Monday, August 17, 2015

Nashville Charms

At the risk of angering legions of country music fans, I must confess that neither Chad nor I are country music fans. Sure, Chad dabbles in some mopey alt-country bands such as Dawes, Wilco and The Jayhawks, but overall, not so much with the country music. We went to Nashville... and did not go to Opryland, did not seek out live country music and did not tour Ryman Auditorium. Also, I'm a vegetarian, and did not partake in the fine food offerings of barbecue or hot chicken for which Nashville is famous. We did lots of other fun stuff instead!

We arrived in Nashville on a Monday in the late afternoon, and cabbed it straight to our accommodations in the Printer's Alley Lofts from the airport. Our cab driver told us how much Nashville is growing and how fast it is changing. We saw construction cranes on the horizon, road improvement projects happening and deep pits dug out for the foundations of huge new buildings. We also saw many historic buildings in Nashville with beautifully maintained and/or restored facades all over the greater downtown area. Comparatively, Austin has Congress Avenue, Judges' Hill and parts of Sixth Street with a smattering of historic buildings. I quipped that Austin is the kind of city that would be born if Nashville and Los Angeles had a baby: some live music, a few historic buildings, too much traffic, some famous people and lots of shiny, new stuff.

Our destination, Printer's Alley, is likened to a miniature version of Bourbon Street, in the middle of the downtown Nashville hustle. It was named for the printing industry that once occupied the land. Printer's Alley was also part of the "men's quarter" where a few generations of men went to behave in most ungentlemanly ways. Liquor during prohibition? Sure. Burlesque shows? Plenty. No-tell motels? Yep. Yay for history! Currently Printer's Alley features karaoke bars, blues bars and restaurants with controversial plans for a new hotel.

The charming entrance to Printer's Alley Lofts 

Our studio rental in the Printer's Alley Lofts had historic touches like hardwood floors and exposed brick walls with modern conveniences such as great air-conditioning, a heavenly spa jet bathtub, and double-paned windows that kept out the street noise. Since we had a kitchen in our loft, bigger than our kitchen at home I might add, we walked to HG Hill Urban Market for provisions such as peanut butter, dark chocolate, milk, coffee, frozen waffles and crinkle-cut carrots. This mini-market has a great selection of deli foods, dry goods, dairy and produce for such a compact space!

One does not typically think, "I'm in Nashville. I think I'll go to an English-style pub," but I was getting hangry after a traveling most of the day and missing lunch. (Hunger-induced anger/crankiness = hangry). Fleet Street Pub was just downstairs from our loft, and serves veggie burgers with British-style chips (thick wedge-cut french fries). Chad had fish and chips, but was dainty and picked the breading off of the fish, and did not eat most of his chips. (I know! I don't get it either.) On a hot, sunny day in Nashville, the subterranean cool & dark of the pub was most welcome. My only complaint: it was surprising to see/smell people smoking in a restaurant or bar. (Austin is a clean-air city with no smoking allowed in restaurants and in most bars. We're spoiled that way.) Chalk it up to being in tobacco country, I guess. 

We were in the heart of downtown Nashville, just steps from Broadway: the street in Nashville synonymous with nightlife and live music venues. After dinner we went for a looky-loo walk to gawp at all the neon signs along Broadway. Just wow. *Click here for images.* With all the great live country music happening around us, we committed country music sacrilege by stopping only for Savannah's Candy Kitchen. Mmmm... candy.

But wait, there's more. Check back for more Nashville travelogue soon.