Thursday, December 7, 2017

Athens of the South

Today we visited The Parthenon! The Parthenon in Centennial Park, is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. It was designed by Confederate veteran William Crawford Smith and built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. It now serves as an art museum with a permanent collection of 63 paintings painted by 19th-20th century American artists, and several galleries for temporary shows and exhibits.

Nashville's moniker, the "Athens of the South", influenced the choice of the building as the centerpiece of the 1897 Centennial Exposition. A number of buildings at the Exposition were based on ancient originals, however the Parthenon was the only one that was an exact reproduction. It was also the only one that was preserved by the city.

In 1990, a replica of the lost statue of Athena Parthenos was built inside the Parthenon. Nashville's Athena stands 41 ft 10 in tall, making her the largest piece of indoor sculpture in the Western World.It stood in Nashville's Parthenon as a plain, white statue for twelve years. In 2002, Parthenon volunteers gilded Athena under the supervision of master gilder Lou Reed. The gilding project took less than four months and makes the modern statue appear that much more like the way that Phidias' Athena Parthenos would have appeared during its time. While the replica appears opulent, concessions were made: The original was coated in over 2,400 pounds of gold leaf, whereas Nashville’s version boasts just eight pounds.

The design of this statue comes completely from descriptions of the original, since the original statue was completely destroyed. 

Here is one such description:

"Athena was portrayed as a warrior resting after successful combat. A figure of winged victory alighted on the palm of her outstretched right hand, while her left hand supported a round shield. A spear rested against her left shoulder. The goddess was draped in the simplest form of tunic, the peplos, her shoulders and chest hung with the aegis, the snake fringed, fish-sealed poncho that had been the gift of her father Zeus and had protective powers" 

This statue of the goddess Nike, stands 6 foot 4 inches but looks miniscule in the hands of the giant Athena.

There are plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles which are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 BC. The surviving originals are housed in the British Museum in London and at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

Next up was lunch on the General Jackson. I love being on a boat of any kind, so even though we took a very similar lunch cruise on the Gen. Jackson just a few months before, I was still excited to go again.

Since I had throughly photographed our experience the first time we sailed on the General Jackson, I didn't take as many photos this time, CLICK HERE to see those photos.

You always get amazing views of the Nashville's unique skyline at one certain point of the cruise.

After lunch and our relaxing afternoon on the General Jackson, we headed back to our hotel for a little rest before dinner.

We headed back to the Opryland Hotel to dine at Jack Daniels for some southern classics and lots of BBQ. The atriums are stunning at night!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Opryland & Cheekwood

After our stay at The Greenbrier, we flew from West Virginia to Nashville, Tennessee to meet up with our tour. We arrived in the city a day early, so we had some time to do a few things on our own. Last time we were in Nashville, we stayed in the heart of downtown and covered all the country music landmarks, this time we stayed right next to the Grand Ole Opry and the Opryland Hotel. The Opryland Hotel had been on my Nashville to do list so I was so excited to finally get to see it! 

We began our day with getting breakfast at Cascades, located in one of the three large atriums. It was like being on a tropical get away! It was more beautiful than I had even imagined it would be, and the rooms of the hotel open up right into these tropical oases.

We were given a perfect table, right next to the water.

I was excited to see a breakfast version of shrimp and grits on the menu, it was buttery, southern food heaven.

After breakfast, we spent some time exploring more of the hotel, and strolling through the other two atriums.

This is the Garden Conservatory

The Delta is the largest of the atriums, and it might be my favorite. I loved this restaurant modeled after a southern plantation, with it's patio of leather, tufted arm chairs.

In keeping with the garden theme, after our time at the Opryland Hotel, we drove a little ways out of the city to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. These gardens are one of Nashville's most visited cultural attraction. The building below is a well known art museum that is part of the Cheekwood estate, sadly it was closed during our visit.

We happen to hit the gardens right as all their spring flowers were ending but before any of the summer flowers started blooming, so I feel like I will need to go back one day to truly see these gardens at their finest.

We did love the vast green fields and gardens, Tennessee is so lush.

I have never seen bamboo in it's early stage of the growing process, I was fascinate by all these brand new baby bamboo shoots.

Japanese gardens never disappoint 

After exploring the Cheekwood Gardens, we headed back to the Opryland Hotel to get dinner. There are so many restaurants in the hotel to choose from, it was hard choosing just one, but in the end we that we would try Ravello, an Italian Restaurant in the Garden Conservatory.

We were seated at a beautiful table with gorgeous views of the atrium.

Our meal was absolutely outstanding, starting with the complimentary bread and marinara dipping sauce, I would of been fine having just that for my entire meal.

We got crispy risotto for the table as a starter, and it was delicious.

I got chicken piccata as my main course and it was lovely, it was much more fresh and light than most American-Italian meals, I throughly enjoyed it.

After dinner we headed next door to the Grand Ole Opry!
I didn't take as many pictures as the last time I was there, CLICK HERE to see 
photos from that visit, it was the Opry's 91st birthday weekend.

Tonight's headliner was Parmalee, a country band made up of two brothers, their cousin, and best friend. I am not super familiar with their music, but I knew a song or two.

The night ended with Chris Janson, I had seen him when he opened for Tim McGraw at the MGM Grand, so I was looking forward to his performance. He is super silly and knows how to get the crowd pumped up, he always puts on a fun show. Chris has played at the Opry more than 150 times, which I'm pretty sure is some kind of record.