Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 11 Graceland. . . finally some sequins and jumpsuits

Well we are off to Graceland today, the home of that very famous Memphis native, Elvis Presley, preserved exactly as it was when he lived there it is sure to be a day of super 70's everything.  We had to eat of course to get our energy up for the Mansion tour so we headed to a Southern chain called the Waffle House.  And it was totally nuts. . . I am sure a reason that Americans are large, this chain has cheap "down home" cooking and supposedly fast too.  Well it was crazy busy and this dive was a bit too much for me.  Never again!  The first question was "smoking or non"  Seriously?  This place is 800 sq ft maybe and they are cooking those waffles right in front of you!  We took a seat at the bar and watched the madness happen as they took tons of to go orders and "buttered" our toast with partially hydrogenated butter like spread. .  eeewww.  Well now that I have had that "experience" . . . off to Graceland!

there are 1600 of these in the Southern USA

we felt sorry for these hard working ladies who were totally slammed in a smokey crazy environment
Elvis is everywhere!
Graceland, not the huge place you think it'll be
 Graceland, mecca to some, a true pilgrimage for others, it is the second most visited private home in the USA, after the White House!!  Elvis is said to be the King, the father of rock and roll, he incorporated black music and fashion with white music and made it understandable to a white audience.  We learned a lot about his contributions on our tour of the Mansion and surrounding exhibits, including some of the most important things. . .about his fashion!!

The house is pretty creepy cool, as he left it, decorated in the 70's with more money than most of us can count and done exactly as he wanted it to be.  I'll let the pictures show you.  We were not allowed to use flash so they are not super amazing quality but you will get the idea.
The living room and piano room, exactly as he left it
TV room where he had all 3 networks on all the time, just like the president of the day.  Note the sequin covered pillows, mirrored ceiling (the staircase is totally mirrored too) and the monkey statues.

the pool room that looked like the inside of a sewing box with folded fabric all over the walls and ceiling culminating in a circular design in the ceiling.

heading up the stairs to the jungle room with green shag carpet on the walls, floor, and ceiling!  Talk about a vaccuming nightmare!

carpeted ceiling

one side of the jungle room, the carpet made the acoustics good and he actually recorded an album there

the other side of the jungle room, apparently Priscilla liked the round chair in the corner

jungle room center divider
fan art on display
 You then head into a corridor full of all his records and awards and cases full of stuff about his movie career and fan art.  It goes on for a while, you have a head set on the whole time with stories about what you are seeing the whole time.
Elvis and Priscilla, this is her wedding dress.  The tuxedo he wore had an amazing texture to it but it was too dark to get the detail.  You will just have to go see it!

this is what is next door. . . . roof is a tarp.  The mansion was bought when it was farmland and the neighbourhood has grown up around it and is pretty dirty and junky. . . .

the eagle cape on display

in what used to be the raquetball room there is more awards on display and a killer collection of those Elvis original jumpsuits. You can buy copies in the gift shops for $1200-$3600. . . yes you read that right!

the Phoenix

more jumpsuits on display

wall of awards in the old raquetball room

family graveyard, did you know Elvis had a twin that died at birth?

died too young at 42, he is remembered by the world

we opted for the "premium" tour and got to see the car museum with all of Elvis's various cars over the years.  This pink cadillac was one of his favourites and first.

The "Lisa Marie" named for his daughter, a blinged out airplane that flew Elvis around

guest bathroom in the Lisa Marie: gold fixtures and a bit more space than we are used to in an airplane bathroom!  Also the seat belts were also plated in real GOLD!

a closet we'd all love!  On the place

part of the fashion king display, here is a case of some of Elvis's bling!
 The Graceland tour took us about 4 hours to get through and James didn't complain once!  We then wanted to find a nice neighbourhood to stay in Memphis (there are some really awful ones. . . ) and we explored Germantown, a suburb of the city.  We found a great Asian restaurant called Tao and had some noodle soup with veggies. . . . i just couldn't do another day of pork cooked veggies. . . After all the Southern food we have been eating this was delicious!  We found a great hotel, The Hyatt Place, a division of the Hyatt but so much nicer!!! and enjoyed a quiet night, since we were in the US I could watch Glee episodes I had missed online!!  There are definitely some good things about the US!
I give up!!  Veggies please, not cooked in pork fat!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 10 Off to Memphis to hear the Blues

On our way out of Nashville, we hit "Noshville" a NY deli right in the middle of Tennessee, complete with bagels and marble rye bread!  Finally something besides "texas toast" LOL!

finally, something besides "texas toast"

mmm coffee

We hit Memphis at right about lunch time, perfect time to see the famous Leonard's sign, another 50+ year business with a pit BBQ.  We learned the caption "Mr. Brown goes to town" is in reference to the "brown and white" meat you find in with a BBQ'd pig.  The brown is what is flavourful and cooked on the outside and becomes brown, mixed with whiter meat closer to the bone.  When you get a meal or sandwich you used to be able to specify your meat although the norm is to mix and chop both together.  We ordered sandwiches, memphis style: pulled pork with red bbq sauce and the coleslaw right on the sandwich.  Yummy!

messiest sandwich I'd ever eaten!

 We then headed to our downtown hotel and realised why it was so difficult to find a downtown hotel room. . .the Cotton Ginners were in town!  The cotton industry is a big one in the US and we passed the convention center where are the farm equipment was on display.  Every bar on Beale street also welcomed them and overalls were everywhere!

Farm equipment on display

Memphis Trolley line through downtown

Who knew the guy that revolutionized the grocery industry (made it self serve) was from Memphis?

What is this dude thinking?  Bear shoulders and man boobs are cool??  It was only 19 degrees!  LOL what NOT to not wear!
Our walk down Main Street showed us a downtown that is slowly rebuilding after a lot of migration to the suburbs.  Tons of amazing space available but lots of empty store fronts.  We wondered about who was coming down to the area and what business would be like.  There were gorgeous old buildings and we saw a world of possibilities.

We then began our walk to the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel.  We thought it was important to learn a little about this time in history.  And it was completely sobering.  Especially as a Caucasian Canadian.  We never had any of these race issues and I learned so much about the struggle that had happened in the South.  I think it took me longer than the Americans touring the museum because there was so much to read and learn.  It became very real to us and what hit me was the power of peaceful protest and "I am a MAN."
The Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated
The Lorraine Hotel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, photos were not allowed inside the museum

some local art near the Civil Rights Museum

As soon as we hit Memphis Elvis stuff was everywhere!!
 We then headed down to Beale Street.  The home of the blues and where it all started in Memphis.  The home to Sun Studios that recorded the first blues hits and first recorded Elvis.  The music history in Memphis is incredible and Beale street is full of plaques and history, you can learn as you listen to the blues and walk through the street with your "Beale Street big Ass beer"
Beale Street, a mini Bourbon Street, closed for pedestrians and ready for a Saturday night
getting my cd signed by the local band

local history all over Memphis downton

their sign said they won second place in the BBQ competition last may!  I just loved that Pork with an Attitude sign!

ok we were getting a little tired of Southern Food and tried some Japanese at a crazy neon lit up hotel bar .. . the Sushi chef was from Japan so it was really good!!

Our first sit down stop at Juke Joint after listening to some of the artists playing in the Plazas on the street
 The Juke Joint was our first stop and it was full of awesome memorabilia to look at when the band was taking a break.  Loved the music and that blues guitar just makes you feel!!
memorabilia in the Juke Joint on Beale Street
We then hit up BB King's spot to hear the BB King Allstars.  Fried pickles were on BB King's favourite platter along with ribs that fell off the bone, fried catfish, and wings. . . . This is why the Southern's have stores where the pants go up to size 72 and 6XL!
The band was amazing, played to the crowd and had everyone dancing!  We luckily caught a couple leaving and got amazing seats in the middle of this packed place!  (Felt just like getting star parking at the packed mall at Christmas!)

Beale street was a blast and full of the music that makes you tap your toes.  LOVED IT!
The BB King Allstars.  They were amazing doing all the funk and soul hits. . and PS that lead singer could DANCE, just like Soul Train!!