Everything went wrong in Nashville. Almost.

Because my parents had enjoyed a visit to the Opryland Hotel in Nashville in 2001, because I was eager to begin to accumulate Marriott Rewards points, and because a fifteen minute drive to the downtown area did not phase me, I made the mistake of staying at the Fairfield Inn at Opryland. This set the tone for the rest of the trip.

I ate at Breugger’s Bagels on the Vanderbilt campus several times, which I attribute both to free wireless internet and to cranberry sauce and honey mustard in DIY salad tosses. I also had dinner one night at Big River Grille on Broadway, where I enjoyed a barbecue pizza and beer. I thought about the salad– I really did– but I can’t eat salad for every meal. It’s just too predictable. My server was friendly and slipped me a free beer, too. Broadway, with all of its honkytonk saloons and western stores, was not the place for a little lady by herself. I also had a business dinner at Sportsman’s in the Village, where I did, in fact, eat a salad. (It had fried chicken on it.) I took a recommendation from the Nashville group I work with and had my last meal at the Pancake Pantry in the Vandy area. It was a weekday morning around 8:00am, but I still had to wait in a long line to be seated. The pancakes are really that good. Seriously.

Given where I was staying, it was inevitable that I would do a lap in Opry Mills, an outlet center with one of the largest Bass Pro Shops I’ve ever seen. And on my final night, I went to the Gaylord Opryland Resort Hotel and Convention Center. The Opryland has 2,881 guest rooms and offers nine acres of indoor gardens, separated into four climate-controlled atria. It’s huge. I covered most of the multi-story paths along the indoor river (and some paths several times…) before finally stopping in for a nightcap at the only bar that was still open and entertaining tourists. I started to read and was invited to join a group of guys– three young Arab men and one white man, all between 20 and 30. The three Arab men worked at Opry Mills, and had immigrated to the US not long ago to join family already in Nashville. The white man was a musician, married, very attractive, and very, very, very Christian. Ironically, he did a fantastic George W. impression. Once I finished my martini, I decided I was just not in the mood to be evangelized.

The trip wasn’t a complete mistake– I learned what not to do next time.

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The Parthenon. I have yet to go inside, two visits later. (Maybe one day.)
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Interior of the Opryland at night. Long strands of tea lights extend from the restaurants over seating areas and gardens.
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An Opryland hallway, with entrances to the ballrooms. The ornate decor feels terribly inconsistent with the rest of the Opryland area. It has been past its prime for years. The businesses and roads surrounding the Opryland are in poor shape, and usually quite empty.

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