Tagged: Nashville

It’s No Memphis

On Sunday night, we returned to Nashville. Our mission was to accomplish in two nights what we could not finish on Friday afternoon. We found that we accomplished a lot less than we had on Friday than on Sunday, but we did get to see things at a more leisurely pace. We had two nights, after all!


We checked into our hotel at the Courtyard (thanks to my brother and his Marriott associate rate) right along Printers Alley. Our first stop was to get some dinner. With Sarah’s cousin’s recommendation, we headed to Cabana, a pretty good restaurant with an eclectic Southern, comfort-food menu. Located near Vanderbilt, we found the place packed with college students so we had to sit outside or else wait for a table. The food was pretty good, but also somewhat forgettable. Sarah pointed out that her heirloom tomato salad tasted pretty much like a tomato salad you could get anywhere. We also noticed that the water had a very strong chlorine taste. This would be a recurring theme throughout the trip, as it had more to do with Nashville’s municipal water supply than this particular restaurant.


Back downtown, we went to Whiskey Kitchen, which was a bustling bar and grill that serves more than a few whiskey dirnks. We spilt the Whiskey Sour pitcher ($20, tax included!) and went on our way. On our way back to the hotel, we stepped into the Union Station Hotel, an excellent example of adaptive reuse. The station was retired in the 1970s but reopened as a hotel in 1980s, and it is now part of the Marriott Autograph collection.


We tried to go to the Loveless Cafe, upon a recommendation from a coworker at NYU, but there was an almost two-hour wait. We were hungry so we retreated to the gift shop, bought a few trinkets, and headed elsewhere.


Sarah had gone to the Opryland Hotel many years ago, and she remembered that there was a buffet there. I was game so we drove there and found that the buffet at the Water’s Edge was closed due to flooding in 2010. (Strangely, the mobile website for the Opryland Hotel is terribly out of date. They mention places that we couldn’t find at the hotel, and it still lists the Water’s Edge as being opened.) We ate at the Cascades restaurant, and we took a quarter-mile riverboat ride on the artificial river in the Delta section of the hotel complex.


Back in Nashville, we went to the Third Man Records store, the one owned by Jack White, and spent $40 on two records. It was at this point that Sarah and I turned to each other and said, “Nashville’s cool, but it’s no Memphis.” We then headed to a vintage shop and at that point, it seemed like we crossed from the South to our earlier trips to the Pacific Northwest.


Our trip ended with a sojourn to East Nashville for a couple of pints at the Red Door Saloon. While I was there, I sat looking out the window at the rain, with a pint, and red lighted barroom, I could have sworn I was in Portland.


There were a few things we didn’t get to do on this trip.

  • Visit the Frist Museum.
  • Go to the Nashville Sounds baseball game. They were playing their archrivals, the Memphis Redbirds.
  • Go to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • Actually eat at the Loveless Café.
  • Eat at Prince’s Hot Chicken, although that would have been hard for Sarah and her pescatarian diet.

There’s always next time.

The Athens of the South

Sarah and I just returned from a five-night, Labor Day weekend trip that took us to Nashville and then on to Western Kentucky for a family reunion. I usually fly through Louisville when I’ve gone to Kentucky, but we didn’t want to make the three-and-half hour drive to get from “The Ville” to the Sarah’s family in Graves County. Nashville is a much more manageable two-hour drive away.


I had never been to Nashville, except for the time we flew into their airport last December. Many friends kept talking about the great music scene there, but I am not a fan of country music so I really didn’t want to pop into a noisy bar and listen to music I probably wouldn’t like. Besides, I don’t know how it would measure up to our trip to Memphis for Gonerfest 8 last September. Sarah did her best at finding a number of activities for us, and on Friday we set out for some adventures in Nashville.


Our first stop was for breakfast at the Pancake Pantry. We waited about thirty minutes to get a stack of cakes. I selected the buckwheat pancakes because I was looking for something different that just buttermilk cakes, and while they certainly didn’t lack in flavor, they weren’t quite as good as the pecan pancakes Sarah got. Oh well.


We then headed downtown to see Printers Alley, which was neat but not very happening on a Friday afternoon. I had wanted to tour the Hatch Show Print shop on Broadway since December when I saw the poster exhibit at the Nashville Airport. The posters in the exhibit has some beautiful typography and simple, stunning colors. Sarah promised me that we would go see the shop, but when we did, I was disappointed. It’s basically just a gift shop and an extension of the Country Music Hall of Fame, not much of a working print shop anymore.


We migrated to the Ryman Auditorium, the original location of the Grand Ole Opry radio program and, as the historical marker outside of the auditorium says, the birthplace of Bluegrass. The auditorium still hosts a number of concerts and other events, but it also serves as a monument to the Grand Ole Opry radio program and the legendary franchise it has spawned.


From there, we ended our day in Nashville by visiting the Parthenon. I remember first seeing the Parthenon in the NBC documentary, Sit In, about the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The mayor boasted about Nashville’s various traits as the “Athens of the South,” including Vanderbilt University and the replica of the Parthenon. While the replica is certainly remarkable, it is the Athena statue inside of the building that really knocks your socks off. I highly recommend seeing it as it was the best spectacle of the trip.

The Parthenon closes at 4:30 PM, and we were asked to leave. Shortly thereafter we got in the car and drove to Kentucky.

As you can see, this day was your basic tourist-style run through Nashville. There was a lot more we could have done, but I wanted to get a first-timers tour of Nashville. Besides, we were returning two days later for two more nights.