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North America » United States » Tennessee
January 28th 2016
Published: January 28th 2016
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Our first taste of the south brings us to the city of Nashville. Home of country music, 14 hours of live music everyday and the place where unknowns come to be discovered. The city is teaming with part time entertainers, part time uber drivers all hoping to make a name for themselves in the music industry. Even the people who worked at our hostel were from all over the globe, all hoping to gain a foot in the door on the scene.

Getting here from DC probably had to be one of the worst overnight journeys we've had to make...Ever. And we've travelled a lot. This was also the first time for us catching the notorious greyhound bus. Many Americans we'd met prior to coming to the US always looked at us in shock, followed by pity. “Greyhound is the bus newly released prisoners use to catch a ride home” they said. "Hire a car instead, its so cheap". Cheap? Yes, if you’re on a short vacation, unfortunately for us we decided our budget couldn't stretch that far, plus American roads scare us. Bus would be fine. Thankfully the problem was not our fellow passengers. No far from it.

The 12 hour bus ride would have been fine if greyhound allowed its passengers to sleep. We found ourselves being startled and woken up with the driver shouting something incoherent and lights being switched on to their brightest at every stop possible between DC and Nashville. This included a McDonalds stop at 1.45am and everybody being told to get off at one stop in Knoxville around 4am collect their luggage, only to board the very same bus an hour later. Who the hell does this. We were very tired when we finally got to Nashville to say the least.

One thing we picked up on during our bus ride was our drivers southern drawl. "Naaaashville" she'd say over the speakers. It kept us amused as we tried to recreate the drawl during our moments of non-sleep.

We only have a short time in Nashville; 22 hours in fact. Check in was at 3pm and it was only 9am. We got freshened up, ate some breakfast and headed out to the main strip of Nashville.

The main strip of Nashville is in the downtown area on Broadway (a 30 min walk from our hostel). The strip was a lot shorter than we both imagined; bars and restaurants lined the road on either side for about 4 blocks long, leading towards the river. As soon as we could see the neon shop signs of cowgirls and pigs we immediately heard the sounds of music being played live from bars and could smell the bbq sauce in the air.

The southern drawl was immediately recognisable too as we passed people overhearing brief conversations. There were quite a few people already out, in bars or restaurants soaking up the sounds. The music coming from the various establishments ranged from country to rock to honky tonk.

It was past lunch time and our stomachs were leading the way. We wanted to venture into one seemingly popular place as the line was hanging out of the door. But like I said our stomachs were leading the way. We opted to eat in one restaurant that offered fairly reasonable prices and ordered a classic hamburger with fries for chris and a veggie sandwich for P. Chris enjoyed his meal, whereas P felt let down by hers, she was expecting a veggie patty but got basically lettuce on bread. At the time of ordering the restaurant seemed ok to eat at but we kind of regretted not choosing somewhere with live music. We are in Nashville right?

After lunch we walked up and down the strip and down some of the streets behind. There were many beer cycle tours going on. A beer cycle is a vehicle driven by pedal power, mostly by a group of friends/stag/hen party sat around a table with pedals under each seat. The bartender serves, entertains and steers. You could hear them before you seen them. Bars with balconies would cheer and wave as they passed. Even though it was 2pm the streets here were buzzing. We went to check out a blues bar but opted to come back later in the evening so we didn't burn ourselves out too early.

Back at the hostel we relaxed, drank tea and chatted with our fellow travellers staying there. There is lots to do in Nashville such as the Johnny Cash museum, the Ryman theater and the famous studio tours to name a few. Apologies to any country and rock fans for saying this, but the sights here just wasn't our bag. The whole experience would be wasted on us if we went to these places, we may know some famous names and maybe popular song but that would be about it. With this in mind we took the rest of the afternoon easy.

We headed out in the evening back to broadway, as this is supposedly the best time to visit. The streets were more packed than before, people were dressed up for a friday night of good music and beer. We stopped by the restaurant that had the huge queue earlier on - the queue was much smaller now. The food was cheap and served in a cafeteria manner with the polystyrene plates with the divides. One thing we noticed about Tennessee was that people here were really friendly and would just spark up a conversation with a stranger in the queue (this would rarely happen back home). The man in front of us started talking to us, asking where we were from etc. He said he was in town for his daughters new book release and shown us pictures of her and his grandchildren. He even told us a story of how at this convention he seen one young girl just doodling on a piece of paper. He asked her if she wanted to sell her picture of Spongebob squarepants. After a quick deliberation with her father she agreed to sell it for $2. He even had a picture with her. It was really sweet. The food at this place wasn't the best food we'd ever tasted but it was still decent. They had the usual southern fare of mac and cheese, collard greens, potato salad and a selection of chicken, beef or pork.

Later on after walking around the area we went into a bar for a drink and to listen to some live music. The band were good but we only knew a couple of songs and still guessed the chorus wrong. Oops.

We also returned to the blues bar we found early but there was a charge on the door and it was getting late. We had a bus to catch at 6.45am. We agreed to give it a miss although we had heard some good things about it there. Luckily we've got Memphis next and there's no shortage of blues there.

25th September 2015

Accommodation: Music City hostel. $33 each
Transport: 15hrs $88 via Greyhound for us both (DC-Charlotte-Nashville)


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28th January 2016
Prime time

Neon cowgirls and pigs!
Congrats on checking out Nashville, and wise to get out fast. The beer cycles sounded trippy, but like you, I wouldn't have known any of the music. Mediocre food and $33 each for a hostel--yikes! Too bad about the Greyhound--I've also taken them for distances and had that same terrible experience on the overnight buses. And I agree with you--renting a car is wildly expensive; not to mention the stress for you of driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. Hope you find some fine blues in Memphis!
30th January 2016
Prime time

Re: Neon cowgirls and pigs!
Thats one thing we had to come to terms with in the US - the cost. It was a lot more for accomodation in most cities, we wanted to be near the heart of it all so had to pay that little bit extra. It was a compromise for not having a car with the cheaper places further out. Driving on the other side of the road however on those huge roads still scared us. A few people we met had said Nashville was their favourite city in the states; we guess that a love for country music definately helps.
28th January 2016

Take me to another place, take me to another land...
Haha you just took me back to the early 90s when I LOVED Tennessee by Arrested Development. :) Those beer cycles look hilarious...I wonder what sort of public liability they have to pay?! This part of the US fascinates me and I'm already looking forward to the next blog!
30th January 2016

Re: Tennesse
There were so many of those beer cycles going up and down the strip. No idea what the liability cost is but its probably high knowing the US. That song didn't even come to mind whilst we were there - tbh we never knew it was called Tennesse.
29th January 2016

Riding the dog
Sounds like you are enjoying a real slice of America. A little bit of Nashville goes a long way. I'm sure you were there long enough to get the vibe. Eager to read your next impressions.
30th January 2016

Re: Riding the dog
We loved the states, we're still happy we visited Nashville despite having no idea who sang what. We wanted to sing along to a song we thought we knew whilst in one bar only to find out it was a completly different song. Ah well. We hoped we'd have better luck in Memphis.

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