Memphis, Tennessee: a short and sweet first impressions.

Oh hi there, 

I wanted to start a little diary of my first impressions on different cities I visit. Just talking about what being there was like for me and whether or not I would go back. It seems like a cool idea of remembering places I’ve experienced and also kinda helpful for anyone thinking about going there.

So I have decided to start from 2016 because honestly, thats about as good as my memory gets. Its also kinda when I started experiencing places as a “grown up”. Fully appreciating what was around me, as well as actually having to pay for everything myself.

The first city in this series/diary is going to be Memphis, Tennessee. I had spent the summer of 2016 working as a camp counsellor in Maryland and the travel period afterwards came pretty quickly. I do have to admit that Tennessee wasn’t the first place on my list but I chose to follow my friends on this occasion and it definitely paid off.

It was me and 4 friends I had met at camp and we decided to go through Airbnb for the first time for our accommodation. We found a cute little house in Midtown that costed $60 per night. Being that there was 5 of us, this worked out at just $15 each. When we arrived we were not disappointed. Our host owned a vintage store downtown and so the home was filled with recycled and repurposed furniture. It had such a homely feel and was the perfect instagram aesthetic.

Our host was really welcoming and gave us loads of tips on what to see and how to get around. Don’t get me wrong.. we would have been happy with just the free wifi at this point but we got so much more. It felt like being at home and definitely converted me to Airbnb.

Like I mentioned, our neighbourhood was in Midtown. It was a short walk, maybe 5 minutes, from loads of shops and places to eat. It felt like a kind of hipster area, with vegan eateries and urban outfitters round every corner. The neighbourhood as a whole had a very ‘cool’ urban yet rustic feel about it.

So now we were free to explore Memphis and really take in the city. We chose to get uber around, which isn’t the cheapest choice, but again it was our first place out of camp and we decided to treat ourselves. Although we did get lucky here after meeting the best driver who agreed to take all of our calls for $50. This was after spending maybe $15 with them already but this meant our total travel around was $13 each. Obviously this isn’t something that will happen to everyone though, so to give an estimate, it was probably between $4-$7 a ride around the city centre.

Getting into the centre of the city is really where you start to feel what its about. The music culture runs all the way through. This can be seen through the street art to the countless jazz bars playing live music through the day and night. It would be easy to walk into a bar on Beale Street and spend half the day/night just soaking in the atmosphere. B.B. Kings was a particular favourite of ours and is where we found tickets to a ghost walk around the city at night.

Stepping a bit further out from the music hub of the city and you will find a whole other world to explore. Various museums tell the story of Martin Luther King and the struggle faced by black people to gain equality. You can visit the spot where King was assassinated and really understand the legacy he left behind.

After soaking up the history of the city you can head to the Peabody Hotel to see its famous Duck parade (the ducks live in the penthouse and basically have life goals) or travel a bit further and hit the home of Elvis Priestly. My next blog post is going to be what I thought were Memphis’ top 5 things to do, so follow me to see a more detailed look at what to do while in the city.

We were only in Memphis for a short period but honestly didn’t stuggle to find things to take up our time. It’s a city filled with history and quirky places to visit. It felt modern but with a vintage route that to me, made it a hipsters paradise.

Colourful street art makes for great photo ops around the city and the food and drink is not to be underestimated. American portions are always generous and Memphis is no different. Prices weren’t the worst either with alcoholic drinks usually ranging from $7-$9 (based on spirits; jack daniels, vodka etc.) and meals being anything from $5 for sandwiches to $15 for full blown gumbo goodness.

For me, another thing that really made the place was the people. Everyone was friendly, from our uber driver to our ghost tour guide. They would do as much as possible to help and nothing was an issue for them. They really helped with the over all chill vibe of our stay.

Honestly for me, Memphis was a perfect first place to visit. We could stay around Midtown for a chilled afternoon, eating in little indie cafes and soaking up the sun, before heading into town for a music filled, alcohol enhanced evening. I loved the city and would visit again in a heartbeat. There always seemed to be something completely different to do and if you like quirky places, or are simply a jazz fan, I would definitely recommend adding it to your list.

Stay peeled for another post this week on my top 5 things that you need to see while in Memphis. Follow, like, comment and all that jazz (yes that was a pun), and stay patient with me, I am just getting into writing here, any feedback would be cool.

Speak soon, 

David

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