January 3, 2014
Knoxville to Nashville
We had a delicious breakfast at Linda & Don’s, filled up our washer fluid courtesy of Don and headed for the post office to mail some postcards on our way out of town. It’s weird; somehow, every morning turns into a black hole vortex, where we look at the clock one second and it’s 0730 and we look again, what feels like 10 minutes later and it’s magically 0830! Anyhow, we figured we were still good since Nashville is one hour behind Knoxville, meaning we would gain an extra hour of time! We hopped on the I-40, much placated with this realization, and headed towards Nashville. On our way we popped into a uniform store, as only nurses would, and stocked up on some fun uniforms which are much, much cheaper here than in Canada. (Well as fun as they can be when all Leah can buy is white and black and Gillian figures BC will be converting to white & black soon too so didn’t want to buy a bunch of colourful scrubs!)
Our first stop in Nashville was the Gaylord Opryland Hotel which is massive and impressive and was just as amazing inside! We popped in quickly to check out the gardens – you can park free from 0-20mins (otherwise it was $20!!!) and we figured that we could probably use such a time limit. The inside is like a huge greenhouse with various greenery, little creeks, and waterfalls on multiple levels, with the balcony’s of the rooms, restaurants, and cafés, all looking out over the scenery. We considered re-thinking our evening’s accommodations when we saw this place! We then popped over to the new Grand Ole Opry House. The Opry Hills Mall next door was playing a Backstreet boys song while we were standing in front of the Opry and Leah questioned whether this was sacrilegious within earshot of the Opry….
We drove downtown and did a backstage tour of the Ryman Auditorium which housed the Grand Ole Opry for 31 years, until it moved in 1974 to the new location mentioned above. It is still the home of the Grand Ole Opry from November to the end of January. During the tour we learned that the Opry isn’t actually a location but a radio show so the “Grand Ole Opry” is actually just wherever the show is broadcasting from, for example, could be your living room. The theatre has an incredibly interesting history, and much of the current pieces in it are from the original structure (ie the pew seating). It is said to have the best acoustics in the world apart from the Mormon Tabernacle… amazing! For anyone who watches Nashville – Charles Esten (who plays Deacon) was playing that night with a long lineup of people.
After the Ryman we walked the strip (Broadway) to pop our heads into a few honkytonks and have a snack (cheese tots at Paradise Park Diner, don’t judge). There is music playing in all these bars all day, starting around 10 am. We walked around the corner to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Leah was very happy to see that there was a special exhibit all about Reba! The CMHF itself was really cool. It was incredible to see the history and evolution of this part of music, and the building itself is really lovely. Definitely recommend doing this! We arrived at 4pm (it closed at 5pm that day) and found out that it was only $14, discounted rate for everyone arriving at that time. Yeehaw!
We walked back through the strip and headed back for the car. Since the sun was just setting, we googled a good lookout to get a view of the city and headed for Shelby Street Pedestrian bridge – we found what we were looking for! Nashville certainly has a beautiful night view.
We then swung over to Greece for a few minutes – there is a full-size replica of the Parthenon in a park in Nashville…. It was built in 1897 for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition and was rebuilt in 1930 due to “popular demand”… Leah actually preferred this version to the original because when she was in Athens it was covered in scaffolding and surrounded by cranes!
We headed over to Alex & Mike’s apartment, our hosts for the evening. Gillian met Alex while teaching in Korea through a mutual friend, Erica, who we will also be staying with this trip in San Fran. We had a glass of wine and headed out to a bar where Mike and many other singer-songwriters play! Very different from the strip where we were earlier in the day but the perfect spot to have a couple drinks, something to eat and catch up/get better acquainted! We tried fried pickles for the first time – delicious! Leah continues to sound more and more like she’s from here and has “y’all”ed more than a few times since arriving in Tennessee…. Alex suggested she may have been born here in another life and we think she might be right!
After a few drinks we headed back to Alex & Mike’s for another drink and to hear Mike play! They were awesome hosts and it was great to see/meet them!
Overall, we thought Nashville was pretty darn cool and would give it a high rating on our official city rating scale. Maybe an 8.5?!