After visiting Graceland and checking into the EconoLodge Downtown Hotel, we headed down to Beale Street. Tea that night was in a small blues bar called the Blues City Cafe and was a bit of a surprise. I lose my appetite when it’s hot and humid so decided to opt for an appetiser of chilli cheese fries. The plate that came was bigger than my head. I was defeated and left feeling very sleepy. Luckily the band showed up, just in time to wake me up. Just like in Nashville, the Brad Birkedahl Band was amazing and gave us a taste of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Blues.
After Dinner we moved onto Beale Street, where hundreds of bikers had lined the street for Bike night. With LED light trims, or crazy sound systems coming out of the seat, we walked down the street staring. By the time we got to the end of Beale, I thought an early night was needed to sleep away the cheese fries and the virus that I was still suffering from, so said bye to the bikers.
The next morning we all met up to go on a tour of Sun Studio. Everyone from Elvis and Johnny Cash to Maroon 5 and U2 have recorded in the studio, so being able to stand in the same studio was something special. We first had a tour of the memorabilia upstairs, with Elvis’ high school diploma being one of the highlights. After listening to the history of the label, it was time to move into the actual studio. Just like Graceland, everything is left as it was. Unlike most tours, nothing is behind glass so you really get an authentic experience. One of the biggest treats was actually being able to hold one of the original microphones used by Elvis and the other singers at the Studio. I’m not sure how many places would trust the public to touch something like that, but it really finished off a musical two days.
After our tour of Sun Studios, Beth, Tara & I headed to the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum is at the sight of the Lorraine Motel, the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. was shot, and to say it was moving was an understatement. I didn’t think I would be moved by the museum. I thought it would be interesting, but I didn’t expect to be as affected as I was. Starting with slavery, the museum takes you through the Civil Rights movement one step at a time. I think what hit me the most was seeing the Rosa Parks bus, and all the items I’d previously seen in textbooks in school in person. Seeing things in person is definitely more effective than just a photograph. The most emotional part was walking through Dr. King’s motel room. You would have been able to hear a pin drop as we walked through the area, and you could clearly see it had left a mark on every visitor.
Before leaving Memphis, I had one last thing I’d been told to see. As featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Sesame Street, the Peabody Hotel is home to the famous Peabody Ducks. At 5pm, we all walked round the corner of our hotel and managed to get a great spot of the fountain where the ducks swim. The Duck Master (yep, that’s his job title), then introduces the ducks to the audience before music is played and they walk down the red carpet and into the lift to the hotel’s rooftop. The ducks actually have a little Palace on the rooftop made of marble and glass, featuring their own bronze duck fountain. It even has a replica of the hotel where the ducks can nest. It’s not surprising then that Duck isn’t served anywhere in the hotel.
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