Episode 11 - Nashville - No Expectations
With John and Ellen
Episode 11 takes us to Nashville, Tennessee, to meet John and Ellen, hosts of https://www.stayinthesouth.com/ and http://www.heidtkehouse.com/. We had a lot of expectations for Nashville, knowing it for country music, from albums and TV shows, the Southern food and hospitality, but also having heard rumors of a quickly growing creative and entrepreneurial culture. All these things turned out to be true at some level, as our night at American Legion Post 82 or our family lunch at Monel's, or conversation with every Uber driver about '100 people a day moving to Nashville' would prove. Somehow, however, Nashville both defied our expectations and surpassed them entirely. We were surprised by how much it felt like a small town in a big town wrapping, and couldn't initially put or collective fingers on the pulse of the city. Legendary music row is not a line of skyscrapers, but rather a leafy, almost suburban street of beautiful homes-turned-studios. The Honkytonk Highway is touristy, sure, but every band from their to the offbeat dive-bars is really, really good. What it came down to was a more textured experience that we found only through the eyes of our hosts, John and Ellen. John is a Nashville native, like his father before him. He's a tech guy, not particularly interested in sports or country music. Ellen is from China, and programs at Vanderbilt University. Their Nashville was a city unlike any we had expected to find. Through their spirituality and giving nature, we found Room in the Inn an organization that provides shelter for the homeless, which John initially became involved with, but now his 84 year old father leads the charge. Through their love of specific breakfasts and the hip new neighborhoods around Nashville we discovered Patty and the International Market, we connected with Kelly and the heart of the music scene, and we learned about the joys and challenges of starting a vacation rental business. Through all of this we learned, much as we had in Rome, that with the right hosts, no expectations can quite prepare you for a world-famous-city explored with local knowledge.
With Sense of Place we'd been to the countryside in Italy, and have hit several urban destinations, but hadn't really done a comfy American suburban home before, and it was a welcome experience. Just 10 minutes from downtown Nashville, surrounded by leafy trees and lawns, and warm and comfy on the inside, the Heidtke House was a perfect home base for our Nasvhille adventures.
NASHVILLE COUNCIL VOTES AGAINST INDUSTRY.
This episode comes with a bittersweet ending. The same week our episode was published, the Nashville Metro Council passed a law banning short term rentals in residential areas that are not occupied by their owner. In practical terms, this means that a large portion of existing vacation rentals, like Heidtke House will cease to exist when the ban takes effect.
Read more at: Nashville Public Radio.
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Key Episode Personality - Patty Myint
Patty is the owner of several Nashville restaurants, including our favorite dining experience of the trip: The International Market and Restaurant. Aside from the absolutely amazing Thai food, the warmth, friendliness and zaniness of Patty and the staff makes for an unforgettable experience. Unfortunately, after more than four decades as a fixture in Belmont, the restaurant will be closing this year, but Patty's cooking will live on in her other restaurants, and through her son, a Top-Chef contestant and chef in his own right.
While we ended up with a completely different Nashville experience than we might have expected from popular media, we did have an interest in the country music scene. The mentor for the producers of this show cut the Will the Circle be Unbroken record in Nashville in 1972, and other recent favorites of the whole team have landed here as well, such as Jack White and his 3rd Man Records. Luckily, an inner circle member, Kelly Sanchez, was plugged into the scene here, and took all of us to the American Legion Post 82, where regular Honky Tonk nights and country dancing are the order of the evening. We had an absolute blast at what felt like walking into another era, yet filled with young people, dancing, laughing and singing.