Day 9 – Great Smoky Mountains to Nashville, Tennessee
Day 9 of my trip to the states marked the midway point of what was proving to be the trip of a lifetime. That morning we hit the road for a 200 mile drive to Nashville, Tennessee! We left behind the wilderness and beauty of the rolling grassland and mountain peaks of the Smokies, and headed to the country music capital of the world! I’m not going to lie, Nashville was one of the biggest factors in me choosing the Best Of The East, as no other east coast tour went there!
I love a bit of country music and this was one of the days I was most looking forward too. As we made our way further south the weather became very hot and humid, with plus thirty degree heat. This is not uncommon of the area though. We had a few downpours on the drive, but by the time we arrived the sky had cleared. Before going to set up camp, we stopped of in Nashville for an hour or so for a quick look around and to buy any bits and bobs we fancied, some of the group had planned on buying some cowboy boots and hats for the evening!
The first thing that struck me about Nashville was that it really did seem like the party capital of the world! Every way you look you will see vibrant country and western bars with booming music! Their’s less skyscrapers than other cities in America, and it has a more intimate, small city feel to it. The other thing which stood out was definitely the vast number of ‘Pedal Taverns’ on the road! These awesome looking machines are 16 seater cycle powered bars taking people on pub-crawls around the city! These looked like a lot of fun and added even more character to the city. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to try these out! A couple of us also checked out the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.
This is an iconic sight in Nashville and one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world, at 960 metres long! We grabbed some shots but felt slightly vulnerable here as some homeless people had clearly seen we were carrying expensive cameras and started chatting to us, clearly looking for a few dollars! We passed on a couple of dollars each and made it back to the group safely. In all honesty they were friendly people, we just felt a bit exposed being away from the city centre.
The campsite for our stay in Nashville was only a short drive from the city centre, the Nashville KOA. This was a really nice campsite! It had all the amenities including a clean shower block not far from our pitch, free wifi and electricity outlets and water taps at our pitch! You will not believe how happy it makes you to have easy access to such basic necessities when your constantly on the road camping!
Electricity for charging devices would ordinarily come for the power socket in the van, which had a multi-adaptor connected to it allowing a few of us to charge at the same time!
Top Tip! Bring an in car multi charger and car charger for all your devices – camera, tablets and phones. Van time will generally be the only time you’ll have to charge on a day to day basis!
After a quick lunch and mini-party to celebrate one of our trekkers birthdays, I had a shower and quick change ready to hit the town! Some of the group had bought special clothes from a thrift shop a few days earlier in Virginia in preparation for our party night! There were some outrageously bold items! The item I had bought ( a ‘Country Roads, Take Me Home’ t-shirt) turned out to be bigger than I thought – it was like a tent on me, and I’m not exactly small! Oops. I ditched that obviously!
We made our way into the city using the shuttle bus service provided by the KOA, which was only a small fee (about $10 round trip if I remember correctly). We got into the city centre in the late afternoon. We split of into smaller groups as we all wanted to see different things. I headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame, a famous museum dedicated to the history and evolution of country music, with a fellow trekker. Unfortunately, the museum was closing as we arrived. We did manage to get a snoop around the museums shops and attractions in the lobby though, which was nice. Afterwords we had a quick browse in the Nashville Visitor Centre, and took some snaps posing with guitars!
As an alternative to the Country Music Hall of Fame we walked a couple of blocks to the Johnny Cash Museum. This was a nice museum which told the story of the life of Johnny Cash with interactive exhibits and original artefacts including original handwritten lyrics, outfits, and bizarrely, an actual wall from the fireplace in his house! The entry fee was $15 and the ticket was a very cool old school design!
We regrouped at the Wildhorse Saloon, the number 1 music and dining venue in Nashville. This place was just awesome! The restaurant also acts as a club and has a dance floor for line dancing (which was a right laugh!) and live bands! The music was great (as you’d expect), the food was delicious (I had the tasty Smokehouse Burger) complete with a pint of the crisp and refreshing Wildhorse Thoroughbred Ale. After eating we joined in with the line dancing which was just hilarious! I’d definitely recommend joining in, its a lot of fun, even if you have no idea, neither does 50% of the people!
After the Wildhorse Saloon we headed to Tequila Cowboy, a famous bar, restaurant and club on broadway. We enjoyed a couple of drinks here and a few people even had a go on the mechanical bull! Unfortunately that was the end of our night and whirlwind tour of Nashville. Its a fantastic bright, vibrant and energetic city, and whilst the pace and atmosphere is certainly different to that of New York, it definitely lived up to my expectations and more!
If I could change one thing about the Best Of The East I’d probably say I’d drop one of the days in in the Smokies, which whilst great to experience, you can do the main bits in a day. It would definitely be nice to have an extra day in Nashville to give us more time to explore the cities museums and attractions.
Have you been to Nashville? What was your favourite attractions? Would you change anything about your Trek America tour? Let me know in the comments below!