Over the past two plus years being in this pandemic, having a strong and supportive family / friend network has helped maintain my bonds as well as to keep an optimistic approach to life. Many people I keep in touch with on a regular basis while others I may not talk to in years but when we see each other we instantly connect again and pick up where we left off. For the most part I've not traveled on a plane for over 2 years due to the pandemic. That's not been good at all because I love to travel but doing what was in the best interest of my family and the society at large was much more important. Now that we have the experience and the tools to manage Covid-19, I decided earlier this spring it was time to resume my travel activities in the summer of 2022. There were / are many places on the list to visit, both domestic and international. First, I decided to travel with a group of friends I've known for over 30 years as well as my brother. We kicked off a text message thread to decide where to go. We wanted a fairly quick flight from NYC, a vibrant environment and some place with culture, good food and an urban flow. Eventually, we settled on Nashville Tennessee, a city that's been growing rapidly over the past few years. Some of us had been there previously while others had never been there before.
Once we decided on where to go the next decisions included flights as well as where to stay. Most of us stayed at the Thompson Nashville, a boutique hotel in Nashville, more specifically in the Gulch area. We appreciated this location rather than staying directly in downtown as it has a lot going on but is not as busy. We really liked the hotel. The rooms are quite spacious and comfortable, the hotel staff is pleasant, and the hotel has good food. How good? Let's just say I had their gumbo several times during my stay, even for breakfast. Throw in the fact they have a terrific bar (ground level) as well as a large rooftop bar and you could spend a lot of time here.
My brother Eric and I arrived in Nashville first. I flew down while my brother took a road trip making an initial stop first midway down from NYC in Charlottesville, VA. We both like beer and decided to locate the neighborhood where they had a couple of breweries away from the middle of the action. We ended up walking through town dodging people on Broadway and eventually headed across to Tailgate Brewery in Germantown.
The place was huge. It was a weekday and early so it wasn't crowded at the time, but we could tell the energy would pick up later in the day. Not one to waste time I started off with a flight. I chose a combination of IPAs, lagers and pilsners. The beer was good, so I had another.
After a couple of beer flights it was time to move on. We decided to stay in this area, so we looked up food nearby. I found this place called Henrietta Red. The place had a good menu and got positive reviews. My main decision on heading over was that they had oysters and specialized in seafood. On our way there the sun was setting. I had my camera and decided to take a couple of snaps. I found this building that I thought was interesting. As I stood across the street the sun continued to set and the shadows of the pipes became more noticeable.
Moving on we made our way to Henrietta Red. When we walked in one thing that caught my attention was that it's mostly decorated in all in white with lightly colored hard wood floors. We bypassed a table and headed to the bar. I sat down and ordered a dozen oysters and hoped for the best. Not that I'm an oyster snob but I generally know what excellent oysters taste like. I was very impressed. They were fresh, shucked well and I tossed them back with a nice cold beer. I wish I had taken some photos here but I forgot. Next time, perhaps. After about an hour there we decided to head back to our hotel. A few more friends were coming into town in the next couple of days and it was sure to be a great time.
The next morning, I set out on my own to do some photography. I didn't have any particular place in mind and just decided to walk around. Nashville is a very walkable city. In addition to making photographs, walking around also helps me to get a feel for my travel destinations as opposed to getting around by car or mass transit. The next few photos capture that morning walk. The photo immediately below reinforces that Nashville is in growth mode by all of the cranes you can see in the background.
In addition to being a music town, Nashville is very well known to host bachelor and bachelorette parties. Consequently, there are lots of young people around and you see party buses all over the streets. I needed to take a snap of that scene as it's evident everywhere in the downtown area.
I was exhausted after walking around and shooting all morning. By this time a couple more friends had arrived, and we hooked up with a friend of ours that I haven't seen in over 30 years, Danny, who happened to move to Nashville a few years ago with his wife and family. Danny knows his way around town and got us into a few places that weren't on my list. This is one of the many benefits of seeing the town from a local person's perspective.
Danny made reservations at Rolf and Daughters. This restaurant is located in a residential neighborhood in Germantown. It's popular with the chic crowd and serves high end American cuisine. Their menu changes constantly and the food did not disappoint. In addition to the excellent food the seating is communal based so you may interact with other patrons during your meal.
Post dinner we went to a couple of places to have drinks. One of my favorite places we went to that night was called Plane Jane. Located in East Nashville, this bar plays great music, has a diverse crowd, and the bartenders were friendly.
Nashville is known as Music City so the next day our good friend Anthony had booked tickets to the National Museum of African American Music. I didn't know what to expect as I didn't do any research beforehand, but after the visit I will say this was the highlight of the trip in terms of places to visit. Per the NMAAM website "NMAAM is the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans. The museum’s expertly-curated collections share the story of the American soundtrack by integrating history and interactive technology to bring the musical heroes of the past into the present." I couldn't say it any better and I was just blown away by the museum from the moment I walked in until we left. Here are a few photos from the visit.
The next stop that day was a visit out to Prince's Fried Chicken, because you haven't visited Nashville unless you have the hot fried chicken. My brother vouched for Prince's because he visited the place on a prior visit and a few locals told us this was still the place to go. It was about a 20-minute drive from the downtown area to the suburbs and we turned into a strip mall.
The place was crowded but the line moved efficiently, and seating was on a first come first serve basis. There were lots of choices on how hot you wanted your chicken, 8 in fact, ranging from Plain to XXX Hot. I chose mild which was third on the spectrum. I thought mild would have been lite on the spice but it was still spicy. I was able to enjoy it but over time I started to sweat. I can't even imagine how someone could consume more than one bite of the XXX Hot but someone must be ordering it that spicy as it's on the menu. In addition to the chicken I also had their baked beans and collard greens.
Below is a photo of the whole group clockwise Nat, Bill, Mark, Eric, Anthony and Danny.
There were several other places that we visited during this trip but I tried to summarize a few of the most memorable ones. It was a good trip and always great to spend quality time with family and friends. It's also great to be traveling again. You can see more photos of Nashville on my site here. Next up, Quebec City, Canada.