The Southern States – Part 1 Georgia, South Carolina & Tennessee

Published: March 18th 2014
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Savannah – The Little Southern Belle Where ‘Yes Ma’am Meets Dude’

After a pretty comfortable and what seemed like quick 11 hour train ride on the Amtrak from Miami we arrive in Savannah, Georgia at 7.45pm and get one of only 2 cabs at the station (and gave another passenger a lift in as well). We are checked into ‘The Hippest Inn in Savannah’ – the Thunderbird Inn. It’s a funky motel which looks like a diner when lit up at night.

Unfortunately their Wi-Fi is on the blink which is a pain, but the staff help us with info about where to eat etc. The place is within walking distance of the Historic District and places to eat which is great and the Greyhound Bus depot is directly opposite – very convenient for our next trip.

We make our way into the City Market area where a lot of the bars and eateries are. It’s Sunday and mostly busy with students from the Savannah College of Art & Design – SCAD for short. They (SCAD) seem to own a lot of the interesting buildings in town too. We settle for the D & B Burger joint which does a host of beers, some amazing burgers (including Bison) and was hosting the Oscars live on screen – with a party of filmmakers in a closed off section.

We later discovered that the town has been the centre of many a great film including Forest Gump. The bench he sat on with his box of chocolates is now in the Museum of History – talk about self-promotion!

The next day it’s a lazy morning till we go to the Visitor Centre near us and catch a Trolly bus for a ride around the highlights of Savannah. It takes 1.5 hours and is really informative – so would recommend it. There are 3 companies doing basically the same trip but charges vary by 100%. We went with Oglethorpe Trolley Tours for $15 each + taxes which we felt was great value as opposed to the near $30 each the others were charging, & the Visitor Centre advised that they all run the same service.

Having not much knowledge of the southern states, it’s really interesting to learn about the local history and despite the infamous period of slavery, the place comes across as quite genteel, no doubt part of it’s English Heritage since the 18th century. Downtown Savannah is laid out in a grid pattern – it has 24 squares with historic monuments in most of them. The architecture is southern with many antebellum houses, a Victorian quarter, the Riverside which was once about cotton warehouses and trade and now an area of bars, restaurants and places for souvenirs.

Highlights of the tour are the City Market Square, The Catholic Cathedral which is beautiful inside, some of the traditional houses with their separate staircases to the front door for men and women, the squares which have an elegance given by the live oak tree’s shrouded in Spanish moss (though the downside of that is the “jiggers” – little biting things – that live in the moss), the home of the founder of the Girl Guides, and of course the square where the feather lands at the feet of Forest Gump in the film!!

Bits of history we weren’t familiar with – they banned Catholics (because they thought they would support the Spanish from Florida), Lawyers as they felt they could defend themselves, Blacks (obviously, unless they were slaves) and drink. However, something has changed as there are Lawyer Firms on virtually every corner – a reflection on the American way perhaps?

John Wesley who started the Methodists was here for a couple of years and has a Square. The English who colonised the state got on well with the native Indians (Yamacraws Indian Tribe who are still in the district) and their Tribal chief Tomo Chi Chi also has a memorial stone in one of the squares.

There is a synagogue in the town thanks to the yellow fever which had gripped the townsfolk when a ship with Jewish people arrived. They were not to be allowed in but as they had a Jewish doctor on board a special case was made and they were admitted to the town (a condition the doctor made to help out.)

Savannah apparently holds the second largest Irish St Patrick’s day parade in the US after New York. Many shops and houses have already started displaying green ornaments and Irish flags and leprechauns on doors as part of the preparations. About a million people descend on the town apparently. It’s not clear when and why the Irish actually arrived here?

There’s also a French influence that lingers here from the past (allies of the English to keep the Spanish out). The French also had soldiers – mainly black Haitians - who came and fought for the ‘allies’ and they have a memorial near the City Market.

It’s also a mystery as to why they consider the town as the most haunted in the US – there are many Ghost walks and there’s a history of Ghostbusters being called in and Exorcism being practised here – wow! Perhaps it has to do with the slaves’ belief in and apprehension of ghosts – which required their rooms to be painted in indigo to ward off evil spirits. Another theory is that the town is built on an old cemetery ground and that the founding fathers didn’t pay much attention to the clearance plans?? Take your pick!

We lunch at Goose Feathers cafe recommended to us by the motel, a lovely little café with really cheap eating options and great food. For dinner it’s Vinny Van Go Go (a take on Vincent!) – a Pizza place, again recommended by the motel. Cash only but very large and tasty pizza options with a range of additional toppings. Good value and tasty. It’s a university town so there are many options ideal for students.

The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is one of a very few buildings or centres that recognizes in anyway the years of slavery and discrimination of black people in the town. It’s almost as if they are in denial. It’s largely about the Civil Rights boycotts undertaken in the town in the 50s and 60s. It’s a stark reminder about how not very long ago racial segregation was an institutionalised part of life and a horrendous experience for African Americans. Entry was $8 each and we were shown a short video. It was worth it as a reminder of a bad time in human history.

What is noticeable is that though the population of the town is 59% black and only 39 % white – we only see black folks in low paid jobs and not going out in the town. There also don’t seem to be many who attend SCAD though this has an international student body apparently. There are a few Asian shopkeepers around who operate the normal mini marts in the poorer areas – very much akin to the UK experience.

What is surprising is that there are no supermarkets in town. The nearest is 30mins walk away and the Publix needs a car as it miles away apparently. Just as well there is an Asian liquor store a block away for some beers to keep us going. It is noticeable that once outside the main town ‘tourist district’ that the place becomes more run down and derelict in appearance.

Unfortunately the weather can’t quite make up its mind. It’s cloudy and cold to start then gets warm and the sun comes out after a few spots of rain. Unfortunately in the evening there’s a thunderstorm and the forecast for the next 2 days are pretty cold - it’s going down from 78 to 48 degrees F but the sun might shine a bit? So fingers crossed. However, no such luck and our final day see more persistent rain but a warmer 51 degrees …. Yeah!

Other than walking around a cold town with thermals and taking pictures of some interesting areas, buildings and interesting spots in the grey light (a shame as we are sure the town looks awesome in sunshine), we make our way to Angel’s a delightful and hard to find little Dive which does BBQ pork and brisket – just beside the famous Presbyterian Church as a marker. The food is cheap and really awesome – we did the pulled pork and a brisket sandwich with great BBQ beans and mac & cheese for C. It was fab and the various sauces on offer helped. It’s run by a couple who live above the place. We’d recommend anyone to definitely come here for lunch. They have restricted operating times so check.

So our final day arrives as does the rain and hangs around for a while in the morning. The silver lining for us is that we get on with booking other sections of our road trip – boy and is it time consuming especially with no Wi-Fi for the laptop but we did get an AT&T SIM (we have a month’s use with 3G data for a month only $30 well worth it) for the iPad which has been fantastic for us – the best Xmas present for us – thanks to Sarah, Louise & Ben.

Time for the visit to the famous food Institution in town – Mrs Wilkes House. People queue for hours here. It’s a taste of southern cooking. For $18 each they serve a table of people (about 8 to 10) 24 different dishes including one desert. It’s good fun and you really get stuffed full. However, there were so many dishes – so much you couldn’t try it all and no one informed folks what was what in terms of dishes, names, contents etc. The fried chicken, beef stew, collard greens, mac & cheese, grits with cheese (or was it mash and cheese?) were good – as were the deserts. The rest were vegetables of various sorts. The meat loaf and the gumbo rice were ok and no one got near to touching the white rice. We didn’t find the biscuits and gravy as good as Dennys though!! It was an enjoyable experience but not one we would do again.

We then tried to walk off the food by going around town to take a few last pictures even though the weather is pretty grey. We visited the Railway Museum – which you have to pay for to go in but given that we could see the display from the car park it seemed a waste of money to do so. The History Museum isn’t so brilliant either but it passes the time.

The town seems to have been made more famous by the publication of a novel called ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ set in the town and apparently based on real life characters, which was made into a film Directed by Clint Eastwood in 1997. It’s about a murder and trial involving a gay relationship and drag queen – seems very un Savannah like (but perhaps the real town behind the gloss?!).

What is clear however is that this small town has marketed itself really well on the little that it has and is a good lesson in how to reinvent a town when the main Industry has long gone? SCAD has helped – the institute that started in 1971 with 700, now takes 7,000 from across the states and internationally. They naturally have promoted the Arts in all its forms. There are big Music Festivals held, Film Festivals, Art Festival etc – you name it. They also have a culinary walking tour along with horse drawn carriage rides! Full marks to the town fathers for a great job – well done Savannah.

Charleston – South Carolina; ‘The Holy City’ & home of the ‘Charleston’ in the Low Country

It’s early to rise at 5.30am for our first Greyhound bus trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Thankfully here the bus stop is literally opposite the Thunderbird Inn where we have been staying. The check in etc is smooth, though the bus arrives late (and not a normal Greyhound one at that! Looks like a subsidiary company or alternative bus company doing the route.) By the way the Greyhound Bus station in Savannah is pretty modern and in great shape unlike the hell hole of a ‘portacabin’ bus stop we went to in Downtown Miami to book and pick up tickets.

The bus is pretty decent (leg room a bit narrow – not quite Amtrak where we could stretch out in comfort!). The 2 hour trip quick but observing the countryside was interesting. We are surprised at how much marsh land there is here and in Florida. We see many very small settlements (some only 2 houses in a field) along the way.

We arrive at the North Charleston Bus stop and the lady there is helpful and tells us where to catch the bus to downtown – the No 11 – which costs us $1.75 each rather than the $30 we were informed by our motel by cab! The bus drops us off at the Visitor centre downtown by the entrance (an unofficial stop). Great service. The Visitor centre is pretty impressive and has a load of information and we get $2 each discounts for each tour we book through them – though they don’t quite advertise this. They are based in a building that used to be the old Train Station.

We check out what’s on and decide that due to the rain we’d better go to our motel – The Red Roof Inn – 3 miles away and the No 40 goes right by there – lucky us. There also a small mall (Partriots Mall) within walking distance with a supermarket and some good eateries – phew!

C visited Charleston 23 years ago as part of a Rotary study exchange and she loved it. It will be interesting to see how much has changed.

We buy the 3 day bus pass for $12 each for unlimited trips and then go back into town for lunch at Alluette Jones’s soul food café, a small trendy new place run by a black lady where we meet some folks from Maine who will be going to Italy with Trafalgar Tours – Kevin & Terri (our neighbours back home who work for them might be their guide?). Small world or what???. The café is into organic, alternative and ‘No Pork’ not sure why? We have an amazing seafood stew and Lima bean soup with bread rolls with sun slushed tomatoes – fab!

As the heavens have opened we take a ride on the DASH bus (a trolley really) which is free around the historic area for ½ hour and then decide to go ‘home’ as the rain is persistent! With the heating set at 78 degrees we get on with more planning and booking of various other stops on this big road trip.

There are 3 free trolley bus services on offer to various parts of the city. We take one through the central district as it’s raining and to get some orientation. We notice a number of Irish pubs around and there is also a Jewish Synagogue in addition what seems like hundreds of churches of various denominations – hence the title ‘The Holy City’. Most of this goes back to the various evangelic churches that sprung up during and after slavery.

So after a dull rain soaked day, it’s beers and a take out from Melvins BBQ (spare ribs) for dinner.

Next day we head to Jestine’s for brunch. It’s a fab southern food joint named for the lady who was a black cook for a family – they cook food like she did as her food was that good. She passed away at the ripe old age of 112 in 1997. Her legacy lives on we feel as we try fried green tomatoes, pecan fried Whiting with fried okra and corn bread with butter and honey. Wow a totally new experience and reasonably priced. By mid-day there is a queue to get in around the block .

With not much else to do in the rain, we take a Bus Tour of Charleston’s Highlights: - $19 ($2 discounted for booking at the Visitor centre which was a pleasant surprise); We see various churches from the 18th century; The Old Slave Market, The City Market – with cobbled streets but now a tourist craft market, The Battery – which is an area of lovely houses, some wooden built which was the style in the 18th century and some fabulous Antebellum Mansions that belonged to the rice plantation owners of the time – there even a house where George Washington stayed for a week.

We are also told about Fort Sumter where the first shots of the American Civil war were fired - though we can’t see it as it’s so misty - and after 4 years and 650,000 lives the war ended with the defeat of the confederate forces. Note: that’s more people that the US have lost in all their foreign wars put together!

There are a few cobbled streets in the ‘French District and Historic District; Rainbow Street which is a street of houses in various colours in a row – quite pretty and Catfish Row which was the setting for Gershwins Porgy and Bess ; there’s a Confederation Museum (not advertised, but they do seem to celebrate their secessionist past here!); Some of the Antebellum houses are part of the College of Charleston (University really) and others are very grand B & Bs. The town has an amazing array of cast iron and wrought iron works a feature of the historic town houses – a famous blacksmith called Philip Simmons was responsible for much of these.

Outside the Charleston Museum is a replica of the H.L Hunley, considered to be the first operational submarine in the world which sunk the US ship during the civil war but did not return and was found in 2000 just off the coast and is now being restored.

‘The Charleston’ dance was born here out of a dance by young black orphans who were supported by a local reverend who gave them schooling and taught them how to play music to pay for the orphanage. It’s astounding to note that slavery was actually abolished in 1808 yet the Civil Rights bill was not passed till 1964 and equality is still being fought for day in and day out.

What is evident is that the practices and barbarism of slavery is glossed over in the tour. However, not so when we go to Boone Hall – one of the Plantation houses the next day – more of this later.

The Gullah (some say Gullah & Geechie) Culture and cuisine is quite widely promoted here. There are a few tours that celebrate the African heritage of black people, and tours with a focus on slavery which we would have done but for the weather being so bad – so we bought a book on it instead. We dine at Charlotte’s Gullah Cuisine Restaurant in Mt Pleasant a bus ride away from our Motel. We try She Crab Soup, Shrimp & Grits (or Hominy) and Gullah Rice – all fantastic.

As it’s to be our last day and the forecast is for sunshine we book to see Boone Hall, a plantation home not far from where we are staying. We get there by cab. The house itself is not the original plantation house but a brick built upgrade by a later owner. It is famous for its avenue of old live oaks that form an arch for about ½ a mile at the entrance to the Hall. It’s impressive and the Spanish moss adds to the allure of it all. Because of all the rain the bus tour of the grounds is cancelled as the land is water logged. However, we do spend time in The Slave Street a row of 9 brick built houses for slaves – the favoured few (mainly skilled artisans and trusted domestic help). The slaves who worked the land had wooded shacks built out in the field and were very overcrowded. There are no remnants of them (or the other 2 rows of brick houses) that seem to have been destroyed by flood, hurricane or neglect. The houses now serve as mini museums showing various facets of slave history and life. The slaves largely came from West Africa and there is an exhibit that lists all the ships that brought slaves in – detailing how many and how many died en route. Quite chilling. What it does demonstrate is how the US has been influenced and enriched by the experience of the slaves who brought many skills, great endeavour and laid down their lives for a country that treated them so badly for a very long time.

There is also a brilliant guided tour of the Plantation Home by a guy called Bob who is very informative and is blunt about the brutality of slavery in the south. He also tells us that the Live Oaks along the drive were photographed and used as a back drop in ‘Gone with the Wind’; despite popular belief none of the film was actually made there.The plantation’s main crops were initially Indigo and Cotton, but then became clay bricks and Pecan. We did try some of the Hall’s terrific Pecan nut Ice cream – to be recommended.

We also visit the Cotton Gin which is now shored up and due for restoration and the Cotton Dock by the Creek from where the commercial aspect of the business was conducted by canoes guided by poles. The area now looks picturesque and opposite are grand homes with fancy motor boats parked outside.

We attend the Gullah Geechie Culture show which is very well done and most illuminating. The Gullah Geechies are only found in the coastal areas of the south and the folks from this heritage and tradition have developed their own way of speaking, living, worshipping and being self-sufficient. The word Gullah comes from a West African word shortened, and till the early ‘70s the word Geechie was seen as a derogatory term for slaves who dealt with rice farming in Georgia. However, it has lately been elevated to recognise the skills of these folks and what they had to offer.

The art form still prevalent today from the days of slavery are the making of containers small and large from the reeds of the river bed. They now fetch anything above $500 a piece for a small bread basket. (Note to self by C: must tell Pete not to give the one’s she bought 23 years ago to the jumble sales!)

Following the trip to Boone Hall we get a cab back and hop on a bus to the Historic District as it’s a lovely sunny day and we take hundreds of pictures of the many delightful building and Mansions around. We visit the waterfront and there is a cruise ship docked in port; opposite a WW2 Aircraft carrier is docked at Patriots Bay and can be visited – though we don’t have time; the mix of people is interesting with many prosperous African Americans around unlike Savannah.

The town has definitely reinvented itself and is now promoted as a culinary destination with some justification. New comers are a few ethnic restaurants – Vietnamese, Greek, Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, Moroccan. But there is also a good focus on southern food. While we are there, there is a food and wine expo but at $45 per ticket we decide not to go.

Before we get the bus to Nashville we drop in for a quick Brisket Sandwich at Sticky Fingers. We get to the towns bus stop well in advance but the bus to the Greyhound station is about ½ hour late so we have to catch a cab instead so that we don’t miss the bus. We make it just in time – phew!

Nashville – Tennessee; ‘The Music City’

We get the 10pm overnight Bus from North Charleston (leaving at 10.15pm) on the way to Nashville. We expect to change at Atlanta Georgia at about 4.30 am the next day but are advised the bus is only going as far as Columbia, South Carolina where we will get out at 12.30am and get a bus to Nashville at 12.55am. Unscheduled stop already – so what next? After some weird activity between the driver leaving us and the guy taking us forward we eventually leave at 1.25am. These guys did try our patience!

The clocks are supposed to go forward an hour so we are not sure how things will pan out as the change over time is only 40 mins and we are late already. We eventually get to Atlanta at 5.30am (old time) and 6.30am new time. However, it seems everything is in a mess. We are sent to get onto the ‘right’ bus which eventually leaves at near 7 am. The only saving grace is the new driver Randall who had a great sense of humour and kept us entertained through various sections of the trip and we get to Nashville at 10.15 about 1 hour 15 mins late! We feel sorry for the guys who have missed their connections as they will have a long wait. Other than Randall we find that the Greyhound bus (only on the last leg as the first 2 sections were dealt with by Southeast Stages on behalf of Greyhound) was pretty new and had Wi-Fi, with charger plugs and leather seats etc – we are impressed. The bus station at Nashville is really modern and about 1.5 miles from Downtown – we could walk but elect to take the 15 bus which we catch outside opposite the bus station.

We are booked into Music City Hostel, about a mile from downtown but we go to the downtown branch of the Hostel – near the river ($80 vs $125 for the Riverfront branch) as advised by Ron the owner and check in as our room isn’t ready until later. We leave our gear there and go to Dun’s for coffee and breakfast – just in time as they close at 12 on Sunday. Great coffee and peach muffin.

It’s a sunny day – the first for a while here and everyone is out lapping it up. It is also the spring break for a lot of colleges in the US so the hostel is full as is the town which we discover is really small and walk able.

Nashville’’s at the heart of Country Music in the US – hence the name ‘Music City’ – and there’s live music coming from every bar or café along The Broadway. There are also speakers built into small boxes at the street corners suddenly blaring out Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton or Roy Orbison …… can take you by surprise but it’s fun and lively and adds to the atmosphere even if it’s a bit fake and put on. The US at its best really.

As Ron has offered to drop us off at the Patterson St Hostel we have a quick look around town – the Visitor centre and The Broadway mainly – then to the Hostel which is in a quiet neighbourhood. There’s not much nearby but we find a few eateries and stores within walking distance – and best of all it has a BBQ so we can eat in.

It’s a lovely day so we walk into downtown for some food shopping so we can have a BBQ for dinner which we do with C doing some great salad to go with it. The delights of hostel living.

We have a late breakfast after a good night’s rest then walk into town, though quieter than Sunday things liven up around mid-day. We book to go to the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night – being picked up and dropped off at the hostel $123 for 2 of us – after all this is what we came here for. We walk around town, taking in some of the sights; The Walk of Fame (a poor imitation of the LA walk of fame with stars plaques on the sidewalk, with many names we hadn’t even heard of). The Johnny Cash Museum is not far away and we drop in there. We also go across the iron bridge (dedicated to war veterans) which gives good views of downtown. We drop into the old Union Station building – which is now a hotel. The interior is pretty sumptuous and it’s pretty impressive with stain glass windows and roof. Definitely would have been an amazing station. Next to it is the Centre for Visual Arts just on the edge of ‘The District’.

C must go into Mike’s Ice Cream & Coffee Bar – the oldest in town which did mean homemade ice creams which C could not resist so she has a mixed ½ scoop of pecan and ½ scoop of blueberry cheesecake – only in the US can you do this. Next we visit Printer’s Alley – a small strip of a Blues Bars and Bars with pole dancing girls (with a sign that says ‘Play & Dance Theatre’!), There’s a Coyote Ugly Bar in town just like the movie – great for Hen & Stag nights we suppose.

The town is dominated by the AT&T tower (which looks vaguely like Batmans tower at night), and the impressive Bridgestone Buildings – the latter is home to the local Ice Hockey team and the Visitor centre. The Symphony Orchestra building is nearby. Most things touristy/musical seem to happen on The Broadway – about ½ a mile long. It’s colourful, full of history and music is in the air. Due to appear locally are Billy Joel, Cher, Sheryl Crow and a host of Country singers we are not familiar with. It definitely is a Music City!

One of the big things in town is the number of stores that have Boots and Stetsons for sale, most stores do a buy one get 2 free deal on cowboy/girl boots and they are pretty good quality and in all colours and sizes. The prices are amazingly cheap too – for 3 pairs!!

This seems to be Harley Davidson City as well – we have not seen so many around before. In all shapes, sizes and colours – but all with that same famous sound.

We decide to go out for the night and sample the various music bars – all free to enter. We start at Nashville’s Legendary Legends Corner where the band is pretty good with a great lead guitar and bass player. The lead singer’s voice was a bit weak though the harmonies in the band were good and some of the others sang a lot better. Next stop it’s Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge – a historical music venue a couple of doors away. It was packed and a bit more expensive on the beers, but it was definitely the best show on the night. We finish at Robert’s Western World – Western Swing Country Music which is good with a band of guys with a long pedigree – some who have played with many of the Country Music legends. The food unfortunately was crap – but we didn’t have much choice as the Jacks BBQ where we wanted to go closed at 9pm. A strange quirk of US culture in small towns – many places close really early, some as early as 5 and 6 pm. We walk back to the hostel as Nashville seems quite well lit and feels safe.

The next day is 80+degrees F and warm. We continue our discovery of the town and go to Capitol Hill – the working Legislature of the state. You can go in and have a tour around for free. The building is impressive with bust sculptures of two Tennessean Presidents of the US – Andrew Jackson and James Polk. The War Museum is around the corner with memorials to the Korean & Vietnam soldiers.

Near the riverfront is a replica of Fort Nashborough which represents the settlers village that was first established to start Nashville. The ‘founding fathers’ were John Donelson and James Robertson, leaders (we assume they were Scottish) of two clans who were prospecting the area but signed a pact to work in co-operation. They have statues of the 2 with a plaque that refers to the locals Indians as savages (whom they slaughtered and dispossessed) and they as settlers are referred to a brave pioneers and men of destiny etc – such American historic bullshit. Apparently President Andrew Jason was responsible for the greatest slaughter of Indians through their repatriation – mostly women and children died on the journey to lands far away.

Later we head back to The Broadway for lunch at Jack’s BBQ – Tennessee Pork shoulder, ribs and smoked sausage with BBQ beans and potato salad (the latter a mistake, the rest ok).

We booked for a trip to The Grand Ole Opry show that night and get picked up at the hostel. The show is at Opryland about 10 miles out of town. It’s run live as a radio show – so advertising sponsors such as Dollar General, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, and Humana (a health care Insurance company) punctuates each act. Quite bizarre. We haven’t heard of most of the folks heading the singing list however, the big guns are Jim Ed Brown – who did Little Jimmy Brown which M recalls from his youth, Connie Smith and Pam Tillis who headlined. During the show a ‘surprise guest ’appears (C insists that we put this in – not sure why?) a guy called Trace Adkins obviously a popular country singer as the crowd goes wild. He’s a giant of a guy but M isn’t impressed with his singing – maybe that’s not his appeal?

Next day the weather changes and it’s down to 50 degrees F – nuts. It’s cold and cloudy. We go for the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum Visit and a trip to RCA Records Studio B tour. Some of the stars who recorded here are Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Charley Pride, Jim Reeves, Paul McCartney & Connie Smith. The tour is really well conducted with snippets of various artists songs played at different points while showing old videos, demonstrating the instruments used and the recording studio etc.

The Country Music Hall of Fame is a detailed history of the birth and evolution and reinvention of country music in the US from Hill Billy to rockabilly to Country Music as we know it today. It’s on 3 floors with memorabilia from all the stars (including Elvis’ gold Cadillac and Piano) and videos of the time. What is surprising to M is that he realises that unbeknown to him he actually was brought up on US Country Music when he was growing up in India.

Nashville is in ‘The Bible belt’ of the US and it’s pretty evident at times. Outside the hospital there is quite an impressive large sculpture of various people - however in the nude and this caused and still does a lot of angst to the holy citizens of Nashville. Apparently they decorate the statues every so often to cover them up!

Despite the cool weather we do a BBQ for dinner at the hostel – pork – which comes out great, and spend the evening chatting to some of the other guests. Next morning we have another Greyhound journey onto our next destination – St Louis.

All in all Nashville has been the most surprising of the places that we have visited so far and it’s been a pure delight. It deserves The Music City label.

Additional photos below
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18th March 2014

Great Post
Nice post thanks for sharing this useful information
18th March 2014

Brave Folks
Public transportation in the US is usually fairly dreadful for long distances. I think you're very brave to travel by Greyhound, and I say this as someone who lives here! I hope you are planning on hitting Chicago on your travels; it's my favorite US city. And if you come to San Diego, let me know.

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