Just after we arrived in the US in February 2015 we stopped off in Nashville with a view of going to the Grand Ole Opry. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and the theatre was closed. Moving down to Memphis and Graceland we were looking forward to touring the mansion. The day we arrived the Elvis mansion was closed, would you believe. At the time we were on a mission to get to Texas and buy our RV, therefore, we didn’t linger but were very disappointed. However, on this return trip to Nashville and Memphis we were determined not to be disappointed. Having achieved our first objective, the Grand Ole Opry, this month our mission was to see Graceland but not before we had seen a little more of Nashville.
Monday 3rd September
Sandy got very tired.
Tuesday 4th September
Trolley Tour of Nashville
A lot of the major cities operate bus or trolley tours. We find it a good way to get an overview of the town and stop anywhere that is of interest. Our driver Tim gave us the low down on the city, past and present. Founded in 1779 as a trading post.
Country Music Crawler, popular with Bachelor/Bachelorette parties and for other celebrations. They pedal their way around town on a pub crawl and of course stop to have a shot or two of Tennessee Moonshine.
Apart from the big Country Music Hall of Fame there are smaller museums celebrating some of the big stars of country music.
Woolworth on Fifth Avenue, originally opened as a ‘five and dime’ store in 1913.
Tennessee State Capitol, one of the oldest working capitols in the nation and with a nice bit of Greek Revival style architecture. By the 19th Century Nashville was called the ‘Athens of the South”.
Centennial Park and a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Built in 1897 for the Centennial Exposition
Nashville is also known as the ‘Country Music Capital of the World’ because it attracts singers, songwriters and music publishing companies.
Music Row, located in a Nashville suburb is where many of the music companies are located. Many studios and businesses are in renovated homes. It doesn’t look at all big business but of course it is because this is where some of the top music artists in the world have written and recorded their music.
RCA Victor, apparently Elvis’s favourite studio.
Musica, a sculpture in Music Row.
The AT&T building affectionately known as the ‘batman building’.
The Ryman Theatre on Fifth Avenue is where the Grand Ole Opry performed for over 30 years.
Broadway where all the bars and music venues are has the nickname Honky Tonk Highway. There is lots of neon which we didn’t see in its full brilliance in the middle of the day but it still looked pretty impressive.
Most of the restaurants and bars have a live music stage and our restaurant of choice was Luke’s 32 Bridge.
Just off Broadway in Printer’s Alley we found the Fleet Street Pub and of course the barman came from Exeter, Devon.
Wednesday 5th September
Continued south on our way to Memphis and the home of the blues.
We pulled in at Graceland Park, just across the road from the Elvis mansion. A nice campground surrounded by grass and woodland.
The area around Graceland was quite rundown in 2015, on our first visit, and looked in need of some refurbishment, well that’s just what it got. Coming back now the area has changed a lot with a new exhibit and entertainment complex exploring Elvis’s life and career. Lots of memorabilia is on display, clothes, cars, airplanes and plenty more. There are also shopping and eating venues. Across the road from the new complex is The Guest House at Graceland, a new hotel just a short walk from the Graceland mansion.
We got the free shuttle from The Guest House into Memphis and visited Beale Street. A little like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Beale Street has lots of restaurants and bars most with live music. The street became famous in the jazz age when well knowns musicians came to play in Beale Street and Memphis Blues was born. It was early evening and the neon lights of the street were just coming on. Beale Street becomes pedestrianised at night and police are at either end blocking the road.
Thursday 6th September
We strolled through the gate from the RV Park into the Graceland complex and bought our tickets. After watching an introductionary film about Elvis and Graceland we got the shuttle bus to take us across the road to the Graceland mansion. It is called a mansion and is an impressive looking house but in today,s standards it is not that big. It is a really nice house, very homey, I liked it a lot and could imagine living there – it’s just that all the people walking through would be a little irritating; and the carpet on the ceiling in the Jungle Room would have to go!
For the tour of the house we had an interactive iPad with audio. The tour covered the ground floor only and included the living room, his parents’ bedroom, the kitchen, TV room, pool room, the famous Jungle Room, his father’s office, Trophy Building, Racquetball Building and Meditation Garden. Everything has been preserved/restored well and it was a fascinating tour.
After our tour of the mansion we went to have look at Elvis’ customised airplanes. The Lisa Marie has a living room, conference room and bedroom. There are gold plated seat belts and leather covered tables.