Well, after finally deciding on Nasville, TN on Sunday for a place to go for the weekend, I think I did pretty good. $750 for 2 people for plane tickets and 3 nights hotel stay. I'm getting really excited about it. Now all I have to do is pack!
Looked on Yahoo Travel today and added a whole bunch of neat attactions. Found some coupons with the Trip Planner on opry.com for area attractions, so I was happy about that. I can already tell it'll be a great weekend! They have the Acquarium restaurant that really has a 200,000 gallon acquarium in it.
Note: Our first day was over 12 hours long, so bear with me.
Woke up around 4am this morning. I can't believe I got myself up out of bed and starting listing all the things yet to do. I had packed most everything I needed for the trip last night. Now all I had to do was eat breakfast and check that I had everything. It was bad timing too, because yesterday I had gotten a few packages from http://pixiestreasures.com/ and it included a few neat dragon figures. I opened up the packages to make sure they were okay, then I arranged them in my room. They'll be waiting for me when I get home.
The Westlake Cab Co. came about 5am to pick us up. The guy had to wait a few minutes while I checked over the house to make sure it was secure and that we hadn't forgotten anything. It was a quiet ride and we got to Cleveland Hopkins in plenty of time. We were using Northwest Airlines. Yahoo Travel had offered us Delta initially, but my mother wasn't pleased the last time we used Delta to go to Albuquerque, NM last year. I had checked us in online, so all we had to do was to check our baggage and head to security. We did this without an issue and continued our walk to the gate. It was before 7am and most places weren't open in the airport. I wasn't until after 7am that my mother needed coffee and I went to Cinnabon and got Cinnastix and coffee. I didn't seem like too long of a wait, for we were on the plane before I knew it.
The sun wasn't up yet, but sky was layered in light yellows and pinks. My mom got the window seat, which was fine this flight. I told her we'd switch so I'd have the window in Memphis. I had bought some gum in the gift shop so I had a few as we headed for the runway. It was about 7:45am as we left the ground. I was dead tired from only getting about 4 hours of sleep the night before, but suprisingly I couldn't fall asleep. I used my discman when we got high enough and just sat with my eyes closed. My mom was reading some newspapers next to me. She attempted to talk to me, but I said I was too tired. I rested the rest of the flight.
Memphis airport was a learning experience for me. They had changed the gate and we didn't find out until late. We had ten minutes and we speed-walked to the new gate. The second flight was only 30-45 mins from Memphis to Nashville. As we flew over Memphis I though of The King and if I could see his house from up high.
Finally arrived in Nashville around 10:30am Central time. They had this country singer at the airport singing and selling CDs. I bought 2 for $10. His name is Shelby Merchant, and I met him and he signed my CDs for me.
After collecting our baggage we called the airport and they picked us up. Nashville speed limits are usually 55 or 65 on the freeway. We got to our hotel, the Alexis Inn (http://nashvillealexishotel.com/) and there was a problem. Apparently they didn't have us as having a reservation and they had to contact someone at Yahoo and get it straightened out. It was around 11:30am so we couldn't check in yet. The hotel also didn't have a complimentary shuttle, or a pool like they said on the phone. They only took you to&from the airport free of charge. So then my mother thought maybe we could get around by bus, but that didn't work out. Finally we just threw up our hands and rented a car from Enterprise. They have an office in the Holday Inn across the street so we went over there and got a car. Don't remember the make and model off the top of my head.
We decided to go out for lunch. We ended up at a Ruby Tuesday's. We have never eaten at this particular chain before, and weren't very impressed at the end. The waitress was nice, and was a New Yorker earning money to go back to school. The turkey burger was good, as in it didn't need any ketchup or other sauces. The bun was bigger than the burger, though, and my mother and I split this sandwich. We also split the Caesar salad and soup we ordered. We had spent over $10 for a meal and we both left still a bit hungry.
After lunch we went and drove to downtown Nashville. It's a very nice looking city and very clean. We first went to the visitor's center after parking for $6 in a garage.
As it was around 3pm we found something nearby to visit. It was the Tennessee State Museum, which contained the history of the state from prehistoric days through modern times. A lot of Civil War information and articles about Andrew Jackson. My mother liked the quilt room.
Leaving the museum, my mother realized we'd need a corkscrew to open the bottle of wine she had purchased. We walked down the street and she first stopped at a hair store. My mother had forgotten her hairspray on this trip. We then went a few doors down to Walgreen's, where we found a motherload of nice $9.99 touristy Nashville shirts. I bought a red long-sleeved and a navy-blue short-sleeved shirt, but they didn't have any corkscrews. We payed and went across the street. I stopped at a store called Sam's Clothing and Shoes and I found some nice shirts on sale. My mother came in the store after finding a corkscrew at the Dollar General store next door. She gave critique to the shirts I liked and charged the ones I bought. One was red with a chinese dragon, and the rest were all Lot 29 (Looney Tunes design) shirts.
It was near dinnertime and a guard at the museum had mentioned a good place to eat called Demo's (Steak and Spaghetti House).
It was 180 degrees from what we got at Ruby Tuesday's. For $8.49 each we got a salad and a big portion of lasagna with garlic bread. I'll eat there again. We ate in a hurry, since I was planning on going to the Sounds game that night. We drove out of downtown and headed to the stadium, but we realized by looking at the traffic that we would have to park aways. We parked in a lot that we weren't sure we were allowed. We asked everyone else who was parking there and they said they didn't know if it was okay either. We just did and walked to the field.
I had a coupon from opry.com for buy one, get one free on tickets. We got 2 reserved seats for $10. The stadium reminded me of the Akron Aeros. As we looked for our seats printed on our tickets, it turns out there were people sitting there already that weren't supposed to. As the night went one, I saw this happen again. At this point I had been up for over 12 hours and was really getting sleepy, and was tempted to get some caffeine via a Coke, but they were $3 for a 20 oz. The most I've paid was $2. So we stayed for most of the game, leaving at the top of the ninth inning. As we got back to the car we waiting for the fireworks to start, for it was fireworks night. As they shut the stadium lights off, we sat and watched the show. It was excellent and a great way to end our first day. We got a little lost getting back to the hotel. We stopped twice to find directions and finally got back. After checking in we got our bags up to the room. It was warm in there so we right away turned on the air-conditioning. I fell asleep very easily after getting out my pillow from my bag(yes, I bring a pillow from home, some hotel pillows are awful).
woke up this morning about 8am. Was looking forward to seeing what breakfast would be like aftering seeing the waffle iron in the breakfast area last night. It was very nice, we got warm food like biscuts & gravy, sausage, and eggs. There were also bagels, cereal, waffles, but no fruit. We decided to take a Gray Line tour today. It was their "Grand Legends" tour, which included a Tour of the Grand Ole Opry House, Flat Boat Ride and Tour in Opryland Hotel, Country Music Wax Museum in Music Valley, and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. I would come 'round our hotel at 1pm.
Until then, we decided to buy something to cook at the neighborhood grocery store. We had brought along my mother's George Foreman grill so we wouldn't be doomed to eating out all the time. My mother bought salmon and I bought some chicken. It was about 12:30pm when we made it back to the hotel room. We didn't see a refrigerator so I went to the ice machine on the first floor (we are on the fifth) so I took the elevator down and got bags of ice to keep the meat cool. Just was it's time to go I open one of the cabinets and there, lo & behold, is a refrigerator. So we had a good laugh and transported the food to the fridge. The phone then rang and the desk said that Grey Line tours was here. Our drivers name was BJ and he drove us to Music City to the Grey Line office to pay. We walked around for a half-hour first in this strip mall. A few doors down from Grey Line was an old-fashioned soda shop with hot dogs and haburgers and whatnot. I bought a root beer float for $3, and it was delicious since I haven't had one in a while & the root beer came from a glass bottle.
As our tour began, the bus took us to Grand Ole Opry house.
We were joining a different tour company for a while as a woman explained a bit about the opry and the building. Then she showed us a 10 minute video about the show and how it became what it is today. I took this opportunity to get a few pictures in. Then we left the buiding and were ready for our boat ride...our INDOOR boat ride.
The Gaylord Opryland(which my mother once or twice during the trip called it Oprahland) Resort is one of the biggest and most beautiful places I've been to. As we entered we heard thunder, and were glad we were inside. The whole inside atrium is covered in thick glass that can deflect rain, gusting winds, and even hail. As we were getting in the small boat there was a worker with a camera taking pictures of us. Of course it was to sell to us as we ended our ride. It was a pleasant enough ride and we rode by waterfalls with fish swimming around us. They have water spouts there that they can set to music for a show at night, so that kinda' reminded me of Tower City's fountain, only more showy. As we left the boat, the ceiling began leaking and small streams of water came down where we were departing to the shore. In the end we did buy a copy of the picture, for my mother said it was one of the better ones taken of me. At this point they let us have an hour to explore the whole place. We didn't get to see everything, but we almost got left behind near the end. We got lost, and BJ said that if we weren't there on time he wasn't going to come in looking for us. So we made it eventually to the spot he dropped us off at and in about 5 minutes we saw him. He said he had already took everyone over to the next destination but was going to return anyway. So with a sigh of relief we headed over to the Country Music Wax Museum. It was okay, I'm just not really into country so I didn't know many of the names, except maybe Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton. As we left that museum our tour time was through and we went back to our hotel.
Tourist tip: My mother wasn't that impressed with Gray Line. All they did was get you into the places and drive you and drop you off. They never actually did any of the tour guide part, like walk with the group and talk about things. Our driver mainly told jokes when driving us from place to place.
As we walked to the room we decided on cooking the food right away. My mother made both my chicken and her salmon with the grill after I set it up. I think mine was overdone, but I ate it anyway, along with a twice-baked potato and strawberries. As evening came, we weren't sure what to do next. Earlier that day at another Walgreens close to us(yes, we bought some more shirts), a man told us about a race track that had races that night. We got directions there and went to that.
The Motor City Motorplex is in the TN State Fairgrounds. It was a nice evening and we paid $20 total to get in. My mother sat in the lower seats close, but not too close, to the track. As the night went on we had a race with trucks, then with cars. I could smell all the fumes and when they came around it was LOUD and I thought of my earplugs at home on my dresser. We stayed until around 9pm. Then I watched a bit of H2O on television because I hadn't seen it in a while. Then I went to sleep.
woke up and got ready to eat breakfast. My mother went and got directions. We went to her Catholic mass at a church called Holy Rosary.
After mass, we went back to the hotel and thought about what we could do today. My mother wanted to see a plantation, and the Parthenon, so I picked what was closest to the Parthenon. It was Belle Meade, which means pretty meadow.
http://www.bellemeadeplantation.com/ You take take a Virtual Tour on their website.
The $10/person (with AAA or coupon) tour was a glipse of the manor and it was given by a nice woman in period costume. They also had a restaurant above the Visitor's Center, but we didn't eat there. After the house tour we walked around the grounds at the other buildings.
Because of the establishment of numerous higher education institutions Nashville had earned the nickname the "Athens of the South", so in 1895 they built a replica of the Parthenon of Athens for their Centennial celebration. It was only supposed to last for 6 months, but the people liked it so much that they replaced the materials with those more permanent. That is what stands today at Centennial Park, a very big and beautiful park. It was most impressive and has a huge statue of Athena inside with gold plating. It's worth the admission to go inside the structure to see the statue and they also have an art gallery inside.
The funny part about this part of the day was that it started raining hard as we were about to leave, so we had to wait for it to slow down. We would of bought an umbrella, but it HAD to be the $30 Van Gogh painting ones, so we passed. We returned to our hotel after this.
We didn't know what to do next, since it was about 4pm on a Sunday and most attractions closed soon. We didn't know what else to do, so I mentioned going downtown again. It was evening and I was lucky enough to find a parking spot on the street. You can park free on the weekends. We walked down Broadway and it kinda' reminded me of New Orleans, bars with country music coming out of their open doorways. We walked and browsed a few shops, then decided on getting some dinner. Since we were just there Friday and knew it was a good place, we went back to Demo's Spaghetti & Steak. We both had stuffed baked potatoes this time. I had mine with really good chicken in sauce and my mother had hers with a seafood mix. After this we went back to look at a shop I previously didn't finish seeing and I bought a Mallard shirt for $7. It seems like we'll be coming back to Ohio with a lot more shirts. Then we checked out the Wild Horse Saloon, and my mother said we should have eaten there after the fact we had already eaten.
We went back to the hotel and relaxed. Our last night here.
well this morning we had our last breakfast here and it was delicious as always. Then mom went to church while I took a nap, since she woke me up around 5:30 that morning. She came back around 9am and we got our stuff ready to leave. I'm always saddened when leaving a hotel room after a trip. Our stuff ready, we hauled it out to the elevator and took it downstairs. The front desk was nice enough to watch it while we drove to Opry Hills mall.
It was a big and beautiful mall with neon signs everywhere and shiny wooden floors that reminded me of a basketball court. As we walked around, we entered stores like Big Dogs, Yankee Candle, Nautica, and we got some nice shirts at the Disney Outlet store. After shopping we decided to go to Aquarium to eat. I had a coupon from opry.com for a Free Appetiser of the Day with an entree.
Now I'm back at the hotel. We've returned the car to Enterprise, stuffed even more shirts from the mall into our bags(yes, I bought 2 more shirts at Aquarium), and now I'm typing away here in the Business Center. It's 2:05pm and we leave for the airport at 2:45pm.
Tuesday, June 26
Well I'm back at work now writing during my break. Here's the rest of what happened yesterday.
Soon after finishing about writing the above, I checked NWA's website to see if our flight was coming in on time. To my shock it was showing up as being cancelled. I tried to get us booked on another flight online, but it wouldn't let me. We called the NWA 800 number but we just got a machine you had to talk to. Most frustrated and confused we left with the shuttle to the airport to straighten the mess out. As we arrived we rushed towards the NWA desk and the woman was very nice and knew about the cancellation. She called someone on the phone and got us booked on a Non-stop Contenential flight to Cleveland which left at 5:40pm and now since we weren't changing in Memphis, we would arrive earlier in Cleveland around 8:09pm. Just calling my mother's friend who was picking us up in Cleveland was another challange. The stupid phone in the airport kept taking our money and my mother talked to several operators. We finally tried the phone next to ours and it worked no problem. My mom's friend wasn't home, but her son was. He promised to get a hold of her to tell her of the change in time and airline. So we headed for security.
We were then lucky enough to be one of the few people randomly chosen for extensive screening, meaning they padded us down and opened & searched our bags for any explosives and whatnot. I didn't mind, since I had nothing to hide and our flight didn't leave for a while. We headed for our gate and waited...and waited...and waited. We still have leftovers from Aquarium so we had that for dinner. Our flight boarded ontime and we had a pleasant flight. The view outside was wonderful once we took off. I felt like a Greek god returning from the "Athens of the South" to Mt Olympus. We flew so high that the clouds looked like mountains and valleys of white. And I love the color of sky blue, so that was nice and relaxing way to end our journey. We landed at Cleveland-Hopkins around 8:10pm and headed for baggage claim. I noticed our airport didn't look as nice as Memphis or Nashville. Our baggage was easily found, but we had to wait a while for my mother's friend to pick us up. We drove home and I unpacked that night, hanging up all my new shirts (my favorite being either the Bugs Bunny or the Aquarium shirt with the dolphins) and got ready to get back to work the next day.