road trip 2012 | nashville

It was kind of out of our way, but Brian pushed to add Nashville to our itinerary. Man, I am so glad he did because this last stop on our late-summer road trip ended up being my favourite.

Nashville was so different from what I expected. First of all, it's much larger and very spread out. It really is best if you have a car and traverse its various neighbourhoods. Living in Montreal, a nicely walkable city, I forget how different (and painful) travelling by foot can be when a city sprawls. After I got intense blisters from three different pairs of shoes, Brian and I agreed that driving would be the best way to see the city.

I fell in love with this city, with its talkative locals, effervescent music scene, sun-bleached bricks and its vastness. I loved the rich food and strong drinks. I admired the southern style, big hair, and thick eyeliner of its ladies, and the slow, honeyed drawls of everyone we met. I cannot wait until our next trip back, so I can once again be surrounded by mellow music and the warmest sunsets.

The first day, we started by heading to The District, which is where most of the city's music venues are concentrated.

It was pretty quiet during the day, so we ventured elsewhere, stopping in at our hotel for another shoe change. We stayed at Union Station Hotel, which was a really gorgeous place with (once again, the south did not disappoint) impeccable hospitality.

We wandered from our hotel to Vanderbilt Univeristy, stopping along the way for treats. This "Noah's Float" (pictured above right) from J & J's Market was just ice cream on top of coffee. How have I not tried it before? So simple, and so delicious!

We then paused at Hattie B's for "hot chicken" which in Montreal means hot chicken on a slice of break covered in gravy. In Nashville, however, hot chicken means fried chicken that is spicy as hell and makes you sweat up a storm. It's delicious, though, don't get me wrong. After the chicken, I then proceeded to order two large banana puddings by mistake, as I couldn't understand the server's accent and thought he had asked if I needed some napkins (I did).

We popped into this really lovely store, Knobstoppers, which is packed with beautiful items, both vintage and made in the shop.

We explored The Gulch and its surrounding areas.

After sunset (and Nashville has some of the loveliest sunsets I've seen), we went for dinner and drinks at the Hotel Hermitage's Oak Room.

Experiencing the district at night was entirely different than in the day. Walking block after block, listening to amazing music stream out of each open window or doorway -- it was truly something special. After being a bit overwhelmed by the amazing selection of music, we settled on Robert's for a couple hours of rockabilly, people watching, and bourbon lemonade.

The next morning, we had a fantastic breakfast of strong coffee and salted dark chocolate (okay, and a quinoa salad) at Crema Coffee.

Then we drove to 12 South to explore the neighbourhood's shops. Imogene + Willie is a lovely store where clothes are designed and made in-house (see below).

And of course, I had to stop into some vintage shops, including Katy K Designs, where I had to break their no photos rule to just get a snap of this amazing flamingo mirror.

We then drove throughout the city, exploring East Nashville (where I would love to live), back through The District, and into Germantown.

For dinner, we ate at City House, which blew us away with its crispy pork and watermelon salad, thin crust pizza, moonshine cocktails, and coffee cream soda cake.

We stood on the platform behind our hotel to watch the sunset.

We wrapped up our trip with an evening at the Station Inn, an Nashville institution. We were treated to beautiful country and bluegrass tunes in four-part harmony from quartet Mama's Blue Dress.