Leaving our Route 66 drive to head further East into Tennessee was a brilliant choice - if for nothing else but that we've been able to avoid some hairy weather situations including tornados and wildfires, that we possibly would have driven straight through if we'd continued on!
Graceland was our first stop in Memphis and we headed straight to it on arriving in the city. The first thing someone said to us was 'look out, we got ourselves a couple of rockabillies!', which I'm still undecided on whether it was a good or bad thing?
Joshua and I had both been really excited about Graceland, but I think my expectations were a smidge higher than they should have been. The queues were enormous and the wait for the shuttle bus to the actual mansion was almost 2 hours after we entered with our ticket. A little bit of a shame, but the mansion itself was definitely worth a visit.
We loved the lounge room, with the stained glass peacocks and piano. The 'tv room' was also quite spectacular, with 3 TVs lining the wall, since Elvis had heard the president watched 3 news programs at the same time. Smart guy! The 70's kitchen (complete with carpet) and Jungle room' which was lined completely in lime green shag carpeting were also hideously authentic!
After Graceland we stopped for some quintessential BBQ in downtown Memphis - a pulled pork sandwich and beef brisket, with a side of macaroni & cheese. Smokey and delicious, it's easy to see why southern food is so raved about (and so cheap!).
The Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King was assassinated is now the site of the National Civil Rights museum. The hotel has been preserved and is set up to replicate how it looked at the time of the shooting, with a wreath hanging on the balcony where the murder took place. It was a very moving scene, especially being able to see the building behind you, where the sniper bullet is believe to have come from.
Memphis is a strange mix of beautiful architecture and tourist traps, combined with quite scruffy areas of town with a lot of people with very sad stories. We walked from the Lorraine Hotel to the famous (very touristy but not at all safe feeling) Beale street, and were approached several times by people asking for money. Feeling a little disheartened, and having given away all of our cash, we decided to head back to the car and have an early night.
Gus' Famous Fried Chicken and Gibson's Donuts were high on our list to try while we were in town, and provided the perfect quick and easy hotel dinner. The donuts were so good we may have visited again the following morning for a couple more for the road!