We received quite a few warnings about Memphis. It was dangerous; don’t wander off the tourist areas and nothing much there except for Graceland were the main reasons given to bypass the largest city in Tennessee.
We decided to go see for ourselves. A decision we were glad we made as not only did we enjoy the city but would go back given the opportunity.
During our stay the weather was glorious and a welcome return to the sun after the rain clouds of Nashville. We stayed in the old cotton exchange building now converted into a hotel, private rentals and affordable housing. It boasted a reception desk and doorman, downtown location, a small [but pretty run down penthouse gym], laundry and great views of the city. Adjacent to the front door a small park for Hamish to wonder at the numerous squirrels running amok. A dog run just a block away and within ten minutes walk the large Tom Lee park which provided Hamish plenty of running off the leash and wonderful views of the Mississippi river.
As we were in the town centre there was plenty of restaurants, coffee shops and eateries to choose from. Top of that list is a restaurant called Flight and voted No.1 in Memphis by Trip Advisor. It certainly didn’t disappoint and the food and hospitality was first class. They even allowed Hamish to sit with us at our feet; we viewed another couple with their dog in a carrier at the table.
If drinking is your thing then Beale Street was only a few blocks away with its legion of bars mostly blaring out live music throughout the day and night. We walked it a couple of times but preferred to go slightly off the beaten track to find less touristy places which offered better value for money and service.
For those wanting a touch of the bizzare make your way to the plush Peabody Hotel just a block from Main Street. Here, for some strange reason, crowds “flock” to see The Duck Procession where four or five resident ducks walk the Red carpet. These ducks are situated in a fountain within the bar area of the hotel but early evening a red carpet is laid out and from the fountain to the elevator they waddle off and are taken to their penthouse paddling pool until the following day when it starts all over again. Anyway, we did go to see it and probably wished we never. A true shaking the head in disbelief moment….
Of course no visit to Memphis is complete without a trip to see Graceland, home of the late Elvis Presley. As it’s a few miles from downtown we decided to stay at one of the motels close by. We checked in to the Days Inn, a motel bedecked in wall to wall Elvis memorabilia and blaring out The King’s greatest hits throughout the day. Cheap, cheerful and clean, it suited our needs for one night and was a two minute walk to Graceland. We bought the Mansion tour and at an hour and a half long was just the right length to see the immaculate residence, grounds and final resting place of Elvis and his immediate family. For those wishing a longer tour which enabled you to see his cars, aeroplanes etc there is longer tours at additional cost. Back to our motel we quickly changed booked a table at Marlowe’s restaurant a mile down the road. Also cashing in on the Elvis theme this place is reputed to serve some of the best BBQ ribs in Memphis and was featured on the TV show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The food, service and atmosphere certainly made for an excellent dining experience and they offer a Limousine pick up and drop off service.
Sadly our stay wasn’t long enough for us to take in the Civil Rights Museum and should we return in the future this will be on the top of our must see list.
The next stage of our journey would take us to Louisiana and New Orleans. This time by car rental and a six hour drive south.