In my previous post, we had just completed our morning tour of the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit, and were ready to head to downtown Memphis for lunch and a Mississippi riverboat ride.

Since we had heard that parking downtown was not always the safest option, we decided to use Lyft and Uber during our visit. As a fringe benefit, it also meant we would be able to fully enjoy the bars on Beale Street without worrying about the drive back to Graceland.

A quick check showed a Lyft driver could get to us in 7 minutes, so we checked in and waited for our ride on Elvis Presley Boulevard - right next to Lonely Street.

No sign of Heartbreak Hotel

We had a couple of hours to kill before our 2:30 boat ride, so we gave our destination as the Peabody Hotel. This is a beautiful old hotel downtown that is known among other things for its ducks.

That's right, ducks.

Every morning someone walks the ducks down from the Duck Palace on the roof of the hotel, into the elevator, and down to the fountain in the lobby in a grand ceremony. At the end of the day, there is a reverse procession back upstairs.

A Peabody Duck enjoying the fountain.

Now we've seen plenty of ducks before, so we did not bother trying to witness the ceremony. But Rita loves to visit this type of grand hotel, and we had read that the rooftop is a great place to get views of the city. So we nonchalantly walked in as though we belonged, snapped a few obligatory duck shots, and strolled over to the elevators like we were paying guests ($330 a night).

No doubt about which button to press

Turned out someone was in the process of hosing all the duck shit out of the duck palace, so we didn't get any pictures of their rooftop home. Not much to it really, just a screened-in room. We did however get to see a bit of the city and catch our first glimpse of the Mighty Missisip.

That's a minor league baseball stadium downtown, home of the Memphis Redbirds.

Fedex Stadium, which is over near Beale Street 

Time for lunch, so we went back out to the strangely empty streets. We were attracted by a colorful sign that read "MARGARITAS!", so naturally that's where we headed. Although it was prime lunch hour, the restaurant was also nearly deserted.

I mean, was there ever any doubt??

Fortified with a balanced meal of chips, salsa, and margaritas, we were ready to walk the half-dozen blocks or so down to the waterfront and our waiting riverboat. Again, it seemed very odd that on a Tuesday early afternoon there was very little street traffic and almost no one walking downtown.

The Memphis Queen

We posed for our "welcome aboard" photo, and found seats on the upper deck. For the next two hours, we were treated to a fun and relaxing ride on the Mississippi River. The young man pointing out fun facts and points of interest managed to do so without being annoying, and there was good music playing during his break (and yes, Proud Mary was one of the songs).

Part of the Memphis skyline, and tomorrow morning's objective - the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid

Rolling on the river

What impressed us most was the force of the river current. You could see huge bow waves where the river flowed around the bridge pylons. It made me very suspicious of the flimsy-looking paddle wheels, pictured above. I have a hunch the boat was powered by enormous twin inboard motors, and that the wheels were merely for show, being turned by the water rather than providing propulsion.

Really enjoyed the ride, and once we were back ashore we were ready for another short walk to check out Beale Street, the legendary "Home of the Blues".

The King welcomes us to Beale Street

Beale Street's claim to fame is that it is three city blocks where you can go for great food and music. The blocks are closed to traffic, and tourist guides all like to point out that you can walk around with a plastic cup of beer or a cocktail. You cannot, however, walk into a club with a drink from somewhere else, like you can in New Orleans along Bourbon Street.

In fact, having been to New Orleans a couple of times, Beale Street seemed like a pale imitation. We still enjoyed the short stroll up and down the blocks, and paused to listen to a couple of live bands performing.

For dinner, we decided to go with the famous BB King's Blues Club. Much to our delight, although it was only about 5pm, there was a live band performing by the name of "Memphis Jones". A three-piece band that actually was quite good. We were shown to seats right up front with a great view of the stage, and settled in to enjoy some music, beer, and barbecue to to cap our anniversary celebration.

Great seats!

Got their Mojo Workin'

We enjoyed the show and the food for about two hours, and then decided to call it a successful anniversary and head back to our hotel. We had noticed the place filling up in preparation for the change in bands at 7pm, but we were a little surprised when we walked outside that there was now a line stretching down the whole block to get in. As we left, two more were allowed in, so we really lucked out arriving relatively early.

An Uber driver was closest this time, and less than 20 minutes later we were dropped off at the front door of the Guesthouse at Graceland. BTW, both ride services charged about $15, which we thought was a small price to pay to not have to worry about parking or driving.

A wonderful time, a busy but rewarding day, and a great way to celebrate not just our 9 years of marriage, but also our 13 years as a couple.

Up next: our last day in Memphis, featuring a trip to the BassPro Shop (really!) and a tour of Graceland.