Tag: tourism
The Salem Witch Trials Were Atrocious, Not Amusing

The Salem Witch Trials Were Atrocious, Not Amusing

Tourism in Salem is wild with 100,000 visitors descending on this historic Massachusetts town on any given day. Traffic is gridlocked, and there are virtually no parking spaces left. The mayor told visitors to go to satellite parking lots and take shuttle buses downtown. Then the satellite lots got maxed out.

Salem is famous for the 1692 witch trials, which has made "Halloween in Salem" a bucket list item. That's good for the Halloween-themed businesses, which have taken over downtown. Not so good for locals wanting to pick up groceries or do early voting at the City Hall Annex. And certainly not good for an understanding of the tragedy behind the merrymaking.

The Halloween festivities no longer limited to a day or a week, the "pointy hats" start showing up in early September. Joining them are characters dressed as goths, ghost hunters in top hats and tarot card readers.

The party scene is so good for business that Salem has branded itself as "Witch City." (The city's police car doors feature silhouettes of witches on broomsticks.)

Some local objections go beyond the inconvenience and kitsch overtaking this beautiful colonial-era city. They include the history being celebrated. It may be three centuries in the past, but the witch trials ended in a mass execution of innocents.

"I don't want to be an old curmudgeon," a Salem resident named Patrick told me, "but it seems like we have this horrific crime committed against the women on one hand and the Disney version of witchcraft on the other. The women weren't wearing those hats, I'm sure."

The Salem witch hunts ended in 24 executions, largely on charges of devil worship. Almost all involved women who died by hanging. But a male victim, an 81-year-old farmer named Giles Corey, was pressed to death after refusing to plead either way.

Nowadays, the town runs a month-long celebration called Haunted Happenings. The participants include costumed celebrants cruising the main pedestrian street. A few dress up as Hollywood witch characters offering to pose for photos, they hope, for money. Buses blaring music ply the streets.

There are Salemites who would like a rebranding around the city's fabulous Peabody Essex Museum and stunning colonial architecture. Also, the waterfront, which once served as the nation's biggest port, its tall ships venturing to and from all four corners.

But you can't escape Halloween, even at historically significant locations. The House of the Seven Gables is the real thing, a fine structure built in 1668. But as the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne's gothic tale of the same name, it feeds into the Halloween theme.

Architectural dignity is obviously hard to maintain. Mobs gather at the 18th-century Ropes Mansion because it was featured in the 1993 movie "Hocus Pocus." (Ghost City Tours will take you there.) And enthusiastic crowds pile into the pirate museum, basically a converted old storefront.

One shudders to think what the Puritans who held the witch trials would have thought of all this frivolity built around bar hopping and puddles of fake blood. The Puritans, after all, banned celebrations of Christmas "as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others" — an order of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1659.

All right. People are having fun, Halloween tourism fills Salem's town coffers, and the residents can use the back roads. Far be it for we starchy moderns to deny access to the Witch Dungeon Museum.

But let us recognize that all those executed "witches" were real people caught up in a mass hysteria. They were, in essence, murdered. The witch trials were really not funny.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

best time to start planning summer trip abroad

Plan Your Dream Summer Trip Abroad: When to Start

More Americans are traveling abroad–a record-breaking 80 million in 2016–and with scientifically proven health benefits, too! According to the U.S. Travel Association, women are less likely to have heart attacks if they travel a minimum of twice per year. Men who vacation more suffer a 30% fewer heart troubles. NBC News adds that traveling boosts creativity, promotes happiness and overall satisfaction levels, and keeps the symptoms of depression at bay. With blatant health benefits and good times to be had, what is holding would-be travelers back?

Planning a trip overseas may seem daunting at first, even if the benefits are obvious and plentiful. Follow the below guidelines for a simple and straightforward trip.

How Soon Do You Need To Start Planning Your Trip Abroad?

You made up your mind. You are going to go for it. Great. Now, you need to start planning, and doing it well in advance. For most abroad trips, it is wise to begin planning no later than six months before your trip. Some travelers plan nearly three years ahead of time, while others work well under pressure, putting it all together in just three months.

The specifics of when you plan your travel can depend on other factors, too. For example, if you plan to visit a given destination during its high season, it is best to solidify plans eight to 12 months prior to travel. A quick Google search is all it takes to determine the high season for your favorite destination. Weigh the pros and cons. Remember high season may entail more tourists and higher prices. It may also be the most popular time to visit for a reason. Are there any seasonal events taking place during that time? Do resorts and attractions close seasonally when they expect fewer tourists?

For example, Holland’s tulips are world-famous, thanks to their short lifespan — three to seven days — and perceived value. In the 1600s, Western Europe entered a “Tulip Frenzy” and tulips became more valuable than gold, leaving a lasting impression to this day. To see Holland’s tulips at their best, visit in mid-April. The flowers, symbolizing life, love, and immortality, can also be viewed from the end of March to the middle of May. Tourists can travel to the Garden of Europe, or the Keukenhof, to see 7 million of the world-famous tulips bloom. As previously mentioned, travelers hoping to view the tulips in mid-April should start planning a full year ahead of time, or a minimum of eight months before their departure date.

What Do You Need To Know Before Your Trip?

Before making any final plans, it is important to create an itinerary. Plan the things you would most like to see on your trip. Make a list of museums, landmarks, natural wonders, and historical sights you must see. Keep in mind that hours may be limited. For example, if you are planning a trip to Italy and want to visit the Vatican Museum, visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday only. The last entry is several hours before it closes at 4 p.m. Knowing this can help you draft a plan and fit it into the week, weeks, or extended weekend you have planned for your trip.

Similarly, get familiar with the local culture. If you only speak English and the few words and phrases you learned in a different language are not that strong, stick to particularly touristy destinations. The more tourists that come through, the more likely you are to be able to order meals and enjoy attractions even if you do not speak the native language.

On the other hand, if you would like to reconnect with your Hispanic or Latino roots and you speak decent Spanish, it is still in your best interest to do some research ahead of time. Famous museums do not display a lot of Hispanic and Latino art. These artworks compromise just 2.8% of art displayed in museums. If you are on a mission to learn more about Hispanic culture, unfortunately, the art museum may not be the optimal place to do it. Local shops and restaurants may be a good alternative.

What Do I Need To Do To Prepare For Travel?

With your timeline and itinerary down, you may be wondering what you need to personally do before booking your trip abroad. There are a few things to consider when it comes to your health and documentation. First, vaccines.gov recommends getting any vaccines four to six weeks before your trip. The flu and complications from the flu are increasingly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 710,000 people have been hospitalized after contracting the flu since 2010. Thankfully, flu shots are widely available (sometimes even at your local pharmacy) and covered by most insurance plans.

Before you join the 2.7 million passengers who fly in and out of U.S. airports every day, you’ll also need your passport. Make sure to begin the process of getting your passport several months ahead of time. To be safe, apply for your passport six to eight months before your trip. You can print forms on the Internet and mail them in order to apply for a new passport, renew an expired one, or change the name on your passport. Processing can take weeks or months, so get your necessary materials in well before your trip.

Where Should You Go?

With general know-how about passports, vaccinations, and drawing up an itinerary underway, you may be left with your final decision: where to go. The Earth is 71% water, and the rest is all land you can potentially visit–more than that statistic suggests! Italy is one of the top destinations in the world, with Rome and Florence being among the most popular cities to visit. Both boast famous architecture, and Florence adds its world-famous canals and gardens into the mix. Paris is another top destination with divine cuisine, breath-taking views, and a variety of historic sites and landmarks to visit.

Traveling abroad can be the experience of a lifetime, and it can make you considerably happier, too! Know the best time to plan your trip, draw up an itinerary, gather your necessary documents and get necessary vaccines, pick out your favorite destination and enjoy.

Trump’s $5 Trillion Attack On America’s Values And Reputation

Trump’s $5 Trillion Attack On America’s Values And Reputation

Donald Trump wants you terrified.

If you’re Muslim, he wants you to expect to be harassed every time you take a plane, even if you’re Muhammad Ali’s son. If you have family or friends who are documented, he wants you to think they can be snatched away at any time, even when seeking protection from a potential abuser. If you’re a legal immigrant, he wants you to know that if you’re shot and killed in cold blood, the president will not even bother to mourn you with a tweet.

This week, Adam Purinton reportedly shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani at a bar in Olathe, Kansas. Kuchibhotla died.

“He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally,” Madasan told the New York Times.

They were.

Purinton was removed from the bar and witnesses say he returned with a gun and shouted “get out of my country” as shots rang out.

If you only get your news from the president of the United States’ Twitter feed, you never heard about this crime. Instead, you’d think the greatest threat to America is a free press reporting on the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russian government. And maybe if you’re Donald Trump, that does feel like the biggest threat in the world.

The rash of hate crimes, an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitic threats, and the federal government’s conscious and public attempts to intimidate non-white Americans all have incalculable costs to our unity and decency, along with calculable damage to our economy, which has been bleeding workers out of the middle class for decades.

“When racism wins,” Ian Haney-López and Heather C. McGhee wrote a year ago, “everyone loses.”

Even if Trump doesn’t go through with the trade wars that Steve Bannon — his Rasputin with a splash of Goebbels — seemed to promise again last week at CPAC, the damage inflicted by their war on American values will be immediate and then possibly permanent.

“Experts across the travel industry are warning that masses of tourists are being scared away from visiting the United States, and the loss of tourism jobs could be devastating,” Arthur Frommer reported this week.

Trump’s religious ban can be tied to a Trump slump of 6.8 percent

“And the fall-off is not limited to Muslim travelers, but also extends to all incoming foreign tourists,” Frommer wrote. “Apparently, an attack on one group of tourists is regarded as an assault on all.”

Trump’s promised assault on undocumented workers is setting off waves of fear for those picking fruit in Florida and glee for Trump supporters.

Why the glee? Won’t this create new openings for Americans who are out of work?

“You can actually make a good living – $15, $20 an hour if you’re good at this – but the truth is Americans don’t want to do this work,” a “prominent Florida farmer” told the Chicago Tribune.

The farmer demanded anonymity, fearing reprisals from the Trump’s administration.

In the short term the decimation of the Sunshine State’s farming industry could result in higher produce prices to go along with the damage to its crucial tourist industry and the long-term curse of unchecked climate change — plus an ACA replacement plan that promises “for individuals ages 55 to 64, total weighted average costs would more than double, rising from $4,078 to $10,167 per year,” while the rich get a “gigantic tax cut.

In exchange for helping to elect Trump, Florida seems to be racking up Biblical plagues.

The president must be assuming that the damage he can do to his “enemies” will make up for the betrayal of his supporters. But all of America will suffer if Trump’s war on the undocumented continues unabated, “with one study suggesting that removing all of them would cost the economy as much as $5 trillion over 10 years,” according to Bloomberg News.

And now we’re back to the incalculable costs. Madasani Jaganmohan Reddy, Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s father, understands those.

“The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over as the U.S. president. I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children to the United States in the present circumstances,” Reddy told the Hindustan Times.

For centuries, America has benefited from immigrants and their descendants, despite our history replete with slavery, segregation, and know-knothingism. Until a few weeks ago, anyone in the world could look to America and imagine a land where a son — or daughter — could become president.

Now, they see a country that elected a man who demanded our last president’s papers.

Hopefully they also see Ian Grillot — or at least learn his name.

“As shots rang through the suburban Kansas City bar on Thursday, Grillot ducked behind a table and when he thought the gunman was out of bullets, he lunged at the man,” the Hindustan Times reported. “But as the Kansas City Star reported, the man had still one round left and shot Grillot through the arm and chest.”

“It was just, it wasn’t right, and I didn’t want the gentleman to potentially go after somebody else,” he told the Star.

Now in stable condition, Grillot saw Alok Madasani standing in the doorway of his hospital room on Thursday morning. He learned the survivor of the shooting has a wife who is five months pregnant.

Grillot is looking forward to spending time with Madasani, who he now considers his new best friend.

“I don’t think it’s going to be at the bar, though,” he said.

That’s the kind of America the world needs to know. It hasn’t gone away yet, despite Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.

Too Many People Crowding The Great Sights

Too Many People Crowding The Great Sights

ROME, Italy — On a recent June day, about 24,999 other tourists and I squeezed into the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Seeing the Vatican and its museums is one of the most visually magnificent experiences on Earth. Clearly, the word has gotten out.

The chapel’s ceiling — where Michelangelo painted God sending the spark of life to Adam — remains unforgettable, but its splendor does not entirely block the distraction of sweating humanity pressing on you.

Hypertourism has degraded sightseeing’s five-star experiences. As the word suggests, hypertourism refers to the crush of transients into places built for more intimate encounters. And although the long lines and chaos surrounding such venues as the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Duomo in Florence are legendary, hypertourism is growing everywhere there’s a bucket-list site, including in America’s national parks.

The factors fueling the phenomenon are obvious. Not only are more people inhabiting the planet, but many more of them have the wherewithal to travel. Add to that cheaper airfares and easy online booking.

Hypertourism can endanger the sights themselves. The famous ruins at Peru’s Machu Picchu are under assault by the more than 2,500 visitors a day. The sacred Inca city doesn’t have the facilities to handle all that human waste.

At the Vatican, the crowds breathing out carbon dioxide and emitting body heat are so tough that they are threatening the glorious Renaissance frescoes that drew them in the first place. Vatican officials are trying to limit the damage through climate-control systems, but also by reducing the number of people coming through. The latter is a painful step for a holy place reaching out to all humanity.

In this country, anyone who visits Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park on a warm day knows that our national parks are not immune to the discomforts of hypertourism. The national parks have a lot of space, but they are also supposed to provide wilderness experiences. It can be hard to find solitude in a park that last year saw 3.4 million visitors — unless you’re prepared to hike far from the beaten track.

At Yellowstone National Park recently, a bison lying on the grass near Old Faithful Lodge and minding his (or her) own business was crowded by a group of tourists. An Australian man wielding an iPad-type device got into the bison’s face, and the animal butted him into the air reportedly several times. This was the second violent human-bison encounter at Yellowstone this year, and the summer has hardly begun.

One possible solution for crowded national parks is to create more of them. Another would be a strategy to discourage drive-through visitors, especially on the busiest days.

No one visits New York City for a wilderness experience — “wild” is another matter — but even in the land of hustle-bustle, the crowds are getting oppressive. Huge jets from every continent are now disgorging millions of summer tourists. Pedestrians have to walk into Fifth Avenue traffic to get around the throngs taking selfies and preparing Facebook posts in front of Tiffany’s flagship store.

The gorgeous Grand Central Terminal has rightly become a must-see on the New York tour, but it’s still a train station. Commuters now struggle to get around tourists commandeering staircases for group photos.

A reality check is in order. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art may seem jammed, but the nearly 6 million visitors it attracted last year equaled the number that packed into the Vatican Museums, a fifth its size.

Still, it’s undeniable that hypertourism has come to America. And its bags are unpacked.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo: Art appreciation at The Louvre, Paris. (Sam Reisman/The National Memo)