Growing up I had never had much of a fascination with travelling the US. I had always thought it would be too much like home and I’d prefer to go somewhere different and exciting. Growing older, I’ve changed a little and have enjoyed my time in the States so far. That being said I was probably looking forward to heading down south the most. I wanted to explore where things are a little different. Ez has spent plenty of time in the States, travelling throughout but hadn’t done a lot of the south. So, with that in mind we locked in the next part of our trip Nashville and Memphis (Tennessee), Jackson Mississippi (yep just like the song) and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Firstly, we touched down in the land of the delta blues in the middle of the pouring rain. We didn’t really, I just always wanted to say that. However, we did touch down in the home of Keith and Nicole and were greeted at Nashville airport by some live music, a sign of things to come in this city.
The girls were excited as in Nashville we would be staying with an old uni (college) friend of Ez’s, Chiara and her family. Her family included a 3-year-old called Ariana who the girls couldn’t wait to meet. No really, Piper would wake in the morning and exclaim I’m so excited to meet Ariana I can’t go back to sleep! Piper does get excited at the opening of an envelope so this was no surprise.
We had such a fun few days in Nashville with highlights including:
- The world’s best kid’s library…yes we still do some weird stuff like that. This place was the bomb. Rhyme time, climbing walls, castles, more books than a hipster garage sale.
- Visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame. Full of displays from Country music’s finest. We probably knew about ¼ of the artists! But there were some seriously good outfits and hairstyles in there.
- Visiting a real Halloween pumpkin patch and farm. Piper has gone into Halloween overdrive and is possibly more excited that Christmas especially after she got to carve a pumpkin. The pumpkin patch was at a farm full of corn mazes, animals, tractor rides and awesome southern accents. I walked around with straw in my mouth and an imaginary shotgun.
- Taking in the honky tonk bars along world famous Broadway in the District. An awesome place with live music of two kinds blasting out anytime of the day. They had both country and western.
- The girls have become real life super heroes (see photo). They have a new favourite show – PJ Masks. I spend most of my days singing the song now. They then argue over which one they want to be before going out to save the world. It’s cool and makes a welcome change from Anna, Elsa, Ariel, Rapunzel and their slutty friends.
It was a fantastic time with the 3 girls getting along like lifelong friends and we were treated to some great hospitality all round. Hopefully we can return the favour in Oz one day.
We were sad to leave but on our next stop we touched down in the land of the delta blues (yes this time we did) as we drove to Memphis. Things were getting a little more southern here. Everywhere we would go we’d be greeted with a ‘how y’all doing?’. Yes, y’all was the most common turn of phrase. I have been practicing getting it into my vocabulary. Ez says I’m struggling. Once again she is wrong. There was definitely a ‘projects’ side to Memphis with some poor areas (think of the movie The Blind Side which was set here). Just nearby was where we stayed, in the ultra-hip Cooper, which seemed very un-American! What did we do in Memphis?
- Ate some real good southern food – BBQ (slow cooked ribs and meat), collard greens, grits, catfish, southern fried chicken. I think I’ve used the excuse ‘we’ve got to try the local food’ in every place we have visited…except maybe when then local food was kale and broccoli.
- Cruised along Beale st, the Blues capital of Memphis and watched people go blank faced when we spoke to them as they struggled to understand our accent. They were super friendly though y’all (Ez, was that right?) Ez: Umm. No.
- Visited a pretty cool kids park (yes, that again), where Piper made plenty of new friends again. She is still pretty good at making friends. If you were an adult someone may take out an AVO on you for stalking but a cute 5-year-old can get away with much more.
- We also had a rainy day (I think we have only had about 5 this whole year…and 3 of them would have been in the UK!) so we took the girls to the movies. We like to try and do plenty of ‘normal’ stuff along the way. Looking back, I probably think ‘Girl on The Train’ may not have been the best choice for Evie. I wish….we saw Storks.
- Graceland, Graceland, Memphis Tennessee. We’re going to Graceland. Yes, we checked out where the King Elvis Presley lived. We saw a pretty little thing waiting for the King, down in the jungle room. We loved his cars, enjoyed seeing his digs and got the girls into his music. It was well worth the visit.
We then travelled further south, through the swamp lands and Jackson Mississippi down to New Orleans. A funny moment in Jackson, we turned on the TV and the movie ‘The Help’ was playing on repeat. It was set in Jackson so it gave an interesting insight into days gone by. That night at the hotel I didn’t eat the pie.
New Orleans is another unique city (I can only imagine…or dream what this place would be like at Mardi Gras time). It was our last city in The South and quite different from anything else. NOLA as us locals call it is a fusion of American/Spanish/French/afro American cultures. What did we get up to here?
- Ate some seriously good food. Jambalaya, Gumbo, Po Boys, Catfish, not to mention Beignets (French donuts!) were some Nola favourites. Also, we had one of the better meals of the trip at an Israeli restaurant in the suburbs, yep go figure.
- Tackled the French quarter with gusto. Well not quite how we would have tackled it in our twenties. We took a horse and cart around the quarter getting a history lesson by a NOLA local, Charmaine the mule. We strolled Bourbon St (we left the kids out of that one) to see where the action was. The action was everywhere. There is a pretty big convention centre in NOLA so a lot of groups were out on the town. I might try to make it back for a ‘work conference’ one day. Might need to find some work first!
- Rode around on the street cars. Old school with the locals.
- We stopped at a stunning plantation on the way down and learnt about the history of slaves in the area. Sipping Mint Juleps on the lawn felt a little extravagant after seeing the slave quarters. Hard to believe this once happened, the slavery not the mint juleps.
- Hit up the local kids museum. We’ve been to a couple of these places. Firstly I’m sure there is more disease in these places than a pro chicken pox convention. However, the kids love them – kids cafe, science experiments, giant bubble machines. You name it, our girls threw saliva all over it.
- Purchased some NOLA Mardi Gras beads to decorate the hotel room, car, garden…. Evie.
While Evie doesn’t quite cry like she once did she’s had a good one lately.
While visiting Graceland, she saw a gold boot trophy Elvis was awarded. She asked what he got that for and Ez replied for being a good singer. Evie let out a “But I’m a good singer and I didn’t get one of those!”
That ends our time in the “South”. Next stop is Miami, The Bahamas and Orlando where the adventure continues.