Day 71 - Walking to MemphisJuly 1 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 25 °C
Got up at 8:30am for breakfast, then retired back to our room for a couple of hours. The plan was to walk to downtown Memphis, just 1.9 miles away, for some sightseeing, have a drink in Beale Street at dusk & then return to the hotel.
At 11.00am we left our hotel & marched down Madison Avenue until we saw an Enterprise Car Rental Office, so we decided to call in to seek advice about the damage to Doodle. It was too busy & after 5 minutes we gave up & carried on.
Our 1st planned stop was ‘The Legendary Sun Studios’, which is without doubt the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The recording studio was set up by a Mr Sam Phillips in 1950 & is where he discovered and first recorded such influential musicians as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkin, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, who were actually Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm was the first record to be recorded & released by Sun Studios.
Sun Studios were open to go inside, where it consisted of a cafe & a record shop, both crammed full of memorabilia on the walls. You could pay to visit the actual recording studio on a tour, but we declined. After the obligatory photos, we continued.
Next stop was downtown to the National Civil Rights Museum. On the way we passed AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds baseball team & The Peabody Hotel, home of some ducks.
The National Civil Rights Museum is situated in two locations, half in the Lorraine Motel & half in the Legacy Building across the Street. The significance of these locations is that Martin Luther King Jr was shot dead on the balcony of Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel & James Earl Ray (or did he?) shot him from a room in a rooming house on S. Main Street, now the Legacy Building.
Security was tight at the Museum, but after being scanned & searched we went to the ticket desk. The ticket girl asked if we qualified for a discount by being Military or senior citizen’s 55 or over. I told her I was 55 & quite rudely she accepted my word for it without asking for proof & gave me a $2 discount. Bloody cheek. This was the very 1st time in my life that I have got a discount for being so old, luckily Jackie didn’t mention it!
The Museum was exceptionally good, providing us with a visual & audio history of the black Civil Rights struggle from slavery up to the current day. It presented the history in a very dynamic way with lots of video footage & sound recordings. There were mock ups of the Rosa Parks bus incident & the Selma to Montgomery March amongst others.
The ultimate highlight was that we were able to view the exact location where MLK was shot & the exact location from where he was shot. The Legacy Building contained a lot of exhibits, items left by Ray when he fled the scene, including the actual gun. There were also displays setting out the conspiracy theories & the evidence for & against. I was intrigued to discover that Ray was actually arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport.
For us, the National Civil Rights Museum was extremely poignant having only recently visited a lot of the scenes of the significant events described, including at Topeka, Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham & now Memphis.
When we exited, we were amazed to realise that it was gone 3.00pm, so we walked along the Mississippi River Bank to the moored American Queen Paddle Steamboat, then headed up Beale Street in search of refreshment. We stopped at King’s Palace Cafe Patio on Beale Street, where we ordered one can of beer each, which came to the extortionate price of over $15. We supped (very slowly) our beer, whilst enjoying the blues band that were playing.
About 45 minutes later, we couldn’t make our beer last any longer, so we headed out in search of food. It was not looking good, then it started to rain, so we made a dash for Hooters & ‘Happy Hour’. We ordered a pitcher (5 pints) of Dos Equis XX beer & a large plate of sliders & curly chips, which came to the grand sum of $14.
About 5:00pm, we dragged ourselves away & headed for the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum. Again the ticket girl asked if we qualified for a discount & I immediately piped up “OAPs?” to which without question she gave us BOTH $1 off the entrance fee. The Museum started off with a 15 minute film in the theatre, providing a visual history of music in Memphis. We then were given an audio headset to listen to the story of Memphis Music as we made our way around the exhibits. Again it was superb & we exited just before 7.00pm unable to stop foot tapping!
I was keen to see Beale Street in the dark, but it was still light, so we hotfooted it back to Hooters for another Pitcher of our favourite Mexican beer. We sat outside & watched the world go by. Eventually we left & made for Beale Street for a final drink before going back to the hotel.
We walked up & down & selected the Blues Hall, which had a decent band playing. We ordered our drinks, Jackie a Long Island Tea cocktail & me a Big Ass beer, which we paid for as well as a $5 cover charge. I then went to the loo, which was in the adjoining building, the Rum Boogie Cafe & was blown away by the sound of the blues band playing.
Jackie & I then relocated to the Rum Boogie Cafe & sat down at a table with a couple from Canada, Nick & Lisa. Nick was a massive Blues fan & went crazy when I told him about our visit to Buddy Guy’s Legends & Buddy actually sang.
Anyway, the music by the band was utterly fantastic. The lead singer played the harmonica like I couldn’t believe possible & the young drummer was incredible. We ended up staying for another 2 drinks each & possibly getting a bit tipsy. During a break, I approached the lead singer Vince to enquire about their name, Vince Johnson & the Plantation Allstars & we got a group selfie with him, Nick & Lisa.
It was just before midnight that we finally left Beale Street & got an Uber home. Luckily we were still in reception, when our Uber driver came running in with my iPhone that I had left in the back of his car. Maybe I was a bit tipsy!
I’ve said it before several times, but This was the best day of the trip so far.
Song of the Day - Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohen.
Bonus Songs of the Day :-
Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats
Beale Street by The JT Blues BandRead more