Sunday, January 25, 2015

Roller Coaster Road Trip 2014: Nashville, Part I: The District

The last we left off on our Roller Coaster Road Trip 2014 we had just visited the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.  It was our first day in Nashville and this was one of the non-coaster places I was most excited to visit.  By the time we'd left the Opryland area, which was about 10-15 minutes outside of the city, it was already mid-afternoon.  The rest of the evening and the next two full days we had the city of Nashville to explore.  Though it was a great place for a visit, I have to say there were elements of the city that left me a little disappointed...

Now please don't get me wrong, I loved Nashville.  It is a place steeped in a rich history intertwined with country music.  The city is beautiful and clean and there are plenty of tourist sites, restaurants and shops to whet anyone's appetite, but the place is full of loud honky tonks, which produce a lot of drunks, who are at it at all hours of the day.  I couldn't help but think that this is what New Orleans must be like.  Check out some of the things that we experienced in Nashville, starting with an area called The District...

The District

The District is where all the action is in Nashville.  For a two to three-block stretch, this very crowded street is home to an assortment of honky tonks, restaurants, souvenir shops, record stores, etc.  It is here where most of the drunken monkeys assemble, either whooping it up to the music of a country-cover band in a bar, riding these crazy bar-bicycles (see picture below) up and down the crowded street, or just staggering around on the sidewalk.  The District is like a little piece of Manhattan in the heart of Nashville, where the action is seemingly 24/7, and where wanna-be musicians line the streets on both sides, playing their wares for money and hoping to get discovered as the next big thing in country music.

The crowds and the drunks that frequent the district are really the only bad things about the place. There are some great shops and restaurants to be found here, including the world-famous Ernest Tubb Record Shop and a really tempting sweet shop called Savannah's Candy Kitchen.  It was fun walking around, window shopping and taking in all the sites. Towards the end of the strip is the Cumberland River, with a nice walking bridge overlooking both sides and a huge roller coasterish sculpture perched in front of a stadium.  Luckily it was a beautiful couple of days while we were there and we got to take it all in.
Ernest Tubbs Record Shop

How do I look?  No, huh?


The Cumberland River and Downtown Nashville

Nashville at Night

As you might expect, downtown Nashville is absolutely buzzing after dark.  The restaurants on the strip, as well as the bars, are even more crowded at night than in the daytime, with long lines of people waiting for tables at some of the more popular spots.  On both nights, we dined on some succulent meals while taking in all of the buzz, and we even found a couple of really nice gay clubs a little off to the west of the main district.  

There was a point where we made a wrong turn down a place called Printer's Alley.  We'd passed it driving in the car and it looked pretty cool, a wide alleyway all lit up with overhead lights above what looked to be a nice assortment of bars.  Only when we walked over to it, the very first sign we saw was one advertising nude karaoke.  A few steps down and we realized we were in a sort of red light district, and all the bars were strip clubs.  We passed on the place and high-tailed it outta there.

So yeah, The District is an even cooler place to be at night, as you can see from the pictures above. This place isn't the only part of Nashville that's cool to see, though.  Stay tuned for more pictures and commentary on the rest of what this very cool city has to offer, and in the meantime, check out the rest of the pieces so far in this series...

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