Southern Charm In Tennessee

Southern hospitality and downright charm are alive and well and living in Tennessee.

The lady who runs the downstairs bar at Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel, where we drop in for a glass of Kim Crawford Kiwi sauvignon, says, as we leave: “Thanks for stoppin’ by”, in a goose-pimplingly gorgeous Southern drawl. Eric, the concierge at the Nashville Doubletree Inn, and Chuck, the hotel’s bell captain and a part-time Elvis impersonator (he closely resembles the King), give us a farewell worthy of departing royalty. They have been kind far beyond the call of duty. Sonny Harben, proprietor of the Maplehurst Inn, Knoxville tells me: “If you can find a better deal in Knoxville I’ll give you a room for free.” It’s a lovely old house with English hunting prints on the walls. For dinner, Sonny recommends the Downtown Grill and Brewery, where they brew their beer on-site. The place does half a dozen ales. The one I like best is a finely crafted pale ale called Woodruff’s IPA, named after Captain Woodruff, who fought for the Confederacy, then became one of Knoxville’s most successful entrepreneurs. A guy with an almost impenetrable accent in the bar suggests we go to see the cock-fighting in Newport. “Newport, Rhode Island?” I ask incredulously, “Nah, Newport, Kentucky”, he replies. Apparently half a million dollars can be bet on the result of a Newport cockfight. Instead, next morning, we turn south and head for the Carolinas.

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