Sunday, July 20, 2008

Walking in Memphis

This weekend, I hit the road to Memphis for some fun with a few girlfriends. Thought you might appreciate a trip report!

We headed straight from Jackson to Gus's World Famous Hot and Spicy Fried Chicken, located in downtown Memphis on Front Street. I had never been there before, but I'd heard so many raves that I wanted to try it. Miraculously, it wasn't that busy when we showed up for lunch. We were quickly seated, and our server promptly came over to take our orders. We started with an appetizer order of fried green tomatoes because there were those in our party (and I'm not naming any names here, but their initials were Stacey) who had NEVER TRIED them. The tomatoes came out quickly, fresh from the oil. They were delish!!

With that experience checked off our collective lists, we all eagerly anticipated the chicken. And we were not disappointed. Again, served fresh from the pan, the chicken was crispy and piping hot without being greasy. (You know your chicken isn't greasy when it's served on a slice of untoasted white bread, and the bread remains free of grease. Divine.) I found the spice referred to in the establishment's name to be subtle, though there were those in our party who thought it was more pronounced. I inhaled the chicken and seasoned fries, we paid our tab (cheap, cheap cheap. It was something like $37 for four people.), and we headed in the general direction of Graceland.

We had pre-purchased Platinum Tour tickets, which allowed us access to the mansion, Elvis' car museum, his two planes, and a limited exhibit of his clothing. I thought the tours were really interesting. You could enjoy all of the exhibits at your own pace, and there was alot to see. It took us about 2.5 hours to tour, and we didn't even get to the "Private Presley" exhibit, which focused on Elvis' years in the military.

What was reinforced to me on the tour was what a profound impact Elvis had on the music industry. He shattered records all over the place (see the pic above) and continued releasing hits almost until his death. There was also an emphasis on his charity work (he donated to a wide range of causes) and his close relationship with his family.

And if you want to see how a major attraction handles crowd flow and markets well to its visitors, look no further. Tourists are moved through Graceland with the precision of a Swiss clock. I never felt rushed, and I never felt as though any of the exhibits were too crowded to enjoy them. Also, there were attraction representatives scattered throughout the grounds to direct you, answer questions, and make sure your experience at Graceland was a positive one. Can't commend them enough on that.

After Graceland, we checked into the Downtown Marriott. We had beautiful room on the 17th floor, with views of the city and the river. After a few minor mishaps (the elevators were on the fritz when we first arrived, our toilet had a brief malfunction which was quickly repaired, etc.), everything at the hotel went smoothly.

We were initially going to hit Rendevouz for dinner, but when we discovered an hour wait at the establishment (aaack. You know how I hate to wait.), we decided on Blues City Cafe. (Thanks for the suggestion, wonderful front desk person at the Holiday Inn!) We were not disappointed. Our party of four was quickly seated, and in no time we were feasting on ribs, beans, slaw, fries, and yummy grilled bread.

After dinner, we waddled, er, walked, down Beale Street to check out the action. We saw some amazing feats of acrobatics by a muscled group of young black guys, who flipped and tumbled their way expertly down the hill that is Beale. It was still a bit early, and though some establishments already had live music playing, I was dismayed to discover that no one was dancing. We were in luck, though. At the very end of the street, a small group of musicians was playing on the curb. There was an older man (who was clearly three sheets to the wind) dancing for the large crowd that had assembled to listen.

Then Stacey spoke the fatal words. "I dare you to go dance with that old man." Need I continue? I sashayed out to the middle of the group and danced a number or two with him, eventually pulling Stacey and a little girl out of the audience to join us. Fun, fun, FUN!!!

A bit parched, we decided to leg it over to the Peabody Hotel to enjoy a drink or two in their famous lobby. The ducks had long since been moved back up to the roof, but I enjoyed the atmosphere and history of the place while sipping a Pomtini (which I can highly recommend).

Our first day coming to a close, we ambled back to our hotel.

Stay tuned for our adventures on Saturday!


Sandi said...

Thanks for not calling me out on my cowardice Friday night, and for posting a pic where I don't look eight foot tall. LOL

Nicole Bradshaw said...

Maybe next time you'll join us on the "dance floor?" We'll see!

Sandi said...

Maybe next time my inhibitions will be lower. LOL