A Tour of the South, not the North!
17.05.2010 - 18.05.2010 67 °F
Room 936, Doubletree Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee. 2:44pm, Tuesday 18/5/10
Well, Bob's filling is holding out. There is not much tooth left, but the filling is still there so Bob decided to leave well alone at the moment. He may see a dentist tomorrow or wait until we get to Las Vegas.
For our last night in Charleston, many of the tourists had gone home and we got a better feel for the place. Dinner at Bubba Gump's was much enjoyed, especially Bob's Shrimp New Orleans:-
The enthusiastic waitress (they are ALL enthusiastic and appear to enjoy their job and are most certainly genuine) tested our knowledge of the trivia of Forrest Gump, the film, which was virtually non-existent. To retaliate, John tested the waitress's knowledge of Spain which was similarly non-existent.
A 490 mile drive, Charleston to Birmingham Albama was a doddle on the Interstate, via Atlanta, Georgia. We had not realised how wooded the South is. Continuous trees, a gap where we glimpsed downtown Atlanta, then more trees till we found ourselves in a very dodgy poverty-stricken district of Birmingham. Poor black people sitting around everywhere and standing on corners trading meth and shooting each other. (Not the last).
TomTom had got the address wrong. Our hotel was in a suburb called Fultondale (Morris Street). John had not found a Morris Street in Fultondale but assumed the Birmingham one was the one to use. WRONG! BONG! A slightly unnerving moment but we panicked not, put another hotel into TomTom which we knew had to be near ours. And skidaddled out of there.
One of those new malls/gasoline alleys housed our hotel. With a brand new J C Penny's in the mall, where we bought some great-value clothes.
We had been fearful of returning to the South, and had avoided deep-South states like Alabama, expecting hostility. This could not have been further from the truth. Everyone we have encountered have been truly friendly and are totally fascinated by our accents. Of course, when we say we are from Spain, they are rather puzzled, being simple folk. Our waitress at breakfast in the "Waffle House" wanted to come along with us.
We tend to forget certain truths about America when we are not here. One of them is how the shoulders on the Interstates are literally littered with shed tyre treads; presumably, lorries are allowed to use dodgy remoulds and the evidence is everywhere. There must be one tyre tread every 400 yards or less, which is very worrying.
Before heading North for Nashville on I-65, we back-tracked to Birmingham to give it another chance. We found a charming, leafy city centre with modern office blocks along with some great art-deco 30s blocks. On a working day it was fine. In the evenings and at weekends we suspect it would be different as people who work there would have moved out to the white suburbs a long time ago.
Anyway, we made it safely to Nashville. Another Doubletree Hotel, which tend to be gentle, (gentile?) slightly faded, semi-grand hotels which suit us to a tee. Bob's Hilton Gold Card got us free breakfasts (rather than room upgrades) at both the Charleston and the Nashville Doubletrees. So that is quite a saving ($12.95 each per day in Charleston).
It's in a great location. A short walk down 4th Avenue takes us to, first, the Ryman Auditorium (which used to host the Grand Ole Opry and is again at the moment while the new Oprey is recovering from the floods) then Broad Street, home to all the bars where budding country singing stars sing their hearts out for a tip, and then on to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
We have had a great late-afternoon cruising the bars (and the Western clothing shops: boots, hats, jackets,
shirts... we're in 7th heaven) and we thought of Anne (Tallente) who would love it here. One day Anne.... one day!
More on the bars and the music soon.