Last Saturday morning, my brother and I got up at 5:30 in the morning in order to drive 6.5 hours to Nashville, TN. We forgot about the time change, which means we could have slept until 6:30. We are both still alive despite getting up before the sun.
Our first stop in Nashville was Opry Mills mall, near Opryland and the Grand Ole Opry. We saw the Operahouse and the hotel from a distance, and I was impressed by their grandeur. I was more impressed with the restaurant that we ate at: Aquarium Restaurant. The middle of the building was a huge aquarium with 7-inch thick glass walls. The restaurant employs five marine biologists who feed the fish, take care of the tank, and who provide educational programming at the sting-ray pool next door.
This is where it got exciting: I got to feed and pet live sting-rays! Most people who know me understand how much I love rays, so this was like a dream come true. I expected rays to feel like sharks or dolphins, but their skin is rubbery and slick. They seemed to have their own individual personalities as they came to the edge of the pool to take the shrimp from our hands. I was never brave enough to hold onto the shrimp long enough to feel the ray take it, but my brother got a huge hickie on his knuckle from the suction of the ray’s mouth.
When we got to downtown Nashville, we drove through the city to get acquainted with the roads and to sort of acclimate to the way the city was situated. Once we dropped everything off at our hotel, we were shuttled back downtown and told to call by 10:30 in order to get a ride back for free. After 10:30, we would have to pay for a taxi. We started off by just walking around and looking at souvenir shops, passing by the bars, and discovering the oddities of the town.
Saturday our first stop was Fort Nashborough. I think I would have liked to live there, then. On our way back to 2nd street from the fort, we passed by Coyote Ugly, and although I wanted to go in, we thought better of it. We then went to a bar called the Stage on Broadway. No cover charge. $14 for a Maker’s and Coke and a Jack and Coke. There was the cover charge. The Stage was next door to Jack’s Bar-B-Que where we went for dinner. We stood in line for what seemed like forever, and the barbecue was good so it wasn’t disappointing. That night we ended up at the Big Bang, a dueling piano bar. I had a first gin and tonic and a Sam Adam’s Lager. Adam had a gin and tonic and a martini, then he sang ALL of Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby with the pianist. It only would have been better if he could have gone up on stage.
On Sunday, we got up early and went across the street to Starbucks for breakfast. Our first stop was the Parthenon, which was closed on Sundays. Of course, none of our tourist information told us it was closed, because we would have gone there on Saturday when we first got to Nashville. So, we walked around the perimeter and then headed back to buy the souvenirs/gifts we wanted. For lunch, we went to the Nashville Farmer’s Market and had braised oxtail, pineapple sweet potatoes, fried plantains, johnny cakes, and ginger beer at a restaurant called Jamaicaway. We then explored the market/flea market and bought a few things at their International Market. After that we went back to the hotel for a few minutes, then headed back downtown to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts . That Sunday was family day, so admission was free and there were people dressed in Medeival dress to celebrate the opening of an exhibit of Medieval art that was on loan from the Cleveland Museum of Art. The best exhibit was a collaborative exhibit with a local homeless shelter. When we left Frist, we went to the Stage again. I had a $4 Pabst Blue Ribbon, and we listened to a band that was pretty bad for about an hour while we killed time before we were supposed to meet for our ghost tour. We chose to go on the Haunted Tavern Tour. We visited three pubs: Past Present, McFaddin’s, and Buffalo Billiards. I think we had drinks at two of them, and there was no “ghost tour discount.” Certainly, Nashville makes their money by charging too much for beer. After walking all over Nashville, we finished out the night at Big River Brewery with nachos and salads. Big River reminded me a lot of Rock Bottom Brewery in Indianapolis. The food was good. We were exhausted.
When Monday morninng came, we had to say good-bye. Sadly. We got up early and went out of Nashville to Loveless Cafe where, song of the south, I had BBQ for breakfast! Talk about my fantasy come true. After I ordered my breakfast, I sort of worried for a minute that it would be some lame-ass breakfast barbecue, but when our waitress brought it out nestled between two soft-fried eggs on two tiny corn pancakes, I was pleased as punch to see that it was genuine pulled-pork BBQ! I have never had such a delicious breakfast. Grits, BBQ, biscuits, and eggs. Completed only with a nice, steaming mug of coffee. On our way home we stopped at Jungle Jim’s to look around. We bought a few things and then headed to Indy to get Adam’s computer. By the time he dropped me off at my house at 8:30 or 9, I was beat. I fell asleep pretty quickly and woke up sick.
One of the things I bought at Jungle Jim’s was beer. I know you are surprised. I got five porters and a Dogfish Head ale. Last night I drank the first two with some of Bec’s homemade spaghetti sauce. While I was gone, she made beef potpies and spaghetti sauce. Am I lucky woman or what?! Anyway, I had Dead Reckoning Porter by Troegs Brewery. It was dark with a nice cream-colored head that faded pretty quickly. The flavor was dark with a little hint of coffee and a little bite. It wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t my least favorite either. I am not sure what some people at Beer Advocate were drinking, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t the same beer I had. One guy said the head was long-lasting. Mine faded after about five minutes. The other beer I had is one of my new favorites: Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch. It has a nice pour, with a pure white head on top of nice, bright yellow lacey body. The head fades really quickly, and you are left with the bubbly goodness of muscat grapes, honey, barley, and saffron. You can definitely taste the grapes, which made this beer more like a mead. Fine with me. Yum.