It’s actually been around five months since I headed out to the States for my two week adventure along the East Coast. And I’ve finally got around to pulling the ‘smaller’ pieces of the story together. I’ve written about cities and journeys, and now (perhaps because I’m scrabbling for content…blame January skintness) I’m delving into some of the less overwhelming, but equally impactful parts. The ones that only lasted at most a couple of hours, but are 100% worth sharing.
One of those experiences? Graceland. In case you didn’t know, Graceland was the home of that slightly famous musical artist known as the King – Elvis Presley.
I wouldn’t call myself a ‘big time’ Elvis fan. Not in the sense that I own any of his records, or regularly listen to his music. But I’ve most certainly downed a cider and ran to the dancefloor at someone’s wedding to shimmy along to Jailhouse Rock. I’ve drunkenly sung along to people at karaoke butchering Can’t Help Falling In Love, and complained that Gareth Gates’ cover of Suspicious Minds wasn’t a patch on the original. Sorry, Gareth.
Elvis Presley is, undeniably, a huge mega massive part of not just musical history, but pop culture as a whole. And I love me some pop culture. So when I had the chance to visit his home on a Graceland tour in Memphis, I was actually very excited to check it out.
We began our tour by climbing aboard a little bus from the visitor centre to the mansion itself, and were met with a white pillared, two story exterior that I instantly imagined as the front entrance of my dreams. Stepping through to the entrance hall and peering into the living room area, we saw how well-preserved everything was.
By the way, I’ve purposefully decided not to share many full shots of the rooms on the Graceland tour – because spoilers. It’s not just about the things you see though – for me, what really struck me was how easily I could imagine the King living out his days there – playing on the piano, listening to records, having a game of pool.
Speaking of pool, Graceland’s pool room is severely fabulous. It’s literally decorated from floor to ceiling in the most outlandish pattern material, with matching sofas, embellished cushions and bright prints adoring the wall. Elvis sure did have pretty epic decorating tastes…
We also got to check out the kitchen, which preserved the fabulously retro 60s vibe perfectly. Although, at the time, it was actually one of the most cutting edge kitchens around…and then we came across the famous ‘jungle room’ – which has to be seen to be believed.
Without a doubt, one of the most sobering aspects of the tour was seeing Presley and his family’s graves. Adorned with flowers and trinkets from all over the world, it felt like the end of a pilgrimage for Elvis fans paying their respects.
The amazing outpouring of love and remembrance for this man, almost 40 years after his passing, just speaks wonders of his incredible influence. Honestly, I felt a little choked up at the experience.
After being pretty bowled over by the Presley family resting place, we ventured back inside and found ourselves in a coridor with signage taking us through the history of Elvis’ career, as well as a heck load of memorabilia. Including these AMAZING red shoes which I so totally would have rocked. And definitely would wear today, if they weren’t, y’know. In a museum. Probably not finding a pair of these going cheap on eBay, I assume.
Passing through to the next rooms, we took in a hella massive gold and platinum disc collection, as well as some of the King’s stage costumes. Seriously, this man gained a lot of accolades.
Finally, we got back on the bus back to the visitor centre. We hadn’t added any extras onto the tour (you can get upgrades on the basic ticket that include further exhibitions and a tour of Elvis’ aeroplanes), so we had a wander around the gift shop and picked up an ice-cream before heading back to our campsite. Which, conveniently, was right next to Graceland!
The whole Graceland tour lasted around an hour and a half, and it includes an interactive iPad element that was really informative and immersive. Packed with clips, photos and a great narration through the house, it really did make the tour even better than if we’d just been looking around. For the basic tour, which I took, you’re looking at around $40 – which I’d say is really good value.
It’s somewhere I just had to visit, and I’m so very glad I did.
Previously on my East Coast USA trip: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia | Sightseeing on Two Wheels in Washington, D.C. | Falling in Love With Nashville | An Hour in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame | Exploring New Orleans | Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter | My Honest Thoughts on Miami
Check out the full TrekAmerica Atlantic Dream itinerary.