Our first full day in Nashville was full of sightseeing and visiting thanks to my good friend & awesome former boss-lady, Kat, and her knowledgeable Nashville-native husband, Brian. They were the hosts with the most!
I'm an admitted over-planner when it comes to travel. I sent Kat a lengthy list of places in Nashville I hoped to visit, and asked her to pick one or more that we could do together. Kat picked two places from my list, and we ended up hitting four places by the end of the day.
Kat & Brian picked up Chad and I in their super-comfy, king-cab truck. Our first stop was Bongo Java near Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities. Bongo Java serves breakfast all day -- yes, please! Our brunch was hearty and cheap. The order at the counter service was perfect for chatting without interruptions from a server. It was so nice to catch up a bit with Kat, and find out more about Kat's and Brian's adventures since moving to Tennessee.
After brunch Brian acted as tour-guide showing us beautiful, stately buildings around Vanderbilt and Belmont on the way to one of the best tourist traps I've ever seen, the Parthenon. In Nashville. It was pretty cool to see a full scale replica of Greece's famed Parthenon. I was floored by the giant Athena statue inside with its sheer size, gold leaf detailing and iconography on her headdress and shield. Look in the bottom left corner of the photo below. That's a full-size adult you see by the column, to give you a sense of scale. Giant. Athena.
After the Parthenon, Brian drove along Music Row pointing out famous clubs, record companies and music venues. We also checked out the waterfront terraces and pedestrian bridge. Brian gave us good insight into how Nashville changed over the past twenty years, including the population growth.
While downtown, we cruised through the historic and impressive Hermitage Hotel Lobby ever so briefly. No less than three uniformed hotel employees said "welcome" to us during our two minutes of looking at the lobby and its ornate, restored/maintained grandeur. While the employees smiled and said the word welcome, we understood that we needed to move along and not stop for any photo opps. The hotel lobby was full of men dressed in full suits on a hot day, discussing very important things, I'm just sure. *Click here for images from the Hermitage Hotel lobby.* *Click here for some history of Hermitage Hotel.*
Next up we went to Marathon Village, formerly the Marathon automobile factory, now home to many shops, a soda fountain, a coffee shop, a fancy artisan distillery and offices. It's cool to see old buildings repurposed with a nod to their historic pasts. There is a display in one of the lobbies of Marathon Village with photos and details about the old car factory.
After so much sweaty sight-seeing, we stopped at The Slider House for liquid refreshment. We tried to chat more, but the (over-caffeinated? anxious? well-meaning but clueless?) waiter checked on us every two minutes, making it difficult to finish a thought.
After Kat and Brian dropped us back at Printer's Alley, Chad and I rested a bit from our very full day before walking to Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant for dinner. This place is all about barbecue. We both left smelling of barbecue. Chad got a plate with three different kinds of meat on it. "Good for you, not for me", says the vegetarian. Our sweet server, Valerie, kindly helped me navigate the menu to find vegetarian options: a few of the side dishes could be assembled as a veggie plate or a veggie burger with fries. I got the veggie burger and added a fried green tomato to it. Yum! Also huge! Chad and I both took half of our meals back to the loft in to-go boxes. I'm thankful that our loft had a full-size refrigerator. I do not enjoy trying to cram leftovers into a mini-fridge amongst mini-bar items when traveling.
We slowed our roll a bit for the rest of our Nashville trip. Check back for more travelogue soon.