A Summer Weekend in Nashville, Tennessee
My dad is an eclipse chaser. Just 5 months before I was born, my parents were in Cabo San Lucas to see the total solar eclipse there the summer of 1991. I grew up with a massive poster of the event hanging on our staircase, passing it every trip up or down the stairs.
So when a total solar eclipse was going to happen somewhere so easy to reach, and the path of totality coincided with the homes of relatives and best friends, who could expect him not to drop everything and go?
It was going to be in the middle of August in a part of my country that I had only seen from an airport (my plane was actually hit by lightning when taking off in Nashville once, luckily not this time) I figured out my work schedule, invited my best friend who was living in Pittsburgh at the time, and booked my flight tickets. I'd spend a few days in New Jersey with my Grammy then hop over to Kentucky and Tennessee. It would be the furthest south I'd ever ventured and I had no idea what to expect.
Kentucky was a great time. We spent three days there catching up with family and friends, then hopped in a rental car to Nashville, where we picked up my friend Kayla, settled into our hotel, and then hit the town!
First stop was Acme Feed & Seed. This old feed mill is now a multi-story restaurant with stages for live music and walls covered in country music history. I ended up getting a delicious bowl of curry that turned out to be my favorite meal of the trip. The place was packed, as was the rest of Nashville, because the eclipse madness had brought thousands to town.
We walked around the main strip, enjoyed Johnny Cash's museum, and headed back to the hotel to cool off. The humidity was not messing around that day! Once we were fully air conditioned, we tried out Uncle Bud's, a spot specializing in proper Tennessee cooking with nearly everything on the menu being fried, and yes, that includes gator tail.
We tried the catfish and fried shrimp, but my favorite was all the sides! Feed me a side of beans with every meal, please! With our stomachs full and bodies tired from travel, we went to bed early to prepare for the event we're really here for: the total eclipse.
The afternoon of the eclipse was such chaos (and fun!) that it's better captured on video. You can see it all here:
After everything calmed down, we went into town to get some dinner, pleasantly surprised that the traffic wasn't as horrendous as we feared. We got dinner at the Peg Leg Porker, a BBQ joint that luckily serves plenty of those sides I talked about - I had a feast of beans, mac and cheese, and greens. The pulled pork sandwiches are famous with tourists and locals alike, and we did have to wait in a long but fast moving line to order. The atmosphere in there was great - noisy, crowded, but filled with happy customers.
Then we walked across the street to Barista Parlor, a hip little cafe where we had tea and cookies. My friend is a coffee addict so she happily bought some beans to take home as a souvenir. And since cookies aren't enough for dessert, we drove across town to Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream where we devoured flavors ranging from bramble berry sorbet to salted peanut butter (pro tip: always travel with a friend in order to try more ice cream flavors!)
The next day was a lazy one, starting off with a little thrift and book shopping. I scored big time at a store called Pangaea that was filled with way too many things I wanted to buy. We grabbed lunch at the Grilled Cheeserie, and then explored the gorgeous grounds of the Belmont Mansion. We ended up not taking the tour, but walking around the rose gardens and open lawn was lovely enough! From there we made a short stop at the Parthenon, which I still think is such a funny addition to the city. Definitely fun to walk around it and pretend you're not in America (or the 21st century for that matter)
We ended the afternoon with a trip to Pinewood Social which was one of my favorite stops of the trip. This trendy restaurant and bar also has a bowling alley in the back, so mom, Kayla, and I bowled while dad made sure none of us cheated and guarded our appetizers. If you're looking for a fun spot to enjoy good food, air conditioning, and some bowling, you can't get anywhere better than this!
Kayla and I met up with an old friend we had studied abroad with for dinner at Five Points Pizzeria and then got back to our hotel right before a huge thunderstorm hit. I had never seen that much lightning in my life! Luckily, everything was clear for our flights home and 20 hours or so later and I was back in Seoul! The trip was a whirlwind but so much fun! I can't wait to explore the south more and of course, to get back to Nashville :)