I admit, rolling into Nashville, I didn’t expect what I found.

In my head, I always pictured the most country of towns. I pictured it small, zero art but plenty of bars.

To my surprise, it was much more than that. The drive into the city was beautiful – mountains and hills – and we (my sister and I) hit up the Parthenon first. Again, I expected not much. I expected a little monument, a little park. I never would’ve guessed how expansive it actually was.

Walking up the dirt trail through summer heat, we stood before the Parthenon. Massive, there’s no other word to describe it. It was a picturesque representation of the Gods, with it’s humungous columns and chiseled art. We didn’t go inside due to lack of time, but we walked around the outside of it, climbing the impressive steps and looking out on the rest of the park.

The Parthenon wasn’t on any lists of mine. We only stopped by for the sake of stopping by, and had it not been right there, I probably wouldn’t have stopped. What a mistake that would have been. For someone with so much curiosity, I can be small minded. I like to tell others and myself I’m this open-minded, open-hearted person, but the truth is, my mind has its limits. I have an extreme dislike for country music and country things, and I always associated it with Nashville. Had I not put aside my dislike for a genre of music, I never would have witnessed the beauty that is the Parthenon.

If I learned anything on this road trip from Fairhope, AL to St. Louis, MO it was this: don’t bar yourself behind your opinions. Give the places you’ve never been and never seen a chance. You’d think as an author I would’ve learned by now to never judge a book by its cover. The same goes for destinations. You can’t judge it by the things you read about or others say. Every city – even the worst ones – has a good side.

After the Parthenon, we headed over to Three Brothers Coffee – an independent and locally owned coffee shop with (according to Pinterest) one of the most photographed alleyways in Nashville. The shop, itself, is quaint, with modern lighting and seating. As promised, the black and white, wall-to-wall mural sat in the alleyway (more of an alcove) outside the front door. We snapped some pictures there after grabbing a coffee and a snack. Though I wouldn’t say the coffee was jaw-droppingly delicious, it was a cool, trendy spot to check out.

Realizing there wasn’t a whole lot to do on the Parthenon side of Nashville, we took the interstate in toward downtown and stopped at Five Daughters Bakery. Known for their 100 layer donut, we had to know just how sickening it really was. The bakery is within a cute, blue house with pink doors and signage. When you walk in, you’re greeted by fantastic customer service. However, if it’s busy, don’t count on seating.

With only a window bar, there weren’t many seats. We went directly to the back of the store where the donuts were prepared. There were so many interesting and diverse flavors, so I bought 3 (Don’t judge, I only ate one and took nibbles out of the others)! First of all, the donuts are delicious…if you want to go into a sugar coma! WARNING: Do not eat these donuts with the plan to do anything except watch Netflix!

It was cool to be in possession of the hundred layer donut, but for me, it was too much, and trying to walk it off in the afternoon heat did not help. Thankfully, there were air-conditioned shops along the same road to stop in and let our food settle. My favorite is Serendipity. They carry a lot of locally made products, especially if they’re made of natural ingredients. Plus, they’re far more affordable then most of the shops in the area.

Once our food settled, we decided to drive around downtown. We would’ve walked, but we didn’t want to have to pay for parking, and most of the shops had already closed. So, we took a gander and then finished the day with an indoor mall. Downtown, itself, was gorgeous. There were some older, beautifully built cathedrals I absolutely adored, and I do want to be able to travel back to Nashville in the near future, maybe stay a few days. Obviously, my sister and I did the bare minimum of what this city has to offer, but we had a lot of fun just sight-seeing and checking out the local restaurants and shops you can’t find anywhere else.

Nashville, in every aspect, kind of blew me away. I was stunned to find a city so lush with vibrancy and culture. The area is up-and-coming, and though I did spot a couple people in cowboy boots, it wasn’t nearly as “country-driven” as I thought it would be.

So, if you’ve never considered visiting Nashville, because maybe you despise country like I do, then I think you should give it a shot. It has it’s perks, and some of the one’s I’ve talked about here are just the tip of the iceberg.

Always,Jinapher J. Hoffman

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