I went to Nashville in late April for my friend Dasha's 30th birthday! There was 7 of us altogether and we had a stellar time exploring this southern city and the surrounding area.
But before I dive into our adventures in great detail, I want to share with you what I found most unexpected about Nashville. Nashville is known for a lot of things. Its excellent live music, its delectable food, and its ancient Greek architecture are a few of its most prominent attractions.
What I didn't expect was a dance party on a street corner, architecture to rival other cities, and a stereotypical country theme that is unafraid to laugh at itself.
1. The Street Corner Speakers
As we were walking in downtown Nashville, I expected to hear music. I mean, this is Music City, after all. What I didn't expect was to hear it on a street corner.
No, I do not mean there were musicians playing on the corner. I also do not mean music was flowing out of a nearby bar. Both of these experiences are typical in Nashville, but this was not their moment.
What surprised me was the literal speakers that city planners had installed at street corners across the downtown area. These speakers pump out country tunes as you wait to cross the street!
We all had to stop and dance once we realized where it was coming from. Check out this short video I filmed in the moments after spotting our first speaker:
2. The Modern Architecture
From all I had heard about and read about Nashville, I never expected it's architecture to be so modern and beautiful.
The striking AT&T building stands out the most in the Nashville skyline.
I also really enjoyed the entire Cumberland Park area which includes views from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.
The alternating colored lights on the walking bridge elevator and across the water on the Gateway Bridge made it feel like a true, modern city.
3. The Campy Country Western Theme
Prior to arriving in Nashville, I expected the place to be the way I imagine a southern American city known for its Country Music Hall of Fame to be. I expected people to take their music, their politics, and their country western style very seriously.
But it's actually not really like that! Well, not as much as I thought it would be. This sign is a perfect example:
Serious or sarcastic? I don't know!
How about this next one - Can you really refer to your kitchen as the "Hillbilly Grill" and be serious about it?
At times, Nashville seemed to be winking at me. The city seemed to be self-conscious of its country theme and all the stereotypes I had been preparing for with reluctant anticipation. Perhaps it felt this way because of its recent influx of hipsters who have brought a little rock 'n' roll and liberalism along with them.
Seeing business owners camp up the western feel was both refreshing and curious. Refreshing because I couldn't take any of it seriously and curious because there were still many people there who did.
Unexpectedly, I found myself loving the on-the-cusp artificiality of it all.
I found things I had no idea I would end up loving about Nashville while I was there last month. I find that our expectations are rarely met in life. This is certainly true for travel and so its an important lesson to keep in mind when planning any trip.
To my surprise, I miss many parts of Nashville I did not think I would miss. And there's still so much more to share about my time there! My group of friends and I managed to pack a lot into 3 days. I can't wait to share it all in the coming weeks!