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Nashville, Out of Tune

July 22, 2011
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“The bad news is that half the park is flooded. The good news is that your campsite is still dry. The best news is that you now have a water front view,” said the park ranger as we checked in at the Seven Points campground in Nashville, TN.

“I saw on the news that we’re expecting a lot more rain tonight,” I replied, somewhat concerned about the ‘still dry’ place we were planning to live for the next seven days – one that apparently had a view of the water that wasn’t originally part of its design.

“Yup, and the water is still rising.”

“Is that site going to be okay?”

“Don’t worry. We’ll get you out in time.”

I was not reassured. Whenever I chart a strategy, ‘Plan A’ never involves needing to be rescued. In fact, rescue doesn’t factor in until at least five other plans have gone tits up. So I never actually considered staking out an uncertain spot along the edge of rising water and hoping for the best. Hope isn’t a plan. Instead, we chose a different site, one without a water view, and one that wasn’t available for the full time we had originally scheduled. We’d have to cut our stay a bit short, but that was a Plan B we could live with.

So began our stay in Music City. Neither Shannon nor I really felt the rhythm, though. It happens sometimes that we find ourselves out of synch with a destination. Nashville was that way. The downtown area looked like a fun place to grab a beer and listen to music, but neither of us wanted to. We strolled around during daylight hours and had no desire to come back for the nightlife; maybe next time.

Feeling out of phase with Music City, we decided to go with the flow and occupied ourselves with things that also seemed out of place – like the Parthenon. We found this full-scale replica of the ancient Athenian temple in Centennial Park, just west of downtown Nashville. Like the original, it also houses a 42-foot statue of the Goddess Athena. Unlike the original, it serves as a small city museum.

From the Parthenon we made our way to Nashville’s large farmers market. We visit a lot of farmers markets, but I’m not sure why. I guess I like the idea and hold out hope of returning with some unique and impossibly fresh produce. The reality is always aisle after aisle of the same over-priced vegetables and jellies. Tucked deep in the back, though, we finally struck gold (at least for our shopping interests anyway) – a terrific international market, with hard-to-find spices, sauces, vegetables, and a cornucopia of other stuff. We picked up some fantastic homemade pratha (Indian flat bread), wishing we could take this great little market with us on the road.

One of the things I truly miss from Hoboken is the Crumbs cupcake shop. By the time we left for good, it became a weekly (okay, nightly) ritual to stroll through Pier A Park watching the New York City skyline light up as darkness fell, returning home with a ‘cupcake of the day’ to share. Crumbs ruined us for other cupcakes. Occasionally, when we’re lucky, we find a worthy replacement. The Cupcake Collection, in Nashville’s quaint German Town, is one such place. Made daily in a bakery housed in the Francois’ family living room, these smaller, less elaborate, cupcakes make up the difference in pure quality. You won’t find strawberry icing crammed with fresh strawberries at any Crumb’s factory, but here you will.

Pratha, Parthenon, and pastries is not the typical Music City itinerary. No country music museums, honky-tonk, or Grand Ole Opry for us. We did Nashville our way, and liked it just fine.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 6:43 am

    I moved to Nashville from New Jersey in 1975 and think I introduced ricotta to the city when I asked the dairy manager at Kroger to order some. Nashville in those days was still Old South and I stood out, with my accent, as a foreigner. But after a move here and there and then back in 1994 I discovered I was no longer unique. The city had more than doubled in size and had some of the issues I had been happy to leave behind in the North had migrated; rush hour traffic being one. Through it all, the music scene continued and the city truly has a varied and magical cross section of all genres. Country music publishing may be the driver but the talent in that town (all the wannabes that move there and fail perhaps) made the elementary school talent shows amazing. My son sang classical music with the Nashville Boy Choir (Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music) from grade 3 until grade 6 when we once again moved. It is a nice city and yes, unless you are a diehard country fan, you need to get away from the touristy areas.

    • October 14, 2011 9:21 am

      Nashville has a lot to offer, and it’s a place we probably didn’t do justice to – we just weren’t feeling it. That happens some times. We’ll have to go back and spend a few more days there and do all the things we missed on this trip.

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