May 14 – 17
Our first stop of the afternoon was the Parthenon (Nashville). A full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, it was designed by Confederate veteran William Crawford Smith and constructed in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.
Originally built of plaster, wood, and brick, it was not intended to be permanent, but the cost of demolishing the structure combined with its popularity with residents and visitors alike resulted in it being left standing after the Exposition. Within the next 20 years, weather had defaced the landmark; it was then rebuilt in concrete on the same foundations in a project that started in 1920; the exterior was completed in 1925 and the interior in 1931.
We really enjoyed the visit, having just been to the original in Athens last year; being able to see it at its real size brought home to us what an incredible building it was. Equally impressive was the life-sized recreation of the statue of Athena that graced the original in ancient times. In addition to the Parthenon itself, your paid admission gains you access to a nice art museum; the permanent Cowan Collection, a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan.
With some time to spare before our scheduled tour at the Grand Ole Opry, we drove to the site and parked in its mall’s parking lot and entered the same looking for a snack to hold us over until dinner. We entered and seeing signs for a Bavarian Bierhaus, made tracks for it. It’s location aside (a beerhall in a mall?), the owners did a very good job of bringing the feel of one to the place.
With a little over 30 minutes to tour time, we sat at the bar and ordered a beer apiece (I a Spaten Lager and Joanna and Hacker Pschorr Dunkel Weiss) and a Wurst on a Roll. We were pleasantly surprised when the plate of food came, two long and thin smoked brats, fries and kraut, more than enough to last us well into the evening.
While we ate, the bartender entertained us with a tale of racoons in her attic; she had captured the adult and taken it miles away, only to return to discover it was a mother who had left her babies behind. What do to with the little critters was her dilemma as no easy solution had appeared. We debated various options and left her wondering what the eventual outcome would be.
Our time was at hand for the Opry tour and we made our way to the entrance, checking in with our guide and expecting a visit as memorable as the one earlier at the Ryman. While interesting, our twenty-minute visit to the eighteen (numbered 1-19 as there is no number 13) dressing rooms (to accommodate the many talents on any given night),
a look at the green room and it’s high-water mark from the devastating flood of 2010,
Roy Acuff’s dressing room preserved in perpetuity and then, to step out on the stage where they would take your picture (we didn’t bite), seemed pale in comparison to our experience of the morning.
We finished up and drove back to the house, relaxing for a few hours before heading back to the Broadway Street area to catch some live music and a little food. To find free street parking, we had to walk a number of blocks to Broadway, but it was worth it to avoid the expensive charges nearer the venue we’d chosen to visit, Acme Feed & Seed.
It was pretty full on the first floor when we arrived, so we worked our way to the back of the venue to finally find a couple of seats. We’re weren’t all that hungry, that Wurst having done a good job of staying with us and so, we thought to order a couple of their interesting appetizers to share. The routine here is to order food from a kiosk (it gets delivered to you) and drinks from the friendly waitress who came to our table. While Joanna went up to the kiosk to order us the Mrs. Melba’s Brunswick Stew, Grilled Mexican street corn (with cotija, lime aioli & chili), I got us a Velvet Goldmine (Prairie Organic Gin, Velvet Falernum, and fresh lemonade) for her and the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout for me.
Not long after the band started up, a five-piece group that played a bluegrass tinged style of rock and roll, mostly all original tunes, that entertained us while we ate our food (the corn came on the cob and was soaked in the seasoning mix), both items well worth their reasonable pricing. We finished eating and sat through the end of the set, glad to have made the effort to come back into town, a goal of ours for the trip being to enjoy as much music as possible, particularly if it was free.
Our first full day had been all we could have hoped for with lots of sightseeing, good food and a few adult beverages. We were going to hit the road for Lynchburg the next day to visit that temple of great whiskey, Jack Daniels. Long on our bucket list we were eager to see what it would provide.
Parthenon (Nashville): http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Parthenon.aspx
The Cowan Collection: http://conservancy.otterball.com/the_parthenon/cowan
Bavarian Bierhaus: http://www.bierhausnashville.com/about-2/about-us/
Grand Ole Opry: https://www.opry.com/
2010 Tennessee floods: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Tennessee_floods
Acme Feed & Seed: http://theacmenashville.com/