The next morning was another long day in the city. We again drove straight for the garage at the Nashville Public Library, and set up camp. This time, we had gotten up early, prepared for the line at Biscuit Love. We got there around 8AM, half an hour after they opened, and only waited about 20 minutes. The food was delicious, and worth the wait. A heavy southern breakfast of biscuits and fried chicken was just the fuel I needed to put some miles on my feet that morning!
Sunday was cooler than Saturday, so we set out on foot for the Vanderbilt campus, and then the Parthenon. Living in Boston, we see our fair share of old, ivy-covered college buildings, and Vanderbilt was a very calm, peaceful area to walk through. There’s not much there, but it’s a nice walk during the summer.
Getting through Vanderbilt, we crossed West End Avenue, and made our way to the Centennial Park, housing The Parthenon. As soon as you cross the street, you can see The Parthenon, it’s massive! Originally built at the end of the 17th century, the structure serves as a near-exact replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece, and lends itself well to Nashville’s nickname “The Athens of the South.” Feel free to go inside for some interesting American art galleries and a replica of the original statue of Athena.
Sunday was more about the neighborhoods of Nashville than anything else. In preparation for the eclipse on Monday, when we planned to be outside of the city, I wanted to be sure we got a feel for the city of Nashville, or at least as much as we could in two days. We walked the Music Row and 12 South neighborhoods, just east of Vanderbilt, and continued through The Gulch area until we arrived at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Now, I like country music as much as the next guy, but I I don’t like it enough to pay $80 for the three of us. What I did want to see though, was the Hatch Show Print, found inside the Hall of Fame. My creative side veers towards paper crafts, words, and textures…in other words, I’ll be opening up my own print shop some day. Since the late 1800s, Hatch has printed thousands of show posters, handouts, and concert advertisements to distribute to the masses. Many of the posters were made using carved wooden blocks, inked, then pressed onto thick paper. If you’re like me, you’ll love looking through the walls and racks of posters, all printed with a specific design in mind. For the weekend we visited, they even had limited edition eclipse posters! Ask the cashier’s desk for a measuring tape to get just the right fit, and the small to medium-sized posters will fit right under the seat in front of you on your flight home, flat, not rolled.
The one thing I hadn’t crossed off my list yet in Nashville was to try some hot chicken. A lover of all things spiced, I knew I’d have to check it out while in town. From what I could research, we had two options: Hattie B’s or Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish. We’re also big fans of Anthony Bourdain, so his trip to Bolton’s on the show “Parts Unknown” was all we needed. I hailed a Lyft and we went up to Bolton’s on the other side of the river.
Mild chaos ensued. Somehow, the sun decided to turn up its game, and it was hot. There was a line out the door for Bolton’s. I wasn’t too surprised, I had read that it gets busy. I’m not a big fan of waiting in lines, no matter what’s at the end of it, but we made the call and decided to stick it through. It was at least half an hour before I was anywhere near the front, and then they stopped the line. I had no idea what was going on, but nobody was in the kitchen, and there was only one guy in front of me. My girlfriend and son were sitting in the shade, and moved to an inside table about the same time I got to the front of the line. No air conditioning, just some high-powered fans to keep us cool. No big deal, I’d wait. 5 minutes go by, no news. 10, then 20. Finally, the guy in front of me asks what’s going on, and the woman that seemed to be running things responded, “I’m making sure we have enough food.”
My life flashed before my eyes. Had I waited an hour for nothing? Would I never get to try hot chicken? (Don’t worry, just being dramatic!)
I finally got up to the front of the line, and ordered for the three of us. I only got medium spice on my catfish, as I didn’t want to tempt the spice gods. The range goes from light mild – mild – medium – hot, all the way to extra hot. My companions opted for light mild and mild on some chicken wings and tenders, and we were all around pretty satisfied. A warning: You can BYOB (bring your own
beer beverage). Do it. The Bolton’s on Main Street will run out of some of the drinks on hand, and will be hot if it’s a hot day. Once you order, use the wait time to walk up Main St just about 150 yards to the Mapco gas station; pick out something to cool your palate from all that spice. Better yet, have one of your traveling buddies go with you – you wait in line, they go get the drinks, that way you’ll have something to keep you cool while you’re waiting.
After dinner, we caught another Lyft ride down to Cumberland Park, right along the banks of the Cumberland River. On the third Sunday of the month from May to October, you can catch Jazz on the Cumberland. There’s a nice stage, which reminds me a bit of the Hatch Shell along Boston’s Charles River Explanade, as well as a nearby playground and plenty of room to bring chairs or blankets and enjoy the music. Many of the listeners had brought take out or a picnic dinner, and a bunch of kids ran around. Altogether, it was a great way to end the night, and we enjoyed the walk back to the car, over the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.
And one last bit (I’ll put up the eclipse post later this week)…
Some Budget Tips for Nashville:
- If you’re there on the weekends, be warned that many places close. Plenty of bars along Broadway are open late, but many of the small “meat and three” southern style diners are only open during lunch hours, Monday-Friday. This will push you to some of the more expensive restaurants, which is fine, but try and eat at these for lunch.
- Budget for parking (if you have a car). If you’re staying downtown, you probably won’t need a car, and the Music City Circuit buses can get you to the harder to reach parts, besides there’s plenty of Uber and Lyft drivers. However, if you’re renting a car or driving yourself, make sure you have some money in the travel budget for parking. The garage at the Nashville Public Library is by far the most economical choice for the weekends, $8 if you exit prior to 5PM. Just be sure you get there earlier than 10AM, because the garage does fill up!
- Take advantage of free parking when you can! Most of the lots with the blue parking signs (I believe these are the municipal-owned parking lots) are free for the first hour. We took advantage of this for breakfast at Biscuit Love, there’s two of these parking lots right across the street.
- Sales tax is high, even on food. Bring snacks and things if you can, you wallet will thank you.