Wednesday, 10 May 2017

In Nashville...Day Five

Okay, you come to Nashville and you're supposed to be all corny and talk about 'live' music in a Jools Holland fashion and pretend you really love it when in reality you're simply not that bothered. Who gives a hot damn about the Grand Ole Opry? I mean the downtown area is fine, for about half an hour, but then you realise that all the food there is 'fast', bar a couple of upmarket eateries you can't really afford, and even if you could you'd think 'why did I pay all that money, it wasn't THAT good!' Well, yeah, you start to think there must be more to life. And there is! The Gulch is an area outside of town that's a little bit more European and offers some light relief from the 'party' that is Nashville's downtown. You can reach it on foot in about 20 minutes from the town centre, just walk up Demonbreun and between the bridge over the railroad tracks and the interstate there are some stairs that will take you down there. I'm sure there are other ways of getting there too.

The Gulch is a cut above the downtown area, put it that way, but the problem, of course, is that the places offering classier food also charge more for it and you end up staring at the usual burger and fries style menu trying to find an exception to the rule. There's always an exception, and invariably it's Atlantic salmon.

Oh how I wish I'd not ordered this dish!
So, the Gulch. Well, I've been dreaming of sitting in a Starbucks in the USA with my book, nursing an English Breakfast tea and an almond croissant, and finally I was able to do it.

The Gulch is a short walk from my hotel, which makes it all the better.

There's a great hotel at The Gulch called the Thompson. It's a trendy-looking, hip boutique style, similar in many ways to the Ace Hotel group, particularly the Ace in Portland, Oregon, that will always be my all-time favourite place.

According to a Chugger I met on the street, Kid Rock was staying at the Thompson recently. Kid who? But this place has all the ingredients of a cool hotel.

The Thompson's dinner menu was a little pricey and after my experience at The Palm last night (see previous post) I figured something a little more sensibly priced would be best. So I headed for the pub across the street. It's an English pub selling English beer like Old Speckled Hen (awful stuff in my opinion) and Fuller's ESB (not that good, let's be honest). So I opted for Sweet Water Extra Pale and a couple of glasses of Devil's Backbone Schwartz Bier. The music was good: The Smiths, the Stone Roses, the Rolling Stones, the Police, you get the picture.

I liked the pub's English theme. It was, for all intents and purposes, an English pub, but not as rough around the edges. Most importantly, though, the fact that I was English made me the star of the show, or so I thought. I was the cool dude because I was actually English, but it's impossible to 'out-cool' an American. They have bags of it stored up. Take the barman, he looked like Johnny Depp, he had two arms full of tattoos and he probably owned a Harley. Who am I to compete with that? My Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike, my Toyota Corrola, who am I kidding?

I ordered Atlantic salmon with brocolli and rice but then ruined it by ordering whisky bread and butter pudding, which arrived with miles too much ice cream. I ploughed through it, wishing I hadn't ordered it – like I always do when dessert wins the day – but ultimately the experience was fantastic and I'll probably head back there tomorrow for my last night in town – but hold the dessert!

There's other places in The Gulch, like Burger Republic, which I might try tomorrow, but in all honesty I need some exercise, although I've done a fair bit of walking around the city, bearing in mind that it's 20 minutes on foot from my hotel to the convention centre, so I've been putting in at least 40 minutes a day.

Devil's Backbone Schwartz Bier... nice!
My colleague has flown home leaving me alone to experience the cabin fever of solitary dining. Sometimes it's alright, but once a bit of alcohol kicks in it can take me two ways. Either I embrace the loneliness and ride the lightening of desolation or I inwardly crack up and start thinking about my family back home. I waver between the two and often tip the balance, but today I was fine. I paid up and left and took the lonely walk home along Division Road, which I admit I had thought about prior to undertaking it; I've read about how you need to be aware of your surroundings in Nashville, especially if you're alone after dark. Alright, it's more for women than men, but you never know and I was taking a lonelier route than usual. It was fine, don't get me wrong, but there's nothing along that road and I'm glad I just about got back before nightfall. The crickets were out making a lot of noise, put it that way, it was just like being in the movies.

The Gulch is a fantastic place and, as I mentioned earlier, the Thompson Hotel looked wonderful. Not much else to report other than the price of clothes. There were shops selling shirts for ridiculous prices and with the pound being not too far off the dollar these days, there's little to gain for an English visitor to the US so I'm assuming nobody buys anything unless, that is, I'm the only pauper in town. Who knows and, more importantly, who cares?

I'm back in my hotel room now, but once again I go to bed too early, and now I'm up at 0137hrs tidying up this blogpost and listening to the birdsong. Better get back to bed.

I write a lot of hotel and restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor, which can be read by clicking here.

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