Having spent a lovely half a day and restful night in the Jeremiah Mason House, sitting in tiny, leafy Limerick, Maine, it was time to press on. We needed to be back in Cambridge, MA to drop off the car by 6pm. The planned itinerary was to drop directly onto the coastal road of Southern Maine and head south, trying to take in as much of the Maine coast as we could on the way.
As it turned out, this idea turned into little more than a semi-desperate photo stop, and I don't think we did that area of southern Maine justice. In hindsight, a two-night stopover in Maine would have given us a better opportunity to take in the Kennebunkport area. This was sacrificed as we sped on towards famed Salem, MA. We expected this to be the highlight of this leg.
In reality, we found Salem to be a strange place. The source of the "problem," if there is one, is that it allows itself to get pulled in two directions that I'm not sure sit that well together. On the one hand, it has its interesting and disturbing past, with plenty of sites (like the burying point) and exhibitions (like the Peabody Museum) that put you in mind of those times. It also has a beautiful harbour with tall ships to view. On the other hand, it has a load of tacky-witchy-Hallowe'en-y shows and sideshows that are so prevalent that they totally cheapen the place. I reckon that if you're Roswell, New Mexico and these sideshows are all you have to draw in the crowds, then good luck to you, make the most of it. But Salem has more to offer, and the good stuff is being stifled. These so-called "attractions" are in fact reasons NOT to visit. A bit of a shame.
On a more positive note, parking the car in a central multi-storey pay car park was relatively easy, and Salem, like Boston, has marked out its routes on the sidewalk, making it quite easy for you to tour on foot and take in good stuff like the Peabody Museum, which is great for setting the history of Salem in context and separating the fact from fiction for the visitor. The harbour is well worth a view and very picturesque with its tall ships. There's also the eerie sites such as the Burying Point and House of Seven Gables,. All in all, worth a visit, but not as good as it SHOULD be.