Revisiting the Toons: Newcastle
It has not been the smoothest trip back. In fact, it was a bloody nightmare. Flybe cancelled my ticket for the last flight of the day to Newcastle for no reason after issuing me my boarding pass and not a single one of the staff from the airline could be found in the entire Charles De Gaulle Airport after 9 pm on a Thursday night, resulting in me missing my flight and subsequently a night at Malmaison Hotel in Newcastle being wasted, on top of having to pay for a night at the ibis Airport Hotel and an extra 600 euros for a new ticket 7 am in the morning, because no one from Flybe knew what went on and the call centre was offline until 10 am, which would have been too late for me to catch the earliest flight to Newcastle.
Despite all the craziness, I finally made it to Newcastle, one of the largest cities in the North East of England, a city which I frequented during my days at Durham University, which was only 15 minutes away by train. Yet, coming back to the town best known for Geordie Shore, I have a whole new sense of appreciation for the North and am only too excited to be moving back in the coming September.
While I do not want to bore you with the exact breakdown of my weekend, I would like to give a number of places I visited a quick mention. There's everything from food to accommodation, as well as activities that had gone on during the weekend, although mostly food.
Where to stay in Newcastle: Malmaison Hotel
I've walked past the same hotel in Manchester many times and have heard such good things about this place, but even then, no one prepared me for the kindness and warmth you receive from the moment you step into its Newcastle lobby. Recognising that I was supposed to arrive the night before, the front desk clerk immediately checked me into my room, a spacious double-bed en-suite. There's a 24-hour gym on site and a spa for guests to indulge in. Whilst I didn't manage to make use of either, I did enjoy their first class bar and brassier twice for breakfast, where my dietary requirements were well remembered by the staffs and kindly accommodated. The range of food was not extensive, though you have a selection of cold cuts, cheese, pastries and dairy products to choose from. Hot breakfast could also be ordered for just £2 extra. Seeing that I was alone, the staffs came back and forth, checking if everything was fine and making small talk, keeping me company yet not in an intrusive manner. The customer service here is absolutely top-notch. Whether it is the Hotel's excellent training or simply the friendly nature of the Geordies, I couldn't tell but I was positively overwhelmed by their good nature. It was definitely a highlight of my time in Newcastle.
104 Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3DX
Where to hang and eat in Newcastle: The Stacks
(especially Sushi Me Rollin)
Let's just say I spent three of my four meals in Newcastle here at The Stacks, and two of them being in Sushi Me Rollin, a new favourite place of mine in the city (or even in the North!). They do uramaki rolls for under a tenner and the chef selection is just too good to be missed. Everything is made to order using only the freshest ingredients there are. Think Box Park in Shoreditch, London. The Stack is basically the same, with lots of bars and independent restaurants, serving everything from Asian food to vegan goodness. I had my first ever Beyond Meat Burger from Soul Shack Vegan Grill. Whilst it wasn't exactly mind-blowing, it costs less than £7. The atmosphere was electric when we returned Saturday evening for dinner, as Manchester City beat Watford 6-0 in the Premier League final. At that moment, there was no better place to be in the city than The Stacks.
Sushi Me Rollin
Unit 49 Upstairs, Stack, NE16QE
+44 7946 744453
What to do for the weekend in Newcastle: The Late Shows
In the three years that I have been in the North, I had never come across The Late Show, a nighttime cultural crawl spread across the weekend in Newcastle Gateshead. But to be fair, I never explored Newcastle and its nearby cities as much as I would have loved to when I lived there. It was a night at the museums, where shows, exhibitions, and artistic demonstrations were held all over the cities. Artists showcasing their best works for you to admire and purchase. Many pubs serving craft beers and unheard of beverages. It was definitely an alternative night out to getting absolutely hammered as one would easily expect of the North. The best thing about it is that the entrance to all of the events is free. If you've missed this year's, make sure to check out next year's.
The Late Shows
What to see in Newcastle: Weekend market
Another great thing about staying at Malmaison is the proximity to the weekend market. The hotel looks over the river, across the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts, one of the most recognisable and iconic buildings in Newcastle. Over the weekend, stalls line up on both sides of the street along the River Tyne, and as you walk through, be prepared to resist the temptation of freshly cooked barbequed meat and the sweet scent of oven-baked desserts. There are also stalls selling leather goods, organic body care and second-hand books, all things you could possibly dream of in a flee market. Even if you don't spend a dime, it is a nice route to stroll through to get to the city centre, especially when the sun is out.
Where to eat healthy in Newcastle: Super Natural Cafe
I stumbled upon this not so little cafe on the way to the cinema to see Avengers: Endgame, which is three hours of my life very well spent. Super Natural is dimly lit but decorated with fairy lights hanging down from the ceiling, as if a huge teepee. You'll find an extensive selection of veggie and vegan food, from All-day breakfast to burgers and rice. They also have an impressive selection of hot and cold drinks. My creamy lentil dahl curry did not disappoint. I devoured it in less than five minutes. It was very, very satisfying. I must try the peanut butter milkshake next time I'm back. It is the perfect place for a zen lunch or simply tea and cake when you're in Newcastle.
Super Natural Cafe
27 Grainger Street, NE1 5JE
+44 191 447 3800
This is only a brief summary of one of the best weekend spent in Newcastle. Expect to see more of this Northern beauty being mentioned from September onwards, where my next chapter unfolds.