Friday, December 21, 2012

Nashville TN Vacation 2012

Nashville, TN  Dec 2012 Trip

My husband and I bought our hotel tickets, planning on a trip to Nashville, TN.  Then, we called my parents.  Every time my parents have gone on a vacation, they have invited us.  This time, we wanted to invite my parents.  They were happy to accept the invitation and I’m so glad they did!

Because this vacation would end with the beginning of me being in the third trimester, flying to Tennessee was out of the question.  The doctors recommended plenty of stops along the way, which we did.  Imagine the conversations in the car, lots of laughter, singing and discussing where the next Cracker Barrel would be found.  Oh and baby made me giggle when he kept time (kicking) when my uncle’s jazz music was playing in the car.

The first stop was to the Mississippi rest area.  It was decorated both inside the building and outside.  With three trees inside and decorations hanging from the ceiling, Greg told the employees, “Ya’ll are representing Mississippi!”  The ladies beamed from his words.

If you know anything about my family, when we vacation, we go to Cracker Barrel.  My parents like it because it’s consistently good food.  I found out that they will make an omelet on request, even though it isn’t on the menu – this is now a favorite breakfast item.  Below is a picture of Dad and my husband inside the Cracker Barrel store section.

When researching TN, I found out that for one weekend only, the historic downtown section of Franklin, TN, had a craft fair where the vendors dressed up to reflect a “Charles Dickens” Christmas – I thought it was such a charming idea!  Below is a picture of the author/illustrator of a child’s book that we bought.  She signed it to our baby Gregory.

For the rest of our Nashville, TN vacation, we stayed at the Gaylord’s Hotel.  It’s a massive hotel, meant to impress – think Disney.  The hotel rooms are on the outskirts of the building and on the inside of the building, you’ll find gardens, water falls, rivers, boat rides, plantation home sized restaurants, etc. all “inside”… Pretty amazing.  The decorations were Feng Shui meets tropical gardens.

Before I go on, there are a couple of negatives about staying at the Gaylord’s Hotel –

1)  It’s as large as a small city, so be prepared to walk.  (Not such a big deal unless you are pregnant or your Dad has a bad knee and Mom has a bad back!)

2)  Even though they give you a map, the map looks like it’s all one story, when in fact there are three different floors…. And the elevators sometimes miss a floor, because the hotel goes into the side of the mountain.  So you might be on floor 0 and only have the option to go to floor 2 in an elevator.

3)  It’s EXPENSIVE.  For example, what to do for breakfast… either get a pre-made breakfast sandwich for 6.00 each or pay 22.00 per person for a sit-down meal at one of their restaurants… for breakfast!

4)  Parking.  You pay.  Even if you opt for self-parking.  Each day you’re going to pay.

5)  Resort Fees – be prepared, you’re going to find 15.00 automatically added to your bill for each day.  This is for the use of the gym, even if you don’t use it.  And for the use of the spa, even if you don’t use it… oh and if you DO use the spa, you still have to pay for the services and resort fee.

6)  If you decide to check out a day early, which we did… then the hotel automatically charges you 50.00!  Greg made it clear that he wasn’t happy with this and the hotel waived the fee.  So, I have to give credit to the hotel for waiving the fee, but it shouldn’t have been an issue to begin with.

Ok, those 6 items are out of the way… it was still well worth the experience.  If you see the pictures on my Picasa site, it’s clear that they take exceptionally good care of the decorations, gardens, waterfalls, etc.  And they certainly have the entertainment to make the stay enjoyable.

The first time at the Gaylord’s, we went to the convention room section of the hotel to see the performance by Lorrie Morgan.  I loved her country and Christmas songs.   The way the performance started had the audience in fits of giggles…. Greg found the video that was played at the start of the performance on youtube.  Click here to view it.  (Love the expressions while singing!)

The next day, we went through the 9 degree cold Shrek Ice Exhibit.  Everyone was given heavy blue parkers to wear and we were still brrrrrrr COLD.  It’s amazing how ice can be transformed into art!  The displays are hand-carved by 40 artisans from China, the ice-sculpting capital of the world.  In order to create the sculptures and ice slides, 2 million pounds of ice are used.

Inside the hotel, there was also a craft fair going on.  I couldn’t believe I saw these adorable baby shirts – Oma means Grandmother in German and it’s what my Mom wants to be called by our son.  Opa means Grandfather – what Dad will be called and we found a shirt with Opa on it too.  What is the chance of us finding this?!

Greg… had an impulse buy that I was later very grateful for.  Mom said, “Greg is a kid at heart” – he bought the bear hat.  Everyone tried it on.  When I had it on, my husband remarked, “You make a really cute Momma Bear.  I think this is your animal spirit.”

A few doors down from the craft fair ~ the Hall of Trees exhibit – where the funds to get in where given to local charities… the gifts by the trees could be bid on; some things were really pricey.

That night, we went on a carriage ride, which took us around the lights outside of the hotel.  Bear Hat to keep me warm in the 36-degree weather.

Once we went back into the hotel, we took the boat ride along the inside river.  I have a lot of pictures of the inside of the hotel.  There’s a link at the bottom of this post to see more pictures.

The last performance during out trip was the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Rockettes.  It was the perfect ending!  I’ve seen the Rockettes before and loved the performance then.  I was happy that this performance was different (other than the toy soldiers, which is a favorite of mine; I could watch it time and time again).

All in all, a fun trip! Mom and Dad said they really enjoyed it.  That made me feel good.  I was put in charge of the entertainment.  My husband said, “Pregnant wife decides what all she can do on this trip.”  I wanted to make sure there were plenty of things to see and do, yet down time too.  Oh and though I don’t have pictures, we also went to the Opry Mills Mall, which is MASSIVE and had some fantastic deals.  Mom bought 4 pair of shoes, 6 baby outfits for our son, perfume and a huggable Winnie the Pooh.

 What was really nice though… everywhere we went it seems that TN has no issue with succumbing to political/religious correctness pressure.  The hotel had a huge nativity scene.  Morgan’s performance included an incredibly beautiful Ava Maria song.  Shrek even made room for the nativity ice exhibit… and the Rockettes – not just a nativity scene, which was orchestrated wonderfully – but it also included real animals (sheep, donkeys and yes, 2 camels!)

It was refreshing that Christ was kept in Christmas.

Greg and I just wanted everyone to have a good time and feel the Christmas spirit.

To see a LOT more pictures and several videos, click here togo to my Picasa site.  If it takes a while for something to load, it might be a video… patience is a virtue.

Oh Wow… I just realized we had a large number of trips this year!   Maybe it’s because we realized after the baby is born, there will be many staycations until our son is older.  This year alone we went to Texas, NYC (which my parents truly believe our son was conceived on this trip!), Maryland and Tennessee.

Lol… another realization… When Greg and I first started dating, the first trip we took together was in Tennessee… and our last trip just the two of us in our family… this year in Tennessee..   Begins and ends in TN, yet many more future memories to look forward to with our son.  *smiles*


Cheryl said...

That sounds like a wonderful trip. Those are exactly the type of trips we enjoy. We went to the Gaylord in Dallas and saw the Grinch that stole Christmas Ice sculptures a couple of years ago and went to Grapevine Mills mall. Talk about similar. We, even went to the Grapevine, TX Cracker Barrel. Talk about similar. Oh..but I wasn't pregnant.

Mrs. Pancakes said...

It sounds like an awesome trip and I went to Cracker Barrel for the first time last year and loved it! Thanks for sharing the trip with us!!

Glynis Jolly said...

I live in Tennessee. I don't find the prices any higher here than they are anywhere else. You have to remember that Nashville is the Music capital. It is almost like a little Las Vagas when it comes to entertainment on a stage. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the casinos to rake in the money, so they have to be more direct about it.

Even with that said, I'm not a big lover of Nashville. It's too congested for me. I'm originally from Denver, which is spread out.