What’s the first thing that springs to mind when someone says ‘Newcastle’? Grey, rainy, poor? Industrial? Geordie Shore? You couldn’t be more wrong! What about hip, cultural, lively, interesting? Yes, now we’re getting somewhere. But to really convince you, I’ll say this: vampire rabbit!
But first things first: when VisitEngland and the Northumberland tourism board asked me to come to Newcastle (and surroundings) I was not too sure what to expect. But you can’t blame me. I had seen Geordie Shore before and if that was what the city’s all about, I was not going to be happy. Luckily I noticed my taxi driver, who brought me from the airport to the city center in just ten minutes (not cause he was driving this fast, but because the two places are so close to eachother), got pretty mad when I mentioned Geordie Shore. Men should not be in the bathroom doing their hair and eyebrows for so long, I believe is what he said.
Anyway, already during my first walk from my hotel (Du Vin, thank you very much) to the city center I was in awe. I was down at the Quayside, looking at seven bridges over the river Tyne, all located within one kilometer (or mile, I forgot). A very cool sight! The first bridge is the Millennium Bridge, if I’m not mistaken, and is very modern. It’s a tilting bridge and closes like an eye when a bigger boat has to pass. Then there’s a swing bridge, a railway bridge, a high level bridge and some other ways to cross the Tyne.
The river Tyne actually divides Newcastle upon Tyne into two parts: Newcastle and Gateshead. On the Gateshead riverside there are a few very cool attractions. First one is The Baltic, the old flour mill that has been turned into a very cool museum of contemporary art (free entrance). Next to it there’s a very futuristic building called The Sage Gateshead, which is a place where concerts and conventions are held. The design represents the inner ear. Clearly.
On the other side of the river, you’ll find the small but interesting center of Newcastle. It’s all within walking distance! The actual heart of the city is where Earl Grey is put in his column. From here you can either go shopping on Northumberland Street, you can walk to the biggest cathedral of Newcastle, which is St. James’ Park or walk down Grey Street, which has been voted the most beautiful street in England. Also interesting is Grainger Market, once the biggest indoor marketplace in England, now home to the oldest surviving Marks & Spencer. By the way, if you want to do some more shopping: just outside of Newcastle you’ll find the biggest shopping mall in Europe. On your way there, please stop for a second at the Angel of the North for a quick photo moment.
What else is cool in Newcastle? Well, it’s vibrant and hip, with the highest density of pubs, bars and clubs in the entire country. There are almost thirty art galleries and more than ten theaters in the city. There’s a biscuit factory that has been turned into a fantastic modern art museum. There’s a castle (this is probably the only thing in Newcastle you actually have to pay for, entrance that is) and there’s a VAMPIRE RABBIT. Located adjacent to St Nicholas’s Churchyard this rabbit’s a mystery which has remained unsolved for a number of years. Nobody can really tell you why it’s there. It just is. And it’s awesome!
If you’ve had enough of the city center, you can start exploring Northumberland, the region that runs all the way to the Scottish border (actually it’s not that far). Here you’ll find a brand new park in the shape of a woman. Look at my picture and notice a nose on the left and boobs in the middle. This park used to be coalmining area. Drive a little further to Alnwick, where Alnwick Castle attracts half a million tourists every year. Why? Cause this is the castle in the first and second Harry Potter movie. You can play quidditch here. On brooms. They don’t actually fly, but you can imagine it would still be fun. For those who are interested in ancient history, a drive to the Hadrian’s Wall is a must. Not too much left of this 110 km wall, but the ruins are still worth while. And the landscape is fantastic.
Alright, I can tell I’ve already talked too much. You want pictures. Here you go…