Sunday, 22 November 2015
Exploring Newcastle with Travelodge
Any excuse for a mini break, eh? I go on quite a few every year, but why not - we live in such a well connected part of the world. Our country is home to some amazing history, astounding sights and incredible areas of natural beauty and that's not even considering how quickly we can hop across the channel to another country. We're pretty lucky, really.
I'd love to go away more, though. Hopping in the car and visiting somewhere in England really isn't a big deal - you can get pretty much anywhere in an afternoon. The other weekend, for instance, we went about as far North as we could get without crossing over into Scotland, to Newcastle. It took about five hours in the car - not the shortest of journeys - but accompanied by old Adam & Joe podcasts and the Book of Mormon soundtrack and lots and lots of chocolate, it really wasn't so bad.
The nice people at Travelodge put us up in the Gateshead hotel, and it was the perfect base to explore. It's a couple of miles outside the town centre, but really well connected. There's a big retail park right by it with places to eat like KFC and TGI's, and the Metrocentre - the big shopping centre in Newcastle - is pretty much next door. And it's only about 15 minutes walk from the train station too, so getting into the centre is easy. We got a cab home in the evening, which was really reasonable (especially to someone used to London/Home Counties prices!).
We headed into town on Saturday for an explore. I’d never been before, so we had a good wander around the town and along the Tyne. It’s a really attractive city, I think – something that I didn’t necessarily expect. But so much of the original architecture has been preserved that it doesn’t feel like all soulless and modern like some towns – it has personality.
Armed with a handy Buzzfeed list, our thoughts turned to lunch (mine had, of course, been fixated on lunch pretty much since I finished breakfast) and we came across The Red House, a cosy pub that does pies, and does them damn well. I had the sausage, apple and cider pie with some gloriously cheesy mash and gravy, and Matt went for their mince, ale and stout pie with honey and mustard mash. We had a serious conversation later in the day about returning for dinner, too! It was really good value and the food came super fast, too.
Afterwards we wandered a little more and went into a Nicholson’s for dessert, but we both getting a little tired (that long drive takes it out of you) so didn’t really want to walk any more or spend the afternoon drinking in a pub, and it was freezing and starting to pour with rain, so we went to the cinema to watch Daniel Craig at his finest. We decided the cinema is an excellent mini break compromise, by the way – you get the chance to relax, without the guilty ‘wasted hours’ feeling that a nap gives you. Top tip!
We visited a few pubs after that – a totally unintentional crawl, actually, as we were after somewhere to eat! The Town Wall and Broad Chare were lovely but full, and the Bridge Tavern had already finished serving by the time we got there, but we managed to get a table at the Old Siam for some delicious Thai food. We’ve become very used to a Thai/Japanese fusion place near us, so it was great to have a PROPER Thai meal for the first time in ages. That Massaman curry was excellent – I was pretty devastated I couldn’t finish it.
We hopped in a cab home and had an excellent sleep – our bed was super comfy, and has made me realise how much we need a new one. It was so nice not being woken up by the bed creaking every time one of us turned over in our sleep!
Breakfast the next morning was from Travelodge’s handy breakfast boxes – actually a pretty good selection for a fiver each; a muffin, orange juice, cereal bar and a yogurt. Then we loaded up the car and headed back into town. Firstly we went by the Biscuit Factory, a showcase of local artists with the option to buy anything on sale. There were some great pieces, although mostly out of our budget.
We headed to Harry’s Bar for lunch on Carla’s recommendation. The food came really quickly and was excellent – the meat is carved at the table, and was beautifully pink inside (you can opt for well-done if you’d rather). The potatoes were crispy and buttery and tasted amazing. My only criticism is that I’d have happily had double the meat and potatoes – the portions were a little stingy – and I would have preferred more veg (and if I’m being critical, the Yorkshires were a little overdone, too). But quality is more important than quantity, isn’t it?
And that was it! After lunch we stocked up on water and yet more chocolate, and started the long drive home. It was a long way to travel for a weekend, but absolutely worth it – we got to see lots of Newcastle, ate some great food and had a lovely time. Where to next?
Travelodge Gateshead is at Clasper Way, Swalwell, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE16 3BE. Our room was paid for by Travelodge in exchange for this honest review.
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