Published: May 24th 2008May 22nd 2008
Wednesday 21st May
It has been a fantastic day, starting with a tour of Graceland. All the rooms are wonderful but it feels like a real, well loved home, we see the room where Elvis played the piano on the morning of his death, the whole place is beautifully kept, as you would expect. We are not allowed to go upstairs, this was always kept private and remains so but his parents bedroom is downstairs and we see that. No-one is allowed to use flash photography so some of the photos are not as sharp as they ought to be. It really is a very special place, with lots of atmosphere. We finish the tour at the memorial garden where Elvis is buried alongside his much loved parents and his paternal grandmother who also lived at Graceland.
Next on the itinerary is downtown Memphis, it is very hot. We walk along Beale Street and go and eat at a bar, they do ribs, beans and 'slaw the only choice is either large or small. It is all very good. We board the Memphis Queen for a trip down the Mississippi, it is packed with all nationalities and ages, the
The white sofa in the living room is 15foot long
tour guide knows his stuff and we learn a lot of local Memphis history.
We have a cup of tea at the Peabody hotel which is the best and most famous hotel in Memphis, it is a huge place with a very strange custom which started out as a joke. They have a lovely fountain in the elegant lounge, where we had our tea. In the water are five ducks and every morning at 11am they come down in the elevator, along a red carpet and into the water where they stay all day much to the amusement of the guests. At 5pm a commissioner in a red coat unrolls the red carpet and places the steps at the edge of the fountain. He explains to the crowd who have left their drinks and assembled around the fountain that this ritual has been going on for more than 50 years and he invites the children to sit along the edge of the carpet. The ducks jump out of the water, walk all round the fountain, down the steps, along the red carpet and into the elevator to their accommodation on the roof. Only in America...
We have a
The TV room decorated navy blue & yellow
good look around downtown Memphis and wander back to Beale street. A lot of famous musicians started out here playing live music, people just turn up and play, it's like a non-stop party. Hundreds of motor bikes add to the mood and outside every bar and restaurant there is someone trying to entice you in; they always start with "how y'all doin today". We have a drink in an open air bar and listen to music for a while. There have been more songs written about Memphis than any other place on earth and it's not hard to realise why. We now understand all the lyrics of the song "Walking in Memphis"; "walking with my feet ten feet off of the Beale.."
is about Beale Street and "down in the jungle room..."
refers to the jungle room at Graceland. Memphis is an amazing place, we love it and if you get the chance go and see for yourself. Thursday 22nd May
Head for Nashville, State Capital of Tennessee, about 230miles from Memphis. It is a very hot day again we make a stop for ice creams at Casey Jones village, which is an historic home and railroad
The Trophy Room
museum together with some unusual shops and a restaurant. Next stop Loretta Lynn's Country Kitchen store which we see on the map, it has an interesting selection of music and souvenirs. Check into a Hampton Inn for 3 nights it is about 10 miles outside downtown Nashville. The manager is very helpful and he highlights points of interest for us on a couple of maps. We have a rest and a swim and then drive towards downtown, everywhere looks wonderful but the roads are very busy and we end up returning to a restaurant close to the hotel. We have an excellent meal at "O'Charleys", which is new to us. George has jambalaya which is a local southern dish of meat and fish cooked in cajun spices, he said it was delicious. Friday 23rd May
After a great breakfast we head downtown, fortunately there are plenty of car parks. Our first stop is at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where we spend most of the morning. We start on the third floor with the birth of country music in the days before radio and then go down to the second floor, 1950s to the present date.
Elvis played this piano on the morning of his death
There is a large exhibit about the Hank Williams family saga. Music is archived here and there is a lot of memorabilia, listening booths and also computers where you can 'interview' country songwriters.
Back out on the streets of Nashville in the humid heat we walk down Broadway, there is a small crowd taking photos and we see Keith Urban, (country singer and husband of Nicole Kidman). Do a bit of shopping, it's nice to go into the shops just to get out of the heat, then we go to lunch at the Wild Horse Saloon, Richard Marx is getting ready to play there tonight. There is music in all the bars and restaurants in Nashville but not quite as much on the street as in Memphis.
We are planning to go to The Grand Ole Opry House tomorrow.
There are more photos below