Music City Beyond Honky-Tonk

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Cowboy boots and honky-tonk, everything, everyone lit up on a Saturday night beneath neon signs, not a few in the shape of guitars.  All this is what’s made Nashville one of the hottest destination in the US.  But all this, is not what you’ll fall in love with.

This is Native Traveler in Music City. We came in search of the Nashville beyond the clichés. We wanted to unearth one big thing about this place that might change the way we saw everything. And I think we found it. Listen in.

(Feature: 2:05; NPR Producer, Jakob Lewis: 9:47; Creative Curator, Libby Callaway: 23:25)

Meet The Tuba Man of Nolansville Pike, Nashville. The magic of Nashville has always been its big eclectic community of creatives — most of whom will never make it onto billboards.  Image: Jakob Lewis, producer of the NPR podcast Neighbors in Nashville.

Meet The Tuba Man of Nolansville Pike, Nashville. The magic of Nashville has always been its big eclectic community of creatives — most of whom will never make it onto billboards. Image: Jakob Lewis, producer of the NPR podcast Neighbors in Nashville.

Connect to Jakob Lewis:

Web: and

Connect to Libby Callaway and Noelle:

Web: Web: insta:@libbycallaway1970/ insta:@the_callaway


Strolling “East Nasty”

By Liz Beatty

The 20-minute walk from my East Nashville Airbnb reveals that breathtaking change that every local tells you about.  Nearby my tidy craftsman cottage, a luxury SUV occupies a groomed driveway next door to a scruffy bungalow with a torn brown plaid couch on the porch. In one block on the main drag, a hipster haberdasher sells $200-plus fedoras next to a tattoo parlor, a pawnshop and the cherished breakfast haunt, Nashville Biscuit House. Inside, a waitress serves ‘southern meat and 3’ (one choice of meat and three sides) under five dollars to locals she knows by name. Their “East Nasty” has somehow morphed into the coolest part of town. 

Recent bursts of gentrification have spawned trendy eating spots like The Pharmacy, The Treehouse and just across the bridge to downtown, the reimagined industrial digs of Pinewood Social, complete with bowling alley and interactive letterpress art installation. There’s the Barista Parlor Café with original coffee packaging and portraits by 21st century letterpress printing master, Bryce McCloud. A playful genuine reverence for local roots inspires a striking concentration of vintage clothing, art and vinyl shops—imagine, the lore-filled United Record Pressing is just across town. Among the best, Fond Object Records, and Black Shag where I covet a fuzzy fuchsia ‘70s show outfit of rock and blues pioneer, Edgar Winter.  

Mostly, this quiet enclave east across the Cumberland River feels like the crash pad of Nashville creatives. Chill recording spaces like the Bomb Shelter thrive just beyond the orbit of Nashville’s hit-making studios. Venues like The Basement East and Family Wash showcase grassroots talent. Maybe best of all, the vibe here is cool, but in large swaths, unkempt, a neighborhood still figuring itself out. Take the Mas Tacos Por Favor on Mcferrin Ave—just a rustic step above the owner’s original old food truck, it draws a lineup of loyal locals at 3pm on a Monday.  “This fish taco is a work of art,” I mumble to the bar keep through a half-full mouth.  She grins and slides over my second margarita in a plastic cup.


Iceland Like Local


In a land defined by otherworldly, unpeopled spaces, and the isolation of islanders — it makes no sense to explore here en mass. In this episode, Native Traveler shows you the Iceland of Icelanders.

(Start: Feature; Interview with Mike Poppe of Trufflepig — 7:30; Interview with Wake Up Reykjavik — 20:00)

Memories of Otherworldly Southwest Iceland

Welcome to Cody

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A place like Cody, Wyoming and surrounding Yellowstone country feels like the beating heart of what people around the world once dreamed America to be.  Irrepressibly authentic, the bellybutton of a frontier that’s inspired a thousand spaghetti westerns.   It seems America is still its best self here, but for a lot of reasons that may be harder to pin down than one may first think.   Listen in...

(Feature—Welcome to Cody:  00:52;  all about Cody, Buffalo Bill and Cody Nite Rodeo 13:55)

Learn More About Cody and Yellowstone Country

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Learn More About Historic Yellowstone National Park Lodges and Experiences in the Park



Scenes of Cody and Yellowstone Country


Rodeo, Buffalo Bill and Japanese Americans in Cody, Wyoming


Vermont-based writer, Bart Beason, wrote this great overview of Cody and Yellowstone for Everett Potter.  Click here to read his story...

Taste of the Old West in Cody, Wyoming


My friend Sue Reddel, AKA has another great take on the Cody/Yellowstone experience!  Click here to read...

Native Traveler's Show on No-limits Travel for the Blind

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Today's show is all about exploring the world without limitation — specifically for those who are blind. It's about breaking down stereotypes and empowering people with knowledge, both the sighted and the sight-impaired.  It's also about celebrating those who are lighting the way for blind explorers everywhere — some through ground-breaking global advocacy and education, some by founding innovative travel companies and others simply by example, heading out on their first solo journey as a blind person.  Listen in.  

(Feature—The Year of the Rooster: 00:57;  Daniel Kish: 14:31;  Amar Latif: 33:28)


Feature Contributor Kerry Kijewski


Kerry Kijewski is a writer, blogger and traveler living in Woodstock, Ontario.  Kerry is also blind.  As our feature contributor in this show, Kerry shares her experience traveling to Mexico on her first solo trip.  Learn more about Kerry and her writing below.


      Daniel Kish — Founder and President of               World Access for the Blind

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Daniel Kish is a remarkable man and world traveler who happens to be blind. 

He is the lead founder and President of World Access for the Blind.  His organization empowers blind students and educators with a self-directed, no-limits approach along with expertise in perceptual development and positive psychology.  WAFTB promotes global public education on all that his organization teaches, as well as advocating for positive change in the connection between sighted and sight-impaired people around the world.  He has traveled solo to over 35 countries.  

Daniel holds Master’s degrees in both Developmental Psychology and Special Education, emphasizing perceptual development, family dynamics, and children at risk.

He also holds two national certifications in Orientation and Mobility, COMS and NOMC. Daniel is the first totally blind individual to obtain both certifications.

Daniel has been voted one of the top 10 speakers at TED2015 and PopTech’s ‘Talk of the Day’, and featured in over 150 major publications and broadcasts reaching over 2 billion people around the globe. He has served thousands of clients from Fortune 500 corporations to individuals.  

We're honoured Daniel took the time to join us on Native Traveler to talk about breaking down barriers to the transformative powers of travel for the blind.


Amar Latif — Founder of Traveleyes

Photo:  From the Traveleyes website.

Photo:  From the Traveleyes website.


Amar Latif founded Traveleyes in 2004 to make the world more accessible for blind and visually impaired travelers.  After loosing his sight as a teenager and becoming a successful adult who wanted to travel, Amar found limited options — few tour operators would accommodate a solo blind traveler.  Build it or do without was a guiding principle of Amar's approach to life.  He opted for the former.  

Today, Traveleyes brings together blind and sighted travelers from all over the world. Sighted travelers are asked to share their eyesight by describing the world around them to a blind partner and in return, the sighted traveler receives up to 50% off the travel experience. No experience with assisting the blind is necessary — all training is provided.  Blind travelers may book a holiday with freedom and independence, among a group of like-minded explorers.

Traveleyes offers over 60 wide-ranging travel experiences around the world.  Traveleyes won three 2017 British Travel Awards — Best Escorted Tours Holiday Company, Best Escorted Adventure Holiday Company and Best Singles Holiday Company.  

We're grateful to Amar for sharing his story and his inclusive vision of travel on our show.  


Native Traveler's Sicily show!

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Today's feature contributor, award-winning writer and food educator Renée Restivo, shares the story of reclaiming her Sicilian roots and reveals food as a window to myriad layers of Sicilian heritage.  Then, Chris Mark of slow-travel masters, Butterfield & Robinson, shares how to pedal and walk the best of Sicily's storied parched landscapes.  Listen in...

(Feature: Hunger for Sicily 00:49; Interview: Soul of Sicily's Renée Restivo 11:40; Interview: Butterfield &  Robinson's Chris Mark 32:25)


Award-winning writer, food entrepreneur, Renée Restivo on food, family roots and Sicilian culture


Renée Restivo is an award-winning writer, culinary educator, and founder and director of the Soul of Sicily culinary programs. She has over fifteen years of experience in culinary education in Italy. Renée got her start in New York, where she managed cooking classes and tested recipes for La Cucina Italiana magazine.

Her life in Italy began when she moved to Tuscany to work at cooking school and to become fluent in Italian before starting her own business. While living in Northern Italy, she traveled to Sicily whenever possible and continued her search for her roots through food. She fell in love with the island of her ancestors and worked in exclusive villas in Palermo and on vineyards in the middle of the island before beginning her own programs in the Southeastern Sicily.

Soul of Sicily programs are located in Noto, Sicily, a baroque town surrounded by ancient olive groves and known for its almonds, pastries and culinary traditions. As the late Marcella Hazan said of Renée's culinary programs in Noto, Sicily: “Noto alone is worth the flight to Sicily. What Renée has dreamed up is irresistible and should be as eye-opening as palate-awakening. No one who is able to go and loves food should miss it."


Chris Mark — Butterfield & Robinson's director of trip planning for Italy and central Europe talks biking and walking in Sicily

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After biking 10,000 km across Europe, then working his way up to the head of Butterfield & Robinson’s planning and operations department, Chris Mark is now the go-to resource for all aspects of B&R’s European operation, especially in Italy and central Europe. From route questions to restaurant recommendations, no one else can match the breadth or depth of his trip knowledge.  Chris kindly gives Native Traveler the benefit of his remarkable insight on the best of biking and walking in Sicily.

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Native Traveler's CUBA show!


The World's Leading Language Learning App is offering NT listeners a Buy Three Months, Get Three Months Free special offer. Click below and enter the coupon code "TheNativeTraveler".


“I recall the busy atmospheric streets. The snapshots of lives lived out in the open, and the unmistakable aromas: Tropical Papaya mixed with Tobacco leaf, petrol and musty carpets….” writes Lonely Planet author on Cuba, Brendan Sainsbury. His latest guide coming out in October is an evocative, info-packed read. Brendan spends some time talking with us. Writer Allison Yates transports us into the optimistic resilient heart of the Cuban people in her feature, "me resolvi." And chef Gabriel Gonzalez of Toronto's Mojito Cubano gives us an authentic taste of his homeland. Dig in.

(Allison Yates//me resolvi: 1:04; Brendan Sainsbury//Lonely Planet: 14:14; Mojito Cubano live: 31:04)


Allison Yates


Allison is a writer and traveler who has done everything from selling pumpkin donuts to working as a cleaner at a uranium mine to fund her life abroad. She's a Latin American enthusiast who loves Cumbia, coconut water, and the Spanish language.


Brendan Sainsbury // Lonely Planet Cuba Writer


Born and raised in the UK in a town that never merits a mention in any guidebook (Andover, Hampshire), Brendan spent the holidays of his youth caravanning in the English Lake District and didn’t leave Blighty until he was nineteen. Making up for lost time, he’s since squeezed 70 countries into a sometimes precarious existence as a writer and professional vagabond. His rocking chair memories will probably include staging a performance of ‘A Comedy of Errors’ at a school in war-torn Angola, running 150 miles across the Sahara Desert in the Marathon des Sables, and hitchhiking from Cape Town to Kilimanjaro with an early, dog-eared copy of LP’s Africa on a Shoestring. In the last eleven years, he has written over 40 books for Lonely Planet from Castro’s Cuba to the canyons of Peru. When not scribbling research notes, Brendan likes partaking in ridiculous ‘endurance’ races, strumming old Clash songs on the guitar, and experiencing the pain and occasional pleasures of following Southampton Football Club.

- (Bio from


Mojito Cubano


Mojito Cubano, located at 1510 Queen Street West in Toronto, is run by Cuban chef Gabriel Gonzalez. It's the real deal in authentic Cuban cuisine and casual warm atmosphere.

me resolvi

me resolvi

I open my eyes to a dim room and feel the all-too-familiar sting in my throat. I can’t swallow. My muscles tense as I shift in bed and I close my eyes, hoping I might be able to fall back asleep and will it away. I can’t.

Across the room, my window opens to the courtyard of this building in Old Havana, and I hear the neighborhood waking up.

I went out dancing last night, but it’s not a hangover that’s debilitated me. It’s probably tonsillitis. I ask my friend to tell the lady downstairs that I’m unwell and ask which hospital I should go to.

Turns out, the lady downstairs has a different idea, and it appears I am in her hands. Cubans have their own way of "resolving" problems and getting things done in a country so short on resources for so long. These are the surprises of everyday life post-Fidel-Castro that go on behind the vibrant Instagram shots. And I’ve come to know firsthand these unexpected ways from the moment I arrived just over two weeks ago.

Check out Native Traveler's full-length EASY RIDER show!


Special Offer From BABBEL for Native Traveler Listeners! 

The World's Leading Language Learning App is offering NT listeners a Buy Three Months, Get Three Months Free special offer. Click below and enter the coupon code "TheNativeTraveler".


The Road to Kalamazoo

Our senior producer Cara Ferguson proves that there's a little easy rider in all of us, and hitting the open road on two wheels may be easier than you think.  With getting there half the fun, you might also be surprised at the hidden gems you'll find along the way.  Hop on and listen in.


Mike Ball // Snow City Cycle Marine

Mike Ball from Snow City Cycle Marine gives expert technical advice on getting the right bike and the right gear ready for your next road trip. Those living outside the Toronto area can look to their local colleges and motorcycle shops for courses on motorcycle maintenance.

Mike Ball from Snow City Cycle Marine gives expert technical advice on getting the right bike and the right gear ready for your next road trip. Those living outside the Toronto area can look to their local colleges and motorcycle shops for courses on motorcycle maintenance.

It all began in 1971 in a 450 square foot garage owned and operated by George and Vira. Today Snow City Cycle Marine is the largest Powersports Dealer in the G.T.A. operating out of 12,500 square foot building on Kennedy Road in Scarborough. They successfully sell and service Yamaha, BRP, Kawasaki, and Suzuki product.

Heritage Guitar Inc.

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Kalamazoo’s history with the guitar dates back to the late 1800’s when a man by the name of Orville Gibson arrived in town and began designing his own innovative mandolins. By the early 1900’s, his company was also producing guitars and other stringed instruments and, throughout most of the next century, the Gibson Guitar Corporation grew to become the world’s premier guitar manufacturer. From 1917, that growth occurred at the historic 225 Parsons Street location, until 1984 when the company left Kalamazoo for good, closing the doors on the iconic factory.
Not long after, a few former senior employees had decided they wanted to continue the tradition of handcrafting beautiful, high quality electric guitars in Kalamazoo. By the spring of 1985, those individuals had acquired space at the former factory, purchased a lot of the old guitar-making equipment, and were ready to roll.
The first guitar Heritage introduced was the H-140 solid body single cutaway electric guitar, which premiered at the 1985 NAMM show in New Orleans. Over the years, Heritage has built a small array of various instruments, including banjos, mandolins, flat tops, and basses. However, with the demand for the guitars increasing, the company decided to focus exclusively on making the world’s greatest hollow, semi-hollow, and solid body electric guitars.

Renée Newman // Discover Kalamazoo

Cara and Geoff found Kalamazoo is more than a great name.  Located in Southwest Michigan, about two hours from Chicago, Kalamazoo is one of those mid-sized urban gems, with an vital, eclectic downtown, but never far from lakes and outdoor recreation, homey festivals, and more.
Kalamazoo claims to have a big city mindset with a small town heart. Cara and Geoff agree.

Cara & Geoff Hit the Road


Geoff and Cara's tips on where to stay

After a long day on a bike, Geoff and Cara insist on comfort — all the necessities, a king suite, upscale linens and comforters, a jetted tub, an in-suite kitchen is a nice touch.  They said they also look for a heated indoor pool, a spa and onsite dining options (in case they're too tired to hit the town)

In Kalamazoo, the Radisson Plaza Hotel delivered on all, and Cara and Geoff were able to explore much of the city on foot from their downtown location.

Loews Chicago Hotel was equally impressive and (much to Cara's delight) had a Starbucks in the lobby. Located on the famed Magnificent Mile, it's close to big attractions like Millennium Park and the John Hancock Center.

The Ambassador Hotel's vintage marble floors, stylized polished nickel sconces, bronze elevator doors, and ornate plasterwork deliver one into authentic 1920’s grandeur, but with 21st century comforts.  Geoff and Cara gushed about this one.

269 Cool Things to Do in Area Code 269™

Want to know where to make your own wine, visit an alligator sanctuary, catch an independent film made by teenagers, or get the best, juiciest burger? 

269 Cool Things to Do in Area Code 269™ is a compilation of submissions from Kalamazoo residents and visitors as they share their favorite gems in (269)™

Since 2010, 269 Cool Things to Do in Area Code 269™ has been a yearly, curated bucket list of places to go, restaurants to try, and things to do for residents and visitors alike.