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Nashville: The Trip I Didn’t Expect

On November 1st, I headed out on a solo adventure to Nashville. Some questions I know people are going to ask “Why Nashville? Why a solo trip? Was it Worth it? Recommendations?”

(This is in the Country Music Hall of Fame. I didn’t go in, however. I just needed this photo to happen)

Why Nashville?

My travel history is pretty light compared to some people I know. I did travel to Europe as a child but my memory is vague and I didn’t appreciate it as much as I would if I went there now. I wanted to visit a city that was different from the culture of my hometown (Portland Oregon) but still had a similar vibe. Nashville sounded like the ideal place to visit.

(South Nashville)

Why a Solo Trip?

I felt like being on a solo trip would be the best option for a few reasons. One of them was not having to wait for someone to go on this trip with me. I don’t usually wait for others. I also thought a solo vacation would be fun because I don’t have to make decisions around someone else. Also, I’m a strong introvert and thought I would enjoy the long solitude.

Was it Worth It?

Yes, but that was not a quick answer.

There were some good moments. I got to go to the Capital State Museum, went to a free art show, learned the history of Nashville and a little bit of Tennessee itself. I was amazed by the beauty of the state of Tennessee and I did get to check out a few local shops and restaurants. However, with Nashville being known as a music city, there was a bar/party scene I was not aware of until my first night. My hope for the trip was to find the Portland inside Nashville, and there were parts of it that reminded me of home- not their coffee, however (I’m spoiled with good coffee in Portland). I will say that the party and bar scene made me feel out of place and I did question whether or not the trip was a mistake.

(Pieces I found at the art show)

The Loneliness of a Solo Trip

Before leaving for my trip my mom asked, “why do you want to go alone? You have no one to talk to.” I did hope that a solo trip would be refreshing and give me the recharge I needed to come back but I was mistaken. Being by myself for five days was making me feel lonely. I was not expecting to feel that way. On my second to last day of the trip was when that lonely feeling was creeping in.

By my last day, I was sitting alone at a restaurant wanting to talk to someone I know in person. I’m not one to start a conversation with strangers and question how some people feel so comfortable doing that right away. I didn’t want to bother strangers. I notice a sign across from me saying, “Enter as strangers, leave as friends.” After reading that sign I felt an overwhelming amount of loneliness. I was questioning my motivation for doing this trip solo and allowed myself to think no one wanted to go on this trip with me in the first place, which is why I went on the trip by myself. I know that’s not true, however at that moment it felt like the truth and those thoughts took some time to go away when I got back to Portland.

The Portland Inside Nashville

After I left that restaurant I went to a donut shop and was asking the employees about the city of Nashville. To my surprise, they were not happy with the amount of tourist and party animals Nashville brings in. I learned that Nashville was not the greatest with safety and didn’t use to be as trendy as it is now. It surprised the employees how people would hang out and visit certain parts of Nashville (East Nashville) which was known to be an unsafe area when they were growing up. That was the Portland inside Nashville, becoming more of a cool place to visit and live at the cost of the goodwill of some (or most… maybe all) locals. I was informed of some local coffee shops that do live music but I remember being told some of them were outside of Nashville. I knew there had to be a Portland vibe but not having a specific location made it challenging to find unless I was a local.

Would I Go Back?

Tennessee itself is a beautiful state and many locals told me about other cities such as Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Franklin. I would go back to Nashville but I don’t want to limit myself to that city.

Recommendation

Of course, if someone I know wants to go visit Nashville, I will pass along some of my favorite spots.

  • Thistle Farms- an ethical cafe and boutique employing women who were survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. (The yellow mustard scarf is from Thistle Farm)
  • Wild Cow & Sunflower Cafe- two vegan restaurants that have a plant-based twist on southern favorites. (Sunflower Cafe’s veggie wrap and chickpea salad 😋)(This was the Wild Cow special for that day I went)
  • The Well Coffee House- a coffee shop providing clean drinking water with every purchase of coffee you buy.
  • The Five Daughters Bakery- a Nashville local donut shop that makes their own unique donuts and they even have donuts for special diets (vegan and paleo donuts!!!).
  • Mikes- I went there twice! It’s an ice cream shop that makes their own ice cream and they have multiple flavors.(Firework show outside of Mikes)
  • The Americano Lounge- This was the last coffee I went to in Nashville. I sadly miss a chance to watch a live jazz concert but they do give tourist and maybe some locals a break from the loud party sense of Nashville and just enjoy some coffee, food, and jazz music.
  • Tennessee State Museum- it’s a free museum so no excuse in not go. It’s a good way to learn about the history of Tennessee
  • Old Town Trolley- the trolley bus is designed for tourist but it’s a good way to know downtown and be inner-city Nashville. Also, you discover a little about some local shops and eaters.

(Downtown Nashville. This is a historical building that’s also a hotel)

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