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I feel fortunate that I am able to extend my cross country journey long enough to visit some of America’s great cities. Since I hadn’t spent much time in the South in recent years, Nashville seemed a perfect place to take a rest break. Even more exciting was the fact that I was able to spend MY BIRTHDAY in the country music capital. Thanks to a friend’s hospitality, I had a place to crash not far from everything I wanted to see.
However, I was able to squeeze in so much stuff into 24 hours, that this post is divided into two parts! Part 1 begins August 17th...the night before more my birthday and continues through lunch on August 18th...
The night I arrived (August 17th), my friend and I headed out to dinner. He said he had a fabulous place to take me which was the epitome of southern charm - Loveless Cafe.
Note: As we had not seen each other since my early college days, my buddy didn’t realize I was vegan! So strict vegans take note that this place may not be a perfect option for you...
Once we got done laughing over his suggestion that I try the chicken, I discovered a few delicious options on the sides menu that worked for me: Stone Ground Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Caramel Sweet Potatoes.
Second note: This is traditional southern old-style cooking which does not fall under the category of health food. However how often am I in Nashville? I was so tired from the drive, and so hungry, that I enjoyed every last bite and forgot to take a picture of the food for this post!
Props to the cafe for its personable staff! Our server was Jason, and he had me giggling over stories about his ex-wife (don’t tell her) and kept urging me to eat more things - like the biscuits (you have to try them with a little jam just for the experience). In addition to the quaint atmosphere, I loved their celebrity wall and snapped a picture of the photo “Roscoe P. Coltrane with Velvet Ears” to send to my SigO. If you don’t know the reference, click the link and familiarize yourself with some fun TV characters!
The Grand Ole Opry
The morning of my BIRTHDAY (August 18th) I woke bright and early eager to get the day moving and grooving country style. I headed across town to possibly one of the most famous landmarks in Nashville - the Grand Ole Opry. If you haven’t visited, do try to take in a live show at this wonderful theater. Since I didn’t have the time to attend a show, I treated myself to the backstage tour ($22 since they don’t give birthday girl discounts…yes I tried!).
A few notes before I tell you about the tour itself. There is PLENTY of parking onsite and it is free. The performance hall shares its parking with the Opry Mall and is adjacent to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. I did not get a chance to view the grounds of the hotel due to time constraints.
When you go, I hope you get to have Charley as your tourguide. He is an charming gentleman who was gracious, personable and funny. It is obvious he has a real flair for putting people at ease, and he seems to truly love his job! Sensing a kindred soul, I told him it was my birthday, and as a result, got a surprise at the end of the tour! (Hang in there…I’m getting to it…)
The tour takes about an hour and is a mix of your tour guide explaining the various sites, and videos supplementing the tour spiel. I especially loved how we got to see, and take pictures of several, of the uniquely decorated dressing rooms…They ranged from understated classy to wild and blinged out! It was hard to pick a favorite so I think that I would be thrilled to be allowed to hang out in any of them. I even took a selfie in the fabulous mirror of one of them...Nashville, I'm ready for my closeup!
I don’t want to give away too much about the things seen on this tour, as I think this is a worthwhile tour to take for country music lovers, American history buffs, and those interested in celebrity items!
I can’t resist sharing with you my BIG moment. At the end of the tour, you do get a moment to have your picture taken (additional charge for purchase after the tour if you wish) standing on stage in the famous Opry circle. When Charley joked about how you could pose anyway you wish, or “heck sing us a song” I immediately moved to the back of the line. When my turn came, I asked him if I could really sing for a moment on this iconic stage and he said “belt out a chorus hun!” So I did! I actually got to sing for a moment on the Opry stage!!! (I sang Sugarland’s song “Stay” because I love the a cappella feel to it.) THEN Charley called everyone back over, had each person put a foot on the circle, and together they sang me “Happy Birthday”…best version ever!!!!
I saw one of my awesome tour mates taking pics, so if that lovely person discovers this blog, please feel free to send over a copy through the contact page!
After this exciting morning, I realized I had skipped breakfast, so I headed over to a lovely vegan restaurant…
As I headed out the drive past the hotel and mall on the same complex, I noticed the oddest speed limit! Really???
Now before you get fooled by the title thinking that my lunch consisted of nothing but sweets, understand that Kahn's Desserts is more than a bakery - it's a full vegan cafe!
The inside was small, but warm and friendly in design. It appears that they must do a ton of takeout as there are only a few tiny tables inside, but there was a steady stream of customers the whole time I was having my lunch. There were some eclectic looking wraps on the walls as decorations near the bathroom. The menu was handwritten on white boards in bright colors giving the place an inviting feel.
However what really caught my eye when I entered were the bakery cases!
Having skipped breakfast though, I figured I should have a healthy lunch to power me through my busy afternoon. With so many fabulous options to choose from, it was hard to make up my mind. I narrowed down my choices thanks to the help of the lovely person behind the counter. Plus, although they offer a ton of faux meats, I am not really a huge faux meat person...so I happily settled on the "Greenhouse Wrap."
Greenhouse Wrap: Black Beans, avocado, cashew cheez, carrot, arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh dill, red pepper dressing in a whole wheat wrap $7.95
This wrap was massive in both size and taste! They did not skimp on the vegan yummy goodness! Of course since it was my birthday, I thought it would be a travesty to not sample a baked good...so I chose the "Grasshopper Cupcake."
Grasshopper: Chocolate cake, mint frosting...happy birthday to me!
I cannot overemphasize the deliciousness of this treat! Perhaps the nicest part of the experience was how upfront the cafe was with its mission to serve quality vegan food.
Feeling refreshed and energized I headed out to my afternoon adventures in Nashville! Check out Part 2 of this post (coming soon) for more fun things to do in this wonderful city...with smiles!
Samantha Eve, a