Music city stole my heart

Pete and I have very different vacation modes. I’m a lazy, could-lay-on-the-beach-all-day-every-day kinda gal, and he can barely sit still. So, when planning our vacations, my first instinct is to research an island that we haven’t explored yet. Since our last few vacations were overseas, I decided maybe we should explore some places in the states. There are plenty of shorelines and a few that would still be warm in November.

Then one night while researching options, I happened to think aloud, “What about Nashville?” Pete’s reply came so swiftly, I didn’t think it was possible for him to have heard me. “Sure. That sounds like a great idea.”

I have no idea what I was thinking. No beach. Not really warm this late in the fall. And isn’t that where every country fan known to man lives? Sure, I belt out “Low Places” every time it comes on the jukebox, but could I vacation in the land of boots and hats?

And the only things I knew about Nashville were from the TV show, Nashville. As far as I could tell, that meant it was a bunch of country musicians trying to make it big and the only place to hang out was the Bluebird Cafe. Oh, and Deacon Claybourne. I mean, Charlie Esten. I mean, droooooool. Seriously, Rayna! Get your shit together and marry the man already!

Charles-Esten
(photo: ABC/Donn Jones)

After sharing our plans with some people, the responses were surprisingly positive. While not many people could understand why we chose it over the Bahamas (seriously, what was I thinking?!), there wasn’t a shortage of positive things being said about it.

So I packed as much denim as my luggage could handle, and we were off.

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When we landed, I braced myself for 10 gallon hats and drawl for days. But boy was I wrong. Like big time wrong. Like if I had to move tomorrow, I wouldn’t hesitate living there.

From beginning to end, it was the loveliest, most fun time we’d had in a long while. Much of that was due to our local friends giving us some great recommendations. And it helped that the city wasn’t anything that I had imagined.

We started off the week slowly. We arrived at our hotel right before brunch, so we checked out one of the local brunch hotspots, Tavern, at the recommendation of the concierge. There happened to be an NFL game in London that morning, so we watched football and enjoyed 2 for 1 mimosas at the bar. Not a bad start to the week!

That afternoon, while I was napping, Pete found a local Steelers bar for me to watch the game. (Seriously, if that isn’t love.) We wandered to downtown Nashville to visit Piranha’s Bar and Grill. Years ago, it was apparently featured in our local paper to be as close to Primanti Brothers (a famous local sandwich joint) as you can get.

The next few days, we just explored until we were hungry and then found some amazing place to eat.

We wandered to Centennial Park to check out the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original.

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We visited tons of bars just to listen to live music which was everywhere. And while neither of us are huge country fans, we learned that you don’t need to be down there. The musicians are just really, really amazing (even the “amateurs”) and play many different genres.

Of course, we had to visit the Grand Ole Opry.

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And the Country Music Hall of Fame where I spotted Kenny Rogers with the 1980s Pittsburgh Steelers!

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And speaking of music, we waited in line and actually got into the Blue Bird Cafe! I was so starstruck to be in that place that I smiled the entire night. Mike Henderson and his band were amazing. Even though we hadn’t heard a single song previously, we were swept up in every note. Totally awestruck that anyone could play instruments like that. Deacon Claybourne may not have showed up, but the show was so great, I didn’t really mind.

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We met up with a college buddy of mine over in East Nasty (look what cool, local, hipster language I picked up) and had my first plate of hot chicken and a bushwacker. Bushwacker apparently stands for “guaranteed headache,” but a delicious, delicious headache it was.

My friend also recommended that we get a night cap at this place called Santa’s Pub. It’s a karaoke bar in a double wide trailer. We were all in! It was a total dive, which we love. Only beer, no glassware, only cash.

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Pete documenting me drinking a beer. (I usually stick to liquor or wine.)

The owner, “Santa,” wasn’t there that night, but Pete did belt out a few songs before the late-night crew came in.

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After seeing one of them take the mic and casually belt out a Whitney Houston song like a pro, we decided that was our cue to call it a night.

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On our final day, we ventured a little outside the city. We were told not to leave Nashville without trying the biscuits at Loveless Cafe. I always thought a biscuit was a biscuit. The answer is no. There are biscuits and then there are Loveless biscuits. And that homemade jam. I smothered that blackberry jam in each nook and cranny like a boss.

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Since we were already in the ‘burbs, we decided to enjoy our last (beautiful) day by spending some time outdoors at Arrington Vineyards.

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It was pretty romantic just taking in the greenery, swinging with my lover, and thinking over what a wonderful time we had together.

Needless to say, I’m a total Nashville convert. If you need somewhere to get away, I highly recommend it – even if your other choice is the Bahamas.

Now, to get rid of this twang…

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