I had the privilege to make my first trip outside of the United Kingdom in September 2005.  My first ever trip overseas would include eight flights in ten days (and I’d never been on an aeroplane before!)

My first trip abroad would be a visit to Memphis and Graceland (as I’m also a huge Elvis Presley fan) and of course, a trip to Los Angeles, that included an all-important trip to pay my respects to Natalie Wood.

I visited Grauman’s Chinese Theatre first on my Natalie trip.  I could not believe how busy the Theatre was!  I found Natalie’s handprints very easily and I found it fascinating that her hand and footprints have aged so well since she put them there in December 1961.  I couldn’t believe how small her hands were – I can now imagine how dainty she must have been in real life.  I also visited her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but unfortunately didn’t manage to have my photo taken with the star, as it was just so busy when I visited.

My next stop was the important one.  I finally got to pay my respects at her grave in person.  It was a beautiful, sunny, Sunday morning when I visited Westwood Memorial Park.  I was quite apprehensive about visiting the gravesite and it was really emotional for me.  Finding Natalie’s grave was really easy and I found it really fascinating that visitors seemed to gravitate towards Natalie’s grave first before looking for the (harder to find, I thought) crypt of Marilyn Monroe.  I found Natalie’s final resting place to be beautiful and extremely peaceful (just how I’d imagined Natalie to have been in life) and she chose a remarkable place to be buried.  I left the customary pennies on her gravemarker as per Russian Orthodox tradition to bring luck in the afterlife, and was really pleased to have been the first one to leave pennies that day.  (I even brought UK pennies from home just for the occasion!).  My best friend Lindsay, who I was on holiday with, also left pennies for Natalie.

All in all I found my visit with Natalie to be extremely spiritual and I am so pleased that I was finally able to visit with her and pay my respects.  I wonder how many other UK visitors on holiday do the same?

My trip to Graceland and Memphis was also wonderful.  It had always been an ambition to visit Graceland and it was all I thought it would be.  The house itself was amazing and it actually felt more like a home and not like a museum.  You actually felt as though Elvis could walk in at any time, you could feel his presence.  For any Elvis fan it is the ultimate experience – one I will definitely never forget in my lifetime!  I stayed at Heartbreak Hotel (across the road from Graceland itself) during my stay and that was also a highlight because it had everything you needed for an Elvis fan – Elvis music and movies 24 hours a day!!

Here are some photographs from my holidays: (click on photos to make them larger)

Natalie's grave.
Natalie's grave

UK Pennies on the grave.
My UK pennies on the grave

Visiting Natalie's grave.
Visiting Natalie's grave

Natalie's hand/foot prints.
Natalie's hand and foot prints
With Natalie's handprints.
With Natalie's handprints

With my best friend Lindsay.
With my best friend Lindsay
On Graceland's steps.
On Graceland's steps

At Graceland's famous gates.
At Graceland's famous gates
Writing on Graceland's wall.
Writing on Graceland's wall
Proof I'd been to Graceland.
Proof I'd been to Graceland

Design by Michelle Merryweather and Kris Martin