Country music lover?
I’m not. Or rather, I wasn’t.
Have you seen the popular TV show Nashville? A friend introduced me to Nashville a few seasons in and I have to admit, I was dubious. I had no interest in country music, except for Walk The Line by Johnny Cash, and my pop-country love affair with Taylor Swift (she’s a genius!).
From the very first episode I was hooked. It was everything I loved in a good TV series – hot guys, rich people, great storytelling, plenty of drama and of course, music. It took only 4 episodes of over-the-shoulder watching before Josh decided he didn’t want me to ever watch it without him. Yes, he was hooked too.
Thanks to the TV series I knew I wanted to visit Nashville, Tennessee. Couple that with a glowing report from our friends at Flashpacker Family, and I was convinced. Then Viator asked if we’d experience the Insider Tour of ABC’s ‘Nashville’ and we were set. Lights, camera, action!
I admit proudly I have all the Nashville soundtracks on my phone and play them continuously at every opportunity. In the shower, on our US roadtrip, in my head and as my phone’s ringtone. The morning I was getting ready for this tour it was on loud and proud.
24 hours before the tour kicked off we confirmed our pick-up location. And when the big day arrived, we waited impatiently in the lobby of our resort. We stayed at the Wyndham Nashville and they provided free popcorn in the lobby so we grabbed a few bags to take on our tour.
It was a cold, crisp Sunday morning in January as the mini bus pulled up to collect us. The kids opted for the back seat and we quickly settled in. The tour group size was just right. I had been worried we’d be herded around like sheep, but it was a reasonable 20-seater mini bus. It also made the hotel pickup and drop off a lot faster than the average bus tour.
I noticed although there was an unused TV screen, there was no footage from the TV series in the bus and was slightly disappointed. Not that our guide needed it. He was a Nashville enthusiast and barely took time to breath, he was so filled with knowledge and love for the city of Nashville and it’s namesake TV series.
He slipped in that 2 of his fellow tour drivers did not watch the TV series, so we were extremely lucky to be on his bus that day.
The other thing I noticed lacking on a country music tour was the music itself. I mean it’s a TV series about country music and none of the songs were played the entire time. I tried to lighten the mood at one stage by playing it on my phone, since I keep all soundtracks handy for emergency situations like that
The majority of the tour took place on the bus so it was easy for older and younger travellers alike. Both our kids managed to take a nap on the back seat, which was perfect.
We drove past locations like the Grand Ole Opry, famous music studios, honkey tonks, cafes and restaurants. My favourites, though, were the houses the TV series used for their characters, with Rayna James’ home being the most extravagant.
On top of the TV series, the guide also pointed out many other fascinating points of interest. My favourite was Taylor Swift’s gorgeous home in Northumberland estate. Apparently she was home (or at least someone was) since her white jeep was parked in the front, as well as a security guard.
At one point in the tour we stopped at the Ryman Auditorium, which has a long history steeped in gospel and country music. Entry tickets were included with the bus tour so we could watch the amazing video presentation (highly recommended) and visit the spectacular hall that has held performances from legends like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton.
Our final stop was at the famous Bluebird Café. Although the café was not open, at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon there was already a queue for the 5pm opening. We disembarked to take a few photographs before starting the journey back home.
The friendly guide was full of knowledge and fascinating titbits. As a tour company they also offer private car rentals for celebrities and he had insider information on a lot of them, including the best places to spot them around town. Unfortunately we didn’t run into any that day, but he reported that he’s been on plenty of tours where they saw the cast around town.
It was much to my disappointment that we never spotted Avery that day. He’s by far my favourite character. Although our driver revealed that Leila, Gunnar, Avery and Deacon are fairly frequent performers around town.
If you are in love with the TV series Nashville then this on-location tour will not disappoint. I can’t wait to watch the new season and pay more attention to the homes and filming locations. Perhaps you aren’t a lover of the show (yet), then you’ll be glad to know it’s still a great tour. The points of interest on the route combined with the knowledgeable guide highlights Nashville’s history and give you a great overview of the Music City.
Now if only they could only add a little country music in the bus I would have scored this tour a “Johnny Cash”, but without any toe-tapping tunes I’m rating it a “Dolly Parton”.
Reader Comments..."I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" - Josh Bender
Music on the bus - I can't believe they didn't! This is one of the things that I love about America - so much variation in what you can do and always something different to enjoy!
I've never seen Nashvile but I'm sure if I had I'd love this. I'm a big Game of Thrones fan and really hope to do the tour in Northern Ireland one day.
Like you I'm starting from the point of zero knowledge but it sounds like a great tour for Country Music enthusiasts. Not sure I'd be bothered to queue for 2 hrs for any cafe!
I love that show! I'd totally do that tour.
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