Counting Down the Rollercoasters!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010



Chapter 1: It’s Hot, Damn Hot in Memphis!
The Shag @ Cockadoos
Friday, 11 June and an insanely early plane flight from Atlantic City (plus excess luggage costs!) saw us transfer in Atlanta to get to Memphis. This meant that we arrived in Memphis around 10am which was too early to check into our hotel; however it was located downtown so we were able to store our luggage and take the bare minimum with us as we entertained ourselves with what we could find within walking distance, and air conditioned because at 10am in the morning, it was already in the mid 30’s (90’s)! We had not been able to grab any breakfast on the plane, and we just had enough transfer time in Atlanta, so by this time we were very hungry! And just around the corner from the hotel was this great place called Cockadoos that we stumbled on: We wandered into Cockadoo's for breakfast, and were surprised to find a quirky, fun diner with flat out incredible food and huge portions as usual. Justyn went for the blueberry pancakes with scrambled eggs and in honour of Elvis, I went with a little something called The Shag which was French toast with peanut butter and banana, whipped cream, blueberries and maple syrup. It was awesome! And we were able to get hot tea with milk – something that is very difficult to get her in the US! The people were very friendly, with that Southern hospitality that we’d been expecting.

Chapter 2: The Historic and Pretty Cool Side of Memphis

Memphis Rock n Soul Museum
After filling our bellies, we wandered back out into the heat of the morning day and found the downtown trolley which tootles around the main area of Memphis to get our bearings. The great Mississippi flows through Memphis and we had our first sweeping views of it on the trolley ride. We hopped off near the infamous Beale Street which was very quiet at that time of the day despite the hard work of the spruikers trying to get you into their clubs. We stopped for a cool drink in BB Kings Blues House (he was born in Memphis) and then ended up at the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum which is run by the Smithsonian Institute. A fascinating place which tracked the birth of rock and roll through an amalgamation of country / hillbilly, black gospel and a funk rhythm at a time of huge cultural change happening in America – segregation was still commonplace, except in through music. The museum also charted the changes that happened when Martin Luther King II was assassinated in Memphis at the Lorraine Hotel, the rise of Sun and Stax Studios and the influential people in the rock and soul world who came from Memphis. FYI, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi took their inspiration for the Blues Brothers from Sam & Dave who were Memphis lads with Stax Records. It was time to finally head back to our hotel and check in and take a rest from the heat, so while I blogged and checked out tickets, venues and activities in and around Memphis, J had a nap.

Chapter 3: Rendezvous at Rendezvous
Dinner we had decided a while ago would be at Rendezvous, a dining experience mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide as well as on an episode of Man Vs Food – famous for their ribs and brisket. With a deep breath of air conditioned air, we stepped out into the heat and into the throngs of people who were gathered to enter Autozone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds who are a AAA baseball team and feeder to the St Louis Cardinals. We thought about going, but the queues were too long and it was too hot to be sitting and watching the game. So Rendezvous for dinner it was! But of course we had to queue there as well! As we came around the corner, there were heaps of people waiting outside with the same idea as us! So we left our name and went and had a cooling drink while we waited for a seat. It did not take long as service was swift and the menu was real simple – ribs or brisket! One of each please! Very good food – the brisket melted in your mouth and ribs fell off their bone. Served with mustard slaw, it was a very good dinner and a great introduction to Southern BBQ. After dinner we wandered down to Beale Street to check out what live music was playing and the security we encountered to get onto the street was the most stringent yet! Getting through airport security was a breeze compared to this! Scanners, all pockets opened and a pat down! And the temperature was still in the 30s! Our first day in Memphis was just grand.

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