There comes a point in our lives right after college where you no longer live near any of your best friends, unless you’re lucky. I’ve hit that point. Every single one of my best friends live in a different city than I do. Some just a few hours away and others are 10+ hours away, depending on if you want to fly, drive, bike, or walk. It’s rough. It’s not fair. It’s something life never truly prepares you for until it happens.
My college roommates are some of my very best friends. We’re typically known as the 207 girls (or girl band depending on who you ask). I share my favorite memories with these three girls and the bond we have together is something so, so special. Two members of the band, Amy and Dayna, now live in Birmingham, Alabama — I KNOW, small world right?! Seriously, it blows my mind every time I think about how they both ended up there. Our third member, Amelia, lives over in Madison, Wisconsin, (she’s working hard for the greater good in politics and doing a job I could literally never do) and then I’m here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, just waiting for the day the girl band can be back together again.
Then, a glorious group texts arrives from Amy asking if we would want to go see Niall Horan (yes, from One Direction — internal fangirling!) in Nashville, 7 months from now. Uh, no questions asked, yes I will be there. From there, our friendcation officially moves forward into the planning process. Plane tickets are being booked, hotel for Nashville is being sorted, and Amy and Dayna are stuffing their faces to find the best restaurants to take Amelia and I to in Birmingham. I haven’t looked forward to something as much as this trip in forever.
Fast forward — it’s now July 19th, I’m anxiously awaiting the next morning to get on my plane to see my best friends. Amelia flew in the night before I flew in, so of course the FOMO was real (don’t worry, they literally refused to “have fun” without me). However, 3 a.m. arrived much faster than I expected and I quickly got ready, zipped up my bag, and went to the airport.
Now I won’t go into the knitty-gritty details of my amazing flight to Birmingham, Alabama, but just know, American Airlines is the worst and the maintenance issues on their planes are unreal and what could have been an easy 4 hour trip turned into a good 11 hour travel day. Thanks, AA.
BUT THEN WE WERE ALL TOGETHER. Hugs ensued, petting faces occurred, and uncontrollable laughter was inevitable. I was with my best friends again, in a city I was unfamiliar with, yet felt at peace.
The first full day was relatively chill. We grabbed dinner at the Little Donkey, went to two breweries, then went back to Amy’s apartment to have a relaxing evening with each other since I was delusional from exhaustion.
The following morning we decided to go on a hike in the gorgeous Birmingham humidity. I was sweating from just standing there, so that was exciting. We took Dayna’s sweet pup Sammy and her roommates dog Sandy (I know, they sound really similar when you say it out loud — go ahead, try it out — see? Yeah I ended up saying Sandra instead). It was a beautiful hike with the best of friends!
Afterwards we grabbed brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe and then went off to the Birmingham Zoo to see where Dayna works. This is where one of the greatest surprises of all time happened… WE GOT TO HANG OUT AND FEED GRAPES TO RED PANDAS. Sorry, but nothing else that happened on this trip mattered and this is the end of the blog post. Just kidding, but this was a major highlight and it’s okay if you’re jealous, I would be too. (Also, this is where we discovered our new band name — The Social Animals)
To end the night we ate dinner at Taco Mama, played Forbidden Island (which we never actually won), and got ice cream from Amy’s favorite place because of the color changing spoons, but come to find the ice cream is actually from Madison, Wisconsin — aw, a little taste of home for Amy!
It was now Sunday morning and it was time to go to Nashville! We grabbed donuts in the morning, packed our bags, hit up Whataburger for lunch (seriously, send me 1200 packets of the spicy ketchup, thanks), then we were well on our way to the second half of our epic friendcation! We arrived in Nashville around 4 p.m. and we were ready to explore. Our hotel was close to Broadway St. so that’s where we spent majority of our time. We walked along the bridge and decided to hang out at the one and only, Honky Tonk Central. This is where we consumed many Yeehaw’s and continued on to hit Rock Bottom, where we ate french fries and drank some more — the necessities for a successful friendcation.
It was mural hunting day AND concert day! We explored all around the city of Nashville just to find some of their most famous murals. It was hilarious and fun and so exciting to see so many people looking for the creativity someone decided to give to the city. We also stumbled upon Colt’s, one of the oldest chocolate places in Nashville, and other little shops along the way. We also made a trip over to the Nashville capital where we saw amazing court rooms, bullet holes, and one of the best views of Nashville.
After finding all of the murals we were interested in, we decided to go back to the hotel to start getting ready for dinner and the concert. We went to Acme to get drinks and dinner, but no one was really hungry, so I ordered a massive falafel sandwich we all picked at until we were ready to go.
Finally, it was time to see Niall Horan, LIVE in concert with my best friends. We got an amazing lawn spot at Ascend Amphitheater, where we not only could see the stage perfectly, but we could see the famous people who came to watch the show as well. While I didn’t know who Dan and Shay were or I couldn’t name a Thomas Rhett hit if you asked, they were there and it was very exciting. Niall, of course, was endearing and wonderful, and it was so nice to see him showing off how talented he is. It was an amazing concert.
Afterwards we were just going to hang out at the hotel and drink wine, but then Amy wanted pizza and somehow we stayed out until 5 am on Broadway Street, where we of course, rounded out our trip at Honky Tonk Central.
I went on a cleanse walk on my own on Tuesday morning and just revisited some of my favorite views of Nashville before we had to go to the airport to get home. Once I got back we made our way over to see the Bluebird Cafe (anyone else big fans of the TV show Nashville?). Then it was unfortunately time to head back to the airport and officially end what came to be one of the best, most worthwhile friendcation’s I could have ever asked for.
Oh and my flight was delayed.
I think it is so important to make time for the ones who really matter to you. I felt relaxed, rejuvenated, and exhausted all in one when I came home from this trip. I felt the happiest I had felt in months and I was already craving more time with the three people who know me best.
The truest friends are the ones who make you feel at home in any city.
P.S. shout out to my dad for dropping me off and picking me up at the airport when I was crankier than scrooge on Christmas morning.