Newcastle upon-Tyne is a city full of life and vibrancy and it’s a place that I am proud to call home. In recent years, cruising from Port of Tyne has increased in popularity and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Cruise & Maritime Voyages and Thomson Cruises regularly have several embarkations from the city each year. It’s also a popular in-transit cruise call, but what a lot of people don’t realise, especially those visiting from other parts of the UK and the world, is that my wonderful city is also the gateway to the eclectic city of Amsterdam.
DFDS operate daily departures from Newcastle to Ijmuiden and it’s a trip that, in the last 5 years, I’ve come to love. I don’t think I could have a year that didn’t involve a visit to Amsterdam that also included a trip on either King Seaways (my favourite) or Princess Seaways. The journey is convenient and comfortable and you can arrive in Holland feeling refreshed and ready to explore. Before I jump too far ahead, let me talk more about Newcastle.
There are so many things to see and do in and around the city – we have a long and sometimes bloody history that is just waiting for people to come in and explore it. Popular stops include Alnwick Castle, Newcastle city centre, Tynemouth Castle and Priory and the Roman Fort in Segedunum. These are all places you need to see, but you can’t do them all in one day. If you’re embarking or disembarking in Port of Tyne, whether it be for a cruise or a sailing with DFDS Seaways, then you must spend time either pre-or-post-cruise in the area – don’t just turn up for your ship and leave, let us be your hosts.
My friend TravelShopGirl recently visited from America and we spent a day/night in Newcastle before leaving for Amsterdam. Although she had never been to the city before and I really should have shown her some of the more obvious sides of Newcastle, I did plan a day that was perfect for us and I am sure will appeal to many of you. Firstly, we arrived in the city via St James’ Park Metro station – the beating heart of my incredible city and the home of Newcastle United F.C. We checked into our hotel and then walked through Haymarket, down towards the Theatre Royal on Grey Street and then along to the lower end of town, where the Central Station is located. In all, it was leisurely day because the night ahead was going to be a scream!
As the sun set and the darkness began to drift across the city, I walked with TravelShopGirl to Newcastle Castle (also known as Castle Keep), for it was there that we would meet Steve from Haunted City Tours (Alone in the Dark Entertainment) and head off on a journey into the ghostly tales and history of the castle and surrounding area. The walk, from start to finish, was fantastic. Marian (TravelShopGirl) and I were both so enthralled by the experience and Steve’s enthusiasm for telling the ghoulish tales, that to begin with, we barely even noticed the cold of the evening air. We were told of the castle and its connection to the witch trials, we made our way down a set of very intimidating stairs that have a terrible and murderous history attached to them (where the three of us all heard and felt strange things), through the Black Gate and along cobbled Victorian streets.
It was a night I will never forget and the best ghost walk I’ve been on. I absolutely cannot recommend this enough. Steve is a fountain of knowledge and clearly loves what he does and the city itself. He had answers to our questions, he knew the history – both good and bad – of Newcastle like the back of his hand and he himself was interesting. If you’re in the city overnight, please consider booking this tour! I’d love to tell you more, but I also don’t want to say too much as it will spoil your own experience. I will, however, share with you what the website notes to those that are interested in going on the Newcastle Ghost Walk.
“Newcastle is one of the UK’s oldest cities with its dark legends of ghostly headless horsemen, serial killers such as the Dean Street Strangler, the Newcastle witchcraft trials of 1649, human sacrifice to the real brutality of the Newcastle civil war and grisly executions, the Black Death of 1636. This ancient city offers the best backdrops for such ghastly encounters with its bygone murderers of its violent past through our stories and old buildings that still stand and play part in our stories and form the backdrop for many a haunting from Newcastle Castle Keep and Black Gate along with its dungeons, Tudor houses where plague families were locked up and died to old pubs and sites of real history”.
The following lunchtime, before Marian and I left the city to join Princess Seaways for our crossing to Amsterdam, we had lunch at The Bohemian on Pink Lane. The Bohemian is an award-winning vegan restaurant and when I spotted it online I knew it would be a great choice, as Marian is vegan. It’s a quirky little restaurant and the woman that greeted us was very welcoming. She showed us to our seats and then handed us a menu each. Vegan food is all new to me, I had no idea what some of the things were that I was looking at, so I played it safe and ordered the Potato Bravas to start. They were nice, but I’d not order them again and that’s because Marian let me try her starter (Shredded Peking Jackfruit) and it was delicious. I was incredibly surprised. To follow, I ordered the caramelised red onion and mozzarella flat bread and I can tell you, in all honesty, that it was the nicest flat bread pizza I have ever eaten. The bread was as light as the clouds and the cheese, well, you’d never tell that it wasn’t actual mozzarella. I enjoyed The Bohemian so much that I’ll be going back, even if I’m not with my vegan friend!