25.04.2007 - 28.04.2007 23 °C
We got into Memphis late on Wednesday, and a cab to the hotel (I'm sure it was driven by Elvis). Thursday morning we wandered across to the visitor centre and overloaded ourselves with leaflets (the usual drill). We ate some classic southern fare in a 'blue plate' cafe (buttermilk pancakes, egg and grits and biscuits and gravy) Grits is an aquired taste, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was excellent at sticking up wallpaper. All part of the experience though! We got a local bus down the Elvis Presley Blvd to Graceland, and immersed ourselves in the Presley theme park. The actual house isn't huge, and Elvis didn't even build it. But he did extend it and he sure did some redecorating!
We spent the day looking at endless jumpsuits and his collection of gold discs, cars and even planes (Convair 880 with gold plated seatbelts, sofas and bedrooms!) During the evening we walked down to Beale St, the party street lit up by neon and lined with bars blaring Blues and Rock & Roll. We ate in a local BBQ place (it's the local thing) and watched a fake Elvis in a bar along the street. Hilarious. Reminded me of the Carvern Quarter on speed.
The following day, Friday, we walked to the Peabody Hotel in the centre of town and witnessed one of the strangest traditions. Since the 1930's, the lobby and large fountain in the centre, has been home to the Peabody ducks. At 11am the Keeper of the Ducks leads 5 ducks from their penthouse suite on the roof, out of the elevator along a strip of red carpet and into the fountain. It is bizarre, and quite a crowd puller. Not sure even the photos do it justice!
After the Peabody ducks we went to Mud Island, a park on an island in the Mississippi. We wandered in the sun (hot, again) and rented a two-man kayak for a pleasant paddle around the paddle steamers on the river. Fun, if not a bit unusual!
We walked around the centre of the city a bit more, jumping on the trams and eating in a classic Memphis cafe (frequented by Elvis, so we had to try the cheeseburger!). A bit more music, a sip more beer, and then we boarded the train at around half 10. Another unusual nights sleep and we woke up in Illinois, arriving in Chicago at about half nine this morning.
Dave and Sarah XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX