US road trip

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North America » United States » Tennessee » Memphis
August 5th 2011
Published: August 28th 2011
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1: Street dancers in Memphis 16 secs

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DAYS 24-25-26


Once in Memphis, the first thing I did was to go and visit Graceland, the house where Elvis Presley lived for a big part of his life. It is a massive complex, very commercialised with lots of shops and different exhibitions some of them not very interesting. However, the house tour is well worth the visit. The house itself is amazing due to the way in which Elvis decided to decorate the different rooms. His play room, his kitchen, his living room etc they are all still the same way they were when Elvis died. You can only visit the ground floor and not the upstairs which is a bit disappointing really. Some of the rooms in the house host exhibits with Elvis’ dresses and all his gold, silver and platinum records are also on display. One of the nicest things is the enchanted garden where Elvis, his brother and his fathers are buried.

All in all, I had a good time in Graceland and is one of this must do things that everybody who likes Elvis, who doesn’t, should do sometime, although I am not a big fan of these celebrities houses pilgrimages.

After visiting Graceland, which is about 10 miles out of town and went to the hotel and checked in. In Memphis I stayed at the Garden Inn by the Marriott and it was ok. The room was on the small side but the location was right in downtown, the street car has a stop just by the door and you can walk to Beale street in about 7 minutes.
So I got to my room, unpacked, had a shower and a bit of a lay down and at about 8ish made my way to Beale Street. I’ve had heard so many good things about Beale st and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I thought it would be bigger!! If you compare it to Austin’s 6th st or NOLA’s Bourbon st, Beale is a bit of a let-down.

Saying that, the music was good. Most of the bars though have a cover charge which was also quite annoying. I like checking the place, seeing how many people are there and listening to the band before making my mind up and it’s also nice hoping on and off from one bar to another as you can do in Austin and New Orleans. Anyway, I got myself a big ass beer and walked up and down Beale street a few times. I watched a band that was playing outside and then I went to one of the bars right at the beginning of Beale st called Blues House.

I spoke to the bouncer there for a while, a guy called Torres and we spoke about all sorts of things, life in Memphis, racism, music etc. He told me that the band playing at the bar was quite good and he let me go in for free so I went in and spent a really good time because the band, was indeed very good. The lead singer was amazing and multitalented as he was playing the guitar with amazing solos, singing and playing the trumpet. After an hour or so the band did a break and I went to talk to Torres again.

He recommended a place to listen to real blues, just about 10 minutes of Beale st and so I went. Cover charge was $12 but it was fantastic. The music was absolutely amazing and I was the only whitey in the whole place. Drinks weren’t cheap either at $7 a bottle but I truly enjoyed myself. When the place shut at 1 I decided to go home but I made the mistake of going by Beale st, the only way I knew though, and the bar next to the Blue house had a long queue so I decided to check it out for 5 minutes. Well, it was good and I ended up staying until 5 in the morning. So yet another long night for me and a big hangover the morning after.

The day after I woke up at about noon and went to the National Civil Rights museum at the Lorraine Motel. This is the motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated and the experience was truly unique. I haven’t been to many museums while in the US but this was one that I would recommend to everybody. I spend around 3 hours going through all the different exhibitions that describe the struggle that the African American people have had since slavery times until just a few years ago, in order to regain something as simple as rights. From the times of slavery, until the assassination of King passing by the Alabama riots, the seating protests or the different marches across the country, the different exhibits combining pictures, video and audio make you shiver at times. You can also see the room were Luther King used to stay and the balcony where he was shot and then there is another exhibition that looks solely into his assassination and the different theories surrounding his death.

From the Lorraine motel I walked 10 minutes to Beale st where I took a few pictures and I went to check the Fedex arena where the Memphis Grizzlies play their NBA games but unfortunately it was closed so I went into Pat Obriens and had a poboy sandwich which was quite nice. I got a bit annoyed with myself as I went in and it was busy and there was live music, so I didn’t really look around and went to sit and get the menu. Later I realised that EVERYBODY were retired people on an all-inclusive trip to Memphis. They were all getting bbq food and the live music wasn’t real life music but low key karaoke!!! So I ate my sandwich and got the hell out of that place. I went to the hotel to have a bit of a rest and then went to check the pyramid sports complex but it was also closed so I could only take some pictures from outside.

After that I did some shopping and despite the tiredness went for a run which knackered me up completely so I decided not to go out that night. I was shattered and had been going out for quite a few nights already but the fact that it was a Saturday made me really consider going out. However I finally decided to stay and I was fast asleep by 11.

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