Visit Nashville With Your Dog – Pet Friendly Options

The family dog is a loyal and lovable companion, and by far considered much more a part of the unit than simply a pet. Therefore, it’s natural to want to include your canine friends when you plan vacations, it’s just a matter of knowing where to go and what you can do to ensure everybody-two-footed or four-is happy. Nashville, as a very pet friendly city, offers travelers several choices in activities and accommodations. When you plan a trip of the Southern United States, you won’t have to worry about the dog at all!

Pet Friendly Hotels

As you search Music City for room reservations, you’ll be pleased to know how many have good pet policies in place. You will want to consult the major chains in the area first, like Comfort Inn and La Quinta, but make sure you contact the exact hotel in advance. Most pet-friendly hotels do have restrictions on the pet’s size or weight, and may charge an additional fee per night. Amenities like dog beds and food are less likely, however, so be sure to pack everything your pup needs.

Things to Do with Your Dog

Can a dog have fun in Nashville? You bet! Especially if you are the outdoorsy type, there are plenty of opportunities for recreation.

Local Dog Parks: Nashville is home to three free dog parks, all of which open around 8 AM and close around 8 PM or dusk. Shelby Dog Park (S. 20th Street), Centennial Dog Park (222 25th North Ave.) and Warner Dog Park (50 Vaughn Road) offer wide open spaces for running and play, and time for socialization with local dogs.

Hiking: Want to get back to nature? The Nashville area features many multi-use trails, but the Shelby Bottoms Greenway is best known as an ideal destination for bringing dogs out for some fresh air. Shelby Bottoms is part of the state’s Rails to Trails program, and a great natural attraction for any outdoors enthusiast.

The Dog Store: In Music City, dogs have their own special place to browse and “paws.” The Dog Store is a lovely boutique catering to canines and their companions, with cool gifts to purchase and bring home.

Dog owners interested in Nashville can rest assured their pets won’t feel left out on the trip. Pack a bag for your four-footed friend!

Want to Know More About Greece or Camel-Treking? Read What Travel Author Mike Gerrard Has To Say

Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have our guest, author and travel writer, Mike Gerrard.

Mike is an expert on Greece, which he has visited every year for almost thirty years.
Mike also has written about vineyards in Greece and New Zealand, brewery tours in Belgium and Britain, as well as restaurants in Paris.

Good day Mike and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview.

Norm:

Mike, could you tell us a little about yourself and why you have pursued the career as a travel writer and author?

Mike:

I never planned to be a travel writer, but I think that applies to most of the travel writers I know. I did always want to be a writer, and I sold some general articles to newspapers and magazines, all written in my spare time. Then I took the risk and went full-time freelance, and began to specialise in home computers, writing for papers and magazines. I met one or two travel writers and, like everyone, was curious about it as it sounded an enviable life. But they put me off by telling me how competitive and poorly paid it was. It turns out they were right, and it meant I didn’t try doing any travel writing.

Well, not until one time when I had a holiday on the Greek island of Rhodes. I had a good time, and thought of an angle for a piece, wrote it on spec, sent it to a newspaper, and they bought it. I then sent them something whenever I went anywhere on holiday, and the travel editor bought them. I asked her how I could get into doing all these free trips we all hear about, so she told me to send her some ideas of things I’d like to do, and why, which I did and she commissioned one of them. I thought this was all pretty good, as anyone would, and I worked hard at selling my stuff and at becoming a full-time travel writer, which I managed to do.

If you love travel and you love writing, what could be better? It is competitive and it isn’t well paid, but here I am, about twenty years on, still doing it. I guess there’s just no cure for wanderlust.

Norm:

As you are an expert on Greece, and as our readers are always interested in romantic destinations, could you tell us in your opinion five of the most unique romantic destinations in Greece, and why do you feel they are romantic?

Mike:

There are romantic places all over Greece. It depends what turns you on.

· Somewhere remote like the Prespa Lakes up near the Albanian border are incredibly beautiful and peaceful, so if you like nature and quiet then you’ll find a stroll around there very romantic indeed.

· I like quiet places, where there’s a taverna by the water’s edge serving fresh fish, simply grilled, and wine from the barrel. There’s a little place called Kato Zakros on the east coast of Crete that’s nothing more than half a dozen buildings and a beach – and it’s wonderful.

· I think Nafplion is one of the most beautiful towns in Greece. It’s on the Peloponnese and was the Greek capital before Athens. One time when I was doing a guidebook to the Greek mainland, I drove about 5000 miles but managed to finish the trip a few days ahead of schedule. There was an amazing feeling of freedom. I had a car and knew I could go almost anywhere within a few hundred miles of Athens airport, and relax. So where did I want to go? I chose Nafplion, and loved every minute.

· One of the best experiences in Greece, that is totally romantic, is taking the evening ferry from Rhodes to the island of Symi, and sailing into Symi harbour in the dark. It’s a little horseshoe-shaped harbour, which you don’t see until you turn into it, and suddenly there’s this beautiful sight with all the buildings lining the harbour lit up. It’s magical.

· And you can’t ignore Athens. It’s one of the world’s great cities. I love it, although I know lots of people find it too busy and noisy. It’s got great character, though. Anywhere with a view of the Acropolis lit up at night – you can’t beat that for romance.

Norm:

I read on your website that you went camel-trekking in the Sinai Desert.
Could you give our readers a brief description of your experience?

Mike:

I’ve actually been twice and they were two of the very best experiences I’ve had travelling. I love deserts – in fact I’ve just bought a house in Arizona, partly because of the desert landscape. The scenery constantly changes. You ride the camels during the day, and your body and brain slow down to this gently rocking pace. It’s great if you’re busy or stressed out. It’s perfectly quiet, and you feel at one with the landscape – except of course you’d be dead meat if it wasn’t for your Bedouin guides! You might stop for tea if you meet some nomads, or visit caves or gorges or see rock carvings.

At night the Bedu find a good campsite, light a campfire, cook a meal, and then you crawl into your sleeping bag and look up at the stars in a world that’s totally black apart from the dying embers of the fire. Next day you break camp, and I remember one time turning round on the camel to see where we’d stayed, and there wasn’t a single sign that we had ever been there. Another day our guide suggested we all walk out into the desert, find a shady spot, and sit there for an hour and think. Those kind of experiences do have a profound effect on you.

Norm:

What is a vineyard tour and what can people expect from one?

Mike:

To be honest, after a while those tours of vineyards and breweries and sherry bodegas and whisky distilleries all start to get a bit samey. They explain the process to you, take you out to see the vines, and give you a taste of the end product. It’s the people and their enthusiasm for wine, or whatever, that I enjoy. And the different end results, of course! But places with some real history behind them, like the sherry bodegas in Jerez in Spain – they are quite something. If you’ve never been taken round a vineyard then it’s fascinating. But it is quite amazing what man’s ingenuity can do, producing all these wonderful tastes – and I mean things like cheese and butter as well as the bewildering variety of drinks that are produced.

Norm:

You mention on your site, that you invented the Time for Food series for Thomas Cook. What is this all about?

Mike:

I was in Venice one time trying to find a restaurant, juggling a guidebook and a map, and then a food dictionary when I found it and wanted to check the menu. I suddenly thought to myself – why isn’t there one book, aimed at people who like their food and drink, that will fit in your pocket and have recommendations of where to eat, maps to show you exactly where they are, a food glossary to explain those foreign terms, a list of good food shops, and markets, and a few features on local produce.

There was no such book, so I went home, drew up a plan as to what it should be like, sent it off to Thomas Cook who I was doing some work for at the time, and they bought the idea from me, did about 18 titles, and I got to do Venice, Paris and Amsterdam, three of my favourite cities. I had it written into the contract that I got first refusal on the titles, but given that they wanted them all at the same time, I didn’t get to do as many as I’d have liked – but that’s publishing.

Norm:

You indicated to me that you’re travelling “more and more in the USA, combining work trips with visits to friends and relatives. Recent trips have been to Mississippi, Memphis, Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, Denver and Alabama. I love the States – and it’s always interesting because you think you know it from books and movies, but it’s constantly surprising you.” What surprises you about the USA and how does it differ from travel elsewhere?

Mike:

Well, I think the surprise is because you assume the USA is similar to Britain, which in many ways it is, yet it is so different too. If you go to the Sinai desert, or Jamaica, or China, you expect things to be totally different, and they are. You still have preconceptions. I thought China would be full of people in Chairman Mao suits and very regimented, and it wasn’t like that at all. I realised how little we knew about the country.

Just as an aside, after I spent a few weeks there and came back, I noticed in newspapers and magazines that articles about China would be illustrated by completely out-of-date photographs, which reinforced the preconceptions I had about the country, but in no way represented the country I’d seen. In the photos everyone was wearing Chairman Mao suits, but I travelled there for three weeks and didn’t see a single one.

If you come from Britain you think you know the USA from books and films and music, and you feel at home there because you speak the language (more or less) and can book a motel or rent a car or chat to people without any problems, but then you find the landscape is so much more amazing than it’s possible to imagine, the size of the place is so huge, the people so hospitable and not everyone voted for George Bush! You do tend to assume that, whatever the country, everyone is the same.

And we talk of ‘America’ in such a general way, yet the country is so vast and encompasses everything from the remote wildernesses of Alaska to the Louisiana swamps, from New York to Nebraska, from New England to Arizona. It’s more like a planet than a country. I suppose the difference is that you go to somewhere like China and you know you’re a long way from home and don’t speak the language. In the USA you think you speak the language and think you know what it’s like – so it’s more of a jolt when you discover you don’t.

What’s funny is that I did a fantastic trip to the USA a few years ago, driving round from Memphis to Nashville down through Mississippi and on to New Orleans, and then back again, and I loved every minute of it (except for driving the wrong way up a one-way street in downtown Nashville) and I thought: I really must come spend more time in the States. A year or so later I met someone and fell in love with them, and we’re now married… and she’s American, living in England. And we’ve now bought a house in Arizona. And I’m discovering even more how little I know about the USA!

Thanks Mike and I wish you well in all of your future endeavours.

Discover Themed Vacations – A Great Way to Spend Your Time Off

Below are some great ideas on how to spend your vacation. If you are tired of doing the same old thing or visiting the same old place, then let us brainstorm some ideas with you to ensure your trip is wonderful.

Maybe you have some extra money this time and want to try something different? Let’s take a journey and discover some great theme vacations…

Some people have a passion they want to pursue, like cooking or mountain biking and they would like to learn more about it or share their passion with others. By creating a theme vacation that immerses the vacationer in a topic, place or activity, the tour companies and hospitality industries have wisely tapped a previously unexplored vein of income.

Let’s assume that your trip is planned with travel experts and tour guides. Whether your passion is Egyptology, music, golf, or architecture, or whether you are one of those people who just wants to sit on the best beaches and perhaps do a little snorkeling, a “theme” vacation will give you plenty of exposure to the things you love the most.

You may get a really cheap deal on a Nile trip with an inexperienced tour company. Weigh the value and safety of the trip. Choose a company that has negotiated the best access to historical sites and one that will provide adequate security and lodging. Go with a company that is a bit more expensive, so that your trip isn’t a nightmare.

A good theme vacation can cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500 (and sometimes, even as much as $5,500 for exotic or hard-to-reach destinations or dangerous locales that require assistance and security or trained guides), depending on the length of stay and the distance you must travel to get there and participate in the activities. So be prepared to spend some money!

Look at the itinerary and decide if you are up to the challenge. If you are going to mountain bike in China, and you have only just started your mountain biking exercise and conditioning, you may not yet be ready for such an intense journey. If you fall behind or have problems, you may lose your dream trip and your money.

Visit Hawaii, do some sight-seeing and attend the NFL pro bowl, or any one of many other experiences. Attend the Rose Bowl, and get grandstand seats to watch the Rose Bowl Parade. If you want to play football, you can play in the historic Los Angeles Coliseum or play in the Disney Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, FL.

You can even play baseball in other countries, sightsee and enjoy the local cuisine and activities and live out your baseball dream all at the same time. Join a tour and visit Panama, Japan Costa Rica, Australia, China, Prague, the Dominican Republic, Mexico City, Greece, Israel and even Paris, all while playing baseball and loving every minute of your journey.

A multi-million dollar industry of resorts, vacations and experiences that immerse you in the golf experience, teach you how to play a better game and provide beautiful surroundings in which to play and sightsee. How about playing in Ireland on Royal Portrush, Tralee, Ballybunion, or Portmarnock? You can even take a golf CRUISE, playing in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Mexico, or Hawaii.

Take a bike tour of Georgia or North Carolina and bike through wine country. Or bike the New England coastline and back roads. How about a cross country trip in British Columbia, or a Rocky Mountain ride including Mount Seven. Sharpen or develop skills with a novice or women’s biking vacation and camp. Travel the Inca Trail in Peru from Andahuaylos to Cusco.

Hunt Axis Deer in Florida, take an exotic hunting trip to Namibia’s Kalahari Desert to see and hunt more than 20 species, and do some shark fishing on the same trip. Hunt pronghorns in New Mexico, or moose or brown bear in Alaska or fly-in for caribou and black bear trips starting at Lake Hood and going to Alaska’s Lake Clark.

Go on a yoga retreat in the Colorado Rockies, with plenty of outdoor contemplation and meditation time. Travel to Mexico to San Blas for a yoga retreat or immerse yourself in yoga under the jungle canopy in Belize. You can find yoga retreats in Mayan Tulum, Costa Rica and closer to home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the United States.

Get started on a weight loss program or to get in better shape, by visiting a weight loss spa and hike in the beautiful hills of Vermont, or take a luxury weight loss break in France, or Hilton Head and learn how to change your lifestyle, eat better and exercise, all while vacationing in a beautiful environment.

History themed cruises allow you to hear speakers, historians and authors talk about places and events as you visit the sites. Take a history cruise off the coast of Massachusetts, or a Black History cruise, or cruise on the Potomac or take an Alaskan Natural History Tour, or join a Gold Rush Tour in Australia, Alaska, Canada or California.

Take an archeology tour in Albania, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Peru or Italy, or through the Aegean or Mesopotamia. You can head to China or Tibet or take an archeological cruise along the Carian Coast. Go to the Himalayas, Europe, Sub-Sahara, Asia or Central America and learn from the scholars who lecture and lead expeditions to study in the area.

If you are an antique collector or want to learn about antiques, you can take a German antiquing tour accompanied by a professional, or perhaps you’d prefer Prague or the Czech countryside. Take the Heart of Europe antiques tour of Dresden, Bohemia and Saxony, among other locations, or a guided tour of Great Britain’s best antique locations.

Whether you are looking for a family vacation, a romantic beach getaway with a beachfront rental or a beach vacation with adventure and activities, you will have no trouble finding the perfect fit. You can choose a resort, a cruise that stops in several ports or plop on a beach near a rented beachfront home and read your favorite novel.

Visit the quaint, historic town of Saratoga Springs, NY and enjoy horseracing on an old track, or attend the Triple Crown races. You can even stay in a chateau and watch horseracing in Chantilly, France. Watch the greyhounds race in Texas or Florida, and Australia. Pursue your dog racing passion and see the sights around the Walthamstow dog-racing stadium in London.

‘Mancations’ are the rage, with more options than ever for you to “get away with the boys”. RVing, backpacking, fishing, hunting; even guy’s movie vacations. Women’s vacations are not what they used to be. There are plenty of genteel tours in Savannah and Charleston, and Grecian tours, but just as many exciting vacations to Burma and downhill ski trips in Montana.

For Singles (straight, gay or lesbian), there are New Year’s Western cruises, Jewish cruises and Caribbean cruises, and the singles cruise scene is very active. You can take an exciting or more exotic singles trip to Thailand, Turkey or Cambodia, or even go to a Dude Ranch, and there are plenty of singles adventure vacations, as well.

Great travel ideas for seniors or baby boomers abound. Some are guided and some allow you to wander free and explore on your own and some are adventurous! Rent a vacation apartment in Europe, head to Sydney, Australia or ride the rails! Maybe you’d like to study Spanish abroad or visit Egypt or Asia in a small group, with personalized attention.

There are plenty of musical vacations to get your heart humming. You can take an escorted music tour in Paris or cruise on the Danube with the Vienna Boys’ Choir. You can visit Branson or Nashville’s Grand Ole’ Opry. You can take a jazz or Broadway music cruise or attend a two-week jazz school in France, or sing in the Berkshires.

If you love movies, you can visit Universal Studios in Orlando or California, or Warner Brothers Studios, or take a tour of a move studio in California. You can also live your fantasies by following the path of your favorite movies: Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and any one of many other locales where movies were filmed.

Take a vacation that brings your passion for books to life. Have you read the DaVinci Code? Take a tour that will take you to the places mentioned in the book. Take a Harry Potter tour or a Pride and Prejudice Tour, or any one of a number of other book-based tours, or take a cruise with lectures and rub elbows with authors.

Take a driving or biking wine tour, visit Spain or Portugal and sample the wine while seeing the sights. Travel the Shawangunk Wine Trail in New York, take a tour of the Burgundy and Northern Rhone regions in France or sample Chilean wine or visit Napa Valley or Virginia Wine Country. You can even take a women’s wine vacation with your friends.

Learn to cook in Australia, France, Spain, Thailand or another exotic locale. Perhaps your tastes run more toward sampling the fare, rather than cooking it yourself. Take a cuisine cruise, or visit Sicily, Tuscany, Asia, Vietnam, Vienna, India or Spain to indulge. Take an historical train ride through Canada and British Columbia and enjoy only the best cuisine.

Take a marine eco- vacation in Canada or help rescue seals, a marine biology vacation in the Philippines, or participate in a Labrador whale study. Visit the Kennedy Space Center, or NASA museum in Washington, D.C. or spend your vacation in a space camp. Take the Galapagos volcano tour, study the African continent or visit the rainforest canopy in Costa Rica.

Take out trip insurance if it is available so you can preserve your investment by going later or if you have to cancel the trip altogether. Health emergencies, travel snags or instability in a particular country may cause problems with any and all vacations but the cost of a theme vacation can be steep so insurance is even more important on these trips.

Whether you want to use a ‘plan your own vacation’ company to help you with travel and location plans or you are the ‘do it yourself’ type who wants to do the research and plan your own trip step-by-step on your own, there are many options for planning your vacation. We have provided links to help you make your plans.

There’s no place like Broadway, except the West End in London! You can vacation on a cruise ship that will treat you to Broadway shows while you relax and enjoy the ocean view, or take in the local Shakespeare festival in Nashville. You can even take a tour backstage at the world-famous Radio City Music Hall. Everyone loves the theater!

Are you a fan of classical or modern painting, or sculpture? You can visit art museums, churches and other locations to study and appreciate the artists who created these masterpieces. Art cruises allow you to listen to art experts and see the best art up close and personal. Perhaps you’d like to learn to paint or sculpt in Prague?

There you have it! Loads of information and ideas to have a vacation like no other.
We hope you enjoy your trip and come back with lots of great stories!!!!