Day 1 – A Trip to Nashville Through Louisville
This is the first day in a series about my cross-country road trip. To see the intro post, click here.
We began our trip to Nashville on an innocuous Monday morning. After setting our affairs in order, we hit the road, heading south on what would be the first of many interstates. The van in which we were traveling was commodious and comfortable, but I knew these features would quickly wear off. After all, even the most accommodating chair will begin to feel stiff and tiresome after 30 hours.
This first day took us through the entirety of Ohio, passing first Columbus, then Cincinnati. Not wanting to break so soon, we drove on through these cities, stopping only to fill up on gas and relieve ourselves. Ohio in itself is not that entertaining of a state, and since we had already toured these places, we did not feel a need to force a visit. We did, however, stop in Louisville to quench our thirst and fill our empty bellies.
Hot Browns in Louisville
We dined at a quaint and cavernous establishment called Troll Under the Bridge. The atmosphere was just like it sounds: bare brick and stone walls closing in on all sides, with the cool chill of the surrounding earth seeming to press into the dim lighting as if to make the space more grotto-like. It was here we tried hot browns; me, for the second time, and Drew, on his fledgling pilgrimage.
If you’ve not had a hot brown, you’re missing out. It’s an open-faced turkey sandwich smothered with oozing Mornay cheese sauce and topped with tomato and bacon. This already decadent concoction is then roasted until the top because a delectable golden brown. Louisville is renowned for this sandwich, and rightly so; the hot, gooey mess was expertly prepared and was worth the anticipation.
After finishing the last drops of our local brews, we hit the road once more, navigating our way on darkened highways littered with potholes and bumps. The jolting seemed to run through my body, lighting every nerve fiber with an irksome punch that kept me slightly on the brink of nausea and fatigue. Finally, however, we pulled off the highway and into our first stop – Candlewood Suites.
Visiting Nashville’s Most Popular Attraction – Broadway
Upon check-in, we entered the room, which was set up as a studio suite for long-term stays. No matter, because we eagerly embraced the empty space, littering our bags across the room and stretching across the king-size bed to relieve our sore bodies. After a brief respite, we summoned a Lyft to hail us to downtown Nashville so we could enjoy one of the city’s most promising amusements – Broadway.
Broadway is the type of place where country music fans might call their Mecca. The singular street is lined on both sides with flashing neon opulence, eagerly beckoning to every passerby. Music emanates out from every bar and restaurant, making the sidewalk a cataclysmic amalgam of halted measures and singular beats. Stand with your eyes closed and your ears open, and you can pick out your favorite honky tonk tune from the seemingly endless supply of establishments.
Honky Tonk at Layla’s
Because a chill filled the night air, we were lucky in that the street was relatively open and lacking in people. This made it easy to hop from bar to bar, sampling the music like one might puckishly pick at the hors d’ourves at the beginning of a meal. We started the night at a place called Layla’s, a bar that gave off slightly dive vibes with its haphazardly stacked alcohol shelves, license-plate-littered ceiling, and indiscriminately placed works of art along the walls. The band here was a traditional bluegrass bunch, and they played various songs of which I have no recollection or knowledge.
From there, we walked to the water, drinking in the cool breeze and letting the whispers of the wind clean our ears. While the musicians certainly were talented, bluegrass is simply not my taste, and I found the relative silence of the waterway refreshing and revitalizing. However, being in Nashville, we knew we had to continue to the next course of our aural buffet.
Rocks Vibes at Second Fiddle and Mellow Mushroom
The next bar we frequented, Second Fiddle, was also relatively empty, and we had no problem obtaining seats at the bar. The band playing here was slightly more suited to our tastes, as they put their own country spin on a number of classic rock tunes. However, we stayed here for just a drink, as the bar called Mellow Mushroom across the street with pizza slices seemed to be calling our name.
Upon entering the new establishment, an invigorating sound palpitated my ears – rock music. The band here was not confused about their identity, as they quickly beseeched the audience to request their favorite rock or metal songs. As we sat enjoying our slices of pepperoni pie, the harder, guitar-fueled anthems of my youth gave me hope that not everything in Nashville needed to have S
While the night was still young, we had had a long day of travel, and we wanted to be restored for the day ahead of us, so we decided to retire back to our hotel. After all, we would have the entire next day to explore, so there was no reason to push ourselves on the very first night of our trip to Nashville.