Written by fizzytom on 07 Aug, 2003
From the Monument, head up Blackett Street towards St. James Park, over the roundabout and continue up Gallowgate. At the top turn left back on yourself and you'll see Rosies Bar. Turn right here and this is Stowell Street, the heart of Chinatown. Somewhat smaller…Read More
From the Monument, head up Blackett Street towards St. James Park, over the roundabout and continue up Gallowgate. At the top turn left back on yourself and you'll see Rosies Bar. Turn right here and this is Stowell Street, the heart of Chinatown. Somewhat smaller and less hectic than such areas in Manchester or Liverpool, the area is home to many Chinese businesses such as restuarants, supermarkets and herballists.
There are some great restuarants here and some average ones. "Mangoes" is renowned for serving possibly the best dim sun in the city while "Lau's Buffet King" has a good self-service selection at reasonable prices.
The Chinese supermarket opposite Lau's sells everything from newspapers to squid and exotic and unusual eastern vegetables to Chinese ornaments and kitchen utensils. Around the time of the major Chinese holidays they offer a selection of fantastic fresh fish but at other times there is a ood choice of frozen fish that you won't find anywhere else in the city.
Formerly Bar 53, one of the city's most interesting undependent bars, on the corner of Stowell Street is a beautiful new Japanese restaurant, Nagomi. (I will be reviewing this in the future)
Near the supermarket you'll se a little arch-way leading to a pleasant
cloister-type square. This is Blackfriars. On summer week-ends and mid-summer evenings there are sometimes concerts held here and it's a popular place for office workers to sit with a sandwich on fine days.
This was the site of a 13th-century friary. From the 16th to the early 20th century, this was used as a home for the needy. Today it houses craft shops and exhibitions relating to the city's history.
It also houses the Blackfriars Cafe-bar which is the UK's oldest purpose built restaurant having served as the monks' refectory. (See separate entry for restaurant review.)
At the very end of Stowell Street turn left just after Blackfriars and see some of the well-preserved city walls.
Just over to the right opposite you are a couple more restaurants but this time Japanese.
This area is somewhere fairly quiet to stroll around and offers some quite contrasting sights, the quiet contemplation of Blackfriars and the hustle and bustle of Chinatown. The local Chinese community is pressing to have an arch erected to designate that you are entering Chinatown. I hope this happens; this Chinese community is one of the most visible ethnic communities in the city and people from all sections of the community flock to these streets at Chinese New Year to see the Dragon dances and the wonderful fireworks.
Written by fizzytom on 06 Aug, 2003
Whilst this part of town is certainly not the most happening or, indeed, the most attrative, things are improving here and there are a number of interesting things to see. I'll talk about the station at the end because I'll assume you'll start this mini-tour…Read More
Whilst this part of town is certainly not the most happening or, indeed, the most attrative, things are improving here and there are a number of interesting things to see. I'll talk about the station at the end because I'll assume you'll start this mini-tour in front of the station with your back to it. If you've just got off a train, you might fancy a bite to eat or a drink and there's a good choice round here. Directly opposite you is O'Neill's, an Irish-style chain pub which offer average bar food - a little over-priced but OK.
Just slightly to the left is Gotham Town - you'll see some huge vampire bats on the wall outside. Contrary to what you'd think, this pub isn't full of white-faced, black-clad Goths; while the decor is very much Gothic and could be a haunted house straight from Hammer films, the pub attracts amain-stream crowd and has a DJ at week-ends as well as very good drinks promotions. During the day it offers an extensive menu at very reasonable prices (pizzas, burgers, salads, chilli, pasta, fries, nachos, fish and chips,etc). Just over the road you'll see a new statue erected in memory of Cardinal Basil Hume who was born and raised in the city. The statue of him stands on sandstone which has been cut into the shape of Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and Inner Farne, the two main isalnds where the first monk-like bishops Aidan and Cuthbert lived in retreat.
Behind it is a "Garden of Contemplation" and the two commemorate the region's rich Christian heritage. The garden is an oasis next to the busy road over the wall. The garden and statue are attached to the Cathedral Church of St. Mary - follow the path round to the main entrance on Clayton Street. In 1838 Augustus Pugin was commissioned to design a Catholic Cathedral; it was paid for by public subscription with some of the city's poorest people paying a half-penny each. Built in the Gothic Revival style with an unusual triple roof it is an attractive building but sadly it's charm can often be overlooked because it stands so close the pavement on a narrow and busy road. The huge east window is particularly pretty; it shows the family tree of Christ and was designed by Pugin and made by William Wailes who worked around the corner in Bath Lane.
Turning immediately right as you leave Gotham Town is a new bar, Coco V, which is very stylish. If you can put up with the loud music it's worth a look at the North African-influenced decor.
And next to that is the Forth Hotel - a pub which recnetly transformed itself into a bright and airy place with a new menu and sadly inflated prices. The food is nice (ciabatta sandwiches with fillings like hoummous and char-grilled vegetables, or feta and olives) but again a little over-priced. Sunday afternoons are great here, when a DJ plays mellow soul and reggae, a good way to relax.
If you've got a little while to wait for a train connection maybe or just passing an hour or two, there's enough around here to keep you happy.
Written by fizzytom on 09 Jul, 2003
Earl Grey's Monument as it is properly named, stands in a small plaza at the convergence of several of Newcastle's principle streets. Especially at weekends, it is teeming with people of all ages because it's central and, largely traffic-free, location make it an ideal spot…Read More
Earl Grey's Monument as it is properly named, stands in a small plaza at the convergence of several of Newcastle's principle streets. Especially at weekends, it is teeming with people of all ages because it's central and, largely traffic-free, location make it an ideal spot for a meeting point.
The Monument is a rather less grand version of Nelson's Column in London and was erected in 1838 in honour of Earl Grey's efforts with the Reform Bill.
The steps around the Monument offer a place to sit down and people watch but beware -- the local drunks also like to take the weight off their feet here and at weekends there are often placard-waving people of various religious persuasions delivering their own particular version of the gospel. The plaza is often the finishing point for demos, where the final speeches are delivered.
Looking south at the Monument towards the river, you are greeted with the spectacle that is Grey Street. Grey Street has over the years won various awards for tiltes such as the "most impressive street in Britain". Certainly, its architecture is most imposing and this street has, unlike some others in the city centre, retained it's grandeur. Facades are largely untouched and any shop signs, etc. have been added sensitively and in keeping with the style.
Near the top of Grey Street is the Theatre Royal, another neo-classical building with a fantastic portico of Greek columns. The Theatre plays mostly plays host to touring productions and visiting ballets and orchestras from overseas. It is also home to the English Northern Opera.
Grainger Street which runs from the Monument to the Central Station is another street largely in the Greek revival style but one which has not been so meticulously looked after. Nevertheless, things are improving and several buildings which had been neglected are now in the process of being sympathetically restored.
Just along Grainger Street on the north side is the Windows Arcade. A fantastic little covered crescent which houses, amongst others, one of the city's best music stores, Windows. There is also an internet cafe in the arcade and a tourist information office.
At the bottom end of Grainger Street, towards the railway station, check out the Period Clothing Warehouse, a must for lovers of second hand and retro clothing. This place also does a great line in '60s and '70s furnishings and glassware.
Finally there is Blackett Street -- watch out for the buses. They appear from nowhere and are very fast! To the left, Blackett Street leads you to the football ground and to the right out of town towards the city's east end. To the left is Old Eldon Square, a small green, mostly inhabited by teenage Goths. This has been regarded as a problem by the city council but, by and large, these young people cause few problems and, in my opinion, prejudiced narrow-minded people have blown the situation out of proportion.
Just behind you, when at the Monument is Monument Mall, a recently built arcade which links the Metro station with one of the larger department stores, Fenwick.
This entry is intended as a orientation guide. All the places mentioned will be covered in more detail in further journals.
Written by justin121883 on 18 Apr, 2006
Problem: With their great combination of affordability and hospitality, B&Bs in England are the way to go, but many don't have websites, and most don't book online. Small-town accommodations are especially hard to book from overseas.Solution: Book a bunch of nights in Newcastle in…Read More
Problem: With their great combination of affordability and hospitality, B&Bs in England are the way to go, but many don't have websites, and most don't book online. Small-town accommodations are especially hard to book from overseas.
Solution: Book a bunch of nights in Newcastle in one of the big centrally located hotels (think Travelodge or Premier Inn). Most of these hotels will let you cancel your reservation free of charge if you do so before noon the day prior, so when you get to Newcastle and get settled, go to the VIC and book some cheaper, homier rooms, possibly in some more out-of-the-way locations.
Caution: Many B&Bs will only accept cash, so be sure to check beforehand to see if you'll need to make a stop at the ATM.
Written by Random on 17 Nov, 2002
Newcastle is not the most obvious tourist destination, people seem to be put off by the language barrier; but ah divvint knaa wot there on aboot man. It's a good thing the road signs aren't in Geordie as well though. Newcastle is certainly…Read More
Newcastle is not the most obvious tourist destination, people seem to be put off by the language barrier; but ah divvint knaa wot there on aboot man. It's a good thing the road signs aren't in Geordie as well though. Newcastle is certainly worthy of a weekend visit, especially if you like things big; by English standards there are big bridges, big buildings, and big portions of food. I recommend stotties in particular--a sort of big bread roll.
The big attractions for tourists are the Life museum, which offers interactive rides and displays; an outdoor ice rink (in the winter); and the quayside, with the world famous Millennium Eye Bridge and the new Baltic arts center--entrance is free, but you need to book in advance for the top floor restaurant. These two features are key to Newcastle/Gateshead's bid for City of Culture 2008, quite ironic really as your average Geordie wouldn't know culture if it bit him on the ass. The most popular Geordie activities are drinking, smoking, and raving about the football team.
If you're visiting in warmer months, hop on the metro and head out to Tynemouth, which has the best sandy beaches in the area, and if it starts raining--which it probably will, the sheltered sea-life center is also nearby. A metro stop away from Tynemouth is North Shields, the best place in Tyneside to experience fresh fish and chips, you can virtually see your cod caught and cooked in front of you.
Newcastle has a reputation for being a party town--the two main club and bar areas are the Quayside and the Bigg market. Most clubs are pretty similar however--dance music, ugly people, and sticky floors--so be careful where you go.
A final word of warning--don't be tempted to try Newcastle Brown Ale, many people believe it is just water dredged from the river Tyne. If you are in any doubt, just try speaking to a Geordie who's had a couple of bottles--howay man, it's yor torn to get the booze in.
Written by milliebell on 13 Jun, 2002
Newcastle is an excellent base for day trips. I will try to give you some insider information here.
BEACHES. The best beaches are in Northumberland. Getting there involves a bus trip from the Haymarket bus station (beside Haymarket Metro). My favourite beach is CRESSWELL. It's…Read More
Newcastle is an excellent base for day trips. I will try to give you some insider information here.
BEACHES. The best beaches are in Northumberland. Getting there involves a bus trip from the Haymarket bus station (beside Haymarket Metro). My favourite beach is CRESSWELL. It's really sandy, with lovely big high dunes. It can be reached by bus X33 from Newcastle. Sunday and evening service is limited, so check carefully first. NEWBIGGIN has quite a good beach, and is a small former fishing village. It is quite faded and run down now. Try bus 432. SEAHOUSES is very popular, also as a destination for cruises to the Farne Islands. There is a 2 hourly bus service.
If you want convenience by public transport, go to those accessible by Metro. For all of these destinations, the Metro runs frequently from early morning to late evening. WHITELY BAY is a favourite one. The town centre has a good selection of restuarants and St. Mary's lighthouse is a popular visitors' spot. At the end of the day, it becomes a popular evening spot, especially among the younger population, with several bars. Check the times of the last Metro carefully! Nearby TYNEMOUTH is more upmarket, but suffers delusions of grandeur. It has some nice shops, and a good stretch of beach, but its sense of superiority is perhaps not justified. Still,the Tynemouth priory is nice to visit. SOUTH SHIELDS is another good choice. The town centre has a nice art gallery, and there are several good eating and shopping options as well.
POPULAR SIGHTS - The village of WARKWORTH is very touristy, but very very pretty. Warkworth castle is in ruins, but intact enough to give you a good idea of what it was like. In the village, St. Lawrence's church carries a lot of history. Warkworth was the scene of many former battles between the Scots and the English. Look out for Bridge End house by the bridge. This is a wonderful building, but sadly not open to the public. Bus 518 stops at the castle and in the village centre from Haymarket bus station. Nearby AMBLE is a short stroll down the river. They describe themselves as "Britain's friendliest port." That is a bit of truth-stretching though. I went to school there: I know. The marina is a popular strolling spot. Also in North Northumberland, BAMBURGH castle is finely preserved and is justifiably popular as a tourist site. There is a good beach there too. Ask at the Haymarket about the infrequent buses.
Going the other way, DURHAM is a historic city with a famous university. The Cathedral and castle are wonderful to visit. There is so much there that a prolonged stay would be better, but if you're doing it as a day-trip, trains leave from Central station often, and there are frequent buses. BEAMISH is an open air musuem near the town of Chester-le-street. It is set around a mining village. The drift mine tour is interesting and so are the tram rides. It is good for souveniour shopping and will provide a few hours entertainment.
OUTDOORS - Here you might be pushed using public transport. The Cheviots are fantastic for walking. The village of Longframlington is a good base and can be reached by bus. However, the buses to here don't run often and you are still a bit out. Rothbury is an old market town that provides some walking opportunities. It is reached by the same limited bus service as the above, but provides better accommodation options. The only budget spot on the scene is the camping ground though. My favourite outdoor spot is Harewood Forest. This provides several hiking trails in a thick, dense forest with several deer and other good wildlife spotting opportunities.
HADRIANS WALL is famous. This is better if you don't have a car. Bus AD122 from Eldon Square bus station runs along all of the main sites, including Vindolanda and Housesteads, and it calls at all of the main towns on the way, such as Corbridge, Hexham and Haltwhistle. There are some good hiking routes between bus stops.
KEILDER reservoir and forest is also a popular outdoor spot with several campsites. If you're using public transport, it will require an overnight stay. A bus goes from Newcastle about twice a week. There is a youth hostel nearby.