The capital of the state of Tennessee, Nashville is widely associated with country music – so much so, it's known as 'Music City USA'. I visited Nashville on the Atlantic Dream (New York – Miami), and pretty much fell in love with it's charm, music and food.
Here's what our group got up to when we were given 36 hours to play with...
16:00: Arrival at Downtown Hostel
Arriving in Nashville, we unpacked the trailer and headed into Downtown Hostel, our home for the next two nights. Amazingly located and with lots of cool music-related quirks, it's definitely a great place to stay. Each room is named after a band or artist, so us six girls on the Trek got acquainted with Bob Dylan. Despite camping in some amazing places on the trip, it was pretty good to have a bed to cosy up in for two nights. And air-con, obviously.
17:45-18:00: "These boots were made for walkin'..." (or line dancing?)
Yee-ha! After getting washed up and into our party gear, tour leader Chad took us on a little detour before our evening plans. Nashville Cowboy is, unsurprisingly, a big ol' cowboy boots shop, with boots of every colour and style filling the walls and shelves.
Unfortunately, funds didn't stretch to buying any (even with the tempting three pairs for the price of two offer...) Instead, we tried lots of boots on and strutted up and down as the shop floor became a makeshift catwalk.
18:00 – 21:00: Line dancing at White Horse Saloon
Because, when in Nashville, right? We met up with two other Trek groups who happened to be passing through at the same time, to form one super all-singing, line-dancing Trek gang. Along with live music, the White Horse Saloon will teach you how to grapevine, cupid shuffle and cowboy boogie along with the best of them.
21:00 – (very) late: Live music on Broadway
Nashville most certainly comes alive at night. While you'll still hear music in the streets throughout the days, once the sun goes down and the neon lights come on. Every night of the week, in every bar, you'll find up-and-comers playing out tunes to dance the night away to. And dance the night away we did...
Powered by strong coffee and checking our Snapchats for forgotten memories of the night before, Day 2 was our 'free day' to explore Nashville.
10:00-12:00: A walk to the Gulch
We split into a couple of smaller groups based on what everyone to see – three of us decided to take a wander down to the Gulch – the former home of the Nashville downtown railroad terminal and now popular with young, urban city dwellers.
As we walked past Bridgestone Arena and away from the main Broadway area, we saw a change in scenery – the bars and boot stores replaced by architecture – including the stunning Union Station hotel.
(We also hit up our sugar intake with a slushie that was definitely bigger than my head...)
If you're a street art fan, it's definitely worth taking a look around the area – probably one of the best known murals is Kelsey Montague's 'What Lifts You', a pair of giant wings. They're 20 feet high, and took 60 paint pens to create, and make for a great profile snap too!
12:00-13:00: Third Man Records
On the way back for lunch, we dropped by Third Man Records, aka the recording studio and store owned by the one and only Jack White, of The White Stripes. A treasure trove for music fans, all kinds of memorabilia was on sale. And, obviously, plenty of records! Even if you're not a record collector, it's worth a look around – I picked up some guitar picks and a sticker for my travel scrapbook.
After a short walk back to the hostel, we grabbed some PB+J sandwiches from the food kitty supplies and tucked into lunch, before heading out to get some more country kicks in one of the city's most famous attractions...
14:00-17:00: Country Music Hall of Fame
It's pretty hard to avoid country music when you're in Nashville – it's basically everywhere. Even if you're not the biggest fan, you kinda embrace it regardless. So we took a group adventure to the Country Music Hall of Fame to check out loads of cool artefacts from country music history.
The collection spans from the early days of the genre, through Dylan and Cash, to Dolly and Elvis, right up to today's country stars such as Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. FYI, Nashville loves Tay Tay. The Hall of Fame rotunda is a huge, round room, with brass portrait plaques for every member hanging from the walls.
18:00-late: Acme Feed and Seed
To end our day in Nashville, Chad took us to one of his favourite local food spots – Acme Feed and Seed. Why's it so good? How about rooftop dining with a view spanning Broadway, the Cumberland River and the Nissan Stadium?! Add delicious food to the mix, and you've got yourself a winning dinner spot.
After we polished off our dinners, a few of us spent some more time on Broadway taking in the music and feeling the awesome Nashville vibes for the last time (sob!). One of the best things about Nashville was definitely just soaking up the atmosphere as you wander around the streets – it's definitely a really vibrant, lively place to be, and I felt really at home there.
The next morning, we left bright and early for a drive down to Memphis – where a visit to the King's house and some pretty epic ribs waited for us!