Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nashville (Come back now, y'all.)


So.. I went to Nashville more than two months ago and I'm only just now blogging about it. Terrible! I went to Nashville for a few reasons: first and foremost, I'm a "Yelp Elite" (which basically means I have too much time on my hands, so I review a lot of businesses and I'm rewarded handsomely with free drinks and appetizers), so I was invited to Yelp Spring Break, an annual adventure held this year in Nashville. Secondly, it was my birthday and I wasn't doing anything else interesting. Thirdly, I watch the show "Nashville" and I had built up some pretty heavy expectations for Music City. I invited two of my best girlfriends, Katie and Lara, and off we went!

We took a red-eye flight to Nashville and arrived around five on a Thursday morning, at which point we all took a three hour nap in a lounge outside of security. Despite the blaring televisions and the frequent loudspeaker announcements, it was among the more comfortable airport waiting areas I've visited. Highly recommended for the multiple large, squishy couches.

After that, we took a taxi to a nice, air conditioned (very important) AirBnB loft in East Nashville, which is basically the Capitol Hill or perhaps the Brooklyn of Nashville - trendy hipsters abound. Most of the Yelp events took place downtown, so we learned a hard lesson very quickly - Nashville is not the most walkable city. We walked from East Nash to downtown the first day and never did it again afterward. The heat! The sweat! The humidity! The honking cars! The chub rub! Awful. Unfortunately, Nashville has a terrible transit system so we mostly relied on Lyft trips. (None of our drivers knew about Yelp, which seemed odd. We did our best to educate them.) On the plus side, our walk led us to our first Nashville meal, Edley's East Barbecue, where we split a big pile of brisket (have I mentioned that I forsake any and all diets, including vegetarianism, when I'm on vacation?) and some sides. It was gooood.

After a lackluster happy hour at The Southern, the first cool place we went was Hatch Show Print, a printing press that has churned out posters for some of the greats, such as Patsy Cline, as well as modern performers. I bought way too many t-shirts there.



Later that evening, we went to a Welcome to Nashville Yelp reception at Anthem, but we were all tired and crabby and it was really difficult to track down the people with appetizer trays, so we gave up and went home. Katie got right into bed, but Lara and I were hungry, so we wandered a little ways down the road from our place and found King Solomon's Gyros. The guy who took our order was apparently the owner; he had a cast on his wrist, had just returned to work after a convalescence, and as a result was extremely, weirdly particular about what he would and would not sell us (because he hadn't been around to make sure everything was perfect, apparently). Instead, he personally made us two gyros each (the first one on the house), off-menu barbecue style, with chicken and then lamb, so we could give him our opinion. They were quite tasty and I was apparently starving, because I ate both of them easily and then split a dessert with Lara.

The next day, we had no plans until the evening, so we got to explore Nashville. We had lunch at Monell's, which is evidently an institution.



It's a family-style restaurant where you sit down to eat with a bunch of strangers and only take as much food as you can finish. I was unusually interested in chatting with strangers (maybe the Southern atmosphere rubbed off on me a bit) so I found the experience delightful.



Next, we went shopping in the fancy Belmont/Hillsboro neighborhood, which reminded me of Madrona. We visited imogene + willie and Katy K Designs and I pretended to lick a sign, which is gross because I actually hate ranch dressing.



And then it was time for ICE CREAM!



Look at all those flavors! Do you know how hard it was to choose? But the staff were really gracious and patient about offering samples, and eventually I was able to decide on Banana French Toast, Brambleberry Crisp, and Chocomole. The BFT had chunks of banana in it; the Brambleberry, likewise, had whole berries and oats in it. The Chocomole burned low and perfectly in the back of my throat. Lara and Katie also enjoyed their choices, which included Savannah Buttermint, Buckeye State, Salty Caramel, and Dark Chocolate. This may be sacrilege, but Jeni's has the best ice cream I've ever tasted and I wish it would come to Seattle right now.

Later that night, we went to another Yelp event, the "It's Spring Break Y'All" party. It was held in a space that looked too large for the number of guests, but there were nice things there like vendors and snacks, and a dunk tank featuring a man in what looked like a bumblebee outfit. Katie, softball star that she once was, dunked him with ease, and then went on to destroy some green inflatable pigs.










The next morning, we had breakfast at the shockingly Seattle-esque Barista Parlor. I felt right at home, and my iced coffee and biscuit sandwich were stunningly good.


Then we checked out the shopping in East Nash, and a chicken festival.







We capped off the night with dinner and free music out on the patio of The Listening Room Cafe.


The next morning, we attended Yelp's "Bloodies, Brunch, and Braids" event at the Lucy Pop Salon. We were promised a delicious brunch spread and "endless" Bloody Marys, but alas, it was more like a continental breakfast and the Bloodies were extremely limited. However, we were happy with our stylists and our braids looked cute.


With our braids newly spiffed and ready for the paparazzi, we made our way to Jackalope Brewing Company. I have a special affinity for jackalopes since being terrified by them as a child, so it was a mandatory stop even though I hate beer. I knew at the very least that I would find a t-shirt or a tumbler, and that I did. There was also a very interesting antique mall across the street, and it was next to the train tracks, so basically my two favorite things combined.



We wrapped up our day with "Thelma and Louise" (which seemed appropriate for our girlfriend adventure) at the Grassy Knoll outdoor movie night in East Nash. The evening was warm and the atmosphere was neighborly, and I tried tempeh tacos and boiled peanuts for the first time. It was a lovely way to end our stay in Nashville.

1001 in 101 challenges #14 and 16 complete!

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