I hopped on the train with my brain still in business mode, my thoughts scrambled after a week of “real-working-life”, and no expectations of the destination to come. Pleased to leave the hustle and bustle of the big metropolitan mentality, I would’ve been happy with anything. I was just relieved to see the rolling deep green hills blurring past my window and imagining the smell of the fresh grass and clean country air relaxed me for the journey ahead.
Nothing had prepared me for my arrival in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Mentally this had conjured itself as the poor scrawny cousin of London, dirt on his clothes and insults thrown into his face with the wind. A destination that had never featured on my “must visit” list, yet alone even make it into my conversational life.
Oh, but how wrong I was. I deserve to be burned at the stake for my judgmental post –Geordie Shore ideals about this wonder of the north. Newcastle Upon Tyne is a true beauty. Perhaps the ugly duckling that turned into a beautiful swan? I’m still not sure, but she sparkles in the nighttime and lights up your life.
How refreshing to be in this city that has shrugged of the ghosts of its industrial past while maintaining a proud blend of old and new. Known to some as the “Sydney of the North”, [due to the Sydney harbour bridge looking uncannily similar to the Tyne bridge], the river is adorned with stunning bridges – architectural masterpieces which are lit up like jewels along the river.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to be in this sophisticated urban capital of incredible buildings, galleries, great cuisines, and yet deep-rooted history and tradition. Big-ups to Newcastle.
Joining a crew christened as the “Explore-Four” [cheers Canadian Tourism Board] we were in the city to partake in the festivities known as Traverse14 – the ultimate blogging conference, housed in the Sage Gateshead building. A building so reflective it blends into the clouds above, yet at night appears to be a ship on the river due to some creative lighting and windows.
The Traverse team put on a stunning event themselves, with a packed lineup of industry heavyweights and a fair share of GREAT competitions. Highlight for most however may have just been the “Twitter Bar” where during an intense Q & A session as the pinnacle of a day’s learning, you could order alcohol using the #traversebeer #traversewine hash tags and have them delivered to your seat.
Eg: Hey traverse crew. Get your hustle on and deliver a #traversewhitewine to the kiwi chick in the black spotted dress!
Far too easy and let me tell you, we were an excitable bunch. Selfie’s and terrible puns ensued, and the live twitter projections got a little out of hand…
The Newcastle Tourist Board also delivered an impressive line-up of Sunday activities to show off the true heart of the destination and blow contrary beliefs to smithereens.
Being mindful of a post party hangover I went against my usual outdoorsy enthusiasm and let my alter-ego trump, opting for the Angeethi – Indian Experience over the 30-mile bike ride. This sent us on a journey into the heart of traditional Indian cuisine, while relaying it’s foundations into British culture and how this nation got the hots for curry in the first place.
An incredible description of traditional spices was the highlight for me, learning that fennel improves your memory [great after a night on the vino], cardamon resolves bad breathe, and cloves cure toothache. Also being given more food that is humanly possible for one individual to consume was a pretty fun experience – although I was embarrassed to say not a single person finished their 3-course lunch [Youths these days].
A weekend away will exceed all your prior expectations of Newcastle – even better if you go with none. Go and prove the stereotypes wrong and enjoy the sophistication and liveliness of this city. It will leave you both refreshed, yet thirsty for a little more of its loving.
As I sat back on that train watching the green hills blur past, and speeding towards the dark clouds of London, the rain streamed along the glass and cried out to be back in Newcastle.