we visit Niagara Falls this October! Lunch cost us $60/€51.28 including drinks and a tip.   
   
Downeast Pumpkin Cider - Brewed locally, only missing a diving board!


Central Street has some of the most amazing shops, we picked up lots of souvenirs but the best value was at the Trolley Depot, we bought t-shirts, hoodies and Christmas decorations for my travel tree. In Salem Common there was a huge food truck selling every sweet you could think of deep fried. We decided to try deep fried Oreos; I made Sue try them first just in case. She held a straight face while telling me they were delicious. She lied.

Salem Witch Museum

The queues were crazy so we got tickets for a later time and came back. We got a greater understanding of the witch trials at the witch museum as the presentations are based on the actual trial documents. We learned the truth about witches which actually isn’t bad at all and that there are millions of people still practicing witchcraft today. The gift shop at the end had a great selection of reasonably priced gifts, so we left with another few bags of purchases. Admission is $12/€10.26 per adult; it was included in our VIP ticket.


Candlelit Ghost Walking Tour

I loved the candlelit walking tour as we got to visit the most haunted houses and locations in Salem. Our guide was fantastic; she regaled us with stories of ghostly sightings and spooky goings on. We visited the Salem Witch Trial Memorial and the graveyard but we didn’t dare enter, not only is it extremely eerie it’s also illegal to enter after dark. Tours cost $15/€12.82pp but were included with our VIP card.

We passed Bridget Bishop's Tavern and learned of her story, she was the first woman to be murdered in Salem. She was executed simply because she was a woman of means, she wore bright colours and married several times over. Bridget paid no heed to traditions of Salem times, Sue says it's exactly that bad ass attitude that meant she resonated so strongly with her. Her fascinating story is here

It's important to say that every single tour guide agreed that the Salem 'Witch Trials' were state sanctioned murders, no more, no less. They're incredibly passionate about righting the wrongs of history in their town and distancing themselves from decisions made. That makes the town all the more interesting to me and well worth your time in visiting. 


The House of the Seven Gables

This house tells 350 years of stories, dating back to 1668 the house was owned by 3 generations of the Turner family before being bought by Captain Samuel Ingersoll uncle to the famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne. The mansion has been a museum since 1908.Over the years five additional historic structures have been moved to the site, it’s now on the national register of historic places. When we visited we were lucky to be there for one of their October performances whereby excerpts of Nathaniel Hawthorns novel are re-enacted. 

There are two different performances, we chose the Spirits of the Gables. We were enthralled, especially when our guide moved out of the way and there was a tiny half width hidden doorway behind him with an even smaller winding staircase leading to the next level. When we entered the room above it was through a small alcove beside the full sized door. It felt like we were in a spooky version of Alice in Wonderland! Tours cost $15/€12.82pp but were included with our VIP card.

Without a doubt we'll be returning to Salem as soon as possible. The annual Wicca protest sees over 3.5k Wiccans descend on the Salem to march down Main St. We'll be there one year for the protests and the celebrations, mark my words. 

3.   Manchester by the Sea


While in the queue for the Salem trolley tour the people in front of us started chatting to us and the gal behind us overheard us say that the fall foliage in the Berkshires wasn’t in full bloom. She sidled up to us like she was doing an illegal deal and whispered that Manchester by the Sea is where it’s at, the following day we took heed of her advice.

We set out for Manchester by the sea but stopped along the way in Exeter New Hampshire for lunch and yet another pumpkin spiced latte for me. Exeter is a beautiful historic town with chocolate box stores that run the length of Main Street.

Pawtuckaway State Park was the perfect place to view the fall foliage; they are spoiled for choice in the US with state parks. They have every amenity at their finger tips, Pawtuckaway for example had everything you could need for camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking, mountain biking, orienteering and much more with a whole host of facilities such as showers, toilets, BBQ pits etc.

On the way back to Boston we stopped in Blake’s Restaurant for dinner. An old style mom and pop diner located just off Daniel Webster Highway. They’re famous for their homemade ice cream that they’ve been serving in the locality for over 100 years boasting an impressive 80+ flavours.   

Sue had the freshest lobster roll and chocolate cream pie for afters while I devoured a chicken caesar salad topped off with a huge slice of pumpkin pie. Kathleen our server was lovely and so attentive refilling our coffee as we ate. Lunch drinks and a tip cost us just $40/€34.19.


Whale watching in Cape Ann, Salem and Manchester by the sea are three more awesome day trips you can take from Boston but what about when you want to stay and explore Boston? 
What are the best bits you should see and best trips you should take? 
Stop by next week and I’ll fill you in how much you can see and do in two days in Boston.

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*** Disclaimer:

As advised above we received 
complimentary VIP Haunted Happenings passes. 

As usual all thoughts are my own, 
I was not asked to write this review. 

As ever neither free services nor 
payment would ever sway my opinion.*** 


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