Feeling at home in Nashville
For someone that has always found comfort in routines, I'm rather getting used to the unknown. One week we're here, the next we're there, and with every new town or city we come across, for that moment in time, it feels like home. On this particular week, home for us would be Nashville — where the music is loud, the streets are lively, and the locals are delightfully friendly.
As we arrived, it was hard not to give in to the allure of Broadway. This particular strip is often listed on the city's 'must-do' list, and although I'm not one that often enjoys large crowds of people, I felt as though I wouldn't be honouring the true appeal of Nashville, if I didn't at least experience such a place. Walking along the beer-perfumed sidewalk, the bright neon lights were blinding, just as they were on Beale Street, Memphis. At first I felt a little tense and anxious, dodging rowdy groups and scrambling sightseers, but after my first shot of tequila, naturally, I surrendered to the street's cheap booze and rumbling honky-tonks.
Still moved from our visit to the Johnny Cash's Boyhood Home, I was keen to keep the momentum going in honouring the memory of the Man In Black. Just the place to do is at the Johnny Cash Museum, tucked just off Broadway, although hard to miss, thanks to the flashing neon light spelling 'CASH' at the entrance. Walking in, the familiar tunes of the rock and country icon played from every corner. I couldn't help but notice that the place was filled with young and old, a true testament to the enduring nature of Johnny Cash's legacy.
One morning during one of our hunts for coffee, I came across Amelia's Flower Truck, a beautifully restored Volkswagen pickup truck, selling a tray-bed full of fresh blooms. The owner of Amelia's started the business as a reminder of her travels through Europe, where she could pick up a bunch of flowers on the way home each day. In turn, stumbling upon this little darling reminded me of home in Sydney, where fresh flowers were something I treated myself to pretty much weekly. Needless to say, I really couldn't leave without getting a few stems for our motorhome.
The flower truck just so happened to be parked along 12 South, a charming and casual street nestled between two universities, and thus home to a dozen boutique stores, cafes, restaurants, and a particularly tasty donut shop called Five Daughters Bakery. It seems as though every major city we come across has had their fair share of street art, be it New York, L.A, Portland, or Austin, and no doubt Nashville was right there with the best of them. My personal favourite was the flower mural painted on the right-hand side of the Green Pea Salon.
Another place we wanted to tick off our Nashville list was Pinewood, an old warehouse turned restaurant and bar that's been industrially designed, yet cosy. Inside there were modern dining booths, a large bar at the center, and a six-lane bowling alley towards the back. Outside on the patio there were more seating areas, a bocce ball court and table tennis, two plunge pools, as well as a parked airstream serving food. In short, Pinewood is the type of place you can go to and easily lose track of time, as you'll be too busy eating amazing food and sipping down fancy cocktails, all whilst trying to trick yourself that you're a better bowler than you actually are.
With a few days of exploring in and around Nashville under our belt, it was time to get back to a little more of the historical side of this old town. We left a visit to the Ryman Auditorium for our last day, otherwise known as the 'Mother Church of Country Music’.
This soaring brick tabernacle was built in 1892 by wealthy riverboat captain, Thomas Ryman, with the original intention to house religious revivals. Later down the track, it grew to become one of the main venue's in the South, holding talks from Civil Rights leaders to current and former presidents. But what it's probably most well known for now, is being the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country music stage show that has seen all the big stars grace its stage. Some of Ryman's performers of yesteryear include Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, whilst modern greats include the likes of Morrissey, Jack White and Eddie Vedder.
Just like that, my love affair with Nashville had come to an end, and although we'll hit the road on our merry way towards somewhere new, I'll always be thankful for this past week feeling totally at home in this 'Music City'.