Saturday, 16 August 2014
Day 357 - Memphis
After a night of freezing in the Amtrak refrigerator car from Chicago, I finally made it to Memphis just after sunrise and it was good to be out of the train.
It was still early and I was a bit tired from not sleeping much in the freezing car but after finding a (very out of the way but cheap) motel and taking a shower, I set of to explore Memphis.
Thinking of Memphis everyone will first think of Elvis and Graceland and this was indeed what I came here for.
On the way to take the free Sun Studios shuttle to Graceland, I came across the Lorraine Motel. Now the National Civil Rights Museum, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, something I didn't know happened ion Memphis.
I also came across Beale Street with all the Blues and Rock bars although this feels a bit staged and artificial, almost like a movie set in a way.
Getting to Graceland with the free shuttle was great and it's a very good service. This is where the good things ended for me because Graceland is the worst tourist attraction and rip off I have seen.
It feels like a huge souvenir shop interrupted by some memorabilia but if you want to see the actual memorabilia and villa, you have to pay $34 for the cheapest or a whopping $75 for the all inclusive ticket.
Not only is this insane pricing but you have to queue to buy your ticket then wait for your tour number to be called so you get the privilege to queue again to take a shuttle but to cross the street to actually go to the villa. Not only is this completely ridiculous since it has people queuing for hours but because it also causes pollution and I care to bet that even Americans are capable of crossing a street without being chauffeured in a bus.
Needless to say, I didn't spring for any ticket because I simply don't have the money to spend for this and I don't see it being put to good use either but wasted on stupid shuttle buses across the street and building more souvenir shops (there are like 15 of them all selling different colored trinkets with Elvis on them).
Instead I focused on taking a few photos around of the stuff that was free and the people around before taking the free shuttle back to Memphis. I mean, I like Elvis but not that much that I would spend that money to see his pad which is a shame as it was the reason I came to Memphis for.
Once I was back in downtown Memphis, I decided to go for a walk around the downtown area and riverfront before heading back to Beale street to take photos and go in one of the blues bars to listen to some music.
Beale street is pretty deserted during the day but it's packed in the evening with all kinds of people and there is a lot of music coming out from the different bars but also music on the street. It's a pretty nice atmosphere although it still feels fake and set up for tourists so I kept having the feeling I was on a movie set.
After walking back to my hotel in the middle of nowhere through an industrial estate and a residential estate late at night without getting robbed and to the disbelief of the hotel owner, I tried to get a few hours sleep before my rain to New Orleans would leave at 6:50 tomorrow morning.