Memphis - Home of the King

Trip Start Aug 26, 2005
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Trip End May 26, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Saturday, February 10, 2007

Memphis is another city stop on my tour of the USA. The strange thing about these big cities is they have no character. Besides one main road, where they stick all the clubs and nightlife, there's nothing else to them. Memphis wasn't an exception. A disgusting, run down, deserted city. Maybe it's just because I'm here in the dead of winter and everything is shut down and the people are hibernating, but I'm not sure. I'm getting the feeling that these places are struggling. For example, in St Louis, an entire shopping center complex had been shut down. The windows were bordered and the place was deserted. Memphis is the same. The main road had a beautiful tram running down the middle, but the shops along side it were all closed to the point of having their windows bordered up and the streets were deserted. It felt like a ghost town. Plastic bags and rubbish blew down the deserted streets, and the few people I did see were the homeless. Always black, 30 something, and pretty friendly too. Poor guys.

I found the only 'Hostel’ in town called Kings Court. It wasn’t so much of a hostel, but a Motor Inn. I bargained them down from $55 per night to $35 and checked into my massive room, with cable TV. It was cold outside, so I pumped up the heater and put on the TV and watched a variety of movies while drinking a bottle of rum that I had collected along the way. I ran out of mixer, so called room service and asked them to bring me something to mix with my rum. They obliged and came up with some soft drink. A few hours later, I was drunk and ready to hit the town. A few blocks from the Hotel was the famous Beale Street.

Memphis has one absolute gem of a street. It’s called Beale Street. It’s similar to Broadway St in Nashville, with a whole stack of clubs, pubs, bars and random tourist stores. It comes alive at night and the neon is bright enough to imitate daylight. There are a whole swag of bars along this street such as Coyote Ugly, Hard Rock, BB Kings, and others, where the likes of Elvis performed back in the day.

On the way to Beale Street, I decided to get some food. I found a hamburger joint that claimed to still be using oil that they fried Elvis’s hamburgers in. Awesome, one burger please. It was the soggiest thing ever. The bun acted like a sponge, soaking up the oil and leaving me craving beers. It wasn’t long before I was sat in a jazz club with a Budweiser.

A few locals called me over to join them. They said I didn’t look like I was from around town.
No maam, I’m from Australia.
What are y’all doin here?
Backpacking.
What’s that?
I explained the intricacies of traveling with a backpack and told them of my South American Adventure.
South America, why would you want to go there? What’s there?
I explained the Andes, the Incas, the End of the World, the Amazon, and the Caribbean.
Their response was: ‘yeah and there’s mosquitoes and disease’
It was an interesting conversation, trying to tell them about South America and that it wasn’t all drugs and cartels and kidnapping.
They didn’t believe me.
They had never left the USA and I was totally stunned at their arrogance and complete shock horror and lack of understanding of my travels
We moved our conversation away from travel and got along well. I followed these guys around for an hour or two as they bought me loads of drinks and we had a good chat. The night got a little out of control and at 3am, I found myself face down on the floor of my room, unable to climb the mountain to bed. I had no idea how I got home or what happened but I’m pretty sure I had a good night.

Graceland

As Elvis' popularity grew, he could no longer live in his childhood home because of privacy and security problems. So he purchased Graceland in 1957. He had every room customized to his exquisite tastes and bizarre ideas. I visited Graceland with my hangover the next day. It was Superb. There was white carpet throughout the lounge and dining room. A big blue sofa sits in the corner and a patch of marble covers the floor below the dining table.

The 'Jungle room' is one of the more unique rooms in the house. Thick green shag carpet and wooden artifacts, along with a waterfall and plants give the sense of being deep in the jungles. The Jungle room was converted into a basic recording studio and many of Elvis' songs were recorded here.

The car museum was unreal, showcasing most of Elvis' car collection, such as the NASCAR, designed in his Honor, a dragster, a Ferrari, the pink corvette and many others. He even had two planes there!

My bus left at 10pm that night for Austin, Texas.
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