If you know me, you know I am usually down for an adventure. So, back in April, when a friend of mine reached out about planning a trip to Nashville for a long weekend, I couldn't resist. After a year and a half of quarantine, masks, and then the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine, it felt good to spend a weekend away with a longtime pal. I've been to Nashville a few times, always for quick weekend trips. It was usually for Taylor Swift concerts or Taylor Swift-related events, so it was exciting to be going just to explore. Based on flight prices and our work schedules, September ended up being the best time for us both.
The original plan was Thursday to Sunday, but I remembered I had a rescheduled concert Thursday night. So, Thursday night, I went to see Dan + Shay as they headlined their first show at Madison Square Garden with my sister. And then got on a flight the next day to meet my friend Andrea for a girl's weekend in our favorite place, Nashville, TN.
My flight was initially scheduled for 8:30 am but ended up being changed to 11:40 am. Though I was disappointed, it worked out in my favor considering I had the concert the night before in NYC. I hadn't gotten home until after midnight and did not end up going to bed till after 1 am. I still woke up early, around 8:30 am, to ensure I had everything I needed and left the house on time. Whenever I have an early flight, I spend more time agonizing over being prepared and on time, so breakfast inevitably takes a backseat. This time, on the way out of the house, I grabbed a granola bar. It was a peanut protein bar. Not my favorite, but I knew it would keep me from regretting not eating anything at all.
My journey to the airport and then through security went smoothly, and then I made my way to my gate. That was at the other end of the airport. I stopped halfway to pick myself up a coffee from Dunkin, which in the future I would regret when I had to use the restroom mid-flight. The airport only sells medium and large, so I got a medium iced caramel latte. If you're a Dunkin frequent flyer, you know getting coffee from there can be a gamble. Some days it's impeccable, others not so much. That day was a disappointment.
Our plane ended up switching, so we had to change gates and then wait longer to board. Our flight had been early, so all it did was put us back on time instead of earlier. Thankfully, I still landed in Nashville at around 1 pm, so it didn't affect any plans I had for that day. I spent the flight reading "A Good Marriage" by Kimberly McCreight, the September pick for my book club. It was nice because the passenger next to me was also reading, so it encouraged me to do so the entire ride as well.
Our Airbnb was a 10-minute drive from the airport, so I let Andrea know when I landed so she could head over without either of us having to wait too long. Once she found me, we headed to the Airbnb, which was incredibly adorable. It was a small studio apartment behind a house with its own entrance. It was my first time doing Airbnb, and I have to say, it felt much cozier to come back every night to what felt like our apartment than a hotel room for which we were overpaying. It came with a queen-size bed, a bathroom, a mini kitchen type area with a sink, mini coffee pot, microwave, and snacks galore. They had picture frames with the names of famous spots in town above the bed, places we visited before and planned on again. They also had a guest book filled with stories from previous guests and a push pin map on the wall showing all the places guests had traveled from that stayed there. It was nice to have a little something to eat since I hadn't eaten much that day, and the Airbnb was unexpectedly accommodating and stocked with goodies. Andrea had gone out the night and purchased some things, but most of what was there we presumed was either left behind by other guests or provided by our hosts. As a first-time Airbnb'er, I appreciated the hospitality after a long morning of travel and an eventful night ahead.
While we were planning our trip, the Jonas Brothers announced tour dates. Their shows in Nashville happened to be the weekend we were there, so we figured why not! I relaxed, ate a cup o' noodles, and then took a shower while Andrea started on her makeup. We put on a movie, A Cinderella Story starring Hilary Duff, which we ended up doing all weekend as we got ready. It was nice to have comforting background noise to bond over as we prepared for the events of the nights and days ahead of us. Once we were both ready, we planned on hitting a fast-food spot to grab a bite to eat before we headed out for the show. The concert was in Franklin, TN, so the plan had been to spend some time there that afternoon and doing some exploring. Unfortunately, it was raining and muggy out, so that was no longer an option. Andrea also had herself a cup o' noodles, and a little while later, we stopped at McDonald's. We ate our food as we finished the movie, took some pre-show pics, in case we didn't get any when we got there (which was a struggle when there were only two of us and not great lighting in the apartment), and then headed to the venue.
We were excited to see not only the Jonas Brothers but their opener Kelsea Ballerini as well! The last time Andrea had seen her was with me in 2016 when she opened for the Rascal Flatts when I flew to North Carolina to go with her. So, when the GPS kept changing the time we'd get to the show, we started to stress a little. The show began at 7:00 pm, but we didn't realize there were pre-openers. So we got there in plenty of time. We headed to get ourselves a drink, the specialty Jonas drink of course and then found our seats. We watched the openers we never heard of, took selfies, and met up with a friend I've known from the internet for nine years but never met. As the last opener before Kelsea finished the last song, we headed to get ourselves another drink. This time it was canned margaritas, and I, for one, think that was the better drink of the night.
Kelsea opened her set with "Miss Me More," and let me tell you, I have missed live shows. I have missed screaming the words, dancing to my favorite songs, and feeling the overwhelming sense of belonging with a group of strangers. It was so fun to dance the night away with one of my best friends to our favorite artists together. Kelsea played a mix of songs from her first to her most recent albums, and a few collaborations throughout her set. It was thrilling to see her live again after so long. The Jonas Brothers also never disappoint. They play new songs and a bunch from their earlier albums that always makes my nostalgic heart burst. It was a great show that I am excited to experience again this weekend with my sister.
Getting out of the parking lot, however, was a nightmare. We sat there for at least 2 hours before we even moved. We got back to the Airbnb around 2:00 am. We decided to let ourselves sleep in since we didn't have plans for the next day and knew it would be rainy anyway.
I woke up Saturday morning not feeling rested. It was one of those mornings where I knew I tossed and turned all night, I had intermittent moments of sleep, but I woke up feeling like I didn't sleep at all. Not unusual for me when I go away. I never get a good night's sleep the first night. It was around 8 am, so I went to the bathroom, went back to bed, and reminded myself I didn't have to be up yet. I forced my body, and mind to relax, and then I ended up sleeping for two hours that morning. It felt good when it finally was time to get up. It was around 11 am when we started getting ready and planning what to do for the day. We put on another movie as we did our hair and makeup and picked out what we would wear that day.
We decided on Fido for breakfast/lunch. It was a spot we'd both been to before, and I remembered enjoying it, so I was looking forward to it. When we got there, there was a small line, but nothing unmanageable. They had menus out, so we decided what to eat while we waited and then picked out our coffee as we got closer to the register. Andrea had breakfast, and I decided on lunch with a specialty latte. While we ate, we did some catching up on life and our families. Everything that had been going on since I saw her when I visited her in Colorado in March 2020. It was nice to feel both seen, heard, and understood. Your 20s are challenging, mixed with family stuff, and a global pandemic. The past year and a half has been a lot. It's nice to have people to confide in, trust, and make me feel a little less alone.
After Fido, we headed to Centennial Park. It was a spot I had meant to hit, and I never turned down a moment to be a basic swiftie. When in Nashville, am I right? We walked around the park, it was beautiful despite the overcast weather, and I took some pictures for Instagram. While we were there, there were even two groups of families taking pictures for Quinceñara's.
We then headed to 12 South to walk around and stopped in some stores along the way to do some window shopping and then some actual shopping. At around 5:30 pm, if I remember correctly, we headed back to the Airbnb to get ready for our night out.
That night we ordered a Lyft and headed to drinks and dinner with our mutual friend Sarah. We met at a bar called Old Glory at 7:00 pm. We each got the Pretty Please cocktail (wodka vodka, sage, honey, honeydew, and lemon), which was delicious, and spent the hour and a half before dinner catching up. It had been almost four years practically since I'd seen Sarah, so we had a lot to discuss. It was nice, though hearing about the professional and personal developments of others can be disheartening. Neither Sarah nor Andrea made me feel bad and were encouraging and supportive of my journey, it's easy for me to downplay my life in comparison. Despite dealing with my insecurities, it was a great night. We had another round at the bar, and then we headed to dinner at Barcelona Wine Bar just down the street.
At the wine bar, we ordered the mimosa pitcher for the table, and then each ordered tapas that we talked about sharing but ended up eating our own. The portions were much larger than I expected, and I enjoyed both the hummus and vegetables, as well as the grilled chicken that I had ordered for myself. It felt normal to be out talking, drinking, and enjoying good company with friends. Something I so desperately needed.
We slept in on Sunday again; it was another rainy day in Nashville. We had Sarah the night before to send any recommendations she may have, and she texted us in the morning with her ideas. We ate a small breakfast in the Airbnb as we got ready for the day: Chobani flip cup yogurts and coffee. I was famished, so I ate at a granola bar as well before we headed out. We ended up going downtown and visiting the new complex called Fifth and Broadway. It reminded me of the outlet mall at home. The upper levels had 35 different local restaurants to choose from, and down below, there was a shopping area. We walked around the food hall before we both decided on what we wanted. I wasn't particularly hungry at that point, oddly enough, but I ended up getting myself some hot chicken. The wait for my food took longer than expected, so Andrea scoped out seats to start eating and wait for me.
I didn't finish my food, so I packed it up as we walked around the shops downstairs to explore. We went into Free People, Molly Green, and Sephora. Andrea and I both got some cute jewelry in Molly Green, including a matching set of earrings that we both loved. We went into Sephora, and I showed Andrea the Rare Beauty items that I like, and she ended up purchasing a cream lip balm. I picked up some more setting spray and brow gel, and I got my Sephora mini birthday gift at checkout.
Jenni's Ice Cream was on our list for the weekend, but we weren't hungry for it when we were downtown. We decided to head to the Gulch to do some more exploring and potential shopping. It was a cloudy, drizzly day, but we were in no rush to be anywhere or do anything. We visited Jessie James Decker's store "Kittenish" and got some cute photo moments inside. It was adorable with neon signs and couches for the perfect Instagrammable pic. We walked around some more, contemplated getting coffee but alas, the shops nearby were closed. We visited Urban Outfitters, and I got myself the August shirt they released recently from their Folklore line collaboration with Taylor.
After that, we headed to Jenni's Splendid Ice Cream, and each got a couple of scoops of their limited-edition flavor, whose name I cannot recall. It was delicious, though. Once we finished our ice cream, we stopped at a nearby Five Daughters Bakery to pick up some donuts to have as dessert later that evening. We went with the Strawberry Malted Milkshake based on looks alone. From there, it was time to head back to the Airbnb to freshen up before dinner. We stopped at Frothy Monkey to pick up some coffee for a caffeine boost, and on our way spotted a giant hot air balloon mural that we had to pull over and take pictures. There was even a basket at the bottom of it for us to stand in. It was so serendipitous to come across it when we weren't expecting it.
Dinner that night was at the Rosepepper Cantina, a Mexican restaurant, where we enjoyed margaritas, tacos, and some chips with salsa and queso. It was a great last supper in Nashville, so good that I am still thinking about how good that margarita was. You can never go wrong with some good Mexican food. To end our night, we drank some wine, ate our donuts, and watched "Someone Great."
It was a trip I am so grateful I agreed to without hesitation. It was a reprieve from life, work, and the stress of it all. I've missed my friends, concerts, and being a little careless sometimes. Adventures like that that include good friends, like music, and even better drinks and food are ones that I crave and need. Being without that for the past year and a half made it that much sweeter to return to it.