I really enjoy guided tours. The reason for this is that they are often led by people that are really interested in the subject matter. I’ve even seen volunteers lead tours and often they describe things with so much passion that it makes me understand why the tour has so much significance.
One of the tours I purchased in advance was the Ryman Auditorium guided tour. Since it included a walk-through backstage, I felt that it would be an opportunity that the average person would not experience.
Upon arrival, we were directed to their upstairs theater. We watched a very short documentary. Despite the short length of the video, we were left with a deep appreciation of the historical significance of the Ryman Auditorium.
We were able to see three different dressing rooms. Johnny Cash and June Carter, Women of Country Music and the Minnie Pearl rooms. Our tour leader provided details of everything in the room including who was depicted in each of the photographs. What was interesting was the fact that the lobby, ticket office and the dressing rooms were built during the remodel that started in 1994.
We made a dash for lunch as I understood that this was one of the most popular lunch spots in Nashville – Arnold’s Country Kitchen. In addition, it is only open Mondays through Fridays. The food is served cafeteria-style and even though we arrived at 11:00am, there were about twenty people in line.
Despite their James Beard award and the long line, both of us were mildly disappointed with our meals. While I enjoyed my fried catfish and the cauliflower casserole, it was good and not outstanding. My mom disliked the fried green tomatoes and the corn pudding. She did, however, like the chicken dumplings.
We spent the afternoon on the Hop On Hop Off Bus and took a complete round trip tour around Nashville. Midway through the loop, our driver pointed out Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. He said most of the major country music stars started their career there. He added that one of the most famous business dealings there was when Willie Nelson pitched the song Crazy to Patsy Cline’s husband. The rest is history.
Upon departing the bus, we walked through the shops at the Marathon Works building. During the early 1900’s this building produced the Marathon automobile. To date, Marathon has been the only automobile manufacturer in Nashville. Now, it houses shops that sell handmade goods.