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Last updated at 7am Saturday 25 August 2012

August 23 - Boston - Salem
This was our early morning wake up call.

"Woop Woop Woop Woop" ....... your attention please, your attention please.  All guests must evacuate the building, all guests must evacuate the building.  Please exit via the stairwells as the elevators have been turned off. 

And so this went on intermittently.  It was a bit of a scurry to grab valuables in readiness for our exit.  We were still in our pjs.... lucky we were wearing something!

The next evacuation siren described the Boston Fire brigade arrival and added that the emergency was being investigated. So to go or not to go - that was the question.

It would appear that a small fire had been contained in part of the building and had been quickly dealt with.

Shortly another alarm went off and over the load speaker an announcement that stated that the emergency was over.  All this happened in the space of about 15 minutes.  

(Ed.  We were on the 14th floor with no idea of where to find the stairs.  An impressive start to the day)

We then headed downstairs and the fire truck was still outside having a very heated discussion with the woman in the photo.

Breakfast was not the usual executive breakfast that the Hilton throws, in fact there is no 'executive' lounge here.  We had the usual a continental breakfast that you often find offered in Hotels across the world.  Quite adequate I thought.

We were looking forward to visiting Salem today.  We had visited Salem some 10 years ago and it was a great experience. We were looking forward to seeing the changes in Salem over the last 10 years.

(Ed.  I add that Denise somehow seems drawn to this place place.... Salem Massachusetts.  I cannot for the life of me think why?)

Thank God for GPS - TOM TOM on David's I-Phone gets us going (see below the high tech nature of how we have it connected to the car)   Elastic bands and paper clips although you cannot see the paper clip here but it is hooked under the sunglasses compartment. :-)

Nearly out of the city of Boston and across this lovely bridge.  Not too much traffic as you can see for this time of the morning (about 9.30am)  However you should have seen the peak upon our return coming out of Boston!  WOWZAS!

Welcome to Salem says Samantha  - An icon at Salem. (Ed.  Denise is already "bewitched")

Council works underway undergoing some maintenance in Salem's shopping mall.  I can remember driving down this street last time we were here.  There are loads of fabulous curiosity shops full of magical and esoteric goodies.  By comparison Melbourne has the same to offer the only difference here is that the word Salem is written all over everything everywhere.  I found a wonderful cape in red crushed velvet very decorative and fully lined.  It wasn't bad for US$200 but it was bulky and heavy so getting it home may have been an issue.  I really love looking at these shops you can find all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

The Witch House (also called the Jonathan Corwin House), was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin and is the only structure still standing with direct ties to the witch trials of 1692. The house was bought by Judge Corwin in 1675, when he was 24 years old, and he lived there for more than forty years. Corwin is buried in the nearby Broad Street Cemetery. The house remained in the Corwin family until the mid-19th century. The Witch House is located at 310 Essex Street. The Witch House is pictured below.

The dining room.  They were a wealthy family.  This was indicated by the dining room table that was made out of one plank.  Any plank this big had to be exported to Britain for ship building so to have a dining room table made out of one of these planks was a big deal.

The tour of the Witch House was a self guided one so we were out of there in about 1/2 hour.

The following photo was taken at the Witch Dungeon Museum.  Before we were escorted to the dungeon there was a dramatisation on stage that took about 15 - 20 minutes.  A reenactment of a witch trial. 

A guided tour of the dungeon then took place including a recreated village and Gallows Hill.  The picture that follows is called the Hanging Tree.  Gives 'chandeliers' a different perspective.

It is interesting to note here that if you were hanged or jailed you had to pay or your relatives had to pay for your jail accommodation and any shackles that you may have to wear.  You also had to pay the hangman to hang you.

1692 was a bad year and many were hanged during the hysteria of the witch trials many of them children. One child was only 4 years old and accused of witchcraft for crying at her mothers hanging.  However somehow the 4 year old got a reprieve.

Salem is a great place for walking about and taking in the atmosphere.  I can only imagine what it would be like here at Halloween. We have been to America several times and experienced Halloween.  I have really enjoyed it. 

This signage was quite intriguing so we thought we would share it with you.  The Witches Education League is a proud sponsor of this garden bed. Although I think perhaps they might like to reconsider the shape.  What do you think?

On the way to The House House of the Seven Gables we explored the Old Buring Point Cemetery.  There were some extremely old grave sites here dating back even before 1692.  And of course beside the cemetery was the Witch Trials Memorial.  Names you would be familiar with are in the play "The Cruiciable" .
Tituba was a 17th-century slave belonging to Samuel Parris of Salem Tituba was one of the first to be accused of practicing witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. 

No one was allowed to touch the body of a witch after they were hanged.  They were merely cut down and left to rot.  Those that did not confess at all to witch craft were crushed to death.  This could take 2 or 3 days.  It was a slow and agonizing death.

The picture below is The House of the Seven Gables.  An escorted tour that took about 1/2 hour took us through many nooks and crannies of the home including a secret stairwell that went right up the center chimney to the third floor.  Don't try it if you suffer with claustrophobia.  It was a great little adventure.  The stairs took us to a small bedroom and then behind another very small door we were lead along a narrow corridor into another room in the roof where the servants would sleep.  The room is the small centre window you see under the gable to the left of the chimney.  There were still more stairs after that.  We were told they actually lead to another level where a trap door could let you out onto the roof.  That is how the could get up there to mend the roof. There were another two doors that lead either side of the servants quarters into other rooms that were used for storage.

Even though we had been to the House of the Seven Gables 10 years ago the tour was even better because we did not experience the secret staircase last time.

Time to make tracks back to Boston.  Denny's turn to to drive ;-) 

Salem is a great place to visit.  If you intend to go make it a day trip there is plenty to see and explore.

During the evening - we had a great meal at a nearby Irish pub followed by a romantic walk through the Boston harbour side. :)

August 24 - Boston City Tour
Not too far from our Hotel is a lovely park that spans the length of this part of the city.  This park is where a roadway used to be that used to be the cause of so much traffic congestion that if something was not done about it it would take 16 hours to cross the city in a decade's time.  So they started a project called the Big Dig which was supposed to take 3 years. But it took 25 years and blew out the budget by billions of $$$$$.  There are now a network of tunnels that move traffic efficiently in and out of the city.  There is even a tunnel that goes under the bay.  A staggering wonder of the world I think.
The other legacy is this lovely parkland and network of walkways that has opened the city up and made it a more vibrant and healthy environment.

Boston has some particularly lovely architecture.  Boston has the ability to combine the old with the new.  This lovely clock dominates the skyline

Pictured below is The Old Statehouse Museum, the centre of Boston's civic life in the 18th Century.  A lovely interactive museum that challenges the imagination about how life used to be through the eyes of successful business women of the time that defied the signing of papers to pledge they would not purchase British imports to sell in their stores.

Samuel Adams, James Otis, John Hancock, and John Adams debated the future of the British colonies. Just outside the building, five men were among the first casualties of the battle for independence, otherwise known as the Boston Massacre. The Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in Boston from the balcony you can see in front of the building and the lion and unicorn were torn down.

The Old Statehouse - quite a contrast against the modern city skyline.

More of Boston as we cruise around in our hop on hop off bus tour.

This is Boston Common.  It was sold to the people and still belongs to the people of Boston today.  Inside the park is the Frog Pond.  In the summer it is used as a splash pool, in the winter it is used as a skating rink.  A lovely way to relax the day away on a balmy summers day like today.

Here is the place where everyone should know your name.  Cheers to you!

Steerriike one.............Fenway Park - home of the Red Socks.
Parking nearby can cost you US$80 for the day.  Premium parking indeed!

Welcome to Charles street (or Antique Row as it is more widely known)  The street is lined with gas lamps that stay on 24 hours a day because someone worked out a long time ago that it is cheaper to leave them on day and night than fire them up every night.  In fact, these gas lamps have been constantly lit for well over a hundred years.  They give the street a wonderful ambiance.  Lines with historical buildings, the shop fronts are also novel, for example, the lighting shop has a chandelier out the front, the tea house, a teapot and so on....

A trip across the river and here we are at Cambridge - home of MIT.  One one side of the road you have the academic and on the other side of the road the sports. Further along there is Harvard and as we travel around the back of Cambridge the original site of NASA is pointed out on the land the site of Mass Institute of Technology.  Earlier on in our holiday we had taken a picture of what looks like an old railway bridge.  This bridge in fact was the out come of one of MIT assignments.  That must have been one heck of a thing to have to assess.  Well the mere fact that the bridge is still standing today is evidence enough wouldn't you say?

Our hop on hop off bus tour included a cruise around the bay.  Bit hard to hop on hop off here.  Stunning views in all directions.  Here is one of the city of Boston about a mile out.

We did hop off eventually.  The USS Constitution was in dock.  It must have only just arrived because the seamen were disembarking.  This morning, it was not in dock.  It only goes out once a year to maintain its commission and seaworthiness.  Apparently it had already been out last weekend and this morning on a maneuver.
The two people pictured below appear to be enjoying the day and a chance for a closer look at USS Constitution.

USS Constitution - a closer look.  The war ship of yesteryear - it has never lost a battle

The warship of not so long ago but a long time after the USS Constitution - a lot of fire power on this one but just how many battles has this one won?

Christian Science Plaza - the old and new church combined.  Both over 100 years old. 

The interior was spectacular and the pipe organ even more spectacular housing 10,000 pipes.  The front of it merely a decoration with 400 pipes alone.
The story of Christian Science is very interesting.  We had a tour of the two churches.

The day is drawing to a close and so is the hop on hop off tour time.  A short walk to our hotel and a bit of a snooze before dinner was in order. 

YIKES  - housekeeping came into our room when we were asleep to turn down the bed covers.  We were all surprised!!!  The only time we didn't put the latch on the door.

After an unsuccessful attempt of finding a new place for dinner further a field we settled for a hamburger place that actually made chips out of real potato, the skin was still on them.  The hamburger mince was the best I had tasted in a long time.

Other points of attraction along the way today were;
  • Bunker Hill Obelisk
  • Theatre District
  • Swan Boats at Boston Common public garden
  • Boston Children's museum
  • Trinity Church
  • First and second oldest graveyards in Boston.
  • Boston architecture