Nashville, Tennessee A.K.A …
• “The Volunteer State”
• “Athens of the South”
• “Home of… Country/Bluegrass Music”
• “House of… The Grand OLE Opry”
January, FRIDAY THE 13th- Leaving for Nashville
As superstitious individuals chose to lock themselves indoors and out of harms way, my mother and I were double checking our luggage and taking off by plane to Nashville, Tennessee. We encountered no out of the ordinary funny business on our way to the airport, besides Portland’s unexpected snow apocalypse. I also figured I would drag along with me a book on the myths and legends of Oregon. Therefore, as our plane was ascending over the snowy frosted grounds of the Pacific Northwest, I was catching up on the “real” stories behind D.B. Cooper and Bigfoot.
My mother’s company was holding their yearly company trip, and with a chance to travel to a place I hadn’t had the chance to explore yet, I jumped onboard as an official trip crasher. I pictured Nashville as a town filled with boot wearing, country singing, and southern draw speaking people. My expectations were not too far off. I quickly learned that boot stores are like Seattle’s Starbucks (there seems to be one on every corner), and Nashville’s abundant bands could collectively fill their Nissan stadium alone (live bands are found within all venues.)
The Omni hotel is located two blocks from the infamous Honkey Tonk Highway (or Lower Broadway Street if ya will.) The hotel itself is massive. It encompasses an entire city block and is home to several restaurants, shops, and museums. Across the street you can also find Nashville’s largest venue space (Nashville Music City Center), which was just so happening to be hosting a preliminary round of The Voice on Saturday. There is also the the Bridgestone Arena sitting kitty corner from The Omni (home to NHL team The Predators.) The hotel’s location is perfect for the Nashville tourist; it lies within walking distance to many of Nashville’s hottest attractions. With that being said, it is also important to note its appeal towards company conferences and conventions. Several floors and spaces are dedicated to spacious event halls and banquet rooms. And to be honest, the hotel’s prices reflect the notion of tax write-offs and business expenses.
Once unpacked and situated in our room at the Omni, we made our way down to a restaurant/bar inside of the hotel by the name of Barlines. A cocktail was enjoyed, and then off we went to lower Broadway street in search of a tasty dinner. The Acme Feed & Seed was our final destination for dinner. There was an array of delicious BBQ and live bands that are hosted by Acme’s very own radio station. To acquire food, you had to order at the front counter. This made for a laid back kinda feel, and a proper introduction to the town Nashville.
Tootsies & Robert’s
Once dinner was scarfed down (think classic BBQ… racks of ribs along side macaroni and cheese you could drink), it was time to take a stroll up Broadway Street. The neon signs consume your attention from every direction. The crowd is dynamic in age and in intoxication. The majority of the buildings on the street date back to the early 20th century, and like any finely aged southern whiskey, they seemed to be enjoyed by all walks of life. The infamous purple three story building by the name of Tootsies was filled with people from the bottom floor to the top. Robert’s infamous saloon was adorned with walls of cowboy boots, and as I ooed and awed over the fiddle player’s harmonious sounds, I watched my mother get swept off her feet by an 83-year-old line dancer.
January, Saturday 14th -A Kinda Oopsy Day
Saturday morning, I was on my own. My mother’s company meetings were well on their way, and it was my job to figure out what Nashville had to offer. I wobbled down to the hotel’s lobby and languidly decided to brunch at one of the hotel’s restaurants, Kitchen Notes. The restaurant was offering a scrumptious biscuit buffet. However, my interest became fixed upon their stock of Lucky Charms. The breakfast was expensive, the kind of expensive that suggested you were dining on company credit. I was too hungry to snarl at this aspect of breakfast, and decided to move forward by towering my plate high with what they had to offer.
After googling attractions worth visiting in Nashville, I landed upon an old estate by the name of Cheekwood. The Cheekwood website walks you through the rich history of the old estate owners. They apparently were well traveled art and culture curators that were fascinated with both home and garden design. I decided I would travel the 8 miles north to see for myself what this Nashville attraction was all about. Arriving at the estate, I was dropped off at the visitor’s center. A lovely lady sold me a $8 ticket and pointed me out of the door towards the Cheekwood mansion. What she failed to mention was that the mansion itself was actually closed for restoration until summer. So, as I lollygagged through the estate, I took in a lot of hilly clear land. The gardens themselves were quite empty in greenery, seeing that winter does not permit for colorful garden appearances. I will say that the grounds were still impressive to some extent, but I did return to the visitor center in request for a refund I mean I’m all about supporting historic landmarks, but the front desk assistant or the website should have informed me of the closure of their main attraction…. Hellllooooo).
My Cheekwood Exploration:
As I made my way back to the hotel, I realized that I spent my first morning in Nashville as a true lost tourist. The google results, mixed with my tourist intuitions had failed me. I stumbled upon an expensive breakfast met with a creepy cold tour of an empty ancient estate. I decided to play it safe and spend the rest of the day relaxing and waiting for meetings to wrap up. I did manage to cop a Johnny Cash record at Ernest Tubb’s record shop before calling it a day (couldn’t go home without some kind of music relic).
Saturday evening was spent in the Event Hall of the Country Music Hall of Fame, which also happens to be housed in The Omni. Open bar was rolling, and there were fun music video style activities that were being enjoyed by all.
January, Sunday 15th- Hopping On & Off
Sunday morning, I woke up determined to do Nashville the right way this time around. I woke up early and “walked the line” down to the hotel gym. I did my thing, got the endorphins pumping, showered, and purchased a Hop on Hop off tour on a trolley. It was well worth my money. There were 15 stops along the way, and you were welcome to get on and off on your own time (trolleys were running every 20 min.) I found my way to the state capital, state museum, hermitage hotel, city library, Ryman auditorium, cutesy shops, and pictured a few of Nashville’s murals. The day turned out to be touristicly successful.
When I finally made it back to the hotel, it was close to dinner time. I found a homey looking BBQ place across the street from the hotel’s entrance. Martin’s BBQ had the football game on (ummm how amazing were the games Sunday night?? … I haven’t even been a NFL follower this season), and had a clearly diverse selection of locally crafted beer. As soon as I stepped up to the bar counter, I learned that they had already been swiped of the majority of their BBQ (apparently they specialize in good BBQ to go.) The only thing they had left was turkey and fish. I sided with a turkey taco served atop a pancake looking thing, and my beer selection was vanilla bean flavored.
The night was capped with a final walk through Broadway street, and an evening entrée of spicy buffalo wings at Nashville’s Hard Rock.
January, Monday 16th- Goodbye Nashville
Saying goodbye to my first Nashville experience seemed to come at the perfect time. I would suggest a long weekend to anybody thinking about exploring the city. The nickname of the city that continuously was echoed from one lip to another, “Nash Vegas”. Too much time in the city as a tourist could result in overkill, you have to time it out just right. A long weekend allows you to catch the busy nights of Broadway, while enjoying lively days of historic exploration (or day drinking I suppose).
Until Next Time Nashville (this is where I tip my cowboy hat, and click my cowgirl boots together),