This post is a few months late, but better late than never, right? Haha. As mentioned in my previous post, the beginning of this year brought with it the decision to stay put in the Midwest and explore the area as much as possible in the form of a road trip per month. Accompanied by my fellow Southerner friend, Heather, we’ve been exploring the Midwest little by little each month.
Our first trip of the year took place in March. Before I go on, let me just tell you, it seems like March is a miserable month no matter where you are. In El Paso, March is infamous for absurdly strong winds that bring with it dust storms and tumbleweed stampedes. Here, March was cold and miserable, with only a few days of weak sunshine. For that reason (well, actually let me be real here and say that I chose the destination; I’d always wanted to go to Nashville), we decided to head south to catch a break from the incessant cold and rain, so we headed to Nashville, TN.
We left on an uncharacteristically warm and sunny Friday afternoon after obtaining permission from our boss to leave work early. The drive was long, but actually really fun. We had an interesting stop at a gas station where Heather ended up with a ribbed condom in a little box as a souvenir. I had Panera for the first time ever in Bowling Green, Kentucky (which also happened to be the town someone I met later on in Nashville was from).
We stayed at a hotel that was just…..unreal. I wish I’d taken more pictures because, shit, that place was an attraction on its own.
The following day, excited for the day ahead of us, we woke up to…..snow. Because of course. We donned our coats, scarves, and boots and headed out! Our first stop was Crema. I’ll be honest and say that it’s been too long for me to remember exactly what we ordered, but I remember my drink being really good. The place itself felt a little cold and…sterile? A little too minimalist-industrial for my taste, but I would definitely go back for another drink.
The rest of the day was a little disappointing. We happened to visit Nashville (unknowingly) the weekend some basketball convention was going on downtown. The streets were so crowded we could hardly squeeze through, and as the morning snow melted, it turned to an ugly, gray slush, making our surroundings seem bleak and dirty. We went into a few shops where we bought corny souvenirs for our friends back home then walked around semi-forlornly through the bustling downtown streets, noisy with a medley of conflicting musical styles and hazy with clouds of cigarette smoke that permeated our winter clothing.
We had lunch at The Diner downtown, which was a pretty cool place. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t remember what I ordered…it may have been a philly cheesesteak, but I remember it being really good. After lunch, we went to a park and took some pictures of the parthenon, which was closed by the time we got there. We walked around in the cold; I creeped on a red cardinal and managed to get a picture of it, which was the highlight of my afternoon. Things were looking bleak, guys.
We headed back to our hotel room, where we spent some time moping around, resting our feet, snacking, etc., before deciding to go out. With very little online digging, I found a promising-sounding bar, No. 308. Heather wanted to go to an aquarium restaurant not too far from our hotel. After getting ready, we grabbed a quick bite (fried green tomatoes and fried pickle chips, along with a sampler of local beers) at the Jack Daniels restaurant inside the hotel, then decided to walk over to the aquarium place, where we were planning on having some drinks before calling an uber to take us to No. 308. What was supposed to have been a 10 minute walk turned into almost an hour-long one due to some weird parking lot closures. My feet were killing me when we finally made it. We got our drinks, enjoyed looking at the fish, then requested our uber, who arrived there pretty damn quickly. The lady driving us happened to be from Flint, MI, where Heather is originally from, which was a pretty cool coincidence.
We arrived at the bar relatively early (it was around 10ish) and stood around awkwardly with our drinks (I started the night off with an Old Zander, which had egg whites in it and was amazing), people-watching for a bit, before finding a place to sit. As the night wore on, we befriended (?) the people sitting next to us, and that’s where things really began to pick up. The bar got more and more crowded, the bartenders started having a little more fun, and it turned into a really fun party atmosphere. We met some nice people, shared some drinks with them, did some dancing, had some conversation, and just overall had a really great night. It was definitely a great ending to what started off as a somewhat crappy day. We ended the night with lighthearted conversation at a Waffle House close to 5 in the morning.
The following morning, at around 10, we checked out. We went over to one of the universities in town and took a tour of the campus, then went on the hunt for an authentic home-cooked southern comfort food meal for lunch before heading back home for the day. We ended up at Mai Bee’s Southern Cuisine, where we had, no lie and no exaggeration, the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life. The portions were beyond generous and despite my desire to leave a clean plate, my stomach would not cooperate. The staff was friendly and made us feel really at home; it was a great ending to our Nashville adventure (I am choosing to omit the fact that upon leaving the restaurant and heading home, traffic was a nightmare for the first hour or so of the drive back. Technically we were leaving Nashville, so that doesn’t count, right?). Can’t wait for the opportunity to visit once again!