Urban Brother and Urban Niece hit town Thursday night. You might remember Thursday as the day we had snow showers in mid-November. They’ve come this way this time of year before and sometimes it has been cold, but this seemed a bit more harsh than what we normally see in mid-November. I didn’t take a ton of photographs, so you’ll notice some of these have been through before.
Our usual visits consist of guided walking tours around the city looking at what has changed since the last time they visited. Walking didn’t seem very appealing, so what to do? Well, we walked a bit and motored about a bit, but found plenty to do out of the elements. And really there were many things we could have done that we’ll save for next time that would have worked just as well like the Museum of Art, East Tennessee History Center and art galleries.
Thursday night when they arrived I was in the zoning meeting regarding the Baptist Hospital, so they stopped into my brother’s favorite shop downtown for a first of a couple of visits for the weekend. Coldstream Market is entering its second year as downtown Knoxville’s first second-floor retail, located on Market Square. He picked up several fun things there.
Later we had dinner at one of our favorite cold-weather spots: Cafe Four. I have a hard time ordering anything besides their lobster and bacon flat bread. I shouldn’t have ordered anything given the fact that I ate earlier, but there it was and there I was, so what could I do? After a cozy meal and a cupcake-to-go we scurried home. We did a lot of scurrying.
Friday was our main day, so we started about the crack of nine and walked to the French Market. This was a specific request as a repeat from a previous visit. It’s hard to go wrong with crepes and good coffee on a cold day. Susan brought them a bonus chocolate croissant which was very sweet (the gesture as well as the confection).
Next, we took the car and made the decision to hit some of the fringes of downtown we don’t normally walk to so we could do so from the warmth of the car. They enjoy antiques, so we stopped in for a fun time at Nostalgia on McCalla and I told them about the new development springing up in that direction. We stopped by the little node of coolness that is Saw Works Brewing Company, Mark Nelson and Knoxville Opera.
The next stop, the Southern Railway Station with the Blue Slip Winery, Railroad Museum and beautiful buildings seemed certain to please, and it did. I asked for a tour which isn’t necessarily included for the asking, but the young man working very willingly showed us some of the cooler parts of the building. Urban brother appreciated the fact that not only was the fellow working at the winery, but he helped with the renovation and so was knowledgeable of the building and had pride in the restoration.
We rode through Fourth and Gill and Old North enjoying the homes and the leaves which, incredibly have hung around. As early as the cold weather has arrived, the leaves seemed to have turned at least a couple of weeks later than normal. It made for pretty driving as we traveled through the neighborhoods.
The next stop was Architectural Antics which is probably his new favorite place in the city. We collected a few more items there before driving through and around Happy Holler and back past the (potential) home of Bar Marley. While in the area we drove past Old Gray Cemetery, which may seem like an odd highlight, but the beautiful bed of fallen leaves made us all catch our breath, so I stepped out of the car for a couple of photographs.
Back in the city, I happily introduced them to Yassin’s Falafel House in the mid-afternoon. Urban Niece had never had a Mexician Coke, so we talked real and fake sugar while eating the amazing falafels. After grabbing some coffee to carry with us, we walked to Market Square for more shopping. The temperature hovered around forty, which was about as good as it got. Of course we stopped back into Coldstream Market, but also Earth to Old City, Bliss and Fizz.
Urban Niece wanted to hear music and, given that she is under-age, that couldn’t be in a bar, so we decided to eat a late-night dinner at the Bistro at the Bijou and enjoy the jazz, which starts at 9:00 PM. The food was delicious and the jazz provided by Bethany Hankins and a friend set a perfect tone. I think the food at the Bistro at the Bijou is near the top of that available downtown and it’s as cozy a spot for a cold-night meal as any in the city. The half-mile walk home? Not so pleasant. But worth it.
Saturday was lower key, mostly devoted to the various college teams represented in the family. Some of us ended the football day happier than others. We did take time out to walk around the Market Square Farmers’ Market after the temperature rose a bit and pick up a few needed food items. Urban Brother had to hit Tree and Vine before leaving town. Urban Girl had joined us by then and enjoyed a story by Miss Anna at Union Avenue Books.
So, a weather-challenged weekend in the city didn’t seem so bad, at all. Knoxville showed up pretty well, I think. The pleasure of sharing all the new developments and pleasures of the city never leaves me.