This was my second time away with Trek America and both times have been awesome.
Day 1 - left New Orleans to drive to Birmingham. Most of our tour group had been chatting on Facebook/Whatsapp before the trek so we all seemed to get on well. Our tour guide was lovely. Visited the Civil Rights Institute before heading to our hotel. Not much going on in Birmingham on a Tuesday night but we managed to get some great food in and then we visited a bar that had Frank Turner and Gogol Bordello performing. Amazing!
Day 2 - Gatlinburg. On our way from Birmingham to Gatlinburg, we drove through the most bizarre town of Pigeon Forge. Gatlinburg is a lovely place, very tourist-y and everyone was so friendly. Our first night was spent having gorgeous dinner and sampling moonshine. Watch out - you get to try 128% proof! Some of the group went on the chairlift that goes up and down a hillside but I gave it a miss as I don't like heights. Hotel was good too, clean and comfortable.
Day 3 - Gatlinburg. Time for our hike into the Great Smoky Mountains. We drove to Clingmans Dome and had to walk about a mile to the highest point of the mountains. This is all up hill so take your time. The view is worth it once you get to the top. We also took a hike to Laurel Falls which was beautiful. Beautiful scenery. That night was spent sampling moonshine again and befriending handsome waiters!
Day 4 - Nashville. On our drive to Nashville, we stopped and had our photo taken next to the Dollywood sign. We were lucky to be in Nashville while the CMA Fest was on so the city was full of people. We laughed about our hostel being like a prison but it was clean and comfortable and all the staff were friendly. Due to the CMA Fest, we did not get the chance to have line-dancing lessons. Instead we checked out the local bars. I felt really safe in Nashville with all the people around. We had breakfast in a buffet restaurant which was delicious.
Day 5 - Memphis. Before we arrived at our hotel. we visited Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. I have to say it was a surreal experience walking around there. Our tour was quite rushed I felt as we got there quite late, all the gift shops were shutting so I couldn't buy many souvenirs. That night was spent on Beale Street which again was full of people. Amazing atmosphere. We went into BB King's Blues Bar and watched an incredible covers band called the King Beez.
Day 6 - more Memphis. We checked out the Peabody Hotel to watch the duck parade, seriously check it out! 11am and 5pm. Then some of us headed to The Rock N Soul Museum. Unfortunately, as it was a Sunday, there was no point visiting the Gibson factory as there was no production line on. A lot of the group went and watched a baseball match while the rest of us went and had Thai food. That night was spent playing Cards Against Humanity by the hotel pool.
Day 7 - Natchez - this was a long drive, about 5 and a half hours, but our tour guide made sure we took food and toilet breaks. When we got to Natchez we took a driving cemetery tour. We were given a CD to play and followed the instructions. This was our only rainy day and that twinned with the long drive, we were getting pretty tired and grumpy. Dinner was spent at a restaurant called Roux 61 where we tried alligator bites (recommended). We then got to visit Wal-Mart and then spent another night playing cards by the pool.
Day 8 - Our last day. Some of the group went on a tour of an old Antebellum house while the rest of us had an extra hour in bed. Had a bit of a drive to New Orleans, it was overcast but hot and very humid. We stopped and went on an alligator swamp tour which was interesting and fun. Once we had checked into the gateway hotel (all of us were staying that night) our tour leader actually took us out for dinner which she didn't have to do. All of us got on so well. The food was lovely, the French Quarter was something else. I flew home the next day so I did not have time to explore.
I highly recommend this tour especially if you love music and great nightlife.