Monday, December 08, 2014

Nashville, Tennessee 2014 -- Day 1

When will disaster strike?
Okay, so the whole reason I was able to come on this trip with Wendy was because of the horrible flight problems that we had with Delta when we travelled to San Francisco, last winter. With serious arm twisting, Delta conceded to give us several travel vouchers each and with even more arm twisting, were convinced to allow them all to be used on the same future trip.

Wendy, on the other hand, is being paid to fly to Nashville to present on Purposeful Professional Learning at the Learn Forward 2014 conference. On the whole, it should be a pretty cheap vacation... for me ;)

So, the flights? Surprisingly, no problems. Everything ran about on time and the airport was busy, but sane. There was a bit of confusion when, on the second flight, we weren't seated together. A kind woman who was on her own, offered to let me have the seat beside Wendy. After what happened with our San Francisco flights, this was definitely the most uneasy part of the trip for me. I know that Wendy can't have a good trip if things are out of control. So far, so good.

Our first 2 nights imbedded near 5 points
omelette with smoked cheddar and pickled turnip--WOW!
It was dark and rainy when we arrived in Nashville... but at least it wan't snow! I used Uber for the first time to get us from the airport to our Airbnb home. It was a quick, pleasant and cashless transaction. LOVE IT!!!

Our Airbnb host, was not home, but left us instructions how to get into the house and work her smart TV. I "had" to hop the back fence (no side gate). Could have walked around the block into the alley, but seemed unnecessary. Did I mention it was dark and rainy? I was very heroic. Wendy says, "lucky nobody called the police."

We went for an early morning stroll and found a really pleasant bakery for breakfast... Bella Nashville.
The coffee was quite good and the bread was spectacular. Great way to start the day. We picked up some fruit and yogurt from a local grocery store, dropped it at our house and walked into downtown Nashville. I was enamoured of the charming, run down brick houses, shamelessly bright paint and cobbled sidewalks.

Wendy thought perhaps I was rose colouring things a bit...
Famous saying: "Don't judge a community by the dead fauna."
I had heard that Nashville is considered the "Athens of the South," but hadn't realized that it may also be the "Mordor of the South." The downtown skyline sports a good imitation of Barad-dûr.
Eye of Sauron overlooking the Cumberland River
Brad and Simone decided to meet up with us for a couple of days, which we thought was pretty sporting of them. We met them at a highly (over)rated coffee place downtown. Crema looked pretty great inside, but felt a little too "hipster." Many beards. Much plaid. Plenty laptops. I don't know what my problem is. Just a little too polished for my taste.

Brad rented a car for $9/day! Kind of makes all our walking seem idiotic. Anyway, we drove out to Belle Meade Plantation, paid for a tour of the Mansion and walked around the grounds. Sadly no photos allowed inside. Although, if you watch Downton Abbey, you won't have any trouble imagining.
Belle Meade Manor
The original homestead
Wendy is dismissive of the gardener's abilities
Family Mausoleum.
There were lots of great things to look at, but Wendy was disappointed. The tour focused heavily on the families that owned the plantation (and would gradually shape early Nashville), but other than obligatory mentions, pretty much ignored slave life. No slave quarters restored. No record of their daily lives. There were 8 different Victorian Christmas trees, though. Each representing a different decade in the life of the house and the evolution of North American Christmas.

We had supper at The Wild Cow, a vegan place. The food was adventurous in the ingredients department, but sadly, a little bland. However, it was really nice to have the pick of an entire menu, rather than just salads and sides.

What? Oh, the weather. This time of year, the sun is setting around 4:30pm (though it rises at 6:30am) and the daytime highs have been 10-15 degrees C. May I continue?

We spent the evening wandering around the state legislature, touring the Tennessee State Museum and enjoying the "Athenian" vibe.
War Memorial Auditorium A.K.A. Minas Morgul of the South ;)
Well, some of us enjoyed it. Brad complained that "this sort of architecture is all over the US and what makes Nashville so special?" I asked if Newport News had a full scale Parthenon (Which I hope to see it on Tuesday). Check and Mate.
Legislature Building Decked out for Christmas
Wow. We kind of did a lot today... About 15,000 steps for anyone who cares ;)

Here is my Google+ Photo Album of Nashville (this will continue to grow throughout the trip)