Some trips are all about getting to the final destination and for some trips the journey is the destination. The stopover at night is merely a place to close your eyes and recall the day while looking forward to the next one.
This trip was all about the stopping point, Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. This wasn't my first visit to the hotel; last December I stayed there to check out the Christmas decorations. It's well worth the drive to see such a display of color and the over-the-top extent to which they carry the whole theme. During the summer, the indoor gardens are full of lush plants everywhere you turn. The hotel has an open-air feel, leaving you feeling like you're walking outdoors. The temperature is comfortable, you even feel a nice light breeze once in a while. Pretty amazing stuff when you think of all that's going on here to create this artificial outdoors. Rooms are fortunately in the process of being renovated. I discovered on this visit that my room last time must have been one of those that was recently updated, as the room this time was in dire need of work. If you're staying there, be sure to ask that you get one of the renovated rooms or you'll be disappointed for the price. The few extra dollars to get an atrium view are worth it, although I'd likely decline if it's on the first floor. (You may want to open the picture, I purposely left it a larger size so you can get an idea of how open and airy the place really is.)
The food. Woah.
We started off with a new restaurant that was well worth finding, Park Cafe. Some of the dishes that got rave reviews: Sauteed Shrimp appetizer, Duck Breast laquered with Pomegranate and Honey, Baked Pasta Rounds, Double Cup Pork Chop and the Green Chile Macaroni-n-cheese. Save room for the deserts, as the Creme Brulee and Molten Chocolate Cake are worth the calories. The restaurant is dark yet classy, with small rooms that keep the sound level low and environment more intimate. I wish I'd brought a camera to dinner, as the presentation was as great as the food itself.
That wasn't the only meal of the trip, but the Park Cafe stood out as the most spectacular. Lunch on Saturday came from the food court at Opry Mills Mall, located adjacent to the hotel. "The Best Chicken..." place had good popcorn chicken. Saturday evening I capped off a fantastic day with dinner at Ruth's Chris. I've gone on record here several times about how great Ruth's Chris is, and while it was still very good, it wasn't quite up to the exceptional standards I have set for them. I attribute it to being a very busy Saturday night, as waiters were bustling around at warp speed. It served as a good reminder that the best time to visit a restaurant of this type is most often a weeknight.
To be continued... including an explanation of the guy and his ladder.