"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted." -- Bill Bryson

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Young & Stupid? Yes. Have Fun. Pt. 3: Memphis

We arrive in Memphis, Tennessee almost unscathed (see post about cop in Mississippi). We spend a brief couple of minutes exploring the Tennessee welcome center where we find all sorts of coupons for cheap hotels, which turns out to be quite helpful. The center also gives us a ton of info on Graceland, which is our obvious next stop. Turns out Graceland is incredibly easy to get to. Just a few miles north of the welcome center is the exit for Elvis Presley Boulevard which spits you right into the heart of Elvis land. We parked next to the Heartbreak Hotel and wandered past the Lisa Marie plane into the gift shop. As I sit and scribble on some postcards, the others check out prices for tours of Graceland...everyone seemed surprised at the $30 price tag for a tour. It seemed like a normal tourist price for something like that, but no one would have it. We did take photos in front of the gate, but it just wasn't the same. The fact that it was Elvis' 75th birthday this year didn't even help to pick up our spirits. We wandered aimlessly around the Heartbreak Hotel and various giftshops taking photos with Elvis posters in hopes that everyone who looked at our photos would think we actually did something exciting in Memphis. Passed the heart-shaped pool we stumbled into yet another tiny giftshop in search of postage stamps for my postcards. It was a stroke of luck. Sarah and I chatted with the woman behind the desk and she pulled out an amazing map and all sorts of tips on where we should go in Memphis. She recommended Beale Street and that we pick up some good ol' Tennessee BBQ. Now, keep in mind that all of us had a general sense of disappointment in the city of Memphis. Even as we drove towards Beale street on the highway, it was just dirty and gross and everything was under construction. So, we finally find the exit for the area of town we're headed and we come over a ridge and there, laying out before us, is a beautiful river, with an equally beautiful park and a fabulously cool bridge spanning this all. At that EXACT moment, I change the radio station and this song comes on:

It was all timed so perfectly...it was unreal. Of course, this changed our entire idea of Memphis. We found parking and hopped onto one of the trolleys through the main area around Beale street just to see the area. We took the trolley down Main St and up past the river. It is actually a beautiful city, after all. The river area really helped Memphis regain itself.

We hopped back off the trolley and headed to Beale St. Turns out that it's similar to Bourbon or 6th St in Austin. We wandered up a down a bit before picking a random BBQ place to eat. Little did we know...the place ended up having the worst service of all time. We were there for about 2 hours in total when it could have been a 45 minute stay. I had to get up and find silverware. Sarah had to get up and find our credit cards after we gave them to our awful server. He ended up giving her only 1 and we had to get up again to get the other 2. It was so bad that we told people who were standing in line to be sat that they should leave(yes there was a line...because no one was seating anyone). It appeared that only 3 people worked at this place at all. The sad thing was that the food was very good. What a waste.

We escaped from Beale Street in search of Sun Studio. This was Sam's special request. As a musician he worships all the guys who came out of Sun Studio, so he had to get out and kiss the street outside the studio. He finally lived his dream and we moved on to bigger and better places...like Nashville.

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