|"Sexy Legs" Shannon exits with her sugar bread.|
We decided on Thursday, to crown the last of our spring break, by visiting Old Salem. I hadn't been there in ages, and Shan, well, just hadn't ever been. What is Old Salem? Honestly? It's like a single street in an old neighborhood in Winston Salem. But to leave it at that, is to overlook some historical significances. It is more than that.
Though you do get the feeling, of a run-down, tired, roadside attraction when you visit. First off it's expensive. Even with our AAA discount, it's around $40 a couple, and you will spend more. (On food, souvenirs, etc.) You both enter, and exit through a modern gift shop, but at least the parking is free.
You cross a giant wooden bridge across four lanes of traffic, and suddenly your in a traditional Moravian neighborhood. Some houses are privately owned, and some are a part of the Old Salem attraction. It's rather odd. You're asked to wear a giant green price tag around your belt-loop as proof of admission when entering the various themed attractions. I unfortunately was wearing leggings, and a tank-top, but I attached it to my zipper on my jacket.
Along the journey you meet The Gunsmith, The Shoemaker, and various other characters in full traditional garb. I found, for the majority of the "actors", that they lacked enthusiasm and broke character constantly. Many of them complained of the bus-loads of children who had arrived for field trips to Old Salem. There were notable exceptions. The "lady" in the basement of the Tavern was very "lively", and the bakers who were explaining to a group of 4rth graders the inner-workings of a stone oven, gladly gave us "big kids" cookies too. I think everyone there enjoys there job, but this ain't Disney, that's for sure. Several buildings were closed on our visit, and one closed for lunch, though you could see the fully costumed men inside swallowing a Big Mac. My willing suspension of disbelief was not strong enough to bare witness to this.
|This is why you go to Old Salem: Sugar Cake.|
Of course the star attraction of Old Salem, is Winkler's Bakery.This is where they make (and did make) goodies and sweets and then sell them for top dollar. Of course they are really good, and it really is something to see them bake in the traditional colonial fashion, in the tight cramped rooms, with its stone oven, at the South Main Street bakery. In fact, I would suggest you visit Old Salem at least one time at ticket price for the full tour, but since this is an open neighborhood, and the bakery is open to everyone, it might be worth just dropping by to pick up some baked goods if you're in the neighborhood. You'll pay top dollar ($30 for a pound-cake) but where else can you buy Moravian Sugar Cake (This is their speciality, GET THE SUGAR CAKE!) across from where George Washington stayed the night?
Of course that's Old Salem's claim to fame. An inn whereupon President Washington spent the night, drank, and partied with the Moravians. It is kind of cool to stand in the actual building where he stayed. Old Salem also allows you to better realize both European and American life during this period, while being schooled in the slave-trade, and religious over-tones of the period. Old Salem, indeed brings history to life in a way that's special, and valuable, but also at quite a cost. A cost worth paying, at least once, in my opinion.