Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blues City, USA

Our train pulled into Memphis bright and early, just shy of 7am.  My family had no desire to visit Memphis but it was along our rail route, the train was stopping there anyway, Graceland was only a few miles away and with the promise of copious amounts of BBQ pork, they begrudgingly agreed to spend a few days.

We decided we would walk the mile or so to our hotel as the weather was absolutely gorgeous.  I was pleasantly surprised by all of the vintage neon signs we saw along the way.  We arrived at our hotel around 7:30am and presented ourselves to the front desk.  We were far from the 4pm standard check-in time.  Lucky for us the manager was staffing the desk and not only offered us an early check-in but also upgraded our reservation to a 2 bedroom suite!  Needless to say, if you are ever in Memphis, we highly recommend the Memphis Downtown Residence Inn.

The hotel has a wonderful roof top deck with a hot tub and great views of the Mississippi River.  On Wednesday nights the managers host a wonderful cook out for the hotel guests.  Great food and fantastic hospitality!

After getting settled into our room--actually it was a fully furnished 2 bedroom apartment with a full kitchen.  Wowsa!  We headed over to Sun Records; The Birthplace of Rock N' Roll.  This tiny studio is where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins started their careers.  The tour was great!  We couldn't believe how much music history was packed into such a small space.

Trying to pack as much in as possible, we headed over to the Civil Rights Museum.  The museum is housed in and built around the Lorraine Hotel where on April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated.  It was so surreal to be in the parking lot looking up at the balcony at the exact place where he was shot.  There was so much information and moving images in the museum.  I regretted not getting the audio tour.  It was far too much reading for the kids. I think they would have been more engaged if they were able to listen as we passed through the amazing exhibits.

Early the next day we headed out to Graceland.  Yes, Graceland was my main reason for wanting to go to Memphis.  It was fantastic!  Even Daddy-o was impressed with how well curated the collection was.  Not only did we tour tour Elvis' home but also his jets, car museum and archives.  The handsome devil duo had a good time as well.  They are still talking about Graceland and one of them picked Elvis as their Halloween costume!

We had built up a mighty big appetite learning all there was to know about The King.  There are several restaurants at Graceland but we wanted to eat some 'real' Memphis cuisine.  We had eaten so much BBQ pork leading up to this point we really just wanted some chicken.  I turned to the Yelp app on my iPhone.  Well hello Uncle Lou's!  Frankly, from the outside Uncles Lou's Fried Chicken doesn't look like much. The interior is pretty sparse as well but the place was packed with folks eating the BEST chicken I have ever tasted.  The staff was super friendly and helpful.  The chicken was fried with a light batter and then coated in a fantastic thin sweet, sour, spicy sauce.  It was so good that we got a giant tray of it to take on the train the next day!

 All in all, Memphis was a pleasant surprise for the whole family.  We would not hesitate to go back!
'Til we meet again,
Ms. Adventure