I was only in Memphis for one full day but while there I felt the town had an pronounced dichotomy. Walk down Beale St and the town appeared alive and kicking but step off Beale St and the town was deserted. I was there in winter and in down season but it felt strange to walk down a deserted street in the middle of the day one street over from a busy side walk. I walked past shop after shop that had a for lease sign, this was 2009 and I had been told that sadly Memphis had been hard hit by the GFC.
I felt a little unsafe at some points in Memphis, but overwhelmingly I found the locals to be warm, friendly, and very curious why a Kiwi girl was doing all the way down in Memphis by herself.
There were so many things I wanted to do in Memphis, but with such limited time I had to chose just a few to cram in to one day. My first stop was Sun Studio that discovered Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I took a tour through with an Elvis impersonator whom recommended a bar that was having a gig of local artists, but more on that later.
Next on my list (as it should be on everyone’s) was Graceland, home of Elvis. The house is a testament to a pop culture icon and there aren’t adequate words to describe how over the top the house is.
Standing outside it looks like barbie’s dream house, and once inside it’s covered in leopard print, wall to wall shag carpet, and includes a media room with three TV’s built in to the wall, an air plane hanger, and finally Elvis’s grave located in the garden.
Finally was my visit the to National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated. This was such a heartbreaking, incredible and important museum that created a timeline of the civil rights movement, and ultimately the death of MLK. Often times when we are on holiday we don’t want to face the tragic history of the places that we are visiting, but I do think it’s essential to understand and respect the history. I wish I could have spent more than a couple of hours here.
That night I wandered down to Beale St and went to BB King’s restaurant for some deep fried cat fish and blues music. This was definitely a tourist spot but man it was fun, and the musicians were incredible. After dinner I caught a show recommended by the Elvis impersonator from Sun Studios, I ran in to him there and had and a bit of a boogie.
The next morning I jumped on a Grey Hound bus to Nashville.