Newbies Guide to Nashville: Nearly Post-Pandemic....
If you're looking for drive-by reviews of the things we experienced, scroll to the bottom of this post.
I n i t i a l I m p r e s s i o n s :
We were surprised that:
We were not happy to NOT find the funky little neighborhood that would have quaint little shops and thrifted tschatkes that would appeal to art lovers. —We found it in Austin (SoCo) and in Detroit (Ann Arbor), so we expected their to be one here ESPECIALLY. “Where do the performers buy their funky clothes?” was one of our main questions. The only places we found were King Baby (which was hella expensive!) (see waaaay below) and Pre to Post Modern (which was just ONE place....)🙄🤷🏽♀️ We began asking around and could not get a whiff of ANY neighborhood known for such purposes. 😳 Disappointing. 🤷🏽♀️
There are NO corner stores, where you can buy water, chips, etc. Typically, everywhere we've traveled—from Austin to San Antonio to Philadelphia to wherever—there is a store—some kind of corner store at the—get this—corner! Sometimes, it's even IN the hotel. It's there that you can buy toothpaste, a piece of fruit, an energy drink, etc. But not here. We walked for miles and, literally, the ONLY convenience store we found was the ONLY one in the 3 mile or so radius from the hotel where we were. But don't get me talking about the location of the hotel.....
We found out that you can ONLY buy wine at ONE—No, you did NOT read that wrong!—ONE store downtown! And they DON'T even sell hard liquor downtown at all for retail purchase; only in the myriad of bars and restaurants in the area.
So far, the ONLY place that has REQUIRED face masks has been Carter Vintage Guitars. (see waaaaay below.) Though most places said “masks required”—including our hotel 🙄—the ONLY place that enforced anything was the music store that we went to. We got so used to both staff and 90% of patrons NOT wearing them that we started ignoring the signs (especially since we’re BOTH fully vaccinated). (see vlog footage of music stores: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
It doesn’t seem like they’ve gone out of their way at any establishment here to accommodate vegans and other non-pork eaters here, as far as I can tell. In fact, both places that we’ve tried greens, they were flavored with pork—and not with the smoked turkey that we’ve grown used to in Michigan. And there are quite a few other dishes that I am almost afraid to try, because a core ingredient is ham or bacon. 🥓 In fact, the ONLY place that we found that did NOT automatically include bacon in many things was Prince's Hot Chicken, where they used smoked turkey to flavor their greens. (see more waaaay below.)
We are surprised that some places open so late and many close so early. 😳
How many homeless there were (around every corner); businesses didn’t seem fazed by them, but it was quite disconcerting to find how many there were in so many places. 😳🙄🤷🏽♀️ They were, indeed, our welcoming committee.
Hotel in a not-so-great area; across from the jail, down the street from the bus station. (see more on that in the vlog: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
Hotel is a Marriott—our usual favorite brand—but this one was not the best example and the staff were not that friendly. At one point, I mentioned to the counter person that it was odd that there was no bar and that's when another customer mentioned that there was a bar on the top floor. As far as we could tell, there was no signage and no indication that there was a bar at all. —We have been to hotels all over the world and the first thing that you see when you enter the hotel is the bar, so it's extremely odd that this one is so remote and unannounced. —To add further insult to injury, when we found our way to the bar—which only ONE elevator—of the three—takes you to, the sign says wait to be seated—and wait, we did. When they finally came over, they asked if we had a reservation. —When I tell you that there were only 15 people in a bar that had AT LEAST 150 capacity seating, you will understand why we were just a LITTLE taken aback by the question. I asked if we could just get a drink to take back to our room. They let us in, but the process wasn't easy—had to fill out PAPERWORK and sign to charge it to our room—as opposed to just swiping our room key across a reader (as we did in London and in Paris and in Toronto). What's more is that not only did the bartender NOT have any merlot, but he measured out the alternative to the 4 oz drop in a wine glass and then poured it into a to go plastic juice cup! WTF! —Again, we'd done this song and dance at various places across the U.S. and the world and have ALWAYS gotten a glass, but in some two-bit universe that is Nashville Suites by Marriott, I get plastic! —To make matters worse, there are empty wine glasses already in our room, so what is one more to make a customer feel welcomed! Whatever. They won't have to worry about us staying here anymore and they can keep that 4 oz. $20 glass of wine!
When we came back from being out all day on Wednesday, we found our room untouched by the cleaning staff. We called down and found out that, due to Covid, there is no regular room cleaning. Instead, one must request this service—as well as fresh towels—and also must reserve a time-slot for said cleaning. It would have been jolly nice to know this when we first checked in! —Again, we don't know if it's Nashville or this Marriott, but feeling as if the staff does not care to service us has been a bummer!
To add insult to injury, we scheduled with guest services to come and clean the room for the next two days, but when we came back at the end of the day—when we came back from the looooong day out—the room had NOT been touched. I called to guest services and he said he would call housekeeping to figure it out.
We USED to feel as if Marriot properties indicated some level of quality of service, whereas our experience here has made us consider finding another type of hotel when we vacation. (If you want to get visuals to match this experience, check out http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
—The third time is the charm; after 3 days—and two requests—we FINALLY got our room serviced! 🙄🙌🏾
Uber did a switcharoo while we were there, as well. During peak hours—and during rain—the fare doubled, tripled, and sometimes quadrupled its normal amount, making a fare that would have normally have been $18 was as much as $126! After we saw the prices go up a few times this same way, we downloaded the Lyft app and started choosing to travel with the service that provided the most competitive rate.
We haven’t been overwhelmed by southern hospitality. Whether it was the hotel, the candy store, the Shake Shack; none of the people we encountered seemed as if they were concerned about making good impressions. We are just starting our first full day, today, but these are our initial impressions.
Broadway wasn't great, but at least a few YouTube videos prepared us for that. And at least, there was an oasis at the top of the hill. However, we decided to lean in on Day 4 and explored some of the honky tonks more in-depth—and actually took some footage of some bands playing. (see the vlog for this footage: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
Overall, seems like a great town for those gastronomy-inclined folks, because there are SO many quaint places to satisfy almost any culinary fancy. However, what is weird is that many times the hours are weird (as previously discussed).
Stop lights last a REALLY long time. 😳🙄🤷🏽♀️
—And if you take issue with ANYTHING that was discussed, feel free to let us know what we could have done differently. We thought we were prepared for things that might be different by watching a ton of YouTube travel and vlogging videos and by reading blogs about folks' experiences. So, some of the things that were MOST surprising caught us off-guard, hence ALL of the passion of this post.
What follows is the experiences related to the attractions we experienced:
We opted NOT to get the "hot" chicken--just to see if the chicken on its own had flavor--and, fortunately, it was juicy and tasty without the heat. Plus, the service was pretty fast and the waitress and busstaff were the friendliest folks we've encountered since we've been here. Did the right thing and left a $20 tip, because we were happy to FINALLY get a waitress to treat us like she cared..... 🤷🏽♀️😊🙌🏾 It gets a thumbs up. (See video: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
While the retail store was closed when we wandered upon it on Tuesday evening, we did end up getting the tasty treats from—what for it—the Country Museum Gift Shop. It's a peanut, caramel, and nougat covered in milk chocolate confection.
It wasn’t terrible, but was a pretty bland take on a Snickers. 😴 Bruce decided that it WASN’T worth the calories and dumped his. After the throes of an evening walking the universe, I gobbled the mofo down before I knew what happened. 😳🙄🤷🏽♀️🙃
Fun way to take in the Cumberland River and to get great views of both downtown Nashville, as well as Nissan Stadium, ESPECIALLY as we were on our way to our bus tour.
We filmed our first trip update from here. 🌍🥳
The hourlong tour was good. Learned a lot. Appreciated the inside of the bus while it was drizzling ran up top.
Wandered through a variety of neighborhoods that we are hoping to get back to in the days to come.
We made it to this cute little boutiques mall called “Marathon Motor Works.” Of course, we arrive before the rest of the world has awakened, so…. 😳🙄
Luckily, there are some really cool selfie stations @motorcitycreative where they encouraged us to shoot this update. 😊 Heading to @cartersvintageguitars and may even buy a banjo. 🤷🏽♀️ 🪕 #nashville #musiccity #travelbug #travel2021 #prejippie #bloomingprejippie (see video: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
So far, the ONLY place that has REQUIRED face masks has been Carter’s Vintage Guitars. Quaint shop. Good guitar collection. We were welcomed to play any and everything, and even set us up in a soundproof room to allow Bruce to play to his heart's content. (see video: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
Great ambiance. Salesman helpful, but didn’t ask if we wanted to play anything and everything looked precious and the place was very small, so we opted to try somewhere else. Loved the YouTube videos (about the owner’s backstory and his cool, colored Marshall amp, but.... ). Felt more like a museum than someplace to try out a potential instrument. 🤷🏽♀️ We have premium instruments, so we are in the market, but was never even given the opportunity to be tempted.... 🎸
Much larger footprint. Many, many Martin guitars. Staff allowed us to roam about and play whatever was hanging.
Quite expansive selection of guitars, both acoustic and electric. They also have banjos and upright basses and the like. What they are slim on is basses; there are all of 11 basses. Sad, really, since Bruce is all about that Bass. Just NOT enough for basses.
Bruce tried quite a few basses and even recorded our weekly song challenge clips here. (see video: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
A lot of rock star gear; sales lady was VERY friendly and helpful and fun, but the prices were the kind that would make you need to mortgage your house to afford them. —We looked at a necklace that was a mere $440. and the t-shirt (that we WOULD have bought!) was $60, but, darn it, they didn’t have it in our size. 😳🤷🏽♀️
Tried “hot chicken” again and this time, we got the “mild”—which, for the record, was much too hot for us. It wasn’t quite as juicy and as tasty as Hattie B’s, but it wasn’t bad. The waitstaff was cordial and we ALMOST left all the bums behind....🧘🏾♂️
This place was in the neighborhood called “The Gulch,” which was a nice departure from the debauchery of downtown. There was no line and we got to see the local inhabitants and to see the neighborhoods a little.
This is another rainy day, so we are altering our plans to accommodate this reality. Our plans have changed to this that we can do inside and we are taking our umbrellas—and my jacket—just in case we get wet and then it happens to be cold in the places that we choose to spend time inside of.
RCA Studio B upgrade tour: Nice to see Music Row and to experience the studio that Elvis recorded over 230 of his chart-topping hits. Tour Guide was entertaining. There was no tip jar, but we would GLADLY have given him some extra—on top of the $50 each museum+tour fee—because he made it entertaining. ✌🏾🥳
The line wasn’t long, which was great. But this was more attributable to the rain, than to anything else. What was great was their customer service of providing full-size umbrellas for those waiting in the rain.
And I should mention that we arrived at JUST the right time, because, as we were leaving, the line was three times longer than it had been the day before. PLENTY of folks were waiting in the pouring rain got a chance to get seated.
The appetizer of “bonuts” were the highlight of the experience. They are essentially donut holes baked with no sugar and topped with cream cheese frosting and on a bed of jam. The other specialties were not that tasty and not that remarkable. 🤷🏽♀️
This was a treasure trove of essential music history. There were interactive displays, audio and video experiences, and quite an array of timelines and memorabilia. The gift shop was its own experience that extended our knowledge and offered additional ways to bring this history home in the form of a souvenir.
Well worth the fee of admission.
Was looking for the fabulous costumes that he designed for country stars, but found a honky tonk with his memorabilia on the wall. 🤷🏽♀️ Decided to lean in and got some live band footage. 🎸 (see video: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )
Nope; although it was the closest to our hotel, we didn’t make it there. They were closed the first day we were there and then, when they were open, we were so busy doing all kinds of other things. We are happy to share these walls of tickets from shows that occurred at this municipal center. The most expensive event? Prince (2000) show for $65 a seat.
We decided to venture out into the ‘burbs to see how everyone else lives. Needless to say, the mall was unremarkable, but I caught this display at Nordstrom??? and decided that it deserved to be in the archive. 🤷🏽♀️
Finally, we were enthusiastically greeted at the door by a person from an eating establishment! We’d heard about this place from a YouTube Nashville recommendation videos, so it was on our list, but it helped that we were greeted so warmly by a member of its staff.
Ordered two pizzas and they were delicious.
We aren’t sure if we can REALLY give this one a fair reviews, since this particular establishment did not carry the leg/thigh quarter that we’ve been trying from one hot chicken establishment to the next.....🙄🤷🏽♀️ However, we decided to try the wings, in an effort to taste the basic flavor of the chicken. So that’s what we did.
While the chicken was hot, crunchy, and fresh, it did not have quite the level of flavor of one of the competitors.
Nosey as hell, we’ve been seeing the “Opening 5/27/21” and it was time to peek, so we took a minute or two to investigate. (see video: http://bit.ly/prejippienashvillevid )