As soon as it was announced that the UNC Tarheels would be playing the UT Vols for the bowl game on January 30th, we (Brooke, Teague, Maggie, Jeff, Holly and I) decided we would pile in a car and drive to Nashville for New Year’s. When it comes to these two teams, I am Switzerland. I went to Peace College, an all girls’ school here in Raleigh. Since Maggie was the only Orange fan in the bunch going, I figured I’d support the Vols along with Maggs. On the 29th, we packed our Orange and Blue and hit the road. It's a rather lengthy drive and we didn’t HAVE to be in Nashville for the game until the 30th, so we stopped in Knoxville and crashed at Brooke’s sister's apartment. We woke up well slept and ready to go.
|the big game|
|Orange in a sea of Blue|
Here is how the weekend went down: We navigated downtown Nashville and found our Hotel…. The hotel lobby was swarming with fans from both teams, but mostly orange was present. After getting settled and refreshed, we head to a house party then hit Broadway to check out pre-game festivities. Right before game time, we start our hike across the bridge. Even if you are not a huge sports fan it was a rather beautiful sight with the sun setting behind LP Stadium and reflecting off the Cumberland River with thousands of people flocking to watch “their” team go head to head with another. Maggie and I (head to toe in Orange) are sitting right in the thick of the UNC section because her friend from UNC got us tickets. My friend’s dad who works at UT got Brooke, Teague and Holly seats, so of course they are in the UT section, with their UNC blue. Jeff is in some proper Club Level seat not to be seen again until after the game at the bar. The game was, well… pretty awesome. Check it out for yourself. http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=303642633
|walking over the river from downtown Nashville to the Stadium |
Maggie, not pleased with the outcome of the game, races out of the stadium to go be with her other furious UT friends. The rest of us go with the UNC peeps back to the bars where we find Jeff and many other friends from home. At some point I get a phone call from my friend MK. She tells me she is in town and gives me the address of where she is staying and tells me to bring it. Me being me walk out and call Rayid- telling friends after I leave to diffuse any talk of trying to get me to stay. Rayid is our cabby for the weekend. He’s great. I give Rayid the address and we are off. And off. And off. Many minutes later we arrive at this massive compound. Then I see it, the sign: WELCOME TO OPRYLAND. WTF, how did I get to Opryland and why is MK here? I call her and she gives me the room #. Still confused, I thank Rayid and tell him to have a swell night. I walk into the Opryland. It’s totally overwhelming. I’d never seen anything like it. I am all alone, not a person in sight, rather intoxicated and yes, still confused. I make my way to the counter and ask the man to please tell me how to get to the room #. He begins giving directions (yes pure directions to get to a hotel room—that’s how big this place is). About 10 seconds in, I explain I’ve never been to this place and it would be most helpful if he could please just walk me to the room. He laughs and agrees. We leave the “foyer” and proceed. The foyer leads into an area that made me feel like I was in Alice’s Wonderland. The ceilings are at least 50ft. There are hundreds of white strands of Christmas lights hanging from said ceilings, a lazy river, gondolas, tiki huts, a bar, lavish garden and trees, an arched (several) bridge, and what seems to be a new version of “elevator music” playing. We walk through this area and Mr. Front Desk gives me a little history on the compound. There are 2,881 rooms, 200 suites, and 750 garden rooms- and they are all booked. The complex is 600,000 (more when you add in the outdoor activities) sq ft with four restaurants, 5 lounges, golf course, pool, Hertz rental car, several large lobbies, garden conservatory and several performing theaters. Oh yes. Finally, about 7 min later I make it to MK’s room. They are in the same alcohol induced delirium as I. Come to find out MK is here b/c the UT Football team is staying her and her dad who works for UT Athletics got her the room. It’s the wee hours by now, but since I have never been to Opryland, we make a drink and take a walk (and get lost). 2 hours later we come back and sleep. I wake up ready to get out of here. MK asks me to go down and get her car from Valet and she’ll meet me down there. Recall those 2,881 rooms, 200 suites and 750 garden rooms that were all booked? All those nice people are now trying to check out of the hotel as I am desperately wishing I was the Double Tree downtown. People are talking (which makes for a loud lobby), luggage is everywhere, kids are screaming and running around with hardly any supervision, and there are just lines of cars outside. If I had to guess who was less pleased with what was going on around us than me, I'd have to say the workerbee's of Opryland! I ask someone how long the wait is for the valet line. My mouth drops open as I am told 2.5 hours (and they will not give you the keys for you to walk and get the car b/c it’s “against policy”). This must be a joke, I think to myself. I call MK and tell her to not even worry about coming down that I will need to figure something else out, b/c there was simply no way that I would be there for another 3 hours. Just not possible. Then I recall my new BFF, Rayid. I dial his # and to my surprise he answers “AMILY!” That sweet man comes to get me. He’s there in 20 min. He laughs, shakes his head and says, “Miss Amily, didn’t you have that on the last time I saw you!?!” I reply honestly. “Yes Rayid, I did and next time I give you an address and it’s Opryland, please advise me not to go!!”.
|Emily's post-Opryland cold compress|
I finally make it back to my inner circle and try to explain what had occurred the past 7 hours of my life. They were having trouble getting a visual so as I lay with my cold compress, I ask that they please just look it up on the world wide web. Hysteria bellows through the room, take one look and you will understand… I was not exaggerating. http://www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-opryland/
Side note: Teague thought it was just hilarious when weeks later she gets a family coupon via Groupon for Opryland and thinks we should use it. Since I know the grounds so well now. We don’t.
|Broadway on New Year's Eve|
Whew…it’s just now the 31st, New Years Eve. How will we do it again?! Food and water help insure we will make it. We walk around, grab a bite on Broadway, take another rest and start the process. After washing away the night before, we head to Roberts all dolled up and listen to Maggie’s Honky Tonk Crush. We have a party to attend, but not for several hours. It is here where we meet our new Harley Biker friends. It’s very close quarters in there. It's NYE and one of Nashville’s most famed Honky Tonks, so Robert's is packed. At first our group is a little unsure of theirs and it's pretty safe to say the same about them. But just two short drinks later, we are all singing Happy Birthday and having a photo shoot. Around 9:30 pm we say our buh-bye’s and head to our ticketed party, a 90’s cover band to ring in the New Year. After the party, everyone but Mister Cheek (Jeff) and I go home. He finds out a friend from NYC is in town and staying with another friend literally 1 block from our hotel. We figure it was worth the walk, and oh it was. Best late night party of the year. Top shelf liquor, amazing apartment, great people, and unreal dance party. Jeff and I decide at an undisclosed hour that it is time to head back to the hotel. We walk in “quietly” and wake everyone up. Then we all close our eyes until a more appropriate hour. Welcome to 2011, we rise up and have an amazing breakfast at http://www.puckettsgrocery.com/
|Enjoying the great music at Robert's|
|our new friend Karen from the "Fast Company"|
After lunch, we hit the road, it was going to be a long drive. We decided we’d stop “along the way” at our friend Evan’s mountain house. We were told it was “right outside of Asheville,” only to find out 5 hours into the trip that we are headed to Grandfather Mountain, which is a solid 8.5 hour drive from Nashville. Just to be clear, Raleigh/Chapel Hill to Nashville is an 8 hour drive that we broke up into 4 hour increments by stopping in Knoxville (which is ACTUALLY on the way). So, we have driven 8.5 hours to Grandfather Mountain while feeling less than chipper after our big two nights in Nashville. We arrive at Evan’s house at 10pm. 10 PM, folks. Spending the first day of January in Emily’s Yukon was not exactly what we had in mind… Needless to say, we hung out for a bit before calling it a night and hit the road as soon as we were up in the morning. Another 4 hours later, we were home in the Triangle. Aren’t spontaneous road trips fun, ya’ll?
|some of our crew on Broadway before the game!|
If you’re planning a weekend in Nashville, be sure to check out all parts not just downtown! This city has a lot of awesome things to do, don't be afraid to leave the touristy downtown and get out and really explore Nashville. East Nashville & 12 South are places not to miss, however we do not recommend taking 30 min cab rides to Opryland in the middle of the night!
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