Tennessee is a state that, perhaps, more than any other combines the features of both the American North and South. This certainly has to do with the state’s unique placement on the country map: hemmed in by eight immediate neighbors and nearly bordering on two more, Tennessee is bound to be an eclectic mix of American cultures.
Our acquaintance with Tennessee commenced in Chattanooga. We arrived in the city at night, and proceeded to the one item from our itinerary that was photographable after dark—the Walnut Street Bridge. We found, however, the adjacent Veterans Bridge to be better illuminated at the late hour.
The Walnut Street Bridge, however, was not left out, for we photographed it the following day:
But to keep things chronological, let’s turn to the Lookout Mountain’s eponymous attractions park, where we spent a good chunk of the morning following our arrival in Chattanooga. The park boasts heaps of natural and man-made wonders, and is generally a pleasant place to amble around. There are waterfalls,
incredibly narrow passages,
neatly ornamented terraces and stairs,
and oddly shaped geological formations, such as this Mushroom Rock
and this Smoking Monkey Rock.
The park is permeated by a distinct gnome theme (as an exercise, try to identify all of the tiny fellas camouflaged in the stony garden on the first picture below).
Where there are gnomes, one would also expect to find other fairy-tell creatures.
As for the mountain itself, it did not get its name for nothing: the lookout points situated round its peak reveal some breathtaking panoramas.
A marker at one of the lookouts even lists the seven adjacent states that can be seen from that spot, but I find that claim highly doubtful.
For the next item of business that morning we traveled to the Chattanooga’s Bluff View Art District, where we mainly sauntered through the exhibition rooms of the local art shops.
Although at this point in our journey we set out for Knoxville, leaving the two Tennessee “heavyweights” (Nashville and Memphis, that is) for the sequel post would result in a very unbalanced split of the content. Hence, Nashville is featured next.
I wish we could have walked the gardens of the Opryland Hotel as its guests rather than mere visitors, for I would probably enjoy the passages of this jungle hodge podge after dark twice as much as I did in the morning.
Grudgingly, from the air-conditioned belly of the hotel we ventured out into the midday heat for a look at the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge, which turned out a fairly agreeable sight, partially due to the lush vegetation overflowing both the banks.
We proceeded with an excursion around town, beginning with the I Believe in Nashville sign.
Then we hit the Music Row, a place where much of the country music’s operation is based.
For one reason or another most music references in Nashville involve images of guitars. Occasionally, they are rather appropriate, such as the case of the following specimen on the outside and inside walls of this large guitar shop.
One of the guitars on the last picture is 60 grand, by the way. But to return to our tour of the city… Nashville Mural was the next stop.
It was followed by Printer’s Alley, whose historic name has grown out of tune with its present function of adult entertainment.
We made a longer stop at the Hermitage Hotel, starting with… the men’s bathroom.
And also women’s.
The waiting area outside the bathrooms was also nice.
To not appear obsessed with the lavatorial matters, let me compliment the hotel’s interiors in general.
As the heat started to die down, we found ourselves gazing at the distant Capitol building from the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park’s lawns.
Afterwards, we swung by the Marathon Village, whose general purpose remained a mystery to me.
Amongst the urban jungle of roads, bridges, parking lots, and unsightly construction debris, the Union Station Hotel stands out as an obvious landmark, thanks to its trim appearance and stately architectural style.
By no means grandiose, the Johnny Mercer monument is a welcome accessory to an otherwise mundane financial district corner.
The full-size Parthenon replica in the Centennial Park is, on the contrary, a very imposing and ambitious project.
Though the last item on our Nashville menu, the Sri Ganesha Temple was hardly a dessert. As with many other Hindu churches in America, I found the architecture of this temple unnecessary sophisticated and greatly lacking in aesthetic worth.
… to be continued…