October 2016 - Starr Tours & Charters
The Eerie Salem Witch Trials

The Eerie Salem Witch Trials

Witches may be popular costumes for Halloween now, but dressing (or acting) as one back in the late 1600s could have been even more of a “spooky” sight in Salem, Massachusetts. Between 1692 and 1693, the Salem witch trials marked a time of paranoia and fear in colonial Massachusetts. More than two hundred individuals were accused of practicing witchcraft (even if they weren’t in costume) and twenty of them were executed for these accusations.

The Puritans, being of strong Christian beliefs, believed in the power of the supernatural and were astonished when some of their kin began to show signs of the devil’s work. In early 1692, 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams “began having fits, including violent contortions and uncontrollable outbursts of screaming.” Diagnosed as bewitchment, it was soon noticed that other local girls started to show similar symptoms. So when a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts “claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft,” fear rose among the Puritans, bringing to question nearly any act that appeared out of the norm. It is believed that some even used this as an opportunity to falsely accuse their enemies.

salem_witch_trial_engravingThese accusations were brought to trial where the “witches” were met with severe consequences. Many of the accused were sent to prison for several months, which they surely preferred over being put to death. Bridget Bishop was the first to be hanged and eighteen others followed after her. The twentieth person killed was stoned since he refused to submit to a trial. Eventually, the Massachusetts General Court admitted their wrongdoings and made immediate apologies to the families of the victims. Even with this correction though, bitterness remained present in the community and the story lives on today.

“When push came to shove, the Salem witch trials were less about witchcraft and more about the state of Christianity. People were being sentenced to death because of heresy, which meant that they were showing an outward denial of the demanded Christian beliefs of the time. It was a crime so heinous that colonial law allowed all other laws to be superseded to deal with the threat. In modern terms, Salem declared martial law to deal with religious heresy.” (Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, 2015)

Salem, Massachusetts looks a whole lot different now than it did in the late 1600s, but much of the village has kept its eerie history. Visiting Salem can take you on tours of Salem’s history, from the Witch Museum to the graveyard where witchcraft trial judge John Hawthorne is buried, or to Pioneer Village with fascinating insight into the lives of the Puritans. Don’t just read about the past – go and explore it in Salem!


Starr has departures for Salem in October 2017 and Salem is featured on our Gloucester Whale Watch tour.



Salem Witch Trials – History.com

11 Important Facts About the Salem Witch Trials

Our featured image is “Witchcraft at Salem Village” illustrated by F.O.C. Darley, William L. Shepard, or Granville Perkins, as appears on page 453 of “Pioneers in the Settlement of America: From Florida 1510 to California in 1849” Vol. 1, by William A. Crafts, Samuel Walker & C
Both images are engravings from the Public Domain.

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Photos

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Photos

With the advent of smart phones featuring exceptional cameras it has gotten easier than ever to snap hundreds of photos while on vacation. We covered some basic tips on how to Take Smarter Pictures With Your Smartphone. Now, what do you do with those photos once you get back, or even while you’re traveling? Luckily, with one advancement in technology, along come many more to make your experience even better.

Here are 5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Photos:

(Note: these tips are geared toward the smart phone user, but can also be applied to newer digital cameras with wifi capability.)

  1. Create a postcard.
    There are several apps out there that allow you to use your own photographs to create a unique and personalized postcard to send back home. Among the top rated are Touchnote and MyPostcard. Touchnote features a user friendly interface that allows you to choose a photo right from your image gallery without first launching the app and a generous amount of text space to write your message. Both apps allow you to customize your layout to send a single image with or without a border, or a collage of several images.
  2. Send them home wirelessly.
    Wireless Digital Frames are becoming increasingly popular and better than ever. Gone are the days when you needed to struggle with the device and hook it up to a computer or insert a memory stick to load photos (although that is still an option). Many digital frames now allow you to upload a photo from any wifi device remotely, even while you’re still on vacation! I’m currently considering the Nixplay Edge for my grandmother for Christmas. Not only does it have a high ease of use rating, but it also comes with a motion sensor, which is super handy because it means that it will only play when it senses that someone is in the room. She’s going to love the surprise of receiving new photos from me and my cousins while we’re on vacation!
  3. Print them out online.
    For a wide variety of sizes and products, from your typical 4×6 photo print, to magnets, canvas wraps, metal prints and more, Mpix is great option. Although they are a little more expensive than other services like those offered by Shutterfly or your local drug store, their image quality is often better and more true to form. Their app makes it even easier to order prints remotely, but it’s best if you are connected to WiFi when doing so, otherwise you risk using a lot of data. For strictly online service with great quality for a good price, check out Pro DPI. Pro DPI ranks high in comparison studies, but their website could use some work in intuitive usability. Plus, they make you download their software to your computer before ordering. Also, check out one of my personal favorites, Moo. Moo is a great site that allows you to make unique sized business cards, postcards, stickers, magnets and more! For a fun and creative idea, check out their mini cards. You can order a pack with several different photos printed with your contact information and use them to hand out to new friends you meet on trips!
  4. Print them yourself.
    If you’re a hobbyist who enjoys working with your own photographs, and don’t mind spending a little extra time, think about researching a good desktop printer to do it yourself. For professional quality home printing, Canon and Epson are great options. There’s also the fun novelty of being able to print on the go with the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 – a book-sized printer that connects via Bluetooth or WiFi. The drawbacks of this printer however is that it requires Fuji’s Instax Film to print, the print size is small (about the size of a credit card), and it has a short battery life of about 100 prints.
  5. Share them via Social Media.
    This tip is often a given, which is why I saved it for last, but it does deserve a mention.
    **Facebook is great, but please make sure you have strict privacy settings in place if you’re posting while you’re away. While your friends and family will all “Like” seeing that photo of you in front of the Eiffel Tower, you are also publicly announcing that your house is potentially vacant. You can choose to share with your friends only (don’t tag others in the image or else their friends will be able to see the post as well), or you can create a custom list before you leave of just a small handful of people. Then, when you return, you can go back and change the privacy settings on the images you want to share with a larger audience. We love receiving your photographs and seeing how much fun you’re having on our tours and we always get a kick out of seeing your photos of our buses around the country. We encourage you to post photos to our Facebook page!
    **Instagram is also a fun tool. Their app is super easy to use and has a plethora of filters and adjustment tools to express your creativity. It’s also an enjoyable way to see the art others are creating.
    **Flickr is a nice way to share photos in a social photography community. You can upload and organize your photos within albums and choose to share your albums privately with just a few people or publicly. Flickr also offers a photo community of people who all love photography. Like any social media effort, it can take some time to get established, but it does provide a good way to find other photo buffs with shared interests.


Don’t let your great shots get lost in the digital wasteland. There are so many great ways to share your memories! Try out the suggestions above and share your favorites in our comments section!



How To Spend Your “On Own” Time In Olde Mistick Village

How To Spend Your “On Own” Time In Olde Mistick Village

Olde Mistick Village is a top-rated hot spot in Mystic, Connecticut! A trip to this quaint New England village is like a journey into Colonial New England where fastidious attention to detail gives visitors an authentic historical experience into the 18th-century. Known for its tranquil and serene atmosphere, you can get lost in the charming shop windows and divine restaurants. There are no two places the same! So when you take your trip to Olde Mistick Village and you have some free time to explore, how on earth do you choose what to do?

Here are some inside tips to some of the best and most popular things to do in the area:

  1. Browse the shops! Enjoy a leisurely stroll down the brick pathways, popping in and out of the adorable shops along your way. From specialty food stores highlighting products like honey, chocolate, and olive oil,  to international stores with items from Tibet, Ireland, and Scandinavia, you’re sure to find unique items to bring home with you! There’s even a general store! With men’s and women’s clothing, jewelry, home décor, and much more, these shops really have everything and more!


  1. Feeling hungry? Grab some lunch or a snack at one of Olde Mistick Village’s one-of-a-kind restaurants. Enjoy a classic wood-fired pizza at Mango’s Wood-Fired Pizza Co. Watch as they prepare your pizza in the open kitchen with traditional artisan methods. This option is sure to be a hit! For a fun and modern setting, you might want to opt for some seafood at Go Fish. When you’re back on the move and you have a bit of a sweet tooth, stop by Bleu Squid, known for their award-winning cupcakes, or Mango’s Homemade Ice Cream!


  1. Sit back and relax! After you’ve browsed the shops and found your treasures, grab lunch and sit outside. Picturesque settings of trees and flowers and a duck pond are the perfect backdrop to people watching and leisurely conversation.


At Starr, we love giving our customers the opportunity to go off on their own and explore the destinations a little more. This is exactly why we’ve added some “on own” time to your agenda! How you spend this time is all up to you, but there is no question that every minute is sure to be enjoyable in Olde Mistick Village. Between the shops, the dining, and the scenery, there is something for everyone!

You can visit Olde Mistick Village on the following tours:
Cape Cod & Martha’s Vineyard
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, & Nantucket
Gloucester Whale Watch
Newport Lobsterfest
Newport Flower Show

Olde Mistick Village Photo Courtesy of Mystic County Connecticut


7 Tips For Eating Healthy While Traveling

7 Tips For Eating Healthy While Traveling

It’s easy to think that traveling and healthy eating don’t mix. You’re going to a boardwalk and there’s an ice cream shop there that you HAVE to try, or your cousin raved about the food at an Italian restaurant. Traveling doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice eating healthy; you just have to know how to do it!

Here are seven key tips for eating healthy and still enjoying your vacation:

  1. Pack your own snacks. This is simple enough, right? When the hunger bug strikes, instead of jetting for chips in the closest vending machine, just pull out those yummy nuts or granola bars that you packed. Other great snacks are dried fruit, roasted chickpeas, or a single serving packet of nut butter. Make your own before you go and save money for more souvenirs!
  2. Opt for water. Sure, you can enjoy a cocktail. Let yourself live a little. But whenever you have the chance, always opt for water. It’ll keep you hydrated and it’s the best drink for you – no calories!
  3. Resist the urge to splurge. It’s easy to just say, “I’m on vacation!” and throw all healthy eating out the window. No one says you can’t go off track some, but you don’t need to order the entire dessert menu just because you’re on vacation. Which leads to my next tip…
  4. Allow yourself one treat per day. You wouldn’t go to Italy without trying gelato, would you? It’s okay to treat yourself, but moderation is key. Like tip #3, instead of splurging, give yourself one treat to look forward to. Maybe even tell yourself that today is the day you’re going to try that ice cream parlor! It gives you a treat to look forward to, making it easier to avoid the others that might cross your path.
  5. Only eat when you’re hungry. When you’re strolling along and see something yummy being sold, but you just ate an hour ago, then you probably don’t need that treat right now. If it is something you must try, buy it now and use it as a snack for later, or split it with a friend.
  6. Choose the healthy menu items. If you’re dining out, go straight to the healthy selections to avoid the temptation of other less-healthy options. If the menu doesn’t have a designated “healthy option” section, you can ask your server what their options are.
  7. Choose a restaurant with fresh foods. Lots of times, you can see the menu on the website before you even go. Look for the places that offer salads, wraps, or seafood. These are almost always healthy meal options.


As always, staying active is also key. Go for a walk around your hotel, or opt to stroll down the street and window shop during your free time instead of sitting in a restaurant. The more calories you burn, the less impact those extra vacation food calories will have later.

There’s no reason why you can’t have it all. You can see the world and keep your health while doing it!

Photo credit: Max Straeten