Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Things are Sweeter in Tennessee.

Nashville, Tennessee

As The Wrecker's said in one of their songs......"Things are sweeter in Tennessee". But are they?? Well, I went to check it out and so here it goes:

So, our goal was to make the 12 o'clock shuttle from my work which takes us to the Orange County Airport. This sounds simple to most people, however it was stressing me out tremendously. I have a ton of work to do normally, but leading up to a weekend (especially a holiday weekend) can get even busier. I am also a little OCD regarding my work. So, of course we had a lot of last minute things to do and people were asking long questions that required research on my part to answer. But at 11:45pm, I decided I was DONE. Hands in the air, I'm over it, I'm taking a trip and All of this can wait until Tuesday! I'm so proud of my self for "letting it go". I stress enough during the weeks and so this is my little vacation and I wasn't gonna worry about it. So we were off and on our way to the airport on the 12 o'clock shuttle.

It was about a 4 hour flight to Atlanta where we had a layover of about 1 hour. The only thing is they oversold the flight and I unfortunately did not have a seat. Luckily, someone volunteered to give up their seat and I was back on the plane with a seat. 1 hour later, we were in Nashville. It was a little after 11pm Nashville time when we arrived. The taxi drove us through their main downtown strip. The place was hopping! We spotted our first cowboy....and then another....and another. Oh gosh WHERE ARE WE!?

We checked into the hotel, dropped off our stuff and walked downtown. They have 2 main streets in downtown. 2nd Avenue and Broadway. These two streets are filled with bars, restaurants, live music, tourist shops and life size statues of Elvis (seriously I think I counted about 4). Music is everywhere. You can walk by 5 bars in a row and each one will have a live band playing. I would say there were like 30 or so places playing live music at once. There are also people playing music for money on the streets. Primarily country music. There were a few places playing other types of music as well (rock/blues), but primarily country. My friend has lived in Nashville and swears there are many places to hear other types of music like singer/songwriter and blues. Mainly these places are not on the downtown strip. She even told me about a time she ran in to Maroon 5 at a bar after their show. They talked a little bit and Maroon 5 asked them for a restaurant recommendation. They gave their suggestion to which Maroon 5 replied by telling them they were gonna get a taxi. So what should 2 girls with a car do?? Of course offer them a ride which they accepted. They all ended up having dinner together! See, you never know who you will run into in "Music City"!

On Saturday, we decided to check out one of the recommended restaurants we were told about. Pancake Pantry ( was established in 1960 and was Tennessee's first pancake house. The place is family owned and everything is made from scratch. Peach delight, Blueberry, Apricot Lemon, Pecan and Chocolate Chip are some of the yummy selections. However, expect a line. A long line. We decided to skip Pancake Pantry for the day since the line was about 2 hours long.

Our taxi driver instead took us by Vanderbilt University to the Parthenon. The Parthenon in Nashville is the only life size replica of the original which resides in Athen, Greece. We then decided we would walk from there and try to find Belmont Mansion. We did not have the best map in the world so we ended up missing streets and roaming around Nashville for about 3 hours until finally walking back downtown. We had lunch on Broadway and went back to the hotel. The heat and the miles and miles of walking and the jet lag must have done something to us because we were just exhausted. It was very hot, but I think what we weren't used to was the humidity! We did not do too much else but rest and read our books. I did go back out for a walk downtown in the evening. Tomorrow, we decided we shall rent a car!!!

Best idea ever to rent this car!! $25 gets us the car (complete with AC!!!) until tomorrow where we will drop it off at the airport on our way home. Our hotel had free internet and we mapquested our hearts out. We looked up all of the places we wanted to see and were off to pick up the car. This day, we did get to go to Pancake Pantry and I enjoyed some Blueberry Pancakes. The line was about 45 minutes long. Not too bad.

We then went to Belle Meade Plantation which was very cool. ( Built in 1853, the Harding-Jackson family were the original owners of the Belle Meade Farm. The farm bred and trained championship Thoroughbred horses. On site is also, the dairy (or creamery), the slave quarters, a mausoleum and stables. Free to browse around and definitely worth the trip. You can purchase tickets for a tour which actually takes you inside the mansion. About 6 miles from downtown.

I had to! ha ha.

Next stop was The Grand Ole Opry House. ( We did not go inside the Opry House, but did get to go into the Grand Ole Opry Museum which was quite interesting. The grounds are nice as well. Definitely check out the museum. It's free and very cold inside (nice to get out of the heat!) and fun to look at even if you are not a huge country music fan.

While we were across the river, we went to LP Stadium: Home of the Titans. Just to look and take a few pictures.

We saw the Tennessee State Capital building. Very close to downtown and our hotel. We couldn't find how we could get to the top of the hill it was on to view it up close, but we still saw it and were able to get some good pictures.

We then decided to check out that house I was telling you about. I had mapquested the directions and since we had extra time, we decided to check it out. It was about a 15 minute drive on the 40 freeway westbound. We got off the freeway and turned down this long windy road. Green hills on both sides of the road but no houses. I'm not gonna lie, I was thinking, "this is beautiful, but we are in the middle of nowhere!". But that only lasted about 1 minute and then we saw tons and tons of beautiful houses. I mean really beautiful. Now this is what I was hoping Tennessee was going to be like. We found my house and I love it now more than I did before. I didn't get to go inside, but I have seen pictures of the inside. Check it out....isn't it awesome?!

Our next recommended restarant is SATCO or San Antonio Taco Company. But you must call it SATCO or you will be outed as a "tourist"! SATCO is near Vanderbilt University and is the local hangout. You can even get a bucket of beers. When you walk in, you are greeted with pads of paper and pencils. There is a check list of different types of tacos, fillings and sides. You check off what you want and give it to the cashier. Very casual yummy place to go. Even for a vegetarian like myself. They had bean tacos! Woo hoo!

Back to the hotel to shower and get ready to go back to Broadway to have drinks for my roommates birthday. The big 25! On our way back to the hotel after drinks, we stopped by the market to get waters and met a hilarious (and I think homeless) guy. He was super nice and very funny. There are some interesting characters in downtown Nashville, but I have to say everyone was friendly.

Monday. Up at 4:15am to get on our way home. Another layover in Atlanta, Georgia. This one was a long one. Then back to Orange County. Then the 45 minute drive home. It was a long day! Plus we gained 2 hours in the time change.

So. Lots of things to do in Nashville. The downtown area was not my favorite part of Nashville, but did have a lot to do. Definitely rent a car. Since everything is spread out, you will save money on all of the taxi's you would have needed. Do fill up the gas tank before you drop it off so they will not charge you a ginormous fee! The car will help you see all of the great sites within Nashville. These sites are important to the Nashville's history. I would definitely have loved to have more time to drive around more in the suburbs. It's just very green and beautiful.

So, in conclusion.....things can be sweeter in Tennessee, you just have to venture out and find them!

My Nashville playlist includes:
The Wreckers- Stand Still, Look Pretty
Sara Evans- Greatest Hits
Dixie Chicks- Taking the Long Way