As we drove in to Memphis it was already dark, but the streets were filled with lots of people and the lights of downtown sparkled on to the Mississippi River. We checked in to our Airbnb where we were greeted by our host and local artist who was blowdrying layers upon layers of paint in her dining room. We chatted a bit about music and her art, and then headed out in a search of our first southern BBQ experience. We and ate some incredible tasty pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, and potato salad, while Elvis Presley smiled down at us from the pictures pasted all over the walls. After our delicious meal we decided to explore the music scene and found ourselves sitting in the dingiest dive bar listening to a local artist (who I swear looked like David Bowie, although Marco thought otherwise) and drinking $2 beers. Thanks to hipsters, the word "dive bar" is seriously overused and the majority of the time misrepresented; a dive bar nowadays consists of antique mismatched furniture, craft beers with weird names on tap, a wall of random polaroids, and of course an old jukebox in the corner containing some of the classics. But the true definition of a dive bar can be found in Lamplighter Lounge. A dark lounge, with furniture that was probably found in the alley, Betty Page posters hanging next to paintings of kittens playing with yarn, cigarette buds thrown on the floor, the smell of gym shorts, alcohol, and smoke filling the air, and a menu of three beers to choose from. It was the perfect place and a perfect ending to our night.
The next day we headed off to Nashville, but not before stopping at yet another famous BBQ joint where we devoured a rack of ribs. Did you know that ribs can be wet, jerked, or dry? I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but I like mine jerked and dry. After a tasting lesson on barbecue we headed towards the music capital of the States. We arrived in Nashville and walked explored around town trying to get a taste of the 'city of music'. We ended up befriending the group of people sitting next to us at a local dive bar and after getting to know each other over some drinks, we headed over to a bar known for it's infamous Motown Monday's. We danced to some great tunes until the bar closed down and went home a little happier having spent an incredible fun night with new friends!
The next morning we set off to Asheville, North Carolina, driving through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. We had driven through several mountain peaks by this time, but The Blue Ridge Mountains had an incredible and different feel to them, as a haze formed around the forest and emitted this blue coloring over the peaks. We drove into Asheville a bit later than we expected, being distracted by the Appalachian's and spending most of our time there (also got to spot a wild bear eating grass and thankfully not any of us). We grabbed a quick bite at a local taco shack and hit the hay quite early so we could seize the short day we had left in Asheville. The following morning we spend the few hours we had, walking around downtown and the river arts district of Asheville. It is a beautiful city and it was a pity we couldn't spend more time there, but will definitely be back.
Our U.S road trip was coming to an end and our final stop was Savannah, Georgia. We were lucky enough to make this our last stop, thanks to our good friends getting married. We were excited to be in this gorgeous Southern city, getting to spend quality time with all our closest friends before we set off to explore the rest of the world. It was a really fun and magical weekend; gazing up at the Spanish moss, eating lots of Southern grub, strolling through the park, dancing the night away, watching our friend's getting hitched, karaoke-ing Queen songs, and enjoying the company of all our favorite people. We couldn't have asked for a greater ending to our American journey!! As we said goodbye to all of our loved ones we were ready to set off and begin our adventures abroad.
Illustration by: Guido Fusetti