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Old 10 Sep 17, 05:37 PM  
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Join Date: Oct 11
Touring Tennessee: Day 1 Toronto - Nashville - Shelbyville

Day 1

We slept okayish but were awake early. Fortunately, we were getting an early shuttle to the airport, so it wasn't a problem. While we were getting ready, we watched an advert for the Gotham non-stick pan and were all completely sold on it by the end. We joked about buying one and taking it home. Would we do it? Stay tuned to find out.

The hotel had coffee and buns so we grabbed a quick bite and then got on the shuttle, which took about 10 minutes to the airport. Once there, it was time to tag the bags again and then send them off. Westjet had the smoothest online check in and bag drop service that we've ever used - hurrah for budget airlines!

I had read that immigration could take ages at Toronto, so we arrived at just before 7.00 am for our 9.30 flight. Immigration took all of about 10 minutes, so the family did mock me slightly for my pre-planning, but better that than missing the flight by being in a queue! Also, the immigration officer was lovely, praising Evan for his super light packing and teasing him about his Denver Broncos shirt. I guess they are a lot happier when the queues are smaller.

Once through, we found a cafe for breakfast, getting there just in time to get a table before the main rush. Evan had breakfast poutine which was eggs and sausage with potatoes and gravy and he definitely won at breakfast. Paul had to send his back as it was stone cold - not sure that serving food on a cold metal tray is the best idea when you want it to be hot - but they were very apologetic about it.

We had a stroll around the airport, partly to pass the time and partly to keep up my step count (I was doing the Virgin Pulse Global Challenge as part of a team at work and you have to enter your steps daily). It was far more chilled than the day before and we quite enjoyed it. Then we sat by our gate to await boarding.

We were travelling on a propeller plane to Nashville and could see it through the window.

The plane itself was pretty small but comfortable and the staff were lovely. The toilet was compact and bijou - not for the claustrophic - but it was only a 2 and half hour flight and before we knew it, we were landing in Nashville.

Bags appeared quickly and as we had landed as domestic passengers, we were straight out. Nashville is a really nice airport, and it was cool to hear country music and see pictures of the Opry stars on the walls. Paul spotted an advert for Martin guitars and decided to leave us in no doubt of the ideal present for him . . .

Picking up the car was a pain. The lady at the Budget desk was very pleasant but she did add on a load of extra insurance without asking us. It's a good thing I was on the ball and stopped Paul from signing until she had taken it back off again. I wonder how many tired and disorientated passengers end up with bills they weren't expecting? She also told us that we had booked a small SUV, despite our paperwork stating that it was an intermediate. We refused a pricey upgrade and headed to the garage to find we had been given a Jeep Wrangler that we couldn't fit the cases into.

We spotted a Nissan Rogue nearby and went to the garage desk to ask about it. This agent agreed that the car we had been given was far too small and that the Rogue was much more suitable, so we swapped. Honestly, you really need your wits about you with car hire.

Before long, we were on the road, with our trusty sat nav guiding us to the nearest Walmart to stock up on drinks and snacks. Unfortunately it was also the dodgiest Walmart we've ever been to and the cameras set up by the police in the car park did nothing to make us feel any safer.

We got round Walmart as quick as we could, noting that the marvellous Gotham pans were available and vowing to get one later on in the trip. Once out of Walmart, we were getting hungry, so looked for a quick option.

We had previously tried Sonic in Texas, but they had struggled so much to understand Paul that they had to send a server out to take our order! At the Nasvhille Sonic, we were hot and didn't want to sit in the car, so Paul suggested we park up and then go in to order.

Alas, you cannot go in at all. We had no idea you could order from the tables, so decided that the only way we could order was to walk over to a parking spot and use the voice system. So there we were, standing in a parking spot, taking it in turns to bend down to the microphone and try to order food. We must have looked ridiculous and the staff must have thought we were completely nuts! Someone has probably photographed and memed us by now - "Idiots order on foot at drive-in".

Anyway, despite the palaver of ordering, they did manage to bring us some food and it was then that a momentous thing happened. You may remember that Hannah is vegetarian? Well, the only thing she could order was a grilled cheese sandwich and it was such a miserable experience, that she told us she was going to eat fish from now on.

There was rejoicing and everyone breathed a sigh of relief that eating was going to be so much easier for everyone from now on. Hurrah!

Still reeling from the news, we got back into the car and headed south, on our way to Shelbyville, in the centre of what is know as Tennessee Walking Horse country.

We enjoyed seeing the city give way to countryside, wondering if any of the ranches we saw were owned by country music stars. Tennessee is very green and a real contrast to the desert areas we had spent time in last year.

It wasn't a long drive to the Econolodge and we got a warm welcome. It was an odd hotel though, and nothing worked first time - not the wifi, not the lights, not the TV, not the shower and not the door! It all worked eventually, apart from the wifi, but it was annoying.

Unfortunately, it did start raining and although we drove to the main square to have a look, it was too wet to walk around. So we headed back to the hotel and to Legends steakhouse which was next door. And pretty much the only place in town!

We had a great meal and the meat eaters thoroughly enjoyed their steaks. The new fish eater had some lovely fish tacos and we all enjoyed the evening. The rain stopped and we sat on the porch for a moment when we walked back to the hotel.

We were conscious that it was Game of Thrones night but had assumed that the Econolodge wasn't going to have HBO. However, it did and we made sure we were back in time for the dragons and deaths that make up an episode of Thrones.
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