Wednesday night was the first time in a long time that we’d been on a real date. The kind where reservations are made and you wear something besides tee shirts & denim shorts. Our dinner reservation was for Aquarium. Apparently it is a chain restaurant but we had never heard of it before. We’d seen it when we visited the Opry House on Tuesday. I Googled it, the reviews were good and the photos piqued our interest. I made reservations for 5 PM, the Opry show was scheduled for 7, that gave us ample time to enjoy our meal then walk to the Opry.
Our first impression of Aquarium reminded us of our first visit to Disney’s Rain Forest Cafe. You enter, stand there with your mouth gaping and try to take it all in. It was like dining inside a fish tank. The walls are the coral reef. I believe our hostess said the center piece of the room held 20,000 gallons of water. It held many different species of marine life. Beautiful to look at. Amazing fish to observe. We were seated in a cozy booth that looked out toward the tank.
One particular fish caught our eye, an Angel Shark. Being a bottom dweller, you don’t often see these. It was the largest in the tank, 5-6′ long is my guess. It’s hard to say for sure with the way water can distort size. It was very active. We were drawn to the stingrays too. Ever since we snorkeled Grand Cayman’s “Sting Ray City” in 2005 where we held and fed wild rays, we have been fascinated by them. Their undersides always look as if they’re smiling. I counted three in the aquarium, one in particular was huge.
We both ordered the steak, lobster and shrimp platter. It was very good. I liked the melt in your mouth lobster best while Don said the seasonings on the steak made it for him. We finished it off by sharing a Key Lime Cake dessert. Excellent.
The Grand Ole Opry is just across the road from Aquarium so we walked over. I’m glad we had visited previously to take photos of the outside as it was packed with folks coming for the show. Long lines had formed at the iconic guitars near the entrance where people waited to have their pictures taken. Having purchased our tickets in advance, we walked right in. Our seats were to the right of center stage, five rows back. Great seats!
The line up offered us a variety of country music. We had entertainers just breaking into the business and those that had been in it for 60 years or more. We heard old classics, bluegrass, rock style country and Southern gospel. Two performers sang tunes that hadn’t been released yet. One young lady was making her Opry debut. A treat for us was seeing Holly Williams live. Holly is the granddaughter of legendary Hank Williams Sr and daughter of Hank Williams Jr. With those genes we expected a lot and Miss Williams delivered. The last song she performed was one she’d written about her maternal grandparents called “Still Waitin’ on June.” I saw several people including myself, wiping away tears. As expected, the Opry put on a great show. I do believe we’ll do this again.
What better way to follow up a visits to Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry than going to see the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The hall hosts limited engagement exhibits as well, the current one is Reba, All the Woman I Am. Don and I have always been fond of this bubbly, talented pixie so the exhibit was a must see for us. The exhibit had many artifacts on display. Some were from Reba’s early childhood and several more recent awards, stage costumes and memorabilia. On the big screen Reba talks about her upbringing, her time doing rodeo, her illustrious career and life as a wife, mom and friend. She has such charisma and down to earth wholesomeness. She’ll always be one of favorite performers.
The Hall of Fame has different galleries, some are permanent while others undergo constant change.
One of the permanent exhibits is titled Sing Me Back Home. It traces the roots of country music from the nineteenth century to the present. From the early trailblazers to the crossover contemporary artists.
The Contemporary Gallery has artifacts from today’s hottest performers such as Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.
The Design Gallery gives an idea of what a working studio looks like and has various stage costumes on display. Many are down right gaudy.
The Bakersfield Sound display drew Don in. He grew up listening to songs at home and at his grandparents sung by the likes of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. This gallery told the story of the raw edged style of country music that came out of working class California.
The walls of gold and platinum albums was an impressive sight and I enjoyed looking at the old Hatch Show Print posters on display. Hatch Show Print is one of the oldest print shops in America. Started by two brothers, Charles and Herbert Hatch in Nashville around 1879. The still operating print shop has created original art for the Grand Ole Opry, Elvis, traveling minstrel shows, circuses, and many of today’s stars. I love the old posters.
The Hall of Fame Rotunda where the inductees plaques are displayed is special. This hallowed room is designed with much reverence. Members plaques circle the walls, hung like musical notes upon a chord. If you played the notes you would hear the tune Will the Circle Be Unbroken, a beautiful Southern gospel song with special meaning to the members of the Grand Ole Opry.
With our visit concluded, Don and I went to Arnold’s for Linner. (Combination lunch and dinner.) Arnold’s Country Kitchen has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years. Popular with locals, country music stars and tourists, Arnold’s has been featured on the Food Networks Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Parade Magazine and Southern Living, to name a few. Several awards hang from the walls and it’s touted as the best Southern comfort food meat and three restaurant in Nashville.
Arnold’s is a tad seedy looking on the outside. The building is small making the eating area cramped and busy. You may share a table with strangers. When we arrived, the line was out the door. We took our place in it. Not to worry though, the line moved briskly. Arnold’s displays a board with each day of the weeks menu posted. Our choices for today’s main course, roast beef, chicken livers with rice, fried country steak or fried shrimp. You have your choice of sides, rolls or cornbread and dessert. Servings are ample, prices are cheap. The staff is friendly and hospitable, greeting many diners by their first names.
Don chose the country fried steak with mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and green beans. A slice of Chocolate Pepper pie for dessert completed his meal. I chose chicken livers, mac and cheese, pinto beans and fried green tomatoes with a slice of Arnold’s famous Chess Pie. Our food was delicious. The livers were moist and flavorful, the best I’ve ever had. The desserts, not so much. Don said his pie was a little too peppery for his liking and my pie, although it tasted good, I only ate a smidgen as the sweetness was more than I could take. After listening to diners around us, we wished we opted for the peach pie instead. We were full when we left.
Spent the remainder of the day relaxing and catching up with two of our daughters and our mothers by phone. A good day indeed.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid………………….