People always say that it is good to travel. Seeing the world helps one experience new cultures, new ideas, and new ways of life. Generally, people talk about traveling as a wanderlust experience going to different countries. However, I think it is just important to experience different areas of your own home country. Within the United States, there are many different cultures nestled within the different regions of the country. I went to visit Nashville in May. This was my second time visiting the wonderful city, and I experienced many new things while revisiting some old favorites.
I recently graduated from St. Edward’s University. I spent four challenging, exciting, fun, fulfilling years there. I could go on for hours discussing my experience at St. Edward’s. However, the time came to say good-bye. As a quick post-grad trip before the “real world” started, I took a weekend trip to Nashville to visit my friend Megan. I’ve known Megan since middle school where we liked the same boy. I was jealous because he played footsies with her and not me. Megan has been one of my closest and oldest friends for 12 years now. Megan currently attends Vanderbilt working on her Doctorate degree in Biomedical Engineering. I consider her my smart science friend.
It was such a fun trip and spend time with my dear friend!
I arrived to Nashville and brought the Texas rain with me. Megan picked me up from the airport, but had to go back to Vanderbilt to finish writing her paper proposal. So, I walked around Hillsboro Neighborhood looking for a place to get lunch. The Hillsboro neighborhood is where Vanderbilt is located, and conveniently, Megan lives in an apartment in the same area. This is extremely convenient because she can easily walk to campus, and there are tons of places to eat at. I opted to go back to Fido for lunch. Megan took me to Fido during my previous Nashville visit for breakfast. This time, I went by myself and ate lunch at a counter facing out a window. Fido is a large restaurant with a good amount of seating for whether you came to get work done, to meet a new friend for coffee, or grabbing your closest friends for dinner.
I then went back to Megan’s apartment until she finished turning in her proposal. For dinner, we cooked in her apartment then we walked around the corner to Jeni’s Ice Cream. Jeni’s could be considered an ice cream boutique. They create interesting and specialized flavors, and they also make their waffle cones in front of the customers. The smell of fresh ice cream and waffle batter floats out to the street.
SPOILER: Megan and I went back to that Jeni’s Sunday night before watching the newest Game of Thrones episode. As we were leaving the ice cream shop, I looked down and made eye contact with a girl sitting at one of the tables. She looked familiar, but I wasn’t too sure where I could have known her from. The girl then looked down, and I continued to walk out of the shop. As we were leaving, I realized it was Lennon Stella who plays Maddie on the ABC show Nashville! Heads up, it is Nashville culture to not bother or freak out when you see a celebrity or famous musician in public. Nashville tends to be the home of many famous people, and they deserve the respect to be able to go about their everyday lives.
Later that evening, we met up with one of Megan’s friends at a speakeasy type bar called Old Glory. It is a speakeasy because it is somewhat hidden down an alleyway, and there isn’t a sign marking it. Out of respect for keeping it as a speakeasy, I will refrain from divulging its actual location; however, you can probably find it on Google. You’ll know you’ve come to the right place because there is a golden triangle on the wall. Old Glory was built out of a refurbished warehouse. It definitely has a really great atmosphere with three levels to explore, high vaulted ceilings, secluded booths, and a tall furnace in the back where food is prepared. Even though it was packed when we arrived (we had to wait outside until the bouncer said we could go in), there still maintained some hipster speakeasy vibes. We were able to grab a corner booth, and our server was really great with stopping by to make sure we were good with our drinks.
Saturday was my first full day in Nashville. Megan and I went to Just Love, a recently opened breakfast place off Demonbreun St. Just Love serves really good coffee, and has a very interesting concept behind their food. All of their food is made in waffle makers. One way or another, a waffle maker was used during food production. The building itself is located in a popular area that includes a bar with classic arcade games. Like many places in Nashville, the interior of Just Love includes a small stage for live music. Apparently, in the back of the restaurant is a section with couches for lounging and games for playing; we did not know about this, but were made aware about it later that day.
After eating breakfast, we took a few hours to get over our food coma. For that afternoon, we met up with some of Megan’s friends to attend the East Nashville Crawfish Boil. I was very excited because (1) I love crawfish and (2) it would be great to do a thing in Nashville that was super tourist related. It was a small crawfish boil that took place in an empty lot next to a pizza parlor. Since we got there at the very beginning of the boil, the crawfish weren’t overtly spicy. It was an interesting experiencing watching the workers dump live crawfish into the boiler.
The crawfish boil led us to go exploring around the Eastside. We perused into many little shops, including a wine shop that advertised to sell ONLY uncommon wines. There was nothing common in the store, or at least they said. I don’t know much about wine, so I can’t speak to say if what they said was true. Our Eastside adventuring led us to Ugly Mugs a coffee shop in the Eastwood neighborhood. Eastwood is fairly far from where we started with the crawfish boil. We walked a good couple miles to get to the coffee! When we arrived at Ugly Mugs, we ordered our drinks and took some moments to rest our feet.
After relaxing and talking at Ugly Mugs, an Uber was called and we all went to our respective homes. Megan and I relaxed for a little bit before getting ready for a wine night and a friend’s house and evening downtown excursions.
The wine night is how it sounded, a small group of ladies gathering together to eat food and sample different wines. After the wine night, a small group of friends went downtown; I experienced the true Nashville Broadway. Broadway is the main strip of downtown Nashville where there are bars, honky tonks, and clubs. We went to a handful of bars, and here is my breakdown of that night:
Tin Roof: Started the night off here and did a round of shots. Everyone drank whiskey, but I opted for vodka instead. The bar was overly packed, and we left as soon as we took our shots.
Bootlegger: Went here shortly after Tin Roof for Moonshine - it is a Tennessee thing to drink different flavors. I had glass of Peach Moonshine; it actually tasted really good, and surprisingly did not burn. There was a band playing a little bit of country, but mostly classic rock. There are two floors to this bar, and on the second floor another band was playing but only country music.
Acme: This is a classic Nashville place. There are multiple levels - I want to say four, but I can’t be too sure. Each floor has a different purpose and theme. The first floor is the entrance, and it is mostly a relaxed and chill atmosphere. The rooftop is where a live DJ plays dance music, and that is the typical clubbing area. The rooftop provides a great view overlooking Broadway and the river.
The group and I ended our evening at Acme, then headed back to our homes and rest.
The last day in Nashville. Megan and I decided to be more like tourists for the early part of the day. We went for Sunday brunch at Pinewood Social which is part restaurant, alcohol bar, coffee bar, bowling alley, swimming pool, game center, and lounge area. So, there is a lot going on. Megan and I got there a little after they opened and were easily seated. The entire place gives off the cool, hipster chill vibe: cozy lounge chairs, menus on wooden boards, water served in glass bottles. It took me a little while to order, because everything looked good. I even had a hard time determining what coffee to get!
After eating breakfast at Pinewood Social, Megan and I drove the short distance down the hill - Pinewood Social is next to Downtown and has a great view overlooking the river and Pedestrian Bridge - to downtown for “tourist things.” Walking along Broadway during the day was definitely a different experience from the night before. There was still lots of live Country music streaming out into the streets. We made a stop by the Grand Ol Opry store and I bought a shirt designed for the Bluebird Cafe. No, we didn’t go to the Bluebird Cafe, but I really like the shirt. The Bluebird Cafe is where many Country artists go to play their music; it has become more popular since the show, Nashville, aired. We then walked along the Pedestrian Bridge.
The Pedestrian Bridge offers beautiful views of Downtown Nashville and the river running through the city. Megan and I mostly just hang out on the bridge. The coolest part was when a man saw my camera sticking out of my purse and asked if I shoot. Of course, I said yes and he asked me to use his Canon Mark II to take his portrait. I obliged and we had a nice little chat about how we both love photography, but did not make it our careers. I love how the photography community is so willing and open to everyone and everything!
After spending some time on the Pedestrian Bridge, it started to get hot. We then walked down and stopped at the Goo Goo Cluster shop to pick up the chocolate delicacies. Goo Goo Clusters are a vintage Nashville candy that has been around since 1912. It is still manufactured in Nashville to to this day! There are many different variations on the classic candy, but the original is marshmallow nougat, caramel, and roasted peanuts covered in milk chocolate. Not ashamed that I got some goodies to take back with me to Texas.
After paying a visit to the Goo Goo Cluster shop, we then went to Hatch Show Print for a tour. Hatch Show Print is a letterpress studio. If you don’t know what letterpress is, then you need to Google it. Just think Gutenberg Bible. Letterpress has been monumental throughout history. I sort of had a geek out moment while on the tour - actually, many geek out moments. I almost hyperventilated when the tour guide said we were going to letterpress our own prints. There were only a handful of things that I definitely HAD to do while in Nashville, and visiting Hatch Show Print was one of them!
Hatch Show Print was the end of our playing tourist. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, grabbing dinner at Martin’s BBQ, and getting ready for my 5am flight the next morning.
Martin’s BBQ was classic Tennessee BBQ. It is located across from a church. I bet the congregation flocks the BBQ joint after service. That’s what I would do at least.
Watching Game of Thrones and spending the night in ended my Nashville visit. It was truly a great weekend spent with one of my closest friends. My heart belongs in the South. I will forever love Texas, and it will always be home, but I've realized that I am fond of Nashville as well. Until next time, Nashville.