The wonderful and well-traveled Natasja came to Nashville to stay with me for the first week of July 2014. Natasja and I met in S. Africa in 2008, we hit it off so we adjusted our travels to scuba and surf together.
In September 2013, Mom, Dad & I spent 3 days with her in Prague!
She came to Nashville via New York, where she had spent 4 weeks at a yoga farm in Woodstock, learning how to teach Sivanada yoga.
I went to pick her up at the airport on Sunday night and Monday we had breakfast at Sky Blue Cafe. Across the street there was an adorable house with a white picket fence and an insane amount of flowers!
Then we hit up Kroger and headed out to Opry Mills Mall. We bought $15 Gap jeans, shoes and matching $3 patriotic Flag shirts.
That night we tried to eat at the vegetarian restaurant, Wild Cow, but got there just before they closed. We went across the street to Rosepepper and Natasja got a vegan burrito and was super happy.
July 1st: (Happy Birthday Jessie!) Today we went to a little boutique called, OMG with 300 lbs of gold glitter lacquered into their floor. Then we mailed Jessie’s birthday package and headed down to Hillsboro Village. We went to Pangea and bought cat postcards and to BookManBookWoman and bought nothing. At 4pm we saw our first movie at the Belcourt! It opened in 1925 to show silent movies, then was briefly the home of the Grand Ole Opry! Afterwards, we head to Wild Cow again… and it was closed on Tuesday. Pfft. Calypso Cafe was a great replacement!
July 2nd: THE BEST DAY EVER! We canoed the Piney with Paul and Laura! N & I stopped at Mitchell’s Deli and bought everyone a yummy sandwich. (They were as delicious as Zingerman’s but half the price!) Then we picked up Laura and Paul and headed East. It’s still amazes me that 45 minutes outside of Nashville, everything is all backwoods and pick-up trucks.
Our canoe outfitters were great: Pinewood Camp & Canoe. The gave us this cool canoe with a toking rabbit.
It was a perfect paddle: quiet river, all to ourselves. A green heron followed us along the river. It was 83 degrees and we stopped to swim. Ahhhhhh.
We had gotten dropped off and paddled back to camp- when we got there we found a rope swing! Paul and I went off of it 4 times. Super fun!
We stopped at M.L.Rose for veggie burgers (& 2 for 1 beers!) after our paddle and met this awesome person: our waitress, Meridyth! She spent 3 months in Cambodia and was hilarious. Obviously, we’re buds now.
Since none of us wanted this super day to end, we walked Paul’s dog, Neepa and got shakes at Bobby’s. It was 10pm before we headed home. Best Tuesday on record.
July 3rd: We made oatmeal & headed out to Sri Ganesha- a Hindu temple that I drive by on my way to work.
We arrived while the priests were doing a ceremony. We took our shoes off, entered the temple and inside there was a giant room with many small shrines to Hindu gods along the wall. In the center, there was a 10×20 room with a giant statues of Ganesha. The priests chanted as they made offerings of fruit to the elephant-headed god. They rang bells for a long time and wafted incense over the offerings. When the short ceremony was over, they passed the plate around and brought you back fruit from the altar commensurate with your donation. Natasja and I each got a banana.
There were ladies sitting on the floor, threading fresh flowers into leis to purchase for the statues in the shrines. There were little kids running around and fliers for senior’s activities. The temple had a very family-oriented vibe, like church. We thanked them and headed off.
Next, we headed to Warner Parks so Natasja could see where I had been spending the summer. We met the lovely ladies at the Nature Center, prepped some crafts at the Field Station and walked around a bit. Then it was time to find dinner! Paul had a fantastic vegetarian suggestion, Woodlands Indian Restaurant!
Natasja was thrilled that Woodlands was all vegetarians, since it’s pretty hard to tell if ‘stews’ contain meat until it’s too late. We shared Thali- Chai tea & rice pudding.
Then we raced off to the Ryman for one of the Bluegrass nights: Yonder Mountain String Band! They had 2 special guests: Sam Bush and Alli Krall. Alli sang ‘Jolene’ by Dolly Parton and RAGED on the fiddle. I wanted her to play Dolly’s songs all night. Yonder was great but they were prone to long ‘solos’ for each player… during EVERY SONG. Natasja discovered that she’s not really into ‘jam bands’.While we were listening to Yonder at the Mother Church of Bluegrass, MOM & DAD arrived and made themselves at home. We cruised Honky Tonk row after the show, so they were asleep by the time we got home.
You may notice the police officers in the background… Natasja was entertained by their golf carts. They must have been bored, later they were shining their flashlights on Natasja & giggling when I took her photo.
July 4th: HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, AMERICA! I had planned a day jam-packed with patriotism, so we made breakfast and headed down to a little neighborhood that has been putting on a 4th of July celebration for 38 years! They start with a what they called a ‘children’s parade’, even though each child had at least 2 adult escorts… so it was more like a ‘parent’s parade’.
We took our dish-to-pass to the food tent & found our seats for the reading of the Declaration of Independence!
Can’t you just hear this couple’s conversation?
“Alan! Alan!?! You’re going to miss the symphony, Alan!” “Martha… I’m right behind you.”
Dad is looking super-happy because of all the free hot dogs.
After the symphony finished their Sousa marches, it was time for the pot-luck! YUMMMMM!!!
This is the most patriotic pie I’ve ever seen! And it was Natasja’s favorite: Rhubarb-Strawberry!
After we pulled ourselves away from the festivities, we stopped at Centennial park. Did you know that the largest train fatality in the US happened in Nashville in 1918 on “Dutchman’s Curve”?!?!
Well, now you do.
Then we head to Hillsboro to have Las Paletas popsicles- they are handmade in 30+ flavors! Mom & I had Mexican Caramel, made with goat’s milk! Dad had lime. N had banana, dipped in Olive & Sinclair chocolate. We were all tuckered out from the festivities and head back home to nap. We had dinner at Tenn16 (Dad wondered why his chicken & waffles had so much syrup on the chicken…) Mom & I shared some awesome meatloaf. We couldn’t linger, we had to make it downtown for the fireworks! Luckily, Laura & Won had been holding some prime viewing real-estate for us! We were still wearing our patriotic matching outfits!
The 10 minute drive to downtown took 45 minutes… but when we got there- it was totally worth it!
The show was the 2nd, only to NYC’s this year! The thing that made it really over the top was the Nashville symphony- they were playing music, synchronized with the blasts! Too bad they didn’t have louder speakers. While we waited for the traffic to clear, we checked out Won’s house, that used to be a bank. He turned his 3 story vault into a library, using shelves from the bankrupt Border’s Books.
This is where you make deposits! And photobombs!
There is a theatre upstairs! And a ballroom!
July 5th: Breakfast at home, then off to Olive & Sinclair for a chocolate tour!Mom and Natasja look fabulous in their hairnets! Roasting Beans. Even the chocolate grinder is patriotic.
Then, off for burgers and Mint-Oreo shakes at Bobby’s and a stop at Antique Archeology, which is the shop from the History Channel show, American Pickers. There was a long line and it was boring. Don’t bother.
It was WORLD CUP time! Off to a patio pub to watch the Netherlands vs. Costa Rica!
It was 0-0 at the end of the game… so on to penalty kicks! HUP, Holland, HUP! AND THEY WON!!!
To celebrate the end of a successful visit, we toast with tiny mustache glasses full of Limoncello, sent as a gift by Natasja’s handsome Italian cousin, Silvio. It’s too bad this epic week is over! I miss you, Natasja! Ciao, Bella!
July 6th: Mom and Dad headed home after breakfast, taking their, “newest & tallest daughter” with them.
I was sad to see them go, but N got to see the new house in progress AND my baby photos. So it was worth it. Natasja- I can’t wait to figure out where in the world we will meet up next!!!