On my first trip to the USA, I didn't think I'd be visiting the southern states of the USA, but this trip far exceeded all my expectations and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone! The Taste and Sounds of the South tour is a perfect balance of music, history and food.
To start off our trip we flew into Nashville, the capital of the US state Tennessee, and the city of "Country Music". We were met at the airport by our Tour Director who was from Alabama (loved the accent), he had cowboy boots and a real cowboy hat which I thought was a nice touch. The rest of the afternoon was at leisure until we met up for our welcome reception later that evening. After getting to know everyone, most of us went down to Broadway Street to try the moonshine at a Honky Tonk Bar called Legends. Every bar in Nashville offers live music with all their musicians only paid by the tips they receive!
Official sightseeing started the next morning and our first stop was the Country Music Hall of Fame. The museum is huge with lots of memorabilia of country music legends. Trafalgar even arrange for you to meet a member of Johnny Cash’s family - I was lucky enough to meet his granddaughter Chelsea Crowell. She gave us a private performance and told us stories about her family.
My highlights in Nashville were meeting Chelsea; visiting the RCA Studio B where Elvis Presley recorded most of his hits; and our first night out experiencing Broadway St. I would definitely recommend checking it out on your free night in Nashville.
Next stop, we hit the highway to Memphis, the home of the Blues. I loved Memphis - so much history. We visited the Civil Rights Museum, learnt all about the American history and saw where Martin Luther King was assassinated. Our day trip to Graceland to learn about the King was also a highlight. You get to walk through his mansion and to see all the cars he owned too. This is a self-guided tour which I think worked well, as you can go at your own pace.
In Memphis you have a free night to experience the local restaurants, your Trafalgar Tour Director will give you some cash to cover your meal - tip, try the Dry Rub Ribs.
The longest travelling day is from Memphis to Natchez, but don’t worry as it's broken up with a few stops along the way. When you do arrive at Natchez, I suggest you don’t fill up on lunch, as tonight you have a "Be My Guest Experience". In a true southern style, tonight’s dinner is cooked by Esther a former Four Season Chef and once named one of the Top 20 female chefs in America. I enjoyed the best steak I've ever had.!Don’t worry Esther caters to special meal requests too - it's important to let us know if you have any dietary requirements if you decide to book this trip.
On the way to New Orleans, our last city of the tour, we stopped at the beautiful Oak Alley Plantation. It's likely you'll have seen this place in movies, it is stunning. The oak trees are over 300 years old and the staff are all dressed in their period costumes. It is a must to walk half way up the path and capture the famous iconic shot for yourself!
New Orleans is in the state of Louisiana and is nicknamed the ‘Big Easy’. Known for its nightlife, Jazz and it's food, this city lives up to it's name! On our first night in New Orleans we went to the New Orleans Cooking School in the heart of the French Quarter. I absolutely loved this night - the food was delicious we had Gumbo, Jambalaya, Pralines and the best Bread Pudding I've ever had.
The next morning we enjoyed a city tour - our hilarious tour guide kept us entertained as he drove us around the city explaining the history and how the city bounced back after hurricane Katrina.
Highlights for me in New Orleans were the food (best of the whole trip), our night out in Bourbon St was interesting too- I'd recommend a leisurely stroll to soak in the atmosphere. Finally our trip out to the swamps - we visited during their hibernation season, but we were lucky enough to see two alligators.
I have many fond memories of this trip and would love to do it all again. The perfect trip if you love music, food and history.