We are recently back from a fantastic couple of days in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I saw a photo on Instagram a while back of Zaap Thai, which is a restaurant in Newcastle, it looked so quirky that I told Jono I’d love to go and bless him he surprised me with flights! This is a very long blog post so grab a coffee.
I’d never really thought about Newcastle as a holiday destination although I’ve always been intrigued by the place, probably because the Angel of the North is there and for some reason I’m petrified of it – I wanted to see it and face my fears.
We flew from Dublin airport to Newcastle, Ryanair have two flights a day and if you keep a look out for the sales you can grab a great deal. Ours were €10 – bargain! The flight took just under an hour and with the short trip on the Metro from the airport to the City Centre we were shopping before lunch time.
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is an amazing city, it’s home to fantastic nightlife, great restaurants, art galleries and more. It’s steeped in history and as you walk along the River Tyne you can check out the seven bridges or cross over into the town of Gateshead.
We stayed at Sleeperz Hotel which is a stones throw away from Central Station. I absolutely loved this place, we had a family room which overlooked the railway, the castle and St. Nicholas Cathedral. The hotel was the perfect base for exploring the city, so many places were within walking distance and when we needed to get the bus we could do so from Central Station or Eldon Square. We had breakfast at the hotel which was a buffet including fried breakfast items, cold meats, cheese, cereals, bread, a selection of coffees and teas, fresh fruit and yogurt. Having such a good breakfast was great because it kept us going for the day. The room was so quiet too, we couldn’t hear any noise from the other rooms, the only thing we heard were the passing trains and I loved that, it was very relaxing.
When we arrived we dropped the bags off at Sleeperz and headed up to Grainger Market. This is a fantastic market and well worth a visit, it’s been in operation since the 1800’s. There are so many different stalls and shops including a great pizza stall, the queue was a mile long so we knew it had to be good. £1.80 for the biggest slice of pizza I’ve ever seen and yes it was delicious. We also checked out The Pudding Parlour, you can’t go on holiday and not have cake! Of course I wanted one of everything but I just went for a malteser slice.
I loved how vibrant and diverse Grainger Market is and was thrilled to see the smallest Marks and Spencer in the world…and it’s still in operation.
I was also intrigued by the ‘Weigh House’ it’s 30p to get weighed and there was a queue inside the room. When I return to Newcastle (and yes I’m already planning it) I’d love a proper tour of the market and someone to tell me all about the history. I’ve also heard there’s a underground tunnel there that I’d love to visit.
After the market we visited The Mog on the Tyne which is Newcastle’s original cat cafe. It was lovely to relax over fantastic hot chocolates and watch the cats playing. At one point there was a cat in my handbag and Lucy had a bit of a competition with Stan who was trying to share her hot chocolate. All the cats are rescued and now enjoy life in the cafe.
Later that day we went to the intu Metrocentre which is the biggest shopping centre in the UK. As you know I’m not a shopper but I did enjoy having a wander around the centre while Lucy spent an eternity in Primark (Penneys).
The next day I had a little wander around the outside of Newcastle Castle, I didn’t go in because I was watching our budget but hopefully will next time.
I also walked along the Quayside, I loved the mini beach complete with deck chairs and mock beach huts as well as the palm trees. I see Whitley Bay has real life beach huts. I didn’t get to the seaside on this trip, mainly because the weather wasn’t good…but next time.
Lucy and I took the short walk to Ouseburn after breakfast. We went to the wonderful city farm and I fell in love with a cow! Admission is free and there are lots of different animals to see and feed. There is also a cafe. If I lived there I would love to volunteer at this place.
Next to visit was Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books. This award-winning centre is the only one of its kind in the UK and it’s not just for kids. It has original artwork and notes from popular children’s books. I was fascinated by the Michael Morpurgo exhibition, we watched a video where he explained how he wrote. He said he writes about things he is interested in and tells the stories like he is talking to his best friend. There were also various other lovely rooms with a lot to see and do, the perfect day out for all ages. We also dressed up as bears! It was very interesting and great fun.
The Victoria Tunnel tour was our last place to visit in Ouseburn. I’m fascinated by tunnels and this was no exception. It was originally built as a wagonway to transport coal from the colliery to the river in the 1800s. It was then converted for use as an air raid shelter during World War 2. As we entered the tunnel to the sounds of an air raid siren our guides Dave and Kay told us the history of the tunnel and all the different stories connected to it. I’m not going to tell you much about it because this really is a must visit place if you are going to Newcastle. The tour is £6 for two hours and is fantastic value for money. It’s not for the faint-hearted though and I did feel some kind of presence there.
After our day in Ouseburn Lucy headed back to the shops in Newcastle and I plucked up the courage to get on a bus and visit the Angel of the North. As the bus approached I could see the statue and I started to feel very nervous and quite sick but I’m not a coward and even though I was scared I felt this was something I had to do. I got of the bus, took a deep breath and walked up to the Angel – I even managed to touch it!
I still don’t really like it but I can now look at pictures of it without freaking out. The thing I found most moving were the tributes people had left to their loved ones.
When I got back to Newcastle we all went to Zaap Thai which is the restaurant that inspired this trip. To be honest I’ve never seen a place like it. I’ve never been to Thailand but the chain pride themselves on bringing the best Thai food to the UK in an authentic setting. This place just blew me away, there was so much to see! Of course the food was fantastic too. I want to have a birthday there because someone in the restaurant did and the staff came out with all kinds of musical instruments and sang and danced, it was so cool!
Sadly the next morning we had to fly back to Ireland, not before I had a quick look in St. Nicholas Cathedral which is just stunning and well worth a visit. I also went to Greggs – to bring some goodies back for Andy. You can’t go to the UK without getting something from Greggs.
To sum it all up Newcastle is a very special place, the people were so friendly, the city is just amazing. It’s easily my favourite UK holiday so far and if you’ve never considered it as a holiday destination I’d say you should. I loved every minute of it and am already making a list of things to do next time. I have to say thank you to David from the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative for all his fantastic suggestions of places to visit. You can read Lucy’s post here.