By the Grace of The King

No trip to Memphis is complete without the pilgrimage to the legendary home of Elvis. We wouldn’t consider ourselves big Elvis fans, but this has to be hands down one of the best tourist attractions going.

It’s a short drive out of town along Elvis Presley Boulevard, you can get a free shuttle from Sun Studios though. Here Elvis laid down his first tracks, hooking up with the likes of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Jenkins along the way!
A visit to Sun Studios is the perfect entree to your visit to the Presley mansion. It’s small but packed with history and if you’re lucky enough to get Lahna as your guide you’re in for a real fun tour. Just brush up on your blues knowledge as she’ll be quizzing you on key dates and songs from time to time. Even if you’re less clued up on this musical period it’s still totally cool to be in a building which has seen the birth of rock and roll!

Back to Graceland then. We popped into the Rock n Roll Cafe for an Elvis special (a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich and a shake) before starting our tour.

The tour of the mansion is largely self guided, you get an iPad with headphones which talks you through the key points of each room with the occasional soundbites from Elvis and his family.

The house is smaller than we expected but no less ridiculous! The rooms are roped off and you follow a one way route allowing you to set foot on the same carpet as Mr Presley himself. Well except for the carpet that’s on the ceiling! Yep that’ll be the famous jungle room complete with an indoor waterfall and ceramic monkeys! It looked amazing and I’m now thinking of getting some of those carved faux fur chairs for our pad – what do you say Amy?

Every room was as unpredictable as the next: the games room was covered in pleated fabric including the ceiling, no windows though; the TV room has mirrors all over the ceiling, 3 relatively large TVs and a projector with a retractor screen (oh and more monkeys!); even the reception room had a 15ft long sofa!

The tour continues out of the mansion and into some of the other buildings within the grounds: through the offices where his Dad did most of Elvis’s administration; past the paddock where Elvis would ride horses, bikes, snowmobiles and let off fireworks; into a glorious record of all of his musical achievements where gold disc after gold disc lined the corridors.

As we entered the final building, the racquetball court the attention turns Elvis’s sad demise. This is a real powerful and poignant moment for me. Seeing the piano he played shortly before he died I’m already starting to well up. To pick you up the tour smacks you right in the face with videos of his greatest performances, costumes and tributes to the greatest recording artist in the world.

Finally you are allowed to take a moment in the meditation garden. A peaceful place for reflection where Elvis and his family are buried. It’s too much for me now and I have to take a moment to gather myself.

Feeling humbled but less shaky we left through those famous gates to see his automobile collection. Huge Cadillacs, Ferraris and even a tractor were on display. He clearly had an eye for a nice motor, I’d love to take one of them for a spin!

This tour has been perfectly crafted exhibiting the life and times of a great man who was taken all too soon. His charity work is commendable and in spite of his rock and roll taste in decor he was a very modest individual who you cannot fail to admire following such an intimate experience. 


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