These photos are super old, but I've been feeling inspired by my friend Jasmine's blog to share some of my travel photos, and these have been sitting on my computer for years - they might as well see the light of day.
Most of the traveling I do for work takes me to destinations within driving distance of Chicago, most of which I have been to multiple times before. A few years ago, I got invited to speak at a conference in Memphis, and I was excited to explore somewhere new. I really only had a single afternoon to check out the city, so I definitely need to return someday.
I got lucky with a few aspects of my trip - I was staying in the downtown area and the weather was perfect, so I was able to easily walk around. I stopped into Dyer's which is well-known for their greasy, delicious burgers before wandering down Beale Street popping in and out of stores. I did make sure to also stop in A. Schwab, which opened in 1876 and is the oldest store on Beale. The entire street is decorated with awesome neon signs advertising various blues bars. The most famous options are of course B.B. King's and Jerry Lee Lewis's, but unfortunately I didn't have time to come back at night for the live music.
There is so much to do in Memphis if you're into music - Graceland is of course famously located outside the city, the Gibson Guitar Company offers tours of the factory, and there's also Sun Studio just a few minutes off Beale. I didn't have time to go to Graceland, and I decided to breeze through the Rock n' Soul Museum, mostly because I ran right into it while wandering around. There was tons of memorabilia from decades of Memphis music history. I had to rush through it but I felt like I could have spent easily spent a few hours in here.
After I left the museum, I headed up Main Street to go to the Peabody Hotel. The hotel is incredibly famous, and it didn't disappoint - the interior is absolutely stunning. I grabbed a drink at the bar to wait for the famous Peabody Duck March. This tradition was born in the 1930s when the hotel's general manager returned from a hunting trip and drunkenly decided to put some of his live decoy ducks in the hotel's fountain. The tradition lived on and now every day at 11am and 5pm, a red carpet is rolled out and ducks march from the elevators to the fountain for a swim. It's an extremely popular thing to see in Memphis apparently, because it was so crowded I couldn't even get any good photos! I apparently forgot to take pictures of the hotel itself as well, unfortunately.
While Beale Street is cool, I also absolutely loved the architecture and beauty of Main Street. My hotel was located right off of this, so I walked from the Peabody back to the hotel, snapping pictures of some of my favorite scenes along the way. Then it was back to my hotel to prepare for my panel the next morning, concluding my tourist time in Memphis.
WHEN: August 2013
WHY: I was invited to speak at a conference for work; I had a few hours of downtime to explore
STAYED AT: The Courtyard Marriott Downtown - my room was provided by the conference sponsor
FOR NEXT TIME: I definitely plan on checking out some of the live music on Beale Street. Also on the top of my list is the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the site of Martin Luther King Jr's assassination. I'd check out the Sun Studio tour for sure, and I'd like to go through the Rock n' Soul museum again a bit more carefully. I guess seeing Graceland would be interesting, but I'm not a big Elvis buff so that's probably on the chopping block if I don't have much time. I'm not sure why I went with a burger at Dyer's (probably because I was starving and standing right next to it) but next time around ribs are on the menu.
I loved the location of the hotel I stayed in, and I'll definitely try to stay off Main Street and within walking distance of Beale when I go back. I've browsed Airbnb for some prime spots under $100 a night around that location, which you can see here if you're planning a trip to Memphis. If you do decide to go with an Airbnb listing, make sure you use my invite code to sign up so that you can fund my next trip. 😏
EDIT: So I've done some reading up on Airbnb (having never used it before) and was disappointed to hear about their tax evasion issues and about the damage being done to local communities when people rent full-time to tourists, reducing the housing stock & driving rents up for actual tenants. I do however think it's a great way to reduce travel costs, especially if you're like me and on a very tight budget. With that in mind, I've removed all of the listings from my wishlist that appear to be year-round tourist rentals and only included some options that are full-time tenants renting out their extra rooms. I think Airbnb is actually a very good idea, but only if they work to ensure that they're not destroying the neighborhoods they're operating in. You can read more about the issues with Airbnb here.