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Nashville

36°9' 46" N 86°46' 54" W Nashville

Dec 11, 2014  –  by Maeva

As you can see from the huge gap on the map between New Orleans and Nashville, this was a bit of a drive. And I am quite proud to say that I contributed to the driving! After a night stop in a random city by the highway, we arrived in what they call the Music City, in the famous state of Tennessee. A road trip does come with a few complications unfortunately and we had to stop at a garage because of a weird noise and signal the car was making. After booking a spot for the next day, we headed straight to one of the typical music night bars of the city: the Listening Room Cafe. For a first taste of the city, it was more than ideal. The room combined food, drinks and a stage with extremely talented singers for the entire night! The concept of writer’s night in Nashville brings together passionate musicians to showcase their own songs in front of new audiences. We understood why so many aspiring performers move to this city to make it in music: they get to practice and show their songs in so many potential spots! In that one night, we first saw three young musicians taking turns in songs with their guitar. We then saw a really talented singer called Sabrina. Alone on stage with her guitar, she absolutely rocked it! Then two brothers who apparently were on The Voice US season 5 put on a show. And last but not least, the band Amber’s Drive simply killed it, bringing the entire room to life! They sounded like a new version of the O’Brother soundtrack. We quickly came to the conclusion that Nashville is pretty much the equivalent of New Orleans but the country version (with cowboy hats please.) So as you can imagine, the night was lots of fun and we even had our first valet parking – how very fancy.

The Listening Room Cafe
The Listening Room Cafe
Amber's Drive performing at the Listening Room Cafe
Amber’s Drive performing at the Listening Room Cafe
Maeva and the band Amber's Drive
Maeva and the band Amber’s Drive

The next day, well, was not as fun. It started with getting the car fixed, which not only lasted a really long time but cost an arm and a leg! When it was done, I was getting sick but we decided to go for a walk around town. We went to Broadway, where most of the bars and barbecues are lined up for people to enjoy some tasty meats and live music. What really impressed us in those streets is the fact that every single bar has a live music schedule from 10am to 2am, 365 days a year! Whenever we would enter one, there would be a band or singer on stage. How incredible is it to have a city where you can be certain to find live music any time, any day? Lots of these honky tonk bars are where some celebrity country singers started their career, like the Legends Corner, Tootsies Orchid Lounge, The Stage on Broadway.

Statue in Nashville
Statue in Nashville

We then headed towards the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which according to our guides was the thing to do in Nashville. After taking a look at the Walk of Fame, where we realized we knew nothing about country music, we started the visit in the museum. I suppose it is a fun museum when you have certain knowledge about country singers like Kenny Rogers and others (whose names I’ve already forgotten) – but we pretty much only knew Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift (no comment.) So the visit was not that fun for us in all honesty but we did really enjoy creeping at the stars’s cars – everything was not lost! My stomach was getting worse and worse which probably didn’t help – picture a zombie wandering through the exhibitions. Afterwards, Steph was starving so he picked Jack’s barbecue to pile up a couple of ribs and steaks.

Elvis Presley on the Walk of Fame
Elvis Presley on the Walk of Fame
The Walk of Fame in Nashville
The Walk of Fame in Nashville
Webb Pierce's car with guns from the back
Webb Pierce’s car with guns from the back
Webb Pierce's car with guns
Webb Pierce’s car with guns
Webb Pierce's car with guns front
Webb Pierce’s car with guns front
Will the circle be unbroken
Will the circle be unbroken
Will the circle be unbroken ceiling
Will the circle be unbroken ceiling

As Steph realized that I was really not feeling good, he kindly let us stay in a hostel for the night – a night in the car on a parking lot was maybe not the best idea! So he found one quickly and I was in bed at 6pm. Obviously, he wasn’t going to do the same! So he went and made some friends in the living room and they all went out to a bar downtown. When he came back at God knows what time, the smell of beer made it clear how much fun he’d had! He then explained he had gone to a Karaoke bar with a Swiss couple, an English girl and a Nashville cowboy where beers were $1! That ought to do it. We left Nashville the next day, I was still half a zombie so Steph drove and told me travel stories he learned from the night before with the hostel crew.

Hostel buddies at the Karaoke Bar
Hostel buddies at the Karaoke Bar 
Nashville Hostel
Nashville Hostel
Nashville Hostel patio
Nashville Hostel patio

What happens in Vegas…

36°10' 12" N 115°8' 23" W Las Vegas

Nov 16, 2014  –  by Maeva

Arriving in Las Vegas after spending the entire day in the desert of Death Valley is quite the contrast. You reach a hill and all of sudden a million lights appear in the horizon – especially at night! Obviously, campgrounds of Las Vegas would only accept actual RV’s, not our home made van house. So we found a very cheap hostel north of Las Vegas Boulevard called Sin City – how fitting. Being night time, we had to jump into fancier clothes and head to the casino! We walked to the Stratosphere, the closest casino. After watching tourists jumping from the top of the tower in a harness, Steph decided it wasn’t appealing enough for him: “it’s too slow! I want to bungee jump!” So we went for a walk around the casino but we were not convinced by the atmosphere and the interior decor.

We walked to the Circus Circus to find a fun setting to spend our very first gambling money! We started at the electronic Black Jack to actually learn how to play. $1 bids and a virtual dealer lady on a big screen- what will it be in 50 years? Being in front of a computer wasn’t ideal so we joined a roulette table! Now this game is pure luck, but it’s quite fun when there is a good crowd. We spent $100 in total, the amount we had authorized ourselves for the night. Once we had lost everything, the people around the table being lots of fun, we added another $20 and ended up winning $100 back! Not bad for some good times in the casino for 3 hours and free drinks – and STRONG ones for that matter (they sure know how to keep people gambling.)

Las Vegas sign
Las Vegas sign
Maeva drinking coffee at the hostel in Las Vegas
Maeva drinking coffee at the hostel in Las Vegas

The following day, we woke up with waffles for breakfast at the hostel, a great place to meet people from around the world on their own little adventure and chat about travel experiences. In the afternoon, we drove to a ghost town – which we will talk about in the next post. As soon as night fell, we were back in Las Vegas to visit the more famous part of the Strip, where the Ocean’s Eleven famous casinos are situated. We parked at the Bellagio to watch the renowned fountain light show in front of the hotel. Splashes of water dancing in synchrony to Elton John’s “My Song” is definitely must-see! We then visited the inside of the Bellagio, the Caesar Palace, the Paris, the New York New York, etc. It wasn’t exactly the same vibe as the night before. In the Bellagio’s of the world it’s fancy outfit, fancy gambling. Bids are made with $100 chips as opposed to the night before’s ridiculous $1 chips.
Being a Friday night, we got to experience the craziness of the street, the rushing of limos around us and girls wearing “bachelorette party” outfits. We explored the many floors of the M&M’s store and ended up designing our own “U.S. by us” blue, red and white M&M’s.

We knew we had to finish the night beautifully and we decided to do so with the one and only New York New York roller coaster. Well it was indeed f***ing insane!!! One of the coolest we’ve done with steep accelerations and squeaky noises that will freak you out. All of that outside with flashes of lights from the casinos and stores of the street.

Paris casino in Las Vegas
Paris casino in Las Vegas
The Bellagio and Caesar Palace
The Bellagio and Caesar Palace
Fountain light show at the Bellagio
Fountain light show at the Bellagio
Fountain light show at the Bellagio 2
Fountain light show at the Bellagio 2
Art piece in the Caesar Palace
Art piece in the Caesar Palace
Inside the Caesar Palace
Inside the Caesar Palace
Outside the New York New York
Outside the New York New York
M&M's store
M&M’s store
Excalibur and the Statue of Liberty
Excalibur and the Statue of Liberty