Nashville in a nut shell

With a little hiatus between posts, finally here’s a taste of my Nashville antics over the five days on the Music City Row.

Arriving in Nashville has been the easiest so far, the transfer from the hotel was there waiting for me.  I checked in and my room has another king sized bed with a balcony over the parking lot.  I have no idea where the hotel is in relation to the main drag and when I find out that it’s about a $20 cab fare to get into town.  The flashes of the sun gleaming off the cars going past on the freeway should have been the give-away (another view from my balcony).

So my first day ends up being a day of rest.  First up, its lunch down in the “Verandah Bar” in the hotel with a Black and Blue cheeseburger, sweet potato fries and a Pepsi (a never ending glass of Pepsi it seems) with “Barb” the bar tender.  We had a good chat about my travel so far (as I was pretty much the only person around the bar for a good hour).  After my late lunch with Barb I headed back up to my room for the rest of the day/night.

The next morning I’m ready to tackle the city, even if it is via the city tour booked for the first half of the day.  At least this tour gets me into town where we cruise around the main sights of the city including the Rhyman Auditorium (the old “Grand Ole Opry”) and finishing off at the Music Hall of Fame.  By this time it’s around lunch and I’m left in town to explore on my own.  The sun is shining brightly, the roses in the city gardens are in full bloom and the many boots and hats shops are waiting my arrival.

Every second shop seems to be selling original cowboy boots and Stetsons.  My first stop on my mission to find the perfect pair of boots finds me at “Boots n Hats”.  The owner helps me out with finding the right size and goes through all the different fits, heels, styles and leather types.  He’s a huge help and I pretty much have the place and their attention all by myself.   I leave much better prepared to hit up the rest of the 40 stores with what seems to be over 100 different styles to choose from.

With the sun still shining brightly and my watch telling me its 6pm, my first night begins at the “Honkytonk Bar” in the middle of downtown “Broadway Street”.  The band is pumping and I know most of their songs.  My first drink of choice is “Corona, with lime”….. what I end up with though is a “Coors Light”.  I speak English, not quite sure how that one got lost in translation.  Anyway, this ended up being my first full beer that I’ve had in my lifetime…. I’m pretty sure it is anyway.  It’s so hot outside it actually wasn’t too bad.  Then my eyes scan the bar ads for the drinks they serve and lock on the “Lime-a-rita”.  A premix combination of Bud Lime (beer) and Tequila with a splash of lemon squash I’m sure.  They were delicious and yes I did end up having many more of them.  It also turns out that I’m not very good at hailing a cab so a lovely local helped me out with that one.  So the first day is done and dusted.

Day two ends up being an afternoon of shopping for the elusive perfect pair of boots again.  I end up going through all the stores again and find myself back in the first one that I visited yesterday.  After another half an hour I walk out with an impressive large bag with my very own pair of official Nashville cowboy boots and I love them.  Now all I have to do is get them home…..  Oh and I also book another couple of tours to do for the remainder of my time here and find myself at the Honkytonk bar again with my new friend the Lime-a-rita.

The next day I head down to the local US Postal Service office.  It’s time to send a few things home to help keep my bags under 50 lbs, including my new boots.  So a short 2 hours later I’m done, I don’t ever want to go through that experience again anytime soon.  With 3 minutes to spare I’m back at the hotel where my tour driver is waiting for me (he is 10 minutes early too).  I race up to my room to pick up my camera bag and high tail it back down to the driver where I make it onwards to my lunch time cruise on the General Jackson up and down the river.

I didn’t have too many expectations of this tour and hadn’t heard too much about it beforehand but it ended up being great.  We were in the first sitting for lunch, a buffet of cold and hot food with a choice of about 5 desserts to finish off.  When we first walked into the dining room every table was already set with glasses of what appeared to be beer.  The first thing I thought of was why would they assume that everyone would want a beer?????  Turns out it was iced tea, of course it was!!  After lunch while we were still seated, the entertainment began with a great band doing part covers from all the country and rock and roll greats.  One of the guys was blind and could do impersonations, he was amazing.  So after lunch we all were ushered out of the dining room and up to the upper decks to meet the band if we wanted to.  I head up one more flight to the back deck where the bar was open and the small stage was setup for another 2 man band to entertain us for the rest of the cruise.  It was such a perfect afternoon especially after the morning at the USPS.  With a few Smirnoff Ice cold ones down, we end up back at the dock and waiting for the bus to take us back to the hotels.  Throughout the afternoon’s activities I meet and chat with a lovely couple from Canada (Linda and Bob) who had driven their RV all the way down to Nashville, with their little dog along for the road.

Back at the hotel now and it’s a quick stop to drop off my big bags and head back into town for another night of live music and hopefully my new favourite drink.  My favourite watering hole now seems to be the Honkytonk.  After a few drinks it’s probably time for some food otherwise I’m going to fall off this chair (and I’m wearing a dress)…..  As another drink arrives in front of me another young lady comes over to say hello.  I had noticed earlier as we seemed to be both sitting at the bar by ourselves and I was waiting for her friend(s) to join her.  Turns out that she was there by herself also and we started to chat.  Miss “Kelley” from Nashville was about to make my night a whole lot more fun and lively.

So this is where our pub crawl begins….. Turns out Kelley had just moved to Nashville from working abroad but she did know a few good and tragic places for us to visit throughout the night.  So the next 6 hour are spent hopping from one bar the next, from one dance floor with a bachelor party to another with a bunch of college guys having one last party before going back to “uni”.  My new drink of choice turns out to be Apple Cider, much better than the ciders that I’ve had at home.  By this time another friend of Kelley’s has met up with us at one of the bars.  More dancing was had and th night just kept getting better.  At what turned out to be our last pub, the attack of the munchies finds us as well as another one of Kelley’s friends.  So the four of us order up a storm and graze while we thrash out a few games of pool.  By the time the bar staff were cleaning and packing up to close, we each went our separate ways and again the locals hailed a cab for me.  By this time it’s 3am on a Saturday morning and we all arrange to meet up again for breakfast/brunch that morning.

Unfortunately I completely missed both breakfast and brunch as the first time I woke and looked at the clock it was just before midday.  I just don’t recover as well as I used to.  But Kelley very kindly picks me up from the hotel that afternoon and we head to a local Tomato festival.   “It’s very small” she tells me…. There were so many people there with local streets closed and full with stalls selling everything from tomato related items, art, jewellery, food & drinks and even the cafés along the streets were overflowing with patrons.  There were people taking shelter on the shady front lawns of the residents of the streets.  It was great and felt just like home.  After the festival we head through the burbs and find somewhere for a late lunch (a very late lunch by then).  Mexican….. Chicken burrito…. Huge glass of Pepsi….. Perfect hangover food!  The meal was huge, yet again, that’s just how they do things here in the states.  After an unexpected yet great afternoon, my wonderful new friend dropped me back to the hotel, for tonight is my date with Keith!

For those of you who I now have your attention…… yes my date tonight is with Mr Keith Urban…. At the Grand Ole Opry, along with a few more acts who are playing in this wonderful theatre.  So to take you back to my first real day in Nashville when I was on my city tour, our tour guide was talking about one of the things that is a “must do” here in Nashville.  That is to go and see a sitting of the performers at the Grand Ole Opry.  This was on my list of things to do anyway but I had not yet booked a ticket.  Then he continues to tell us that this Saturday night, Keith Urban is playing.  My ears pricked up (and I was the only Aussie on the tour) and my plans were locked in.  Tickets for Saturday night it is!!!  It was as easy as walking up to the tour kiosk, asking for a ticket to Saturday night’s show and $38 later, I had a date with Keith Urban!!!

Anyway, back to the present time of Saturday night….. there is another couple waiting at my hotel for the shuttle to come pick us up for the show.  We arrive at the Opry at little early so the driver takes us around the residential streets and shows us some celebrity houses to fill in the time.  I know I should have written the down at the time but I can’t remember who they were now.  It’s almost show time so I stock up on a cool beverage and some popcorn (as this seems to be popular choice for most) and we head into the theatre.  The first act comes on stage and all of us in our row are packed in like sardines.  I literally have my shoulders and arms squashed in front of my upper body and I must look very special trying to feed popcorn into my mouth.  Turns out that there’s one too many people in our row.  By now it’s starting to get real hot and stuffy (two things together that don’t go well for me!).  With the big guy next to me falling asleep through the performances and the three ladies next me complaining about the extra person in our row, I manage to squeeze out of gap that is seat number C 10 and head up to the nearest usher to see if I can find another seat.

I had a pretty good seat to start with which was so close to the right side of the stage so I was hoping to get something just as good.  As it turns out I needn’t have worried.  My new seat, or seats should I say were 100 times better than my original.  After a few minutes of the lovely elderly lady usher going to confer with what seemed to be the head usher (another even elderly lady), I was shown to my new seat.  Row L, seat 5…. In the dead centre of the theatre, eye level to the stage and with about 3 spare seats to my left and right.  I pretty much had the whole bench to myself and I was right in front of the action.  I felt like royalty!!!  And hopefully the people back in row C weren’t so cramped anymore!  As all the artists have their 10 minutes on stage (only about 2 songs each), I soon notice a wave of fans moving up from their seats from all around the theatre, and swarm to the front of the stage.  This, my friends was the signal that we would not have to wait too much longer for Keith.  They were like moths to a flame!  Being such a huge star that he is, Keith got to sing 4 songs on stage.  Nothing like his full concerts that we have to wait for 2nd, 3rd and sometimes 4th concerts to be announced back at home (or travel to another city to get tickets), but still it took me to come half way across the globe and into another country in order to witness his talent live for the first time ever.  And it was definitely worth it!!!!  I just wish that all my die hard Keith Urban fan friends from home could have filled the 6 empty seats in my row, to share it with me!  And my big bag of popcorn!!!

After such a climax to mark almost the end of my time here in Nashville, my last official day was spent much like my first.  First some lunch (same again as the first day, it was that delicious!!) and more good conversation with Barb, followed by a few hours to kill out in the hotel gardens under the shade of the cherry blossom trees.  Before too long I was back at the airport and checked in for my flight to LA.  Oh and there’s only 1 more sleep now until Lisa joins me on the last few legs of my trip.  So excited now!!!