Charlotte Cook
Charlie Cook has been an international Elvis fan for over 20 years and tells her story of visiting Graceland for the first time on June 29, 2011. She currently lives in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

My first memory of Elvis is from a movie around the age of 7 or 8, and I first noticed this man, who I thought was very beautiful looking. I didn't know who he was at that time, but I remember that I didn't move from the TV until the movie was over. I found Elvis again a few years later. I was just coming into my teens when again, there was a movie on TV, and I saw that beautiful man. This time I knew it was Elvis and I fell in love. I remember spending my allowance on two cassette featuring his greatest hits and I still have them to this day. Since then my collection has grown.

From the age of 16, I had dreamed of going to Graceland. I would promise myself "in 5 years’ time, I’ll get there." Sixteen years later, I finally got to Memphis and the wonderful place Elvis called home. When people ask me what it was like, I find it difficult to answer since there are no words to describe the emotions I felt that day - but I knew I’d be back! My first experience of Graceland was an emotional one and I made notes that day which ended up being four pages long. Here's a recap of my dream trip to Graceland.

First, I couldn't believe I was actually at Graceland. We woke up at 6:00 a.m. and my friend drove myself and my friend Gracie to the mansion. As we turned onto Elvis Presley Boulevard, I saw the place and immediately filled with emotion.

During the morning walk-up, I couldn’t stop looking at the mansion. So of course, I had my photo taken with Graceland in the background. We walked up to the Meditation Gardens and as we walked by the graves, well, we both started to cry. It was so moving and peaceful. I couldn’t believe I was standing there looking at Elvis' resting place.

Once we wrapped up paying our respects, Gracie and I both left messages on the Graceland Wall for Elvis. Then it was off to tour! We had tickets for the VIP entourage package tour. First stop was the mansion. We walked up the pathway onto the porch, and the door was opened. As we walked inside, emotion hit us again like a freight train. We both gasped at the thought of being inside Elvis Presley's Graceland.  

On the wall in the dining room was a lovely picture of Priscilla and Lisa Marie - what a deep respect and love he carried for them. We then ventured off the Trophy Room. Talk about WOW! Wall to wall gold records and cabinets full of trophies from all around the world! It was just amazing to see the mark he left on the world and his impact on the music business.

Then we went through to the Racquetball Building which houses even more awards and his legendary jumpsuits. This room has to be more than 30 feet high with floor-to-ceiling awards. Considering Elvis rarely left the states, he made a massive impact on the rest of the world, what an ARTIST!

After the gazing in amazement at all of his accomplishments, we made our way back to the Meditation Garden. Even though we had seen it during our morning walk-up, it was still emotional for us. Lisa Marie shared memories in the audio guide, talking about the reason Elvis was so popular all over the world. Lisa Marie said it was because of his amazing spirit and his ability to reach other people's spirit and touch them - powerful words. With "If I Can Dream" playing in our headsets, we both paid our respects again and sobbed our little hearts out.

I was quite disappointed to be going home after such an amazing trip at Graceland!, I still can’t believe I was there, seems like such a distant memory now. I finally ful-filled my life-long dream since I was 16. I have so many memories to look back on from this experience. By the way, I had not even planned Elvis Week 2012 at this point. I clearly knew I was coming back!

I'm still discovering everything Elvis - music I haven't heard yet, clips I haven't seen. It's a journey of discovery I'm enjoying to the fullest!