Posted by: adventuressetravels | June 21, 2010

Sampling the South

I woke slowly, meandering back to consciousness.  Suddenly I could feel eyes burning into me.  Someone was staring me down.  I sat up quickly, looking around – the elderly Chihuahua twitched his nose at me disapprovingly.  I was in his spot.  Well, I had to get my day started anyway.  So much to do and so little time; might as well let the little guy get back to his routine. Foregoing a long, luxurious wake-up, I jumped out of bed.

A couple hours later A and I were sitting down to breakfast at a charming little café called the Trolley Café.  The aptly named little restaurant was located right across the street from a trolley stop and served typical down-home southern cooking from locally grown peaches and strawberries to the less healthy classic southern breakfasts. 

As it was my first time in the South, I felt obligated to order a classic Southern breakfast: grits, eggs, and a biscuit.  Unfortunately L had just started a new job and today was her second day at work so she had to get her food to go.  It was really too bad I couldn’t spend the day with her, but I was still looking forward to spending the day in Memphis and seeing the South.

I turned my attention to the grits, and the waiter kindly instructed me on the proper way eat them – with butter and salt. I have never eaten anything quite like grits before, a bit like salty, pureed oatmeal.  Really quite interesting, but I’m still not quite sure why people in the South would want to eat hot breakfasts. On a side note, I later discovered they can also be eaten with sugar I have not gotten a chance to try them that way. I could barely get through the heavy breakfast; it was delicious, but overly filling for such hot weather.  When I had finally finished, I sat back a minute giving my stomach some time to digest and thinking about where I should go next. 

 L had given me a few recommendations for things to do and see, and I wasn’t about to waste my day here.  I hopped on one of the vintage red trolleys heading downtown.  I was going to spend the day as a tourist and explore a little more of Memphis.  Looking around the empty wood-paneled interior of the trolley car I marveled.  This was definitely the cleanest public transit I had been on and probably the most charming as well. 

My first stop was the Civil Rights museum; if I was going to be a tourist I might as well do it right.  The museum was fascinating; the US really had gone through some terrible times.  Many of the stories were simply appalling; the cruelty, ignorance, and hatred churned my stomach.  But tales kindness and valor too were in the museum.  My chest swelled with pride as I had a little grade school moment at the section on John Brown, and I read the several paragraphs about the evil pro-slavery roughriders burning my hometown to the ground during the Civil War.  I bit my tongue to prevent myself actually saying: “That’s my town.  I grew up in that neighborhood!” It was the same thing we had learned about every year in grade school during our trips to the capital building. 

I spent half the day there, and could have easily spent another few hours, but I had more of the town to see.  I couldn’t spend my entire time on one attraction; I had to fit at least two in there.  I suppose Graceland is probably Memphis’ biggest attraction.  It is, I suppose, a monument not only to Elvis, but also to Americana.  But as neither Elvis, nor the opulence of Graceland held any interest for me I felt no regrets on missing that one.  History, and interesting little nooks and crannies were far more fascinating to me than must-see over-the-top tribute to excess.

Earnestine and Hazel’s, an old-time brothel that had been turned into a campy little bar fit the divey nook and cranny bill perfectly.  The place was deserted when I walked in and the bartender took me upstairs and gave me a tour of the reputedly haunted upstairs.  It was surreal walking along the creaky wooden floors, poking my head in the tiny little rooms, some with deep-footed bathtubs, others with old pianos, and one containing a large table for séances.  Adding to the unique charm of the place, the building had shifted so everything was at a slant, from doorways, to stairs, to the dusty old upstairs bar. Only in the South.

After Chicago, I had been slightly concerned I hadn’t packed enough warm clothes, now I was concerned I hadn’t brought enough cool clothes with me. “Just wear lots of skirts and loose clothes and you’ll be fine. It’s actually kind of sexy once you get used to the breast sweat,” A had laughingly told me.  One day clearly wasn’t enough time for that, I thought as I sat in the freshly grass of the park, waiting for W.  This was clearly a two-shower day. 

 

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Responses

  1. Wow, you DID go to a haunted house, didn’t you?
    Have you ever play Monkey Island? If you like that environment, you’ll love that game…
    Have a good time in Memphis!!!

    Kisses!

    PD: Have you ever hear the group “Memphis La Blusera”? You should give it a try!!!

  2. And did not see Elvis? It is more likely to interbreed with Elvis on the streets of Memphis, than with Shakira in Barranquilla :p


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