Ahhh a long weekend in Newcastle, perfect. Just perfect.
I cannot stress how truly magnificient that city really is. And I’m shocked at how many people I’ve met, have never visited. It may be colder up north but believe me, it’s worth losing the negativity and just heading on up to somewhere new. I may be biased, as I was born there, but I can assure you it really is worth the journey.
And that applies to anyone, I think tourists who come to England also seem to think London or Edinburgh are the only places worth visiting. I emplore you to add Newcastle to your itinerary.
The vibrancy of Newcastle forever excites me. There is so much to do there, that even I get flummoxed at how to spend my days there. But in this trip we absolutely managed the highlights of the city (and that was very important as my beloved friend had never been before, so I had to make that ever-important first impression just outstanding).
We travelled by train (londonmidland.com for cheap deals – our ticket was £50 from London to Newcastle) and arrived at lunchtime. I also recommend checking for flights too (as there often can be some fabulous deals and you get there even faster!)
Upon our arrival, we headed to Cullercoats for some views of the beach and some delicious lunch at Brown’s Salthouse (http://www.yell.com/s/bars-ne30.html). The food really is spectacular here, they offer a delicious mix of traditional pub food with an added Geordie twist. I had a gorgeous salt beef Stottie sandwich with gravy and mustard (a Stottie is a large, flat bread bun – quite the Geordie delicacy). It was the perfect portion to start the day.
Staying with my family, we had a glorious catch up before heading out to the city. We were going to a gig at Newcastle’s 02 Academy that night. Newcastle has a vibrant music scene with a number of music venues around the city.
Check out http://www.viewnewcastle.co.uk/ or to see which gigs are coming to the city as well as any shows/club nights. There is ALWAYS something going on – remember there is a reason this city is so well known for the masses of Hen/Stag dos that come here – the nightlife is pretty darn fun. And you will find it 110% true, Geordies are the friendliest people you can meet.
As fans of the rock scene we headed to Legends (http://www.myspace.com/legends_rock) after the show, where we got half price entry upon showing our ticket. It seemed like it’s a good place to go boogie but on Friday night it seemed to be Cyber Goth night or something, the music was not what we expected but it was still fun. I just got the impression Saturday night would have been more our cup of tea.
Taxis are easy to find in the city, we had no trouble around the Theatre Royal picking a cab up.
We stayed at the Swallow Hotel in Gateshead which was much more reasonable than a lot of hotels further in town (we paid £59 for 1 night through http://www.laterooms.co.uk). http://www.swallow-hotels.com/hotels/swallow-gateshead.aspx
It was over the other side of the Tyne Bridge and we were instructed it was easier to get a cab to the Quayside from there. On the website it states the hotel is only a 1 mile drive from the Quayside. Then to get into the city centre you can get a bus, literally just outside the hotel, (the 1, 2, 21 or 22 which take you straight to Eldon Square shopping centre right in the centre of the city).
We went to the Baltic art gallery for coffee and a cultural start to the day. The Baltic has had some seriously interesting and unusual pieces. I visit every time I’m in the city, it’s so good. http://www.balticmill.com
Another fabulous hidden art gallery and fabulous cafe and restaurant is The Biscuit Factory. The artwork is always impressive and usually sourced from local talent. You will find selections of jewellery, paintings, furniture, pottery and sculptures. http://www.thebiscuitfactory.com/home/
I definitely recommend this whether you fancy a bite to eat at http://www.brasserieblackdoor.co.uk/ located there – which really is very, very nice for a special occasion. Very glam and has delicious menus.
We then hit La Tasca for dinner back on the Quayside for some yummy, yet reasonable Tapas before going on to the fabulous Malmaison hotel for exquisite cocktails – even though it’s not on the menu ask for a Black Forest gateau cocktail – oh my god, is all I’m saying and not too bad at £8. Just do it, I beg you it’s divine. https://www.malmaison.com/hotels/newcastle/newcastle-mal.aspx
The night-time view from Malmaison at this time of night is particularly nice as you get glorious views of the lit-up Millennium Bridge and Tyne Bridge…just gorgeous! And for an even better view there is the Pitcher and Piano which sits just in front of Malmaison.
We then got a cab up to Collingwood Street (near Central train station), where there is a collection of fabulous bars all owned by the same people. They are amazing and all right next to each other.
Madame Koo – www.madamekoo.co.uk
Florita’s – www.floritasbar.com
Baby Lynch – www.babylynch.com
Now I’ve been to LA a fair few times in my life and these bars seem to really have this LA vibe, most likely due to the fabulous interior design that has been employed to each bar. A 70s, homely, quirky-kitsch vibe in Baby Lynch, A miami cocktail bar with some added tattoo art flair in Florita’s and a Buddha, eastern magical wonder in Madame Koo. They have gone all out to create a more interesting drinking experience in each of theit bars and I just love it. You can really dress up to the nines and not feel out of place.
However, Saturday night these bars are buzzing! And I mean buzzing. I would have loved to have popped in all three to get a taste of each but unfortunately the queues were huge. We didn’t make our way over to them until 11pm which seemed ideal in terms of dancing time but wow, it was packed. So we just ended up in Baby Lynch, which was very cool, had a really fantastic, eclectic mix of music from rock to pop to indie, perfect place to start a nice a dancing night out…if you can find a spot to dance. We did at the end, sometimes you just gotta dance anywhere!
These fabulous bar entrepreneurs also own Mr Lynch, another Baby Lynch and As You Like It, all located in funky student mecca, Jesmond. If you’re stuck where to go just stick to these guys.
And then for all the soul/hip-hop/rnb/motown/reggae/jazz lovers out there there is the hidden club heaven that is World Headquarters on Carliol Square. www.welovewhq.com
OMG. I just adore it. Pack flat shoes my friends, this is a place for some serious dancing til dawn (til 5am to be exact). It is the hands-down best way to end an evening up ‘toon. I love that’s it’s hidden away down an unexpected alley and far away from the craziness of the Bigg Market and the like.
You leave feeling uplifted just as the flyer promised (the night we went to was one of the club’s famous Uplifting Groove weekends.) Hands in the air for Whitney Houston, Grandmaster Flash, Jay-Z and Ray Charles.
Tiredness hits and dragging ourselves out of bed we head to meet my family for a fantastic lunch at Gateshead’s iconic music venue The Sage. http://www.thesagegateshead.org/ With outstanding views of the city’s skyline and Quayside, it really is worth a visit here. It’s often called the Armadillo, however I have been calling it the Caterpillar – call it what you will, it’s quite the spectacular site.
If you can catch an artist/band/orchestra there that you like, then even better. I spotted that Debbie Harry is performing there with an orchestra in March – so definitely check it out.
As you head back to Central Station, head to North, a bar just outside the station, for a cheeky drink and a spot of lunch (fabulous retro bar) or the fabulous Centurion Bar and Restaurant (which is inside the station). Marvel at it’s impressive high ceilings, spectacular art nouveau tiles and maybe even a live jazz act. The food there is very good and even if you just fancy a coffee and a snack they also have their own small (yummy) deli just outside the main hall, leading to the train platforms.
So get up toon my friends! I canny recommend it enough!
Geordie and proud Emma Goho xx