Yeehaw and a Hawyee to all y’all.
I can now confirm that I want to pack up my bags and move to Nashville, Tennessee. I had written in a post a long while ago that Nashville was on my list of places that I want to move to in the future, even though I had never been to test it out. Well now I know for sure, that if there’s any way I can get to Nashville, I will be trying my best to make sure that happens.
The start of my Nashville trip was an eventful one to say the least, but we’ll get into that in a second. It was definitely the best city I’ve been to so far in America and I would go back tomorrow if I could. So get your hat on and your cowboy boots at the ready because you’re going to want to visit Nashville too after reading this.
To read about my other travel adventures around America, click here.
Friday: Getting there
What a day we had. One that I wouldn’t like to repeat any time soon. It was a bad start to the trip, but these things always make for good stories in the end and I already look back on it and laugh.
There was a group of 15 of us heading to Nashville on the Friday, but on four different flights. A group were going at 9am, three of us (me included) were heading at 1.30pm and the rest were heading out at 5.30pm. The flight was only an 1hr 30mins, which was great. Until the delays started.
My group were headed on the Subway to La Guardia Airport in Queens when we got messages in the groupchat about the morning flight being delayed on the runway, our flight delayed until 3pm and the 5.30pm flight already delayed until 7pm due to fog and high winds. When we arrived in Queens and were on the bus to the airport, we received a message in the group to say our 1.30pm flight had been cancelled.
Now, I’ve taken a lot of flights in my life between Liverpool, Belfast, Dublin and London and many, many times have been delayed by EasyJet. What’s an EasyJet flight if it’s not delayed really? But I have never in my life had a cancelled flight. Never. So this was a panic station to say the least.
I wasn’t prepared for what to do, but I just knew that there was no way in hell I was heading back to spend the weekend in New York and watch 12 others party it up in the place that I have wanted to go to since forever. I had my Johnny Cash t-shirt packed and everything for crying out loud. Nashville was seeing me that weekend no matter what.
Having never been in this situation before, and nor had the two people I was travelling with, I called up Southwest Airlines and asked what our options were. We had only one option and that was an 8 hour flight to Nashville, stopping in Dallas, Texas first that was due to leave at 3pm, meaning we would get into Nashville for 10pm with the time difference.
If you’ve read before about my airplane acne, you’ll know I don’t do well on long-haul flights. I was expecting a 90 minute flight, so wasn’t prepared with my skincare kit for the flight we were about to go on.
I moved us onto the Dallas flight because there was no way I was missing out on my weekend in Nashville, plus I had never been to Texas before, even if it meant just spending an hour in the airport.
I can confirm that it’s true what they say. People really are nicer in the South. We met so many friendly people on our travels to Nashville. We even all sang Happy Birthday to a woman on the plane who was turning 50. The air hostesses made her a birthday cake out of toilet roll and we had to turn on our ‘call’ buttons to look like birthday candles.
We finally made it to Nashville for 11pm on Friday night and headed straight out to meet everyone else.
Where we stayed and how we got around
All 15 of us stayed at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel just a ten minute drive from Broadway. Broadway is the main strip of bars in Nashville where you will probably spend 90% of your time if you ever go. The hotel was standard enough and just like everywhere else, music-themed.
The best part about the hotel was that it offered a complimentary shuttle bus to Broadway every 30 minutes which was perfect for us. You just had to tip the driver a few dollars at the end, but it saved us a lot on Ubers. Plus, when you were standing outside waiting on the shuttle bus, they would constantly have country music playing outside.
Nashville is quite a spread-out city when it comes to the touristy sights. We Uber’ed around everywhere mostly but they weren’t too expensive. The airport was only a 15 minute drive from our hotel which was also pretty handy.
Day One: Friday
Well this will be short and sweet. We arrived into Nashville at 11pm, raced to the hotel, dumped our bags, freshened up and headed straight to Broadway to meet the others.
The first bar we went to was Tootsie’s which is one of the most famous on the strip. It has four floors, all with its own live band. It was packed full of people and we made our way up to the roof for some room. After some drinks, taking in the sights of Broadway from the top and dancing to Wagon Wheel – yep, tragic – we headed on to the next bar, Robert’s Western World. This was a smaller bar with a live band and some older people jiving on the dance floor.
By day, this place is a boot shop and by night a bar – how cool is that? The band were amazing and they also sold two beers for $5 so we stayed there longer than planned. One of the things that shocked me most about Nashville was that the bars and clubs close at 2am but don’t kick out until 3am. I thought for sure Nashville would at least be on par with Liverpool with bars open until 6am, but no.
We found a bar to sneak into and somehow managed to grab a pitcher of beer for $6 and stay out until 3.30am before grabbing pizza and heading home.
Day Two: Saturday
With four hours sleep and a lot of sore heads, we headed down for breakfast in the hotel and stuffed ourselves for the day ahead. After watching Ireland beat Wales in the rugby, we headed out to Broadway for 11am.
The first stop of the day was The Tin Roof bar for the first beer of the day and some live music. Broadway was already packed with people and there was music coming out of every bar. The girl that was singing in The Tin Roof was brilliant and a few Nashville locals had told us the night before that the singing actually gets worse as the night goes on so it’s best to enjoy real country singers during the day time on Broadway and not at night.
We took a wander round to the Ryman Auditorium after this and had a look in the gift store. Unfortunately, this weekend wasn’t a weekend of sight-seeing and doing all that I’ve been dying to do in Nashville as there was way too large a group of us to do touristy things such as the Opry, Bluebird Café and Johnny Cash Museum. I’ll be back another day to do all that.
It was quite a cold weekend in Nashville as they had their first bit of snowfall the day we landed which was the first they’d had in a long time. This meant we didn’t want to be outside walking for long. We went to see the Country Music Hall of Fame and glanced at the outside of it, walked along the Music City Walk of Fame and then on to get some famous Nashville hot chicken.
Nashville’s famous hot chicken
We chose Prince’s Famous Hot Chicken and as the day had got a lot nicer, we sat outside in sun while I waited on my
extra hot plain fried chicken. The southern states are very famous for their chicken, so this is definitely something to try if you ever head there. A lot of the boys (showing off their masculinity) ordered the hot chicken strips but it was quite painful to watch. At least they can tick it off their bucket lists if nothing else.
After a lot of running noses and crying, we headed back to Broadway for some line dancing lessons. White Horse Saloon offers a free line dancing lesson at 3pm and various times throughout the day. When we first arrived, there was a girl singing on stage who was incredible. Then at 3pm, the girls made their way onto the dance floor to learn a basic line dancing step. I wish I could report that I wasn’t as stiff as a plank but I’m not much of a dancer. It was fun all the same.
After some line dancing, we headed to a bar across the road that served $3 pints and played more heavy metal music than country for my liking. I had forgotten that it wasn’t illegal to smoke inside in the bars in America, so it was very smoky to match the heavy metal music. We also sampled some Nashville Goo Goo’s which are a chocolate-y biscuit (basically a rocky road) which are definitely worth a try.
The best place in Nashville
From here, we headed to my favourite place of the whole trip – Santa’s Pub. Santa’s is one of those hidden gems that not everybody knows about. Five of us got an Uber outside of the city and passed by places like The Listening Room (which is meant to be really good for live music) and housing areas that were very typical Nashville.
We arrived to what looked like a huge caravan, covered in Christmas decorations and fairy lights. The inside was very dark, smoky and dated. It was like stepping into the 1970s. There were men in cowboy hats, denim on denim and huge belt buckles. Karaoke was due to start at 7pm so we stayed for a while and enjoyed way too many $3 Bud Lights.
The place absolutely filled up when karaoke started and it seemed to be mostly all local people from Nashville which made the vibe so much better. We definitely weren’t on touristy Broadway any more, that was for sure. A few of us got up to sing and I even got up to sing Jolene. When in Nashville, right?
It was probably the best craic of the whole trip and I would recommend anyone going to Nashville that they head to Santa’s Pub. Our taxi driver back to the airport on Sunday bet us that we hand’t been to his favourite bar and it was Santa’s. It’s a hit among the locals, so I would definitely check it out to see some real Tennessee.
From Santa’s, we headed to meet up with everyone else who were at Painters Alley, another popular drinking area of Nashville. Around here is the home of Bluegrass and we went into Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar which was very small but very, very crowded.
We caught the end of the first band who were very, very good and waited for the next band to come on. We ended up staying here the entire night, it was that good. The second band were incredible, and we were all drunk, dancing and right next to the stage.
If you want to hear some amazing Blues music, I would head to Painters Alley and I would try to catch Corey Mac‘s show. So, so good. Just be prepared to be bumped into a lot.
We ended the night in a diner which turned out to be Sun Records themed with pictures and memorabilia of Johnny Cash everywhere. A greasy sandwich went down well to soak up some of the alcohol.
Day Three: Sunday
We had a bit of a longer lie in on Sunday as we were all a bit worse for wear after two nights of heavy drinking and not much sleep. I got up and skipped breakfast and instead headed on a mural tour of Nashville (read: Instagram tour).
We started with some culture first off, and visited the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park which paid homage to all the great musicians, composers and performers that were made famous through Nashville. The park was lined with historical facts along the walls on the outside giving important dates and events that has shaped Nashville to be what it is today.
Across from the park was Nashville Farmers’ Market, where we sampled our first Deep South biscuits and gravy. I must say, it doesn’t look appetizing in the slightest, but I’m a huge fan. To me, it just tasted like pie crust with the sauce that would be in a chicken and ham pie – what’s not to like?
From there, the mural tour started. Nashville has a lot of great wall art (Instagram backgrounds) and the best are in a little area called 12 South which has the ‘I Believe in Nashville,’ and ‘Nasvhille looks good on you,’ paintings. Our Uber driver told us that these started popping up after Nashville was hit with really bad floods 10 years ago and this brought the community together afterwards and gave them all hope.
We stayed in this area for a while and had some good BBQ food. Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James store is right by the ‘I Believe in Nashville’ mural which is good to pop into. We even took an Uber to the famous wings mural in The Gulch area but there was an orderly queue to take a photo with the wings that was the whole way down the street. I wouldn’t put this anywhere near the top of my favourite murals in Nashville so we didn’t wait to get a photo.
After all this walking, it was back to Broadway to meet the rest of the group who were on the rooftop of The Stage bar. It was 19 degrees and a gorgeous afternoon in Nashville and none of us were ready to head to the airport to go back to New York.
Nashville: Yay or Nay?
Yay, yay, yay, double yay.
I would go back to Nashville tomorrow if I was able to. It’s a weird thing to sit somewhere and think that you don’t want to go back to reality when your reality is New York.
But Nashville had everything I’d ever wanted. Nice people, music everywhere, cheap beers and sunshine. There’s a great vibe in Nashville and the constant stream of live music coming from everywhere just made it to be everything I’d ever pictured and more.
There’s no doubt I will be back in Nashville before this year is out. If there’s any way I can score myself a job there and a one way ticket, I’ll be taking it in a heartbeat.