Tulips, Baking for Fort Mac, and Nashville!

Hey guys, I’m a bit overdue for a post here, aren’t I? whoops. Doncha’s worry, I’ve got a few stories in the works and they’ll be up shortly–one of which is a yummy recipe (Double chocolate scones anyone?) and a post on our famous Tulip Festival– which is starting today.

The tulip is Ottawa’s flower, which symbolizes our friendship with the Netherlands. During the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, the Dutch Royal Family fled for refuge to Canada. In 1943, Princess Juliana gave birth to Princess Margriet here in Ottawa.

To ensure to her child was born on Dutch soil (so she could retain the right to the throne) a part of the hospital was proclaimed Dutch Territory. As a gift of gratitude, the Royal family sent us 10,000 Tulips–which is how our festival began. And the Netherlands continues to give Ottawa 20,000 tulip bulbs every year. It’s a wonderful story of the friendship between two counties.

I just got back from the official launch of this year’s Festival. Good times!

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I’ll post more flower pics and other fun shots of the festival next week.

In the meantime, I’m sharing some of my road trip to Nashville with you as it’s been two years since I was there during my big Deep South road trip (story just below my update). 

Firstly, I have some sad doggie news. Zoey, one of my furry friends, passed away a few weeks ago. The lil’ darling was almost 15, which is actually pretty good for a Golden Retriever. She’s missed tons already! Then about a week after her passing, my own lil’ gal (who’ve you’ve seen in many of my stories on here) fell ill, too. She just had major surgery to remove a large mass and her spleen. She did well with the surgery (considering she’s 14), at least–thankfully. The vet hasn’t called me with the results yet (from the biopsy), so cross your fingers for us.

In light of my absolutely insane vet bill (upwards of $8K—for tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, overnight stays and the surgery–yikes!), I’m going to be taking a hiatus from travelling for a bit. But this little cutie is SO worth it (that’s just mud on her face, by the way—Hello Spring!)

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 This is sweet Zoey, may she RIP. Hopefully she’s chasing lots of tennis balls and Frisbees in heaven (and possibly getting lots of yummy treats, too) 😀

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Two years ago next week, I was on a wonderful road trip to Nashville (and a few other areas in the Deep South) with Cowboy and that’s what I’m sharing with you today. Since this was the very first trip that I covered here on my blog, that also means that I’m celebrating my blog’s 2nd Anniversary!!! Woohoo!

We arrived in Louisville, Kentucky on my birthday and spent the day at Churchill Downs before heading to Nashville. The best birthday gift ever (besides being in BOTH Kentucky AND Tennessee, of course) was that I got asked for ID!! Oh yeah, even though I was more than double the legal drinking age. Needless to say, I hugged the bartender in excitement whom then proceeded to give me my beer free. When you’re over 30, this is the best compliment ever (right ladies?).

Let’s just ignore the fact that the bartender probably needed glasses (ha ha).

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So without further ado, let’s head to Nashville!

****May 17th 2014

I’ve been to Tennessee before, but I only managed to get to Memphis on that trip…and just barely as I was only there for a day (I know, I am slightly crazy).

So I wasn’t gonna miss Nashville this time ’round…no sirree. Cowboy and I were both super pumped to visit Music City as neither of us have been before.

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We’re covering a lot of ground on this trip (from Ontario to New Orleans) in a very short an amount of time so we’re not staying in any one place long. As a result, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to update my blog. Which is actually a good thing when you’re on vacation, right? 

When we arrived in Nashville our first priority was to find a hotel. Since we didn’t know when we’d get here exactly, we decided not to book a hotel just in case (oops! big mistake, here anyway). Unfortunately most of the hotels were already full and we were told that it’s because it’s wedding season and Nashville is a big bachelorette spot.  No wonder it was slim pickin’s, especially downtown.

We ended up finally finding a nice hotel in Brentwood, just outside of Nashville.  The Four Points Sheraton. is a great lil’ hotel and the price was reasonable, too (hotels in Nashville tend to be very expensive). If you’re heading here and you’ll have access to a car (and don’t mind not being downtown– that is), I highly recommend staying outside Nashville in one of the suburbs. You’re still quite close but for a much cheaper rate.

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I loved the lobby. Lots of beautiful dark wood and it has a fun, casual/sporty atmosphere. Our room was also super clean and the staff here are all extremely friendly, too. They took the time to chat with us, recommend places to go, and were very helpful overall.

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The hotel has a bar too, which Cowboy was very excited about. He now had a place to hang out in while I cleaned up and got ready. He wasn’t too disappointed to learn that they had a Happy Hour with cheap pints from 5-7pm either (and it was 6:45pm when we got there–phew!).

We relaxed in the bar for a little while and I had a bubbly water while Cowboy finished his pint, and then we were ready to head into Nashville, about a 5-minute drive on the freeway. 

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We found the main strip easily, but it helped that it was starting to get dark and there are a TON of neon lights on Honkey Tonk Row. We couldn’t miss it if we tried, really. It reminded me a bit of the strip in Vegas–albeit a much smaller version of it of course.

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As we meandered down the street, we heard a lot of dance music and very little country, which surprised us both. A couple of locals told us later on that it’s mostly ‘kids’ (25ish and under– their words, not mine) hitting the strip on Saturday nights, especially during Wedding season. As a result, the bars are catering more to that age bracket (fair enough). But we were still hoping to catch some country music while we’re here. We are in Cowboy Country, after all!

Cowboy is a huge country music fan (when he’s not listening to Led Zeppelin, that is) so he kept flailing his hands around in disbelief and exclaiming “REALLY?” at every bar we walked by. It was rather amusing, actually. A couple of times he changed it up with: “Seriously?”  heh heh

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We had a good laugh at the bachelorette parties stumbling in and out of the bars (already drunk– and it wasn’t even 9pm!) . Every second person we saw had something along the lines of ‘last day of freedom’ inscribed on their shirts (or foreheads). I hadn’t realize Nashville is thee bachelor party destination of choice for many until we got here. It’s no wonder the hotels are jam-packed (it’s definitely good for business).  

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I got to meet Elvis while we roamed the main strip. He was hanging out on the street corner greeting all the tourists. I’ve always thought he was probably a nice, friendly chap. Even though he thinks he ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog…

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We were starting to get hungry since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast (very early this morning) so we made our way to Whiskey Kitchen, which was fairly close to the main strip (I’d done some important food research before we left on our trip). A couple of of the staff members at the hotel also told us the food at this place was excellent so we had even more incentive to check it out.

They were right! Everything was amazing. And, I finally got a chance to try these puppies: HELLO, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. Where have you been all my life? (Holy mother of deliciousness).

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I’ve been dreaming about these since 1991 (when the movie of the same name came out) so I was so happy to finally get the opportunity to partake in this incredibly southern specialty. They are worth the visit down south alone!  Even though they are chock full of gluten and I knew I’d pay for it dearly later (gluten intolerance, I’m not celiac) they were so worth it.

The place was pretty packed and it was starting to feel more like a club, but the patio was quiet at least. It was starting to get rather cool, but we are Canadian which means that this felt July to us (ha ha). Most people here seem to be locals, which explains why they were all inside. (laughing at us Crazy Canadians, I’m sure)

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It was the best birthday dinner, ever. Cowboy was spoiling me silly and our meals were over-the-top fabulous!

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After filling our stomachs with delicious southern grub, we finally headed back to the Strip in search of some country music. Cowboy was determined that he wasn’t going to leave Nashville without finding at least some country.

Now this place looked promising. It’s called Honkey Tonk and it’s got 3 floors so they’ve got to have some good country music, right? Nope. All hip- hop coming through the speakers (ugh!)

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A few nice folks we chatted with told us to try Tootsies, one of the oldest bars in Nashville (and throughout the country, even). Although they were playing more rock than country, it was better than most of the stuff we’ve heard so far. It was a pretty neat place, although we were packed like sardines.

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We had a drink, stayed for a few songs and enjoyed the tunes. Since the band was playing my kinda music (Bon Jovi,  ACDC…etc) I was quite happy here.

But it started to get even busier shortly after so we soon decided to move on. We found another fun little bar called ‘The Whiskey Bent Saloon’ that had some awesome live music–and it wasn’t too crazy busy, either.

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After enjoying a bit of music here we decided to call it a night as we were both up really early this morning (remember, I’m an extreme night owl, which means I only slept a couple of hours last night–haha!). Plus we have a full day tomorrow as we’ll be checking out the Grand Ole Opry, Johnny Cash Museum, and a plantation as well. Stay tuned for more adventures in Nashville ya’ll.

Love, Dana xo

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3 thoughts on “Tulips, Baking for Fort Mac, and Nashville!

  1. Loved the Blog. I always want to travel when I read them (and eat..and drink, hehe). I will most def. support your baking career and want to buy something at your fundraiser!! Xoxo

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kristy, it was a lot of fun and so much to see or do, even if you’re not a fan of country music. And the people are so friendly, as I’ve encountered pretty much everywhere in the Deep South…but also most places I’ve been in the U.S! Texas is the ONLY state I haven’t been to yet, how crazy is that? When I go, I might be asking you for recommendations 😀

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