Thursday 21 March 2013


When you think of a pilgrimage, a few places come to mind: The Western Wall, Mecca, Fatima, Portugal (you knew this one was coming).  The one that had been on my list of "Pilgrimages to Take", (because everyone has such a list) was, in the words of Paul Simon,
Please say you know this song!

Graceland Graceland Memphis Tennessee

It's a pilgrimage Melisa (that's my daughter and YES, I know there is an 'S' missing from the spelling) have talked about doing for years.  When we finally decide to go for it, we choose the Beal Street Music Festival weekend in May.  She loves music; I hate crowds. It was perfect!

The Beal Street Music Festival is just one of the events that make up Memphis in May, which is a month long festival with events happening every weekend guessed it, May. More on the music festival later.

Back to the Graceland pilgrimage...We need to be as close to Graceland as possible, so, where do we stay? well,
"Although it's always crowded
You can still find some room 

But really, where else do you stay when doing a pilgrimage to Graceland?  

The Heartbreak Hotel is a trapped in the 70s, Elvis kitch through and through hotel, with a heart shaped pool, and Elvis movies playing 24/7 on TVs throughout the hotel and in your room.  This might sound annoying, but when we left the hotel, we missed Elvis.
The hotel is across the street from Graceland and it screams ELVIS ELVIS ELVIS!  It's what we are here for people. So why not?

So, without further ado, (I know, you thought it was 'adieu'. It's not. I checked.) and to help you plan your own pilgrimage, here then is my list of the most fun things to do on an Elvis Memphis Weekend:

Use a fuzzy pink phone to get a ride to dinner in a pink Cadillac.  Why? Because you CAN!

It's pink and it's fuzzy

The phone in the lobby of The Heartbreak Hotel is connected directly to your pink Cadillac ride to dinner.

You are driven to Marlowe's where you can pig out on Memphis' favourite food--BBQ, which is the next fun thing to do. 

Eat BBQ anything. It doesn't matter what. Just eat it.  As we did...a few times. 
First we ate this

Then we ate this

But wait, you are in Memphis to visit Graceland, which by the way, deserves a whole day. Don't rush it. Get an early start to avoid the crowds...and I mean crowds by the bus loads!  If heat is a concern for you as it is for me, getting an early start will help you avoid some of it.  It gets HOT HOT HOT in Memphis in May, at least by Canadian standards.

While meandering through Graceland, here are some things to do:

Count the number of beads on Elvis' many outfits
5,351-- just guessing

Sit in Elvis' backyard and text someone
 Haha Elvis could not have done this
"YES I am sure he's alive"

Figure how many hams could have been smoked in the Smokehouse
173 -- another guess

Consider if you would have purchased avocado green
 or yellow appliances
Mine were yellow just like Elvis'

Imagine Elvis from 1968, wearing black leather, 
coming down the staircase and saying, "hey baby, whuzzup?"
 Oh my my my!

 This is what Elvis looked like in black leather in 1968

And finally, while at Graceland:

Have a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich.  Elvis loved them. You will too. Actually, maybe not. I didn't.  It was greasy and just a tad gooey, but hey, I am at Graceland and Elvis loved them.  And that my friends is the best reason to try it.
I'll try anything once

With  your Graceland tour completed, it's time to go stand on the spot Elvis stood and hold the microphone Elvis held during several recordings.  That's what they tell you anyway. You can do this at Sun Studios, which on a visit to Memphis is a must.  This is where rock and roll  was born everyone and you have to go there.
Really? Elvis held this microphone?

Splurge and stay at least one night at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis.  Why?  So you have get a good seat to watch the ducks, led by their Duck Master, waddle in and out the fountain in the center of the lobby.  This happens every morning when they come down from their roof top terrace home, and every afternoon when they return back to said roof top terrace home.  This is a big tourist attraction so get there early. I kid you not.
See the guy in the red jacket behind the ducks?
That's the Duck Master

Walking around Memphis can get exhausting, so take breaks and stay hydrated. Have plenty of various colours. 
Have a pink drink

Then a yellow drink

 and any other colour you like

If you are really really super thirsty, and you are okay with a communal drink, and you know your friends very well, have a drink in a bucket with several straws.  Just know you may get some stares, especially if you decide that it is a good idea to take your drink bucket on public transportation.

Back to the Beal Street Festival...Yes, it's crowded, but the music is great from one end of the street to the other.  It can get tiring, but there are plenty of places to sit, relax a bit and move on to the next spot.  Highly recommend this event if you are into music, food and people watching.  It's one big par-tae and great fun.

And finally, just hang out with Elvis.  That's why the pilgrimage happened.  He really is everywhere in Memphis. So find him, strike a pose and enjoy!