Every year or so, my wife and I like to visit a city that we have not yet explored. While we have traveled through Nashville, Tennessee, on many occasions, we never stopped to look around. Over the last few days, we remedied that oversight.
Stretching along the Cumberland River Valley, west of the Appalachian Plateau, Nashville is renowned as the center of the country music industry. Strolling along Broadway (and in other sections of town), one can enjoy free, live music in a large number of bars, cafes and restaurants. Though I have never been a big fan of country music, I enjoyed the performances and marveled at the fact that many of the popular songs manage to mingle such disparate themes of human nature: faith, love, heartache, intoxication and infidelity, to name just a few. Of course, we also visited the Country Music Hall of Fame; there we were surprised to find Jimi Hendrix on the Walk of Fame and to learn that Bob Dylan's decision to record in Nashville (during the late 1960s) ignited the music industry that the city fosters today.
Beyond the entertainment provided in Music City, we visited Vanderbilt University, stopped by Centennial Park to see its replica of the Parthenon and wandered through the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, southwest of town. Sprawling across 55 acres of rolling terrain, the Gardens were adorned with early blooms of magnolias, daffodils, forsythia and annual plantings, at least three weeks ahead of schedule due to the unusually warm winter weather. Serenaded by male cardinals and Carolina wrens, we hiked the two-mile network of trails, encountering stands of bamboo, a Japanese Garden, collections of crape myrtle and dogwood trees, a cluster of endangered "stinking cedar" and a hardwood forest, festooned with works of sculpture. I highly recommend a visit to Music City!