You would think that Ottawa would be a greater transit hub. It is the capital of Canada and it is between major cities. It is a quick jump to the United States and a seven-hour flight from London. And yet, as anyone will tell you, those who live in Ottawa and love to travel, it is infuriating. To get to Yellowknife, I had two stops. I often look to book my flights out of Montreal. But sometimes, you strike gold. And that was Nashville.
My best friend and I have always wanted to go to Nashville. Country music, cowboy boots, plaid shirts, jean jackets: all staples in our wardrobe and life. When she got engaged, I promised her that we would take a trip to Nashville. Neither of us are into the flashy bachelorette parties that come with sashes and crowns. A simple trip for two was more our style. This summer, on my daily perusal of Google Flights, I spotted one perfect deal. $281 for a return flight from Ottawa to Nashville. Even the timing of it was perfect. We left at noon on Friday, flew into Nashville for dinner and flew home on Monday morning, in time for me to go back to work. So, I did what anyone would do. Book two tickets, told my best friend we were going and explored our options on Air BnB.
I work in a place that sends its staff on travel often so it’s not unusual to see individuals wandering the halls with their suitcases. My suitcase, a buy made in Italy many years ago, has seen the inside of my office many times. The flight to Tennessee was smooth; customs was a breeze and shortly after we landed, we had walked up the stairs of our Air BnB, a darling, beautiful countrified house in a suburb of Nashville. There was even a music room, complete with piano, guitar and triangle, which we assumed is a requirement for every home in the Music City.
We chatted with out lovely host, Sarah, who pointed us in the direction of the Pinewood Social. WHICH WE LOVED SO MUCH AND WE RETURNED ON OUR LAST NIGHT. Sorry, felt the need to shout. As per their website:
Pinewood Social is a space that is based on the idea of creating a social gathering place that can accommodate your needs morning, noon and night. Think of us as a comfortable place to work with a cup of coffee in the morning or a casual lunch with a co-worker. Think of us as a place to meet friends for cocktails and dinner. Think of us as a place to play, whether that means bowling or playing bocce ball. Come hang out and enjoy all the different elements we have to offer at Pinewood Social, a place to meet.
It has everything. Bar. Lounge. Restaurant. Patio. Bowling Alley. Pool. All located in a gorgeous space, with #exposedbrick and high ceilings. And this is what you should have:
Lemon Zest, Sea Salt, With Sunflower Aioli
I put it in bold so you would know for sure. We also tried a trio of hipster drinks, prepared for us by hipster bartenders who had long, well-cared for beards and dorky glasses. Mel recommends the City of Churches and I recommend the Will-O-The-Wisp. As per usual, we asked our server where he recommended we go to next. He pointed us in the direction of Broadway and told us to skip the downtown bars and head out to Printer’s Alley. Yes, please. We wandered into a struggling bar where we chugged down our $1 beers and made our way to Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar where we fell in love with Nashville. This was the moment. A New Orleans themed bar with a riveting Motown band and a proposal set to John Legend’s All of Me. The stuff dream nights are made of.
The next morning, we woke up to make our way to South Nashville, where we waited 45 minutes in line for pancakes at the Pancake Pantry. As someone who goes to brunch and does not eat eggs or bacon, pancakes are a staple. They are the item I am most likely going to order. I would move to Nashville only for this restaurant. A family-owned-Nashville-tradition, their menu is just pancakes. It feels like heaven. I had the Georgia Peach pancakes and Mel had the Swiss Chocolate Chip Pancakes. And their syrup. OH EM GEE. Imagine taking perfect cinnamon French toast, covered in maple syrup and melting it down into liquid gold. Be right back while I book another trip to Nashville.
Following our weight gain of thirty pounds, we headed out to see an NFL game! Pre-season Titans versus Panthers where we encountered walking, talking American stereotypes. The boys from North Carolina who believed everyone should have gun and were excited to meet their first Canadians; the dad who yelled out things such as “KILL,” “STEP ON HIS NECK,” “THIS DEFENCE SHOULD ATTACK,” “STAY DOWN AND DON’T MOVE,” and terrified the rest of us while his poor wife apologized on his behalf and a bunch of drunk girls who tried to tell the rest of their friends, “Linda, I ain’t a redneck, even though I am from a redneck town.”
Since there was rain and half the crowd left, we made our way to the first level to catch a glimpse of Cam. (Newton for those who aren’t on a first-name basis like we are.)
Nashville is Hipster Paradise
Our next stop on this culinary tour was Acme Feed and Seed, a three-floor music, drinks and food space, all contained in a former feed and seed distribution centre. We drank, ate and charged my phone. I recommend the Song of the South and Mel recommends the Sweet Tea Julep. Don’t forget to head to the rooftop to snag amazing views of the downtown core and the river.Since we aren’t flashy bachelorette type people, we avoided the downtown area and Lyfted to Midtown, where we walked into Winners Bar and Grill and danced all night to 90s music. Once we got tired of this, we grabbed a margarita, some salsa and chips and called it a night.
Sunday morning saw us head to East Nashville for breakfast at Amot, a delightful space with a beautiful bar in the middle, mirrors and frames with inspirational messages and stunning chandeliers. I had Red Velvet Crepes and a mimosa of course. Shopping followed and a trip to the Harley Davidson store. And of course, the buying of the cowboy boots.
Now, this may seem like a cliché and it is and I don’t care. We had a mission and for buy two, get one free, we knew it was time to stock up. Luckily, not only do we share taste in booze and boys, we also have the same boot size. For the price of one pair of cowboy boots, we now had access to three pairs. Mel and I both got a dark brown, classic pair and then a fun one, for special occasions. It has rhinestones, and a heel and tassels and absolutely #noshame. We changed into our boots, had ourselves a mini photo-shoot on one of the most beautifully painted walls and sat down to listen to country music at a bar on Broadways, our first time during that whole weekend.
And then, a return trip to Pinewood Social, a Lyft back to our AirBnB, a goodbye chat with our host and we were almost home. A perfect weekend.
It was even sweeter by the fact that this was my best friend’s first flight, and our first trip together. Although I do not apologize for giving her wanderlust. Sorry Chris. I’ve brought her to the dark side. Next stop, Greece!