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Trip Report Memphis, TN - Oct 2013 Trip Report

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Our 2nd annual ladies' longish weekend trip was a success, but getting from Vancouver, B.C. and Calgary, Alberta to Memphis took a lot of time. We Vancouverites drove down to Seattle a day early and shopped all the way down, and we met up with our Calgary companion the following day at Memphis airport, after all of us taking connecting flights and spending the whole day in travel. Stayed at Westin on Beale, which is the perfect location for the blues music scene and restaurants. For a good sleep, get a room facing the Gibson Guitar Factory or even FedEx Forum on a non-event night.
Arrival night:unpacked and went to Beale St for a bite to eat, a drink and some blues.
FRI: Took cab out to Graceland, got VIP Platinum tour (+/-$33) and then spent over 5 hours touring the mansion, the car museum, planes, various exhibits and gift shops, and eating the obligatory fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Then took the Sun Studio free shuttle to Sun Studio and did their one hour tour which was lively and informative. Stood in the same room where Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis had once recorded. Back on the shuttle and got off at Rock and Soul Museum across the street from our hotel. Went to Beale St for happy hour (Ghost River Amber Lager is made in Memphis), then back to hotel to put feet up and then change for dinner. Cabbed to Paulette's out in Harbourtown (or Harbour Village), upscale place with wonderful food and service. Then back to Beale st to wander about, then walked a couple of blocks to the Flying Saucer Emporium, a beer place with a huge beer menu, very popular with the younger crowd on Fri night.
SAT: Did 2 hour Backbeat walking tour with guide Mike. Lots of history and interesting facts, watched the Duck March at Peabody Hotel, walked Beale St, Main St, riverfront area. Then took the trolley on Main to Arcade Restaurant for lunch. 3 p.m. we met up with Lance and Carol Silkes who run the Tastin' 'Round the Town tours, for our 3 hour BBQ tour. Lance took us to Pig on Beale, Blues City Cafe, BBQ Shop, Central City BBQ (My favourite), Cozy Corner Cafe, A&R. Learned all about ways to BBQ, styles, competition, and so on. Tried pulled pork, brisket, ribs, BBQ nachos, BBQ spaghetti, slaw, some sauces. We were stuffed! Back to Beale for happy hour before we went back to hotel to rest and then change for the evening. Went to the Blues City Cafe on Beale for dessert, sharing apple dumpling and pecan pie. Next stop, open air venues to listen to music, ending up at Silky O'Sullivan's
for a few drinks and some dancing. Very business on Sat night on Beale. Didn't get to bed till after 1 a.m.
SUN: Slept till near 10, so grabbed a Starbucks (around the corner from the hotel) and walked up to South Main to tour the Civil RIghts Museum. We were too early, so went over to restaurant SOB (South of Beale) for a bit to eat. Food was good, flatbreads and breakfast items and much more. Back to Civil Rights Museum, spent an hour touring it (+/-$9). While it was very informative, a lot of reading was involved and the short news reels were interspersed throughout. After the museum, you go across the back street to the Lorraine Motel and up to #306, the room where Martin Luther King was assassinated. There is another centre regarding the women involved in civil rights, but we were museumed out by the point, so we hopped on the Riverfront Loop trolley and rode to the area above the Mississippi where there are many high end homes and condos. Walked back to Beale and went to BB Kings for happy hour, fried pickles (try this!), nachos made with crisply fried potato slices instead of chips, and some good blues from the house band. Back to the hotel for quick feet up time, changed and did most of our packing. No ink in hotel business area printer so not able to print out our boarding passes. Walked up to Main for dinner at Flight, a new concept dining place. You may order an entree regular size or small plate size, or may order a flight of 3 tasting plates. They do this with their soups, salads, main courses, desserts, wines and liqueurs. I had a flight of elk, sea scallop and chicken with waffles, the latter being my favourite. For dessert I had a flight of peach crumble, bananas foster bread pudding and chocolate chip cookie souffle. One of our party was celebrating her birthday so the rest of us paid for her dinner and drinks, for a total for the evening of $330 including tip.
Back to the hotel and asleep by 12.
MON: Checked out, got cab to airport. Bought book on Memphis history at the airport.
Spent 15 hours flying and driving till I was home again.

This is a once in a lifetime trip. We didn't expect the empty buildings downtown, including office tours and shopping malls, abandoned over the years. It is a bit eerie off the two main streets where you see little or no traffic or people. We all felt very safe in Memphis. There is a strong police presence at each end and each intersection of Beale St.

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