When we arrived in central Memphis we headed straight for Beale Street – which probably marks us out as complete tourists. To me it was so American that it looked like a film set!
It is mostly bars and restaurants and music blasts out into the street. That night we enjoyed BBQ on Beale Street and watched the street come to life with street performers and bands in bars. People started to stream towards us in the direction of the Fedex Stadium and we guessed that there must be a game on. On the way back to the car we went to the ticket desk of the stadium, on the off-chance that tickets were reduced now that the game had started. They weren’t (quelle surprise!) but at $15 each we decided to go for it (after some serious debate obv). So we caught most of a basketball game – the Grizzlies were playing, and it was really really cool!!
Safety: Before we went, I had heard that Memphis was a tad unsafe, but Beale Street itself was heavily policed (even going so far as to have metal detectors at night-time) so was fine. In my estimation, Beale Street did indeed feel safe, and there were several Police cars cruising around in daylight and nighttime. In the darkness we went straight back to our car with the crowds from the stadium after the basketball game. However, Memphis outside Beale Street felt deserted, even in daylight. We explored South Main street and many of the other smaller streets and we always felt like it was a ghost town, with few other pedestrians on the pavements, and many shops / businesses boarded up. Court Square and North Main Street was bit more populated in business hours, with people on lunch breaks and such like, but it still felt unusually quiet for the size of the town. I can only guess that the recession has hit hard in Memphis. As a result of this it did feel slightly discomforting, as obviously as a tourist you feel safe with other people around. Although we didn’t feel “at risk” at any time, I would be careful and remove any flashy jewellery or cameras. But don’t let it put you off visiting Memphis!
Next blog: Ducks in Memphis, USA
Previous blog: Graceland, Memphis, USA