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Deep South Road Trip Day 1: Nashville

Nashville honkey-tonk
Honkey-tonk bars in Nashville

And so it begins. Today is the start of a nine-day Dirty South road trip with my cousin Gord from Nashville to New Orleans. We have no plans, just one simple mission: to keep the trip as authentically dirty and southern as we can.

After an easy bus ride into town — made difficult by the bus driver telling me she’d let me know when to get off then forgetting to do so  — I met up with Gord at Nashville Downtown Hostel, where we’d booked to spend our first night in the “Music City”. He’d gotten in a day earlier, having made his own way down from Toronto over the past couple of weeks.

The sight of so many fat people everywhere on the streets had us desperate to dig into the type of grub that they obviously enjoy in great abundance, so we headed to eat some Southern food.  At Puckett’s Restaurant, we each ordered hot chicken sandwiches – spicy and saucy fried chicken on Texas toast. They were a perfect kick start to our Southern culinary crusade: fatty, greasy, spicy, big, and delicious. Friggin awesome. Exito.

Replenished with calories ripe for burning, we set off to explore Nashville in the best way I know how: aimless wandering. For the next four hours we made our way South of downtown through the Gultch, Music Row, Vanderbilt and Belmont university, and 12 South. The city was nice, clean, quiet, and pristine… and therefore pretty boring for wandering, so we gave up and took a bus back downtown to start drinking. First stop: Hooters.

I fancy myself as a Hooters connoisseur, having been a patron of the chain’s restaurants all over the world: from Asia, to South and Central American, to Europe. Of all the Hooters I’ve been to this one was definitely the one that lived up to its name the best. That is, except for one poor, less endowed server. Instead of wearing a low-cut tank top like the rest of the girls, she was forced to wear a simple t-shirt. How sad. Luckily she wasn’t our server.

One beer was enough to take in the sights at Hooters, so we headed to other drinking establishments after. We took in our first honky-tonk at Robert’s. The loud, rambunctious country band was entertaining to watch, though the music is not particularly to my taste. The beer was though, and it was cheap, so we hung out there longer than my ear buds would’ve liked. After Robert’s, we hit up a couple other bars before putting a cherry on the top of the night the best way a man can: at the strip club.

With grand dreams of rap videos from the Deep South dancing in my head, to say the strip club was a disappointment would be an understatement. For a good chunk of time, we were the only patrons, and since I’m a cheap-ass who wouldn’t even “make it rain” if it were Adriana Lima herself doing the dancing, these poor ladies were quick to realize this night was not going to be a lucrative one for them. This resulted in almost comically blasé performances. Among the very few highlights were Gordon bestowing upon the youngest dancer with dreams of doing her MBA the priceless life advice to “not get pregnant, cuz then you’re fucked”, and watching patron who came in later sadly approach the stage and throw dollar bills at the dancers in motions that were even less enthusiastic than the girls’ dancing. Suffice to say it was not at all like any Lil’ Jon video I’d seen on TV. We’re not going to give up so easily of course. There are still eight days left.

Reflections:

  • Crazy people in Nashville here have a new technique to try to conceal their craziness: instead of screaming and hollering on the streets to nobody in particular, a few of them held cell phones to their ears. This made it seem like they were actually directing their nonsense at someone and thus not at bat-shit crazy at first glance, though it soon became clear there was no way somebody was actually at the other end of the line.
  • Spotting the vets at the honky-tonk bars was easy: They all brought their own beer koozies to keep the MGD they bought at the bar nice and cool from the first sip to the last. Genius.
  • To our amazement, the strip club had a BYOB policy. For five bucks, you could bring in as much booze as you’d like. This does not seem to be a particularly wise business practice.

Tips:

  • Save money by taking the public bus from the Nashville airport to the city. It’s direct (only two stops), quick (takes about 20 min), and cheap ($1.70).
  • Don’t ever pay to go into a strip club (or any type of club for that matter) if they don’t allow you to go in quickly to scout it out beforehand.
  • If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in Nashville, I recommend the Downtown Hostel. It was excellent: Friendly and helpful staff, nice and spacious common area and kitchen, clean bathrooms, sturdy beds, perfect location. The only slight disappointment was that, despite being nowhere near full occupancy, they stuck us in a dorm with two other people instead of giving us a separate dorm room.

 

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