I’m trying to plan a trip to Cuba this summer and technically, you’re still really only supposed to go there if you have some kind of business purpose. I figured that since a) I want to get my passport stamped and b) I just spent a week in Nashville, there’s no time like the present to start pretending to be a travel blogger.
Gaylord Opryland Hotel
I went to Nashville for a business trip (marketing, not travel blogging) and stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, a giant atrium that encompasses several buildings, an indoor river and an accidental maze of red brick and intricate carpeting.
The only person I’ve spoken to who thought this set up sounded really cool was my grandma, god bless her. She said, “A river inside?! Please take pictures!” so I did. See below – river, no clear path of escape.
Although Opryland feels somewhat like a apocalyptic biodome, they have several restaurants there – kind of like a Southern version of Epcot Center (there’s Italian food, american food, southern food, fancier southern food named after Andrew Jackson, more Italian food…and fresh Tennessee sushi.) The first night I was there, I had some pretty decent hors d’oeuvres at one of the Italian places and then some pretty terrifying french fries covered in liquid cheese at the sports bar. (Little did I know that within 6 days, I would be addicted to fried things covered in cheese.)
Anyway, unless you are my grandmother, the main thing you want to do if you’re at Opryland is leave Opryland, which we were able to do on Wednesday night, when we were shuttled to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The buses were delayed because of rain, which made me really wonder if Tennesseans weren’t a bunch of wimps. However, when we finally boarded, there were some B2B marketers drinking fake moonshine and the bus driver declared the trip to be an “open mic” event. Sadly, despite all the B2B marketers drinking moonshine, no one volunteered.
The Country Music Hall of Fame
I have to be honest, I have no idea if this place is cool or not, because I love music museums so much that I’m just not myself – I get light-headed, giddy and forget to be judgmental about everything. And I don’t even like country music.
Now that the honeymoon phase is over, I can see/say that it doesn’t really measure up to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, in terms of breadth or depth of exhibits. That said, it was interesting to see the different influences and evolution of country, plus the actual size of Dolly Parton’s boobs.
After paying our dues to the musical genre everyone loves to hate, and making a mental note to myself that “Dirk” really is a real name, we headed out into downtown Nashville. Here, you can find really talented musicians playing the hits you know and love in a style called Honky-Tonk.
We went to two places, Rippy’s and Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge. I should be clear that I think we went to Tootsie’s. I know we talked about going to Tootsie’s and maybe decided the line was too long and maybe eventually made it…but maybe just settled on another place.
Of course, not really actually knowing where you spent the night is a sign that you had a super fun night, so I’m giving both Rippy’s and Tootsie’s solid recommendations.
When it was finally time to leave the honky tonk, my colleague was committed to finding something greasy to eat before heading home. Fortunately, there are opportunities to induce cardiac arrest everywhere you turn in Nashville! Right across the street was a place called Paradise Trailer Park Resort. Yes, you read that right. And yes, it’s about as weird and cool as it sounds. The burger looked decent, the french fries weren’t completely soaked in cheese, and bouncer was really polite to me even though I kept pestering him with questions about his tour in Afghanistan.
In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the greatest thing to be doing, but at the time I thought I was really interesting. Another unfortunate side effect of having a fun night.
After venturing downtown, we spent our last night at Opryland at the Fuse Sports bar watching the Warriors. (The Warriors won, which obviously means biodomes in the Nashville suburbs are good luck.) Less fortuitous was my decision to download Tinder and pass the phone to my coworkers and ask them to write absurd messages.
I’ve heard people say that Tinder can be a real ego boost because you get reassurance that strangers want to sleep with you. On Tinder in Nashville, it’s even better. You can get reassurance that even if you were a divorced mom of two who just got out of jail, a stranger would still want to sleep with you.
While I am totally impressed by my colleagues’ creativity and willingness to be ridiculous, for safety purposes I’ve deleted that account.
There is pretty much nowhere to go around Opryland, except Opry Mills (which is gigantic mall.) Two years in a row, I’ve had coworkers that found great cowboy boots at this mall, so I guess that means that as far as malls go, I recommend it?
I’ve never purchased anything myself at the mall, but I’ve walked/run by it several times because I’d always rather be outside pretending to work out than in a hotel gym pretending to work out. Sadly, on my last morning, I picked up a stray dog who followed me for 20 mins before he realized I didn’t have any food and he wasn’t allowed in the hotel, then moved on with his life.
I feel horrible that I couldn’t help him but also aspire to some day be as good as he was at practicing non-attachment. (Case in point, I’m still thinking about the dog, even writing about him, and he doesn’t even have the brain synapses necessary for longterm memory. Life’s a bitch.)
And so ends Part 1 of my semi-adventures in Nashville. In Part 2, I will go into Nashville proper and be batted like a pinball between uber-hipsters and the cast of Deliverance, all while eating fried food dipped in ranch dressing.