Next stop on our tour of the deep South: the home of the King! Obviously a trip to Memphis would not be complete without a trip to Graceland so Neil and I took a short cab ride from our hotel over to Elvis Presley Boulevard to pay homage to one of the 20th centuries best known musical legends.
Contrary to what many people may believe, Graceland is not situated in the nicest part of Memphis. Surprisingly, it is located in quite an industrial part of town rather than a housing estate full of other mansions. The visitor’s site is fairly large with several exhibitions and gift shops one side of the road with the mansion on the other. Rumour has it, the site will be expanded in years to come including the development of a boutique hotel.
Tour packages differ in price from $34 per adult for a tour of Graceland only to $72 per adult for the VIP tour including the mansion, all exhibitions and a queue jumper ticket. We opted for the reasonable $42 platinum tour which enabled us to also check out Elvis’ automobile collection and his two airplanes.
The audio tour included in the package was fantastic and gave an in-depth history about Elvis’ life and Graceland itself. The ground floor of the mansion is included in the tour but the upstairs is kept private out of respect for the Presley family.
Neil said he couldn’t get over how tacky the place was however, it is important to remember that the mansion was originally decorated by Elvis’ himself in the 70’s style, and it has remained untouched since his death. The Jungle Room was probably the most extreme, not only were the floors, walls and ceiling carpeted, there was also a feature waterfall!
According to the tour, the busiest room in the house was always the kitchen, in part due to the amount of entertaining Elvis frequently did. The kitchen was state of the art for its time with all the mod cons although it does look rather dated now! Apparently, the King had a list of items that always had to be in the house including; a case of Pepsi, ground meat, a can of biscuits, banana pudding, peanut butter, brownies and ice cream! According to the Tupelo estate, Elvis had several favourite recipes, including the below for barbecue sauce! I am yet to give it a go but am looking forward to trying it.
Elvis Presley’s Special Barbecue Sauce
4 medium-sized cans tomato sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp dried mustard powder
1 Tbsp chilli powder
Half cup vinegar
2 slices of lemon
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp red pepper
1 Tbsp pickling spice
1. Mix all ingredients together and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.
2. Pour into a sterilised jar or bottle, keep in the fridge.
After looking around the whole site, I was left feeling that Elvis was a man who never forgot his humble beginnings and where he came from; not only was he incredibly generous, it also appears if he was never entirely comfortable with his new-found fame and wealth. Perhaps his untimely death also suggests that Elvis never really knew how to deal with the money he had earned after being born with nothing, but of course, this is just my interpretation!
Even if you aren’t a massive Elvis fan, I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Graceland; it is a massive part of music history and really gives you a flavour of the birth of rock and roll in the South.