On my road trip around America this summer, we visited 22 states, covered over 7,500 miles and even made it in to neighbouring Canada, all with one poor little car! With so many places to choose from, one place stuck out as the favourite with both me and my two best friends. When we arrived in Memphis, just inside the border of Tennessee, we didn’t really have a plan of action, and after taking a wrong turn ended up in an area we definitely didn’t want to stay in! I think that is genuinely the first time I saw cops deliberately ignoring obvious criminal activity, and they, like us just carried on by without stopping! However Memphis is home to the world famous Beale Street, one of the homes of rock and soul music. We were lucky enough to find a motel right in the centre as the sun began to set on another Friday night in the USA, and without hesitation, we dumped our stuff and headed out to see what BB King’s adopted home town had to offer. Every weekend the town centre is closed off and you are free to drink in the streets, while taking in the various musicians busking and performing in alleyways, clubs, parks and on street corners. You can even smoke indoors if you so choose, with a selection of famous cigars on sale at various bars. As well as incredible nightlife and musical entertainment, Memphis music attractions are numerous, as the home to the Rock N’ Soul Museum, just a block over from Beale Street, which pays homage to the beginnings of early music in America, through to the growth of blues and early rock music, all the way through to the mainstream success of acts such as Johnny Cash, Otis Redding and others, who made their name through Memphis based Sun Studios record company. If that wasn’t enough we also took on Graceland, the home of the King of rock, Elvis Presley. Graceland is almost indescribable, and as we visited just under a month from the celebration of what would have been his 75th birthday, it was extra special. The highest selling musician of all time, he still makes more annually than most living artists will in a year. Graceland’s various rooms and gardens are beautiful, and each room is uniquely decorated. One of the more moving parts of the tour is when you enter the area near the pool, where the entire Presley family are buried, with the exception of his late twin brother. I spoke to a pensioner who was moved to tears, even now, saying it had been his life’s dream to come here. Graceland also offers a museum of his eclectic choice of cars and other vehicles, including tractors and airplanes! You can even sing karaoke and visit the Heartbreak hotel. If the musical heritage of this modern and vibrant place still hasn’t convinced you, it is also home to the National Civil rights museum, on the site of Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination at the now defunct Lorraine Motel. Honestly the nicest place I visited in America, Memphis is probably not where you would think of when planning a trip to the USA, but take it from me, its worth it!
Posts from November, 2010
Does the thought of having to find a costume for Halloween fill you with more dread than the haunting face of a man wielding a chainsaw? If so, Europe could be the answer. With some semblance of a cultural festival still being celebrated across the Channel you can take advantage of an excuse for a holiday without the dodgy eye make-up, fraying bandages and the handing out of ‘treats’ to hungry teenagers.
For a last minute trip Paris is the perfect option, and easily accessible. The city of love is slowly becoming one of horror for one night of the year only, but like the rest of Europe celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st, where the dead are honoured and the graves of loved ones are visited to pay respects. This also constitutes a national holiday so many attractions will be closed. The Paris Hop-on Hop-Off Bus takes in all the sights and runs all year, so while Parisians are paying their respects, the city can be explored. The route takes in all the most popular sites such as the Louvre, Champs de Mars, Notre Dame and the Champs-Élysée. continue reading
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You might wonder what taking a hop on hop off Rome tour, buying Last Supper tickets, and embarking upon a Venice gondola ride have in common with Julia Roberts. If you’ve seen her latest film, then you will know that one third of it takes place in Italy, where all three of the above experiences can be enjoyed. continue reading