What kind of ducks deserve to walk down a red carpet while getting hundreds of pictures taken and dozens of videos recorded of them in the process in Memphis? Those lucky enough to be a select Peabody Duck of course! But how do the ducks get selected and what exactly am I talking about?
Random Fact: While Nashville, TN may be nicknamed “Music City, USA”, Memphis, TN holds the
world record for being the city around which the highest number of titles and songs have been recorded and produced.
I drove into Memphis and decided to start off by grabbing a bite to eat. I had heard about a place called Boscos, so when I came across it I decided to check it out. The neighborhood seemed lively enough and the place looked pretty impressive, so the decision was made pretty quickly. There were a few extra precautions I practiced when visiting Memphis, as its crime rate is among the highest in the US, but I’m glad to say that I never ran in to any issues at all!
I ordered the Boscos Burger which is a pretty straight forward standard burger on a brioche bun; I opted for provolone cheese and a side of fries. This was an excellent burger and the lettuce, tomato, and hidden pickle were very fresh tasting. As you can even see in the picture, the lettuce has a freshly picked look that you don’t find in grocery store lettuce. It’s a burger that will fill you up very fast, not just because of the burger itself being a good size, but the brioche bun is a good filler itself! Afterwards I headed into the city a bit deeper to check out some sights.
My hotel was very close to Beale Street, so after checking in to my hotel I figured I should see Beale St. during the day so I could compare it to it’s rumored “crazy night life” scene. Even during the day when it’s calm and there are very few people roaming around, you can tell that this area doesn’t sleep at night, cops are constantly on patrol (many more are added at night) and alcohol drinking is allowed in the street, just as long as you don’t wander too far down the street passed the police patrols and vehicle barricades.
Random Fact: In 2002, an “Irish diving goat” named Maynard, famous for drinking beer at Silky O’ Sullivan’s, paraded around the Grizzlies’ home arena to end a 13-game losing streak, which worked! Silky’s then sent Maynard to Wrigley Field in an to attempt to break the Cubs’ goat-related curse, which actually worked for one game! You can now see the goat yourself at Silky O’Sullivan’s!
After a quick viewing of daytime Beale St., I headed over to see the home of the King. Yes, I’m talking about Elvis Presley! Graceland is about a 20 minute drive (depending on traffic) from Beale St. and if you’re visiting Memphis it’s an obvious “must” to check out Graceland. There are a lot of things to do within the rather small confines of the Graceland area. Across the street from Graceland are numerous stores selling nothing but Elvis Presley merchandise, restaurants which of course are all Elvis themed, several museums all dedicated to different aspects of Elvis’ life including a view of the Lisa Marie Aircraft, and the famous Heartbreak Hotel. Now, depending on when you read this, you may have missed your chance already to see this famous hotel which has stood since 1985 (Hey, I share my birth year with it!) as it is being closed down for a new $70 million hotel across the street which is currently being called the “Guest House”.
Random Fact: In 1957, Elvis bought Graceland for $102,500, where he would call “home” for two decades. Situated on nearly 14 acres, it was built in 1939 by Dr. Thomas Moore and his wife Ruth on land that once was part of a 500-acre farm dubbed Graceland in honor of the original owner’s daughter, Grace, who was Ruth Moore’s great-aunt. When Elvis purchased the property he kept the name.
Another Random Fact: An estimated 40 percent of Elvis’ music sales have been outside the United States; however, with the exception of a handful of concerts he gave in Canada in 1957, he never performed on foreign soil.
After viewing what is considered to be “holy ground” by many of Elvis’ fans, I charted off course a bit from what was supposed to be the next thing I wanted to checkout (the Memphis Pyramid) and decided to grab dinner as I was roaming around the Graceland area for at least a couple hours. Since I was in Memphis I wanted to get a real taste of Memphis, which means barbeque! I ventured out to another place I had heard about called Leonard’s. If it sounds familiar at all, it might be because it was featured on Guy Fieri’s show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”.
Here, they don’t add any seasoning to the pork; instead it’s flavored through its cooking process, which if I remember correctly is a mix of coal cooked and then wood smoked. However, you can request that they be flavored with rib sauce, which is recommended if you’re not accustomed to the flavor. I opted for the sauce simply because it sounded better at the time, and when they arrived I was glad I did. A couple of the ribs on the end got very little sauce on them which allowed me to try a few bites straight. I don’t consume pork very often in any form, which might be why I didn’t taste anything amazing with these ribs. Regardless though, when I was done they hit the spot I needed to feel pretty satisfied. Afterwards I headed back to my hotel room in preparation for a quick stop at the Memphis Pyramid and my tour of Beale Street!
If the only pyramids you’re aware of are the ones in Egypt and possibly the Luxor in Las Vegas, then you’re probably in for a shock to find out that Memphis, TN has one as well! The Memphis Pyramid was originally a stadium which served as the home of the Grizzlies and many major events in the city of Memphis, but it was abandoned and the FedEx Forum was constructed as a replacement. However, since it was in a different location and therefore the Pyramid didn’t need to be destroyed, it has now been rented out by Bass Pro Shops. While it’s not my kind of store, this was a must-visit for me as I tend to have a slight obsession for anything Egyptian related and any unique structures. The structure was originally supposed to be 1 of 3, but the original man behind the idea who brainstormed the project all the way back in 1954, had to leave the concept up to his son who settled on building just one. While the outside is mirror-like in person, the inside is really amazing! It also offered me another chance to face my fear of heights in yet another different way as it has a mainly glass-enclosed elevator! And… it has a moat going around it inhabited by alligators… No joke…
Random Fact: Memphis is the only five-time winner of the nation’s cleanest city award.
After a quick ride up into the top of the Memphis Pyramid and a view of the city, I headed back down and over to Beale Street. The view from the observation deck at night offers a good look at the Mississippi River, however since I was in-between cameras and had to rely on my iPhone, the pictures I took of the river at night aren’t that great.
Beale Street comes to life at night in an extreme way, there is a constant feed of music as you walk down the street, continuous changes in genres and styles, neon lights blinding your eyes, random people dancing, jumping, and falling all around you. The best way to sum up Beale St. is like a toned down version of Fremont St. in Las Vegas. Sure, there’s no casinos or giant screen that runs above the street or a bunch of naked people performing weird acts (while I didn’t see anyone naked on Beale, I’m sure if you spent enough time here it would happen), but it does offer a bit of the same chaotic feel. If you compare the picture of Beale Street further up that I took during the day with the one I took at night below in almost the same spot, just a bit further back and off-center, you’ll notice it’s much more alive.
As I ventured up and down Beale Street I wandered in and out of many places getting a taste of the various music and consuming some food at a jazz place. The meal isn’t anything worth mentioning, but it was a slight indulgement from my younger self as I ordered up chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce and some fries! Instead of spending more money on an expensive meal, I spent a few bucks getting into a couple clubs, one of them being Jerry Lee Lewis’ Cafe. In my opinion though, “cafe” being in the name of this place no longer fits, perhaps it did at one point, but not anymore. Now it is more of a jumbled mess of entertainment, on the first floor you have 2 areas, to the left of the main hallway you have a pretty typical bar playing hard rock, to the right of the main hallway you have a darker bar with restaurant tables spread around and a small stage. At the time of my visit the band on stage was pretty good, they were playing a Goo Goo Dolls tune during my investigation of the area.
Random Fact: “Memphis” is sung in over 1,000 song lyrics and titles,
according to Billboard Magazine – more than any other name of a city in the world.
If you go to the end of the hallway you’ll find the staircase leading up to the 2nd floor and pretty quickly you’re hears will be subjected to very loud floor shaking bass. There’s 2 main rooms upstairs that kind of blend together, there’s the drink room and then there’s the DJ room. You get your drink from the bar and then head over to the DJ room where there’s nothing but a few TV screens showing music videos and countless laser lights flashing all over the place. If you can make it through the crowd you can go out onto the patio and see Beale St. from above. The view isn’t anything special, but it’s good for people watching.
After that I headed to a place that stood out to me, mainly because the band was so good; the Blues City Cafe, and you know you’re in the right place because there is a massive neon sign inside that says “LIQUOR”. It’s also well known for one of its drinks which is a staple of drinking on Beale St. which is the Walk Me Down, which from what I understand will knock you out, just on its own. It comes in 2 sizes, while the first can probably be finished by one person, the second size is recommended to be shared with other people, MANY other people, as you will not be able to finish it, and if you tried you would die before you can. I witnessed a many people walking around with them, most with the small size and only a few with the large size.
After this I did some more walking around to see what other interesting things I could find. I had to head down some pretty shady streets that were unnervingly quiet, but I ended up finding the famous Paula & Raifords Disco, which is a pretty insane looking place from the outside. Considering it was already 3am and there was a line at the door I didn’t bother attempting to go in, I was pretty much running on empty at this point.
I snapped this picture and then headed back to my hotel. If you decide to visit Memphis I must suggest that you spend the extra money and stay in a hotel very close to Beale St. You can explore a lot of Memphis by foot during the day this way without having to repeatedly pay for parking fees which will add up very quickly and more than likely surpassing the money you would be trying to save by staying in a cheaper hotel further away from.
The next morning was a change of pace…
If you don’t know what The Peabody Hotel is then you’ve probably never been to Memphis, TN, and if you have been to Memphis and don’t know about The Peabody Hotel then you missed a very important icon of this city. I managed to find out about this famous landmark by watching one of the many travel shows I’m addicted to. It’s a lavish hotel that started in 1869, however the current Peabody Hotel was built in 1925 at the corner of Union and 2nd St. in downtown Memphis. This place puts every hotel I’ve ever been to, to absolute shame (except maybe a couple in Las Vegas). There are no cheap shortcuts that were taken in this place, the floors are either marble or very fine detailed carpet, the ceiling switches between beautiful stained glass and marble, all decorations are either marble or brass, and inside the grand lobby is the famous fountain with a huge flower bouquet on top.
And as you look at the water you may be asking; what are this things in the water that look like ducks? Well, they are ducks! Real living ones too! Here’s the short story; in 1933 the general manager of the hotel at the time and a friend went hunting, got drunk, and placed their live duck decoys in the fountain because they thought it would be funny. The reaction was apparently pretty crazy (in a good way) and so a tradition was started, and now after 80 years the tradition is continued as every day the ducks are marched down to the fountain at 11:00am and it still draws a huge crowd of people!
Random Fact: The Peabody Marching Ducks have appeared on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” “Sesame Street” when Bert and Ernie celebrated Rubber Ducky Day, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and in People magazine and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
Now, I’ve noticed a discrepancy with the ducks themselves. The site claims that there are 5 ducks that do the march, but I can clarify that while I was there I witnessed 4 ducks (1 male, 3 female) that walk down the red carpet. Maybe this changes during certain seasons or if one of the ducks isn’t feeling well, but I’ve also seen other footage where it’s only 4 ducks, so I’m not sure about the duck count. Either way, I very much enjoyed watching them waddle down the red carpet and take a dip in the fountain! It turned out to be a pretty big highlight on my trip!