travel

Documenting the Days - My 10 Favorite Nashville Spots

Bennett and I just returned from a week long trip to Nashville. Many were surprised we were headed there because neither one of us is a huge country music fan. Nashville is so much more than country music though, it is really a city of artists and that is a spirit we both love. We spent our days eating great food, seeing free songwriter and comedian showcases, and enjoying all of the art the city has to offer. To plan where we wanted to use we you the DesignSponge Nashville guide as our starting point which you can view here. If you have not used a DesignSponge city guide before, I suggest you check out all the cities available here. The guides always have great advice on what to do from locals and are free. 

Here are out top ten favorite Nashville spots in no particular order. 

1. Barista Parlor 

Barista Parlor is one of the coolest coffee shops I have ever been too. It is located in East Nashville in an old garage. We ordered food and got a huge, beautiful wooden cutout as our table identifier. The ambiance made it feel like we were definitely in Nashville and the coffee was first class. 

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2. I Dream of Weenie 

I Dream of Weenie is a food stand that is located in an vintage VW van. It was awesome because it had tofu dogs for me and the name is the genius. 

3. Corsair Distillery 

We did a tour and tasting of the Corsair Distillery. This distillery makes a variety of unique craft spirits. Our favorites included the Vanilla Bean Vodka and Quinoa Whiskey. Have you heard of Quinoa Whiskey? So cool! 

4. Otis James 

Otis James is designer who makes handmade bow ties and caps. It is located in a strip right next to the distillery. We went in there when waiting for our tour and Otis himself was in the retail shop. He told us about opening the store and his working space (you can see him working in the photo below) and even gave us tips on where to eat. I bought one of his lady ties. I have another tie that I wear sometimes and really love it so I thought I would try his out. I am hoping it catches on as a trend.

::you heard it here first, lady ties:: 

5. Antique Archaeology

Antique Archaeology is a store of Mike Wolfe one of the American Picker's stores (the other location is actually in Iowa). It was smaller than we expected but was really fun to look through the items. I found an old photograph that I loved and purchased it to go on a gallery wall I have in the works. 

6. Mas Tacos Por Favor 

Mas Tacos Por Favor was a successful food truck that now has a brick and mortar location. It was honestly the best tacos I have EVER had. Fried Avocado Tacos, HELLO!

7. Hatch Show Print

One of my loves is typography so when I heard of this famous Letterpress business Hatch Show Print it was at the top of our must list. It did not disappoint. There is a gallery and then a shop with fun letterpress prints. In Nashville Hatch Show Prints are everywhere and are made for all of the big shows that come through. You can see how the posters are made and even get a tour of the process. 

Here are the prints I brought home for me. 

 

8. Frist Art Gallery

The Frist Art Gallery is a wonderful modern art gallery that has rotating art exhibits. We hit it at a great time and were able to see a fun exhibit on the history of animation and one on the drawings from the book the Elements of Style. We were there for a few hours and ended our time in the create your own art section. We painted, drew, and even made our own animation figures (pictured below). I got in trouble for taking photos in the gallery otherwise there would be have been way more photos here. 

 

9. Jeni's Ice Cream 

Jeni's Ice Cream is the best ice cream I have ever had. THE BEST. You must go there. YOU MUST. They have the most unique flavors and the ice cream just melts in your mouth. We hit this place up a few times and realized there is one in Chicago which will now be another reason to venture there. My favorite flavors were Wildberry Lavender and Brown Butter Almond Brittle. 

Check out the flavors!

 

10. The Escape Game 

The Escape Game was one of the coolest tourist things we have ever done. Basically we were locked in the room pictured below with strangers and we had 60 minutes to get out of the room using the clues left for us. I can't tell you much. . . . but it involved finding lots of hidden numbers and letters that were combinations to various locks around the room. It was so interesting and exhiliarating. Only 35% escape the room within the hour and we did. We were very proud of ourselves!

 

Other notable favorites in Nashville included: 

  • Cheekwood Botanical Gardens - We lucked out as this botanical garden actually had a Andy Warhol art exhibit at the time we were there which I was completely enthralled by as he is one of my favorite artists. 
  • The East Room Open Mic Comedy Night- Free Event with comedians every Tuesday. It is comedians practicing their new material; Bennett was close to jumping on stage and trying out some of his own material. If you see him, ask him for his bit on plastic silverware.
  • The Basement - A fun venue that hosts free Singer Songwriter showcases. Every person we saw there should get a record deal. 
  • Athena Statue - Huge statue of the goodness Athena.
  • GreenHouse Bar - Exactly what the name says, it is a greenhouse turned into a bar!

That's My Jam - Airbnb - Cooler & Cheaper Than a Hotel

Bennett and I have had the past week blocked off for vacation days for over a year but put off planning what we were actually going to do in that time. Someone at work suggested Nashville which was about 8 hours away - we thought it sounded cool so we packed up our car (Pax included) and drove to Nashville for a road trip! We had a blast and got back late last night. I will post about some of our favorite Nashville spots tomorrow but I wanted to share what we did for accommodations because I was so impressed with the service. 

When looking at hotels last minute, the nice and conveniently located hotels were well out of our student loan poor budget. I had heard about  Airbnb and after researching the site we decided to use it.  Airbnb is a place for people to post rentals properties or even rooms in their place for others to stay in. There are similar sites but Airbnb has the best reputation domestically. You can filter your Airbnb search to look at the accommodations and amenities you are looking for. For example, we wanted to have a property all to our selves that allowed dogs. When looking at the options, there were multiple amazing places that were located right where we wanted to stay for half the price of a hotel. Plus you get a host that can help you navigate the city if needed and are able to experience more of what it is like to live there. SOLD!

Here are a few photos of our place. It was a loft on top of our hosts' house. It was similar to an income property you would see on HGTV, separate everything except it was physically connected to the house. Our hosts were incredible, they offered us advice on where to go, had a tandem bike, vintage camper, and recording studio available for use, and  even had warm homemade banana bread waiting for us when we arrived. They call their property Be Nice or Leave. 

Not only do I recommend you to use  Airbnb if you are traveling, I encourage you to explore  the website, especially the wish lists. The wish lists are curated lists of Airbnb and its users of places to stay. They are so good that I think from now on I may pick a place to stay then go to that city when planning vacations.  To see what I am talking about check out my favorite wish lists below. 

Top 5 Airbnb Wish Lists 

Airstreams Wish List - This is a list of all vintage Airstream campers that have been redone for people to stay in. They all have that outdoorsy, hipster flair that I am drawn to. 

Treehouses - Yes. This is a list of Treehouses for rent. You can stay at a Tree House in Spain for $41 a night which now, thinking about it, sounds like a like good bucket list item. 

Handmade Homes - These are all unique homes built by people, all of them are incredible. 

Trains - These are trains converted into housing. What???? 

Modernist Marvels - It will be years on years before Bennett and I can afford to have the modern style house I so desire. So until then, we can stay in these. I have been wanting to go to Austin and now have been eye on that one on this list. 

Group Trip Anyone?

I think it would be so fun for a group of friends to get together and rent a huge Airbnb place for a weekend trip. If you are interested, let me know!

Documenting the Days - Bonjour from Paris

Bonjour! I am currently blogging from Paris in our apartment! We decided to take a trip to Paris to celebrate Bennett's medical school graduation. It has been an awesome trip so far and a great break before he starts residency. I wanted to share a few pictures of what we have been up to as we go along. Turns out we have taken hundreds of photos on my camera already so I will probably start a Flickr account for us to store them all - so here is a just a glimpse. I tried to include pictures with us in them because I figured they may more interesting to look at then the multiple photos of doors and cafes we have taken.

 

Day 1

Because of the time change  we got to Paris a day and half after we left Chicago. We flew into Madrid and after running to catch our flight from Madrid to Paris, we realized that our flight to Paris was delayed because the air traffic controllers went on strike in France. Luckily, it only put us a few hours behind and allowed me to take a nap on the floor of the Madrid airport. Yes, I did do that. When we arrived to Paris we checked into the apartment that we rented for a week and then went out for dinner at a cafe nearby and of course coffee. I quickly learned in Paris if that I ordered a coffee I would get an espresso and that actual black coffee is difficult to come by. We even have an espresso machine in our apartment, people just sit outside, people watch, and drink espresso. An activity which I have come to enjoy. After we went to dinner, we walked around to explore our neighborhood and hit up a cool cafe that had a ton of a graffiti on it's building for drinks. I also learned that the few years of French Bennett had in high school is very valuable here; he was able to communicate with everyone to order food and get where to needed to go. He even does so with the correct accent. 

Day 2  

We went to the  Palace of Versailles and had a great time exploring the palace and spending time in the garden. There is a canal there that was made to look like Venice and Bennett and I rented a row boat and he rowed me through the canal which was sweet and fun. After that, we went to the Louvre and saw some highlights which included the Mona Lisa and Venus statue. We also learned how to navigate the Metro and I was able to stop by a Starbucks to pick up mugs to add to my city collection. I had to also get the espresso cups as well since I will probably be drinking more of that when I get home.