Two weeks ago in this space I wrote of our trip earlier this month to Tennessee, and I mentioned that some aspects of that trip deserved their own write-up, one of them being our visit to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, in Memphis, TN.
When we knew last year that we would be traveling to a wedding in Nashville this November, then tacking on a few extra days to drive to Memphis and see this site was a no-brainer. This was something that had long been on our Bucket List, and once we got there and toured the place, we can honestly say that it completely exceeded all of our expectations.
When you arrive at Graceland, what you actually arrive at is the Graceland Visitors Center, which is across the street, the aptly named Elvis Presley Boulevard, from the house itself. (More on the Visitors Center later.) It is there that you pick up your tickets (we had purchased ours in advance on line), and board a tour van that drives you across the street and on to the grounds. One does not just walk through the famous gates and up to the door of Graceland. You are given an iPad with headphones, and that becomes your "tour guide" to the house and grounds. Actor John Stamos narrates the video on the iPad that you are seeing which guides you throughout the place. It is very well done.
While Graceland is a very nice home, the house is actually smaller than you might think. The decorations that were in place in 1977 are maintained, and let's just say that Elvis' ideas of home decor may not quite agree with yours or mine.
Nice wall and ceiling coverings in the Billiard Room!
The famous Jungle Room.
And some nice portraits on display:
The second floor of the house is closed off to the public, so the Tour takes you only through the first floor. You then go outside of the house to various additions and out buildings, and these have been turned into a true museum to Elvis. You also see a child's swing set, circa 1970 or so, that was Lisa Marie's. It was kind of a touching thing to see, really.
Elvis also had a racquetball court built at Graceland that included this living/seating area:
It was in this room, you are told, that Elvis, on August 16, 1977,after a morning out with friends, came into this room sat at the piano, sang a couple go songs, including "Unchained Melody", and then retired to his room to rest, and it was there that he died. It was rather moving.
Of course, it is no longer a racquetball court, as the space is now devoted to more of a display of Elvis artifacts and memorabilia.
The Tour concludes in the Meditation Gardens, where Elvis is buried along with his parents and grandmother.
Going into the place, Marilyn and I were expecting a very high degree of Tackiness at Graceland, and I must say that, Elvis' interior decorations aside, we did not see that. However, when you went through the Visitor's Center upon your return from Graceland itself, that Tacky Factor manifests itself. No less than fourteen separate gift shops where you can buy just about anything with the image of Elvis Presley upon it. Capitalism at work, not to mention the laws of supply and demand, and, yes, in case you are wondering, we dropped a few bucks throughout the place.
Not all of the Visitors Center was tacky, though. One place was called the Elvis Archives, and it was showcase of the efforts of museum professionals to catalogue, archive, preserve, and display all of the "stuff" accumulated over the life and career of Elvis Presley. That was fascinating to see. And everyplace you go throughout the Visitor's Center is playing Elvis Presley music, and this is certainly not a bad thing.
The Visitors Center also has Elvis' two airplanes on display, which were pretty cool to walk through.
There were a lot of people at Graceland on this Thursday morning in November, but we can't say that it was crowded, which was good for us, because it afforded us a more leisurely tour of the place. We cannot imagine what it must be like in the Summer at the height of the vacation and tourism season. Obviously, Graceland is one of the largest tourist attractions in the State of Tennessee and the United States, and we, Marilyn and I, cannot recommend it highly enough.