Monday, August 31, 2015

72 hours in Nashville: Days One and Two

Bubbling with personality 
and background music everywhere


      We've made a few trips to Nashville, finding it a vibrant city with a variety of entertainment opportunities.  On our latest venture, six of us headed out on a Friday morning in a VW van.  Dining is an important part of our entertainment, so our first stop was at a favorite for lunch, Chefs Market & Catering in Goodletsville just north of the city.  It's a cafeteria with a fine dining slant and some very interesting side dishes.  Our "home" was the Residence Inn at Cool Springs about 20 minutes from downtown.  It's a convenient location if you're planning to visit some of the tourist areas south of the city, as we were.

Opryland Hotel
      Of course, any visit to Nashville is not authenticated unless you plan to see the Grand Ole Opry.  It's been at its current location adjacent to the Opryland Hotel since 1971.  We arrived early to take a look around the hotel.  It's a short walk from the Opry House and the parking is free on that side of the complex.  Otherwise, you're looking at a $25 per car parking fee just to see the hotel interior.  
Waterfalls in the Delta

That said, the charge is worth it when you consider the magnificent structures and landscaping.  A stroll through the Cascades and Garden Conservatory passes by numerous waterfalls and seasonal floral displays culminating in the Delta with more restaurants and shops.  
The Boat Ride

There's also a boat ride that everyone should take once, and that's all you'll need to do.  We've never stayed there, but I'm sure the experience is well worth it.  
Grand Ole Opry
The Opry House is an experience in itself.  Although there is always a line up of acts, one never knows who will show up for the live broadcast.  That surprise came from the appearance of Chris Jansen on our latest visit.  We think he has the makings to become a big star.  The audience also felt so because they gave him two standing ovations, something usually only reserved for iconic country stars.


Entering the
Johnny Cash Museum

      Our first stop was at the Johnny Cash Museum located in an old downtown warehouse.  It has won several top awards for museum design and content so I was really looking forward to seeing what all the hoopla was about.  My first impression was that the space was way too small, creating a bottleneck in the first viewing room.  Granted, there is a lot of memorabilia pertaining to the early Cash years that later expands when entering subsequent rooms exhibiting lavish costumes, records, and family values.  
Wall of Recordings
I particularly liked the long hall displaying his record covers and 45s.  It all culminates in the final room leading to Johnny 
Cash Family Timeline
Cash's accomplishments, one of which is that he is the only artist to have songs on the Billboard charts for six decades.  It's a museum befitting such an amazing entertainer.

All Day Entertainment Along Broadway
      Music Row (Broadway) has seen some changes in the past few years.  Walking up from the museum, there are several bars with live entertainment throughout the day.  We stopped in Ernest Tubb's Record Store only to find it desolate with very few CDs.  What happened?  Perhaps it was a sad sign of the times that have passed with iTunes and MP3 downloads.  

Bridgestone Arena
      Lori, Eric and I walked further past the Bridgestone Arena and on to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the flowing architectural lines of the Music City Center, host to the  
Music City Center
CMA Fest. A little backtracking to Broadway brought us to Jacks Bar-B-Que, an institution among visitors and locals that can be attested to by the line formed outside the entrance.  There was a large birthday celebration during our visit that was causing a backup in seating. Otherwise, the line moved fairly fast.

Ryman Auditorium
      Taking a right coming out of Jack's took us to Tootsies, another familiar spot for enjoying new acts and veteran performers that will sometimes come out the backdoor from the Ryman and play a few rounds before calling it a night.  Like so many places, one just never knows who they will run into.  Take a stroll around the corner to have a look at Ryman Auditorium, the original home the the Grand Ole Opry.

      Leaving Broadway, we took a little driving tour of downtown passing AT&T's "Batman" building and the Tennessee Capital sitting atop the city skyline.  Driving further west on Broadway, we took a short trek through Vanderbilt University and then Centennial Park, which is the home to the Parthenon, a reproduction of the original in Athens.  From there we drove through Belle Meade, one of Nashville's grander neighborhoods with many older mansions.  If you have the time, Cheekwood is a wonderful place to visit.  It's the former home of the founders of Maxwell House coffee, which is now an art museum and botanical gardens.  Both are exquisite.  
Bluebird Cafe
Onward, we made our way to the Bluebird Cafe made famous in the Nashville series.  It was closed for a private party, but none-the-less a popular selfie and photo spot.

     After a refresher at our hotel, we moved on to dinner at Marché in East Nashville.  It's a local hangout that serves some of the best (and inexpensive) European cuisine you'll find anywhere.  

    Our night was capped off at the Loser's Lounge in Cool Springs that would be our music fix for the evening.  Forty-five minutes after the published time for the music to begin, we were still waiting for the band to "check, check".  Finally, the lead female singer (trying to channel Stevie Nicks or Kim Carnes) took the stage.  We stomached three songs and called it a night.  For us, the place couldn't have been more appropriately named.

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