I managed to find the public bus from the airport to downtown, which costs just $1.60 and it was pretty straightforward to walk to the Renaissance Hotel from the bus terminal. I checked in, changed into shorts and sneakers and walked over to the Comfort Inn (just under a mile away) which is the starting point for the Volksmarch events. There are actually two Nashville year round walks. I picked up both maps and decided what made the most sense was to do the University walk on Saturday and the downtown walk on Sunday. I was actually dividing the routes slightly differently, as I had walked from downtown to the Comfort Inn, but it came out to covering exactly the same stuff, without making me re-walk a particularly boring stretch of Demonbreun Street.
The University walk covered Music Row (where all the recording studios are), Vanderbilt University, Belmont Mansion, and Centennial Park. I'd have enjoyed it more had I not tripped on a bit of cracked sidewalk and skinned my knee on the way up to Belmont Mansion. (No real injury, but annoying.) And the searing heat did not really aid the enjoyment either. Still, there were a few bits of nice architecture (e.g. Belmont Mansion and the Parthenon) and it gave me a chance to see a fair amount of the less central part of the city. By the way, there were a lot of cicadas (presumably the 13 year ones) in the park. This proved to be significant later on.
Back at the hotel, I showered, napped, and reminded myself how blessed I am to live in the era of air conditioning. Then I braved the crowds on Broadway, where there was a free block party (associated with the Jimmy Buffett concert). I ate supper at a classic dive - Paradise Park Trailer Park Resort, which makes a perfectly adequate grilled cheese sandwich and tater tots. Like The Varsity in Atlanta and Texas Tavern in Roanoke, Virginia, the point of these sorts of places is atmosphere. Then it was over to the Bridgestone Arena for the concert.
As far as the venue goes, it had its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, I had a seat which, while in the nosebleed section, had a view straight on the stage. On the minus side, there was a group of drunk frat boys behind me, one of whom spilled half a beer on me and did not even bother to apologize. On the very minus side, a margarita (in a plastic cup no less) costs 9 bucks. But it was the right thing to drink under the circumstances, especially as the beer wasn't much cheaper and the selection ran to Bud Lite or Miller Lite.
The concert itself was fine. You can see the set list and judge for yourself. He did several of my favorites ("Volcano" - yes! - and, even though it isn't his, my love for "Southern Cross" knows no boundaries). He was also joined on stage by Kenny Chesney, who made the girls in the row in front of me squeal and jump up and down. All in all, I had a good enough time to think it was worth going to.
It was even hotter Sunday as I did the downtown / capital walk. Trudging up the hill from the Bicentennial Mall back up to the state capitol was particularly exhausting in the heat and humidity. The public buildings look suitably grand, but it doesn't look like downtown Nashville is thriving other than the bar scene. At the end of the route, I went into the Country Music Hall of Fame, but balked at paying $20 for the museum so just hung out in their store and cafe. Air conditioning - ahh!
I retrieved my bag and headed back to the bus station and on to the airport. At first, it looked like my flight might be as much as 2 hours and 45 minutes late, but it turned out to be just about 45 minutes. (I am assuming the weather in Chicago was to blame, as it seemed to be disrupting a lot of flight schedules.) Remember the cicadas I mentioned in Centennial Park? Well, they are at the airport too and, as this was an express flight boarding from the tarmac rather than a jet bridge, the poor flight attendant had to try to fend them off as people boarded. She was waving a magazine at them furiously, until she accidentally tossed it down the airplane steps! I doubt that cicada-cide is part of the training that the airlines give their crew nowadays.
As for today, it has been devoted to sleep and housework. And I need to get back to the latter.