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Highlights in Salem, Marblehead, and Boston Mass.

The lovely view from my relatives’ house in Swampscott, Mass.

I was so consumed by the drama of losing and finding my wallet after a day wandering around Salem last Saturday that I didn’t get a chance to write about all the cool things I found while wandering. So here are a few:

Peabody Essex Museum and House of Seven Gables are the big attractions and both looked well worth a visit but it was so nice out that I didn’t want to stay inside or commit to one attraction alone.

Chestnut Street, lovely old street lined with beautiful mansions. And nearby on Essex Street I didn’t visit the Ropes Mansion but I walked around its lovely (free-to-the-public) little landscaped flower garden with gorgeous dahlias (my favorite) and lots of other varieties.

– I ate at Life Alive, a vegetarian restaurant on Essex Street that reminded me of the ones I used to go to in Ithaca during college (albeit a little more upscale). It’s also in Cambridge’s Central Square and Lowell’s Historic Arts District. ( After much pondering of the extensive menu, I went with The Swami – a half bowl for $5.55. It was a mix of brown rice, curry miso, tamari almonds, carrots, corn, broccoli, kale, raisins, onions, and a “sprinkle of nutritional yeast” (which is tastier than it sounds.)

Re-find was among several alluring consignment stores in town. (I bought a pair of jeans and a top for $20 at the women’s Re-find on Washington Street…there’s a men’s Re-find around the block.

– Gothic-celt-witchy-new england fop vibe: All day I kept walking past one or two people decked out in eye-popping costumes – and not just the girls hawking various Witch attractions. There were people dressed in black corsets and flowing black shirts with crosses and tattoos; guys dressed in top hats and tails and women in Victorian riding gear or some such. Never did figure out what was going on but at one point they did all gather outside a former  bank on the Walking & Shopping Mall (Essex Street) that sold their kind of clothes at makeshift stalls inside.

– I also enjoyed sitting on a park bench on the lovely Salem Common and near Pickering Wharf and the tall ship the Friendship (although that will forever be remembered as the-place-I-lost-my-wallet.

Coast Guard Air Station Salem patch

– I tagged along with my sister-in-law when she went to the Saturday farmer’s market in Marblehead – smaller than Des Moines but more high-end and high dollar (some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and dahlias stuck out.) I also went her to the seafood shack by the water to pick up some lobsters for fabulous lobster bolognaise that she made later for dinner.

– In Boston’s Back Bay, I had coffee at a cute place, the Wired Puppy on Newbury Street and visited The College Club of Boston on Commonwealth Avenue, the nation’s oldest women’s college club (founded in 1890 and host to the likes of Mark Twain),  which my friend PJ belongs to and which has lovely old rooms.

The College Club of Boston

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