Nashville, TN / 2016-12-31

We awoke fairly early and find something edible at the hotel’s breakfast before heading out for the day.  Our first stop is the Belle Meade Plantation advisor-trip-tripadvisor-icon-0.  Brooke has scored Groupon tickets for the tour, saving us over 50% of the cover price that we witness everyone else paying while we wait in line.  With only 15 minutes before our tour is scheduled to begin, I quickly grab our jackets from the car (we underestimated the cold) and we head to the front of the mansion.  Outside, the initial tour guide tells us of how the Civil War made its way to the front lawn of the mansion and there are still bullet holes in the pillars on the front porch from the Federal guns firing.

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Bullet Holes from Civil War Gunshots

We are taken inside the house, which is specially decorated for Christmas, and the tour has been modified, telling the history of how Christmas would have been celebrated during the different time periods of the mansion’s habitation.  It was all very interesting, especially learning about the transformation of Santa over the years and the shift of Christmas as an adult celebration to a more child centered affair.

After the tour, we are able to sample some wine from their on site winery and explore the grounds and different buildings on site.

The cabin we saw with the kids on our last visit to the plantation about a month ago remains the most interesting building other than the main mansion, so we don’t spend a lot more time exploring and head to the car.  We were both craving some Nashville Hot Chicken and targeted in on Hattie B’s as our destination, but made two attempts (at two different locations) and were discouraged away by the queue (wrapped well outside and down the street for both locations).  It was still rather early in the day, so we could wait to decide on lunch later, so we headed instead for the Pedestrian Bridge via Cumberland Park.  We quickly noticed the severe drop in temperature, and bundled up as much as we could before making the trek over the bridge.  The weather (and probably the day) rewarded us with a largely empty bridge and views of downtown.

We stayed atop the bridge as long as we could stand the weather and then quickly retreated to the car to warm up and decide on lunch.  After considering ordering to-go from Hattie B’s (they are smarter than that and postpone the pick up time by at least an hour), we ended up in another popular East Nashville spot, The Family Wash.  However, after dropping Brooke off to put in our name and then attempting to find parking, I sat in the van just waiting for someone to leave their parking lot in an extreme case of blinkering (using a blinker to indicate your claim on an upcoming parking spot).  A few minutes later Brooke appeared, frustrated by the staff seating those coming in after us without a wait while still making us wait.  So, we left and headed instead to the Farmer’s Market Food Court.  No luck here either as it was closed in preparation for the night’s event.  Finally, we ended up at BarTaco in 12 South, which was very good (snagged bar seating again to eliminate our wait time).  We struggled back to the hotel, still without definitive plans for New Year’s Eve and did what anyone would do in this situation; took a nap.

With our heads cleared and rested, we finally decided to brave the weather (sub-40’s and raining) and head to the event we had to planned on going to all along; Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight at the Bi-Centennial Park.  Layered in clothing as much as we could, we stopped by CVS to pick up gloves and hats to do our best to keep warm throughout the night.  We drove near the Nashville Farmer’s Market scouting for nearby parking, anticipating snarling traffic with limited spots available.  The information online pointed to one parking lot whose collections benefited the local neighborhood, so we set our Google Maps on that destination, however, as we drove around, we noticed ample street parking available that was not only free, but also closer.  We opted for the closest street parking we could find and walked to venue.  We made it in immediately to the Farmer’s Market Food Court after going through security and then outside to the park behind it.

We explored the food trucks and other vendors while listening to the live music.  We were just in time to catch the end of the set from Charlie Worsham and were able to get pretty close to the stage.  The crowds weren’t around yet, but the police and security forces indicated to me that they were expecting the crowd to grow.  After deciding not to choose from one of the 50 or so food trucks, we ate inside the Farmer’s Market and then headed back out to listen to some more live music from Moon Taxi, A Thousand Horses and Styx.

The crowd grew in size and boisterousness as the popularity of the artists increased and the evening worn on.

We took a quick break from the weather and the crowds back inside the Farmer’s Market.  We grabbed a bite to eat and sat down for a while to rest.  As the scheduled time for the evening’s last performer got closer, we ventured back outside and found the best viewing spot we could to watch Keith Urban.

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As close as we could get to Keith Urban

Not knowing much about Keith Urban, I was surprised as how talented of an overall musician he was, from his vocal delivery (sounded as good as recorded) to his proficiency with different instruments.  What amazed me the most was how well he handled the crowd with one-liners, bringing someone up on stage and delivering the longest performance of the night.  The crowds had definitely pressed in by this time as we were closing in on midnight and we made our way toward the back of the park to some higher level viewing.  Finally, the count down to midnight began and the music note (which had replaced the traditional ball) dropped as the clock struck midnight.  Fireworks erupted over the capital building and everyone cheered.

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I turned and kissed Brooke, and we both realized the happiness and joy in the moment there drenched in rain, somewhat cold, but together.  We then learned the Keith Urban’s wife, Nicole Kidman, had joined him on stage as well.  He began to perform again, but Brooke and I slipped away from the park, out of a different exit, with a much needed food stop planned before heading back to the car.

We had read that our favorite restaurant in Nashville was going to be specially open for New Year’s Eve from Midnight to 2 AM.  And, it was in walking distance.  After our failures at lunch time, we sure hoped that our visit to Monell’s would work out.  A short 10 minute walk and we arrived at 12:15 AM, walked right in and were sat at table with another family.  We awaited the rest of the table (about 6 seats or so) to fill before they brought out the food.  It was amazing.  After being disappointed with how lunch had turned out, then standing out in the rain and cold and not eating much at the New Year’s Eve event, to be sitting at Monell’s staring down at one of the best homestyle, southern, all you can eat spreads, our joy (and soon my stomach) was overflowing.  Along with the normal dinner fare, they served the traditional New Year’s black eyed peas.  I am not a fan of black eye peas in general, but these were amazing and actually the best part of the meal.  By the time we finished our meal, said our goodbyes to the group that shared the food with us and paid, there was a long wait to get in.

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Monell’s after Midnight NYE

We easily found our way back to our car, piled in and headed back to the hotel where we promptly fell asleep around 2 AM.  It had been a great New Year’s Eve!

This was Day 3 of our New Year’s in Nashville CLEW-less trip.  Check out the rest of the trip here!

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