This also turned out to be one of the friendliest bus journeys I've been on. As usual, being blatant tourists in a strange place, we were initially slightly afraid of being robbed and killed, but everyone seemed in a good mood, perhaps because it was Friday night, and random strangers were chatting to each other all the way until we got off at Heartbreak Hotel.
Yes, it really exists and has some rather fabulous features, including a 24-hour channel playing nothing but Elvis movies, a surprisingly cheap cocktail and snack bar, and a heart-shaped pool. For the same price as Berketraz we got two double beds, a mini kitchen (with microwave and fridge) in the room, and an ensuite bathroom. Score! And despite the 25-foot rule also being in place in Memphis, there was a patio area by the pool where you could smoke (sorry if I seem obsessed: I make these notes for the convenience of fellow nicotine junkies who may be planning a trip).
|Check out the heart-shaped pool!|
|The Jungle Room: one day, I too will have a waterfall feature wall and a teddy with a guitar ...|
Anyway, I like kitsch, so I bought $60/£45 worth of it, including a Viewmaster stereo viewer of Graceland which was surprisingly affordable at $10/£7 and shows you the seven public rooms in 3D. I don't think I've seen one of these for about 20 years, so it gets extra retro points too. I might see if I can buy some more viewcards for it in New Orleans or San Francisco … or maybe collect some on eBay? Just the sort of thing people chuck away … I also got a pretty cool Elvis karate t-shirt: large, but it was the last one, and a snip at $15/10.
Graceland itself – and the satellite parts of the tour which touch on Elvis's life and include actual objects he owned – was pretty amazing and I would recommend it even to non-fans. There's just something about a whole house being preserved as if in aspic, exactly the way it was (a few burger cartons aside, presumably) when its owner died, that's at once spooky and thrilling. It has a slightly sharp yet musty carpet-cleaner smell when you first go in (I imagine they have to wash and/or replace the matting on the walking route pretty frequently, given the volume of visitors), but the interior décor is wonderfully high-70s camp.
|Bex outside the mansion|
Here's my mini-tour of Graceland. You're not allowed to take flash photos (or to film inside) so some are pretty dark. It's better on my stereo viewer, but what isn't?
As you might imagine, after doing that lot (plus the seven gift shops, plus Sun Studios for Bex and Beale Street for me) we were knackered, and needed sustenance. On our first night we'd dined on grilled cheese sandwiches, battered dill pickles and whisky sours at the “Jungle Room” hotel bar – but on our second night Bex discovered that the adorable log cabins at the RV park just behind the hotel were a staggeringly cheap $50/£35 per night ($45 room hire plus linen hire) and boasted almost all of the advantages of the hotel: free wifi (the hotel actually uses the trailer park's network, even though the two businesses are not connected), a mini-kitchen, a TV, aircon (which we left off) and super comfy beds. The cabin even had a bunk, as in the HI Boston – Bex is a top-bunk girl so was delighted.
|Our little house on the prairie|
|Home sweet log cabin ...|
|Gorgeous ex-cinema on Beale Street|
|Oldest shop on Beale Street. Has own mini-museum at the back.|