Today was a full day of sightseeing and the first glimpse into the NCRA Convention 2013. In the morning after a quick breakfast at the Conservatory Cafe, Cynthia and I took the complimentary hotel shuttle to Opry Mills Mall which was located next to the Grand Ole Opry. We wanted to get some sightseeing in before the steno events and opening ceremonies began later in the day.
First off, some photos to show the gorgeous Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center where we stayed:
The Grand Ole Opry is a famous music hall and stage of country music and a definite must-visit when you are in Nashville. Walking through the mall to get to the Opry house, I was really amused by the fact that the security guards in the mall rode on Segways. So silly lol. I was really amused by this.
The mall had a carousel in it!
There was a mini train for children to ride on in the mall and I saw two “mall cops” talking to each other on their Segways. Haha, the sheer ridiculousness of it…
We opted to get a backstage tour of the Opry House. We first watched a short clip about the history of the house, toured around the backstage of the famous country music theatre by the very informative and enthusiastic tour guide, walked through the artists’ entrance, saw all the artists who have a plaque on the wall of fame, and even walked on the actual stage. It was a really cool experience to know that many stars like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Carrie Underwood (whom I’ve seen in concert) have stepped through and performed on that very stage. The gift shop offered some creative souvenirs.
The semi-private walkway that artists will walk through to get in:
Country Music Hall of Fame:
Peeking into the various dressing rooms:
Living room where you can see the floodline of the water where the entire hall was flooded to in May 2010. We could see the water stains from the flood on the painting too:
Standing on the Grand Ole Opry stage! Someone in the tour group suggested to sing a song since we were standing on the stage… they ended up singing the U.S. national anthem… Cynthia and I were both like… -_-
The circle of wood where the microphone is is actually the wood from the original theatre. They’ve managed to maintain it so that every star who performs on the stage is essentially standing on the original stage floors:
For lunch, we ate at the Opry Backstage Grill which seemed to serve authentic Southern food. The whole restaurant was decorated very fittingly in guitars and there was a spot for a band to play live music as well. We were both really full from the generous portions of food. Cynthia had the Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken and I had the Trace Atkins’ Just Fishin’ Fried Catfish. Each dish came with two sides (cheesy broccoli x2, mac and cheese, and sweet corn) and we shared a little bit of everything to try it out. I loved the mac and cheese!
As the restaurant was right across the street from the resort, we walked back just in time to watch the Guinness World Record Attempt of 6 stenographers try to break the record of 400 wpm. Mark Kislinbury currently holds the current World Record at 360 wpm. Of the six competitors, Stan Sakai and Mark Kislinbury were competing. It was really exciting to be in the same room as these amazing stenowriters and there were also a lot of people in the room excited and waiting to see what would happen as well. We were told to be quiet as the tests began. Everybody could hear the audio being played as they started the first leg at 400 wpm before gradually slowing down to 370 wpm. The atmosphere was intense…! Unfortunately, no one was able to break the record this time around. The best score ended up being Mark’s at 370 wpm with an accuracy rate of 94.045%. Although a world record was not made this time, that result is still out of this world. It was also neat to listen to the high speeds. It sounded super fast and robotic. I was super impressed and in awe of those who even attempted the tests.
Towards the end of the record attempt, Cynthia spotted a fellow Canadian court reporter, Nancy Lowrey, in the audience and we walked over to say hi to her. It was such a nice surprise to see her there and she was also surprised to see us as well. 🙂
Walking around the resort, we manged to see a quick performance of the water fountain show. I love how the resort is like a mini tourist attraction itself — there are tropical trees all over the property, there is a mall, there is a zoo, there are waterfalls beside many of the walkways, and there is even a river boat cruise inside the resort itself!
Just look at this beauty:
A short clip of the fountain show:
We attended the Opening Reception which was held in the Expo Hall. This was such a good idea since the food stations were dispersed all around the Expo Hall and everyone could walk around to grab food and also look at the different vendors. Last year, the Opening Reception was held in a single room and it was hard to really walk around and meet people. I loved the open space of it and I also loved the variety of Southern food that they served us! Mmm… 🙂 ..Different types of mac and cheese, skewers, ice cream and apple pie, a self-serve “Tennessee Nacho Station”, and more. I was in heaven.
I also met Ksenija! We had been chatting a little bit in the steno groups on Facebook and I had mentioned to her how it would be easy to find me at the Convention since I would be one of the very few Asian females there. I was right since she was able to spot me out very quickly in the midst of everyone in the Expo Hall. 🙂
The rest of the night was spent checking out the rest of the resort and also tuning into the night show of the water fountain. This time, it was dazzling in lots of pretty colours and set to dramatic music as well. It was definitely a highlight to the end of a great day. 🙂
A picture of the astonishing water fountain show at night:
A video to show its brief magnificence:
Browsing around the resort’s gift shop: