I’m back in the North part of the USA…does that mean I can’t use words like “howdy” and “ya’ll?” Indulge me for a while…
I had a great time in Nashville, but I sure am glad to be back to my Sometimes Healthy Life in NY. A girl can only drink so many beers and eat so much fried food before she’s itchin’ for a salad.
I stayed in the city yesterday after returning from Nashville, so the first thing I did when I arrived was head on over to Michelle’s apartment in Gramercy and throw on my running shows. I did a quick 6 miles on the east river path down to my favorite spot, the lower east side track. I’m accustomed to running lots of hills upstate, so my pace was almost 1 minute faster (8:15 per mile) on the flat ground!
But, let’s get to the Nashville recap, shall we. This is a lengthy post, so grab a coffee and make yourself comfortable, partner!
Thursday: Country, Country Everywhere and More than A Drop to Drink
I woke up at 6 am on Thursday, so I could squeeze in a quick 5 mile run before a weekend of pure indulgence. Although I was exhausted, the adrenaline was pumping, and somehow I finished a slow 5 miler. I felt like I was running “naked” because my normal jogging buddy (Cole) wasn’t with me. The lucky dog was having a sleepover with his friend, Atlas, for the weekend.
As you can see, he was super sad to say goodbye to me.
Anyway, by the time we made it to the airport around 11:00, both of us were ready for some food…and I was ready for my first vacation drink!
As ya’ll know, I absolutely despise flying, so I usually take down a couple to make my flights a little more bearable. Since it was early, I went with the always-reliable Bloody Mary. Hit the spot.
I also purchased a tofu salad sandwich that was surprisingly tasty.
The flight was relatively smooth (though I did squeeze the BF’s hand a bit too hard due to some unexpected turbulence). Being from New York, I expected a gigantic line for cabs at the Nashville airport. Nope. There was no line, and we made it to our hotel in downtown Nashville in 15 quick minutes.
From the moment we arrived, I truly did feel that Southern Hospitality everywhere. We checked in to the Courtyard Marriott and the man at the front desk offered us a complimentary king suite. I could get used to this sort of treatment!
We went upstairs, freshened up and immediately headed straight to the country music on Nashville’s famed “Broadway Street.” I must admit that I like this “Broadway” much better than the one in NYC. There was country music emanating from literally every building, and it was only 2:30! I never would have been able to make a decision about which bar to choose, but luckily the BF had done some pre-trip research to find the best musical acts.
Our first stop was The Stage, a well-known Nashville bar that is recognized as having some of the best music on Broadway. Immediately, we ordered some beers and took cheesy pictures.
The minute I heard the singer, Anna LePrad, belt out the first note of her set, I knew the BF had made the right choice. This woman was incredibly talented!
I remember watching a documentary on Lady Antebellum where they discussed how so many talented singers come through Nashville, and they just happened to be the lucky group to make it big. Hearing Anna, it all made sense to me. Her voice was rich and twangy, and she clearly had quite the range. She sounded like she belonged on a much bigger stage, but I’m so glad that we got to listen to her to kick off our country music trip!
Apparently in most of these bars, the bands get paid through tips and requests, so she sang a lot of popular country songs by request. The BF and I requested two songs we thought would get the crowd going, Lady A’s “Downtown” and The Band Perry’s “Done.” We were happy to see the crowd dancing and singin’ along!
My favorite song of her showcase was definitely Martina McBride’s, “Broken Wings.” It’s an emotional ballad that I’ve heard a million times, but it’s just so much more powerful live!
We stayed for a couple of hours, but we had to head out around 5:15, because we had BIG plans. In his research, the BF had read about The Grilled Cheeserie, a food truck that supposedly had the best grilled cheese in all of Nashville. And it just so happened, that it was scheduled to be at the riverfront a few blocks away on Thursday night.
Clearly, it was fate.
I ordered the Mac n’ Chee Grilled Cheese and the BF made a custom sandwich with sourdough bread, Monterrey jack cheese, bacon and avocado. We were pleased to see there was a free concert on the river, so we dug into our sandwiches while listening to some more quality country music.
Not surprisingly, the music was great…the grilled cheese was a bit of a let-down. We had built it up in our heads, so we had a feeling we might be disappointed. The bread was a bit soggy, and it wasn’t nearly as cheesey as grilled cheese should be. Maybe it was an off day?
From there, we hit up a brewhouse to try some local beers. The BF is sort of a beer connoisseur, so he likes to sample local brews wherever we go. Before I met him, I was proudly a “Silver Bullet” (Coors Light) girl, but I’m proud to say he’s expanded my horizons!
The rest of the night was a blur of candy and country music with a lot of fun pictures mixed in. If you go to Nashville, and you like candy, be sure to check out the two candy stores in Downtown Nashville. They have every flavor of saltwater taffy you can dream of, and I didn’t try a flavor I didn’t like! You’ll thank me later.
The highlight of the evening was definitely getting’ my Jersey Boy to try on some cowboy boots. Check out that smile!
Our last stop of the evening was Honky Tonk Central (such an appropriate name), where we listened to a great band made up of the 3 male singers and watched the NBA Finals. We both love basketball, so it’s always fun to watch it together. I didn’t really care who won, but my heart just broke for Tim Duncan after he missed the game-tying lay-up.
By midnight, we were ready to turn in for a good night’s sleep!
Friday: Sometimes Healthy, Sometimes Country
As usual, I woke up way to early, so I roamed around town and purchased a coffee and pumpkin muffin to nibble on. I had already bought my new fave brew from Starbucks when I stumbled upon a local joint, so I just bought two coffees. I drank them both as I typed up a quick post for the ol’ blog.
By the time I finished typing, the BF was up and ready for a run. My favorite way to explore a new town is running, so I’m glad the BF feels the same way. We opted to run a couple of miles away to Vanderbilt, since we knew we wouldn’t have a reason to go there later on.
We definitely felt that Southern heat as soon as we walked the door, but despite the heat, we were averaging about 8:45 per mile. We’re still trying to figure out how to “run well” together. The BF starts out fast and like to finish after a few miles. I prefer to pace myself and run for longer. So, our typical running routine goes like this: For the first 3 miles, I continuously tap the BF telling him to slow down and for the last couple of miles he breathes hard and tries his darndest to keep up with me.
Anyway, we ran a steady pace, despite the heat and got lucky, because Vanderbilt stadium was open. We ran around the grounds and took a couple of pictures in the stadium. Then, we dragged our sweaty butts back to the hotel for a much-needed shower.
I was very excited for our daytime activity: The Country Music Hall of Fame and a tour of the famous Studio B!
We arrived at the Country Music Hall of Fame around 11:00 and roamed around the museum until our 12:30 tour. The museum traced country music from the very beginning all the way to the modern country that we know and love.
I’m not much of a history buff, so as much as I love country music, I still couldn’t get myself to pay attention until we hit the Elvis years. Check out Elvis’ gold piano!
I did find it interesting to see the original papers on which brilliant songs were written.
It was also pretty neat to see all of the shiny albums on the wall and read about the songs and artists.
I laughed when I saw this “historical artifact:” T-Swifts laptop. Apparently, many of her hit songs were edited on this very MacBook.
Our next stop was the Studio B tour, for which we had to catch a bus over to the infamous Music X. Our tour guide talked the whole 15 minute bus ride, and I couldn’t believe all of the country knowledge that had stored up in his head!
As we drove, he discussed all of the successful records that had come from Studio B, most notably from Dolly Parton and Elvis Presely. The studio was nothing special, but you really could just feel all of the great singers that had stepped through those doors.
We sat in the actual recording room for a while and listened to some of Elvis’ famous hits that had been recorded in this very spot. I found it interesting that Elvis recorded his music from the hours of midnight until 4 in the morning. He also asked for special colored lights to be installed, so that he could use them to set the mood for music-writing. For Christmas albums, it was red and green! The guide played “Are you Lonesome Tonight?” and informed us that Elvis and his band turned off all the lights to record this hit…in only two takes!
And that concludes the historical portion of this post!
After all of that history, we were very hungry, so headed straight to Merchants, a restaurant in downtown Nashville that seemed to have a lot of positive reviews online.
Clearly the reviews were right. The food was absolutely delicious, but our favorite part was the fried green tomatoes and the homemade bbq sauce. The tomatoes were fried to perfection and the sweet BBQ sauce was declared by the BF as “the best I have ever had!”
If you’re in Nashville, I definitely recommend you hit up this hot spot for a meal.
We had plans to go to Bluebird Café for a show at 6:00, but the front desk informed us we would need to wait in line for 3 hours to get one of the coveted 28 bar seats. We decided we didn’t want to spend our precious time in Country Land waiting in line, so we skipped the Bluebird Café and headed over to Wildhorse Saloon instead.
The band scheduled to play was the Brother’s Trouble, and I’m a sucker for country male duos. We ordered a couple of drinks and just couldn’t resist ordering the fried pickles.
Hey, when in Rome!
It was definitely a good choice! Paired with the restaurant’s sweet bbq sauce, the pickles delivered the perfect punch of sweet n’ salty.
The Brother’s Trouble definitely had a bit of “country rock” goin’ on, and they were very entertaining! Apparently, they won Kenny Chesney’s “Next Big Star” competition a few years back and are releasing a new single soon.
Hopefully, you’ll be hearing about these guys soon, but if there is one thing I learned in Nashville, it is that there are unfortunately a million talented bands just like them, and only one will make it big.
We wrapped up the evening at Legends with yet another talented country act. At this point, the crowd was startin’ to get rowdy!
The vibe was VERY different in Nashville from Thursday to Friday. It reminded me a bit of New Orleans, but a countrified family-friendly version. The streets were packed and there were about 3 bachelor/bachelorette parties at every place.
The signs on the street demonstrated what a “good time” everyone was looking for…
We spent the rest of our trip doing much of the same thing: eating sinfully delicious Southern food and listening to country music!
All-in-all, I couldn’t have asked for a better early 30th b-day present. Thanks to the BF for the perfect trip – it was a Country Girl’s dream!
I’m in the city for a few more hours, and then I’m headed upstate to pick up the pup. Can.not.wait!
What was your favorite trip recently?
Every been to Nashville – what was your favorite part?