We could hardly come to Memphis and not go to Graceland, regardless of how expensive it is. Armed with our $4 off coupon, we arrived at Graceland just after 10am. Having bought our tickets, we thought that it would be a good idea to check out some of the other exhibits first before going on the mansion tour, but none of them were open yet. So after a failed quest to find coffee, we joined the queue for the tour. You are not permitted to walk across the road and up to the mansion by yourself, instead you have to queue for minibuses that drive you the 200 yards across the road and up the driveway. It might be a crowd control/security thing, but it isn’t very green! We were all handed a headset for the audio tour and told to listen to the first clip, which told us how to use the audio tour.

Elvis' grave

Outside the door we were reminded once again that no video recording was allowed and that we were allowed to take photos but not to have the flash turned on, then were told which number on the audio tour to press as we walked into the hallway. The tour walked us around the downstairs areas in the house, the upstairs is kept private as a mark of respect. The audio tour was very informative, but it was a little stop and start since I had to keep pausing it while I waited for the queues of people to move on so I could see what it was talking about. Graceland at the weekend… possibly not the best idea. After the house, including the pool room and TV room/ bar in the basement, the tour went through Vernon Presley’s office, the shooting range, the car port, and exhibits which were situated in what used to be the racquetball courts and the Trophy Room, with all of Elvis’ awards lining a long corridor. The mansion tour finished with a visit to the meditation garden, originally built by Elvis as a quiet space for reflection, which now houses the graves of his parents, his grandmother and Elvis himself, as well as a small marker for his stillborn identical twin, who is buried elsewhere. The amount of floral tributes and gifts here was astounding. Apparently Graceland receives thousands every year, and they display all of them somewhere around the estate. After visiting the graves we were bused back across to the main complex (after queuing for 15 minutes in the cold) to visit the rest of the exhibits.

Pink Cadillac

Finally the restaurant was open, so Liz was able to get the coffee that she was craving before we headed into the Automobile exhibit. This houses 33 vehicles which belonged to Elvis, including the famous pink Cadillac among an array of cars, limousines, motorbikes, golf carts and a tractor. The cars were awesome, although it was quite badly lit for photos and of course flash was banned which was a little disappointing. After the cars we went to various exhibits, which although they each had a different theme, all contained very similar information. We were also able to tour Elvis’ two private planes, which were really cool. The ‘Lisa Marie’ named after his daughter features two bathrooms with 24 karat gold seats, a living room, a conference room a guest room and a private bedroom for Elvis, with every seat equipped with a gold plated seatbelt, there is rich and there is too rich! The second plane ‘Hound Dog II’ was much smaller and had bright green and yellow leather seats. After the planes we went to the final two exhibits, situated a short walk down the road. The way that the tickets worked meant that we could not revisit any of the exhibits once we had left them, so with nothing left to do, unless we wanted to buy Elvis nail files or similar in the gift shop we went back to the car. We went back to the hotel via the supermarket to get something slightly more substantial than the instant soup that we had. Although we had planned to spend the afternoon catching up on blogs, we ended up watching copious amounts of Veronica Mars on the laptop while eating microwave popcorn and only doing a little blogging. Oops.