Numerous friends (mostly from the US) have promised to visit me in Newcastle. Here is some information for those who are planning a visit or even thinking about one.
I have a two-bedroom flat, with a double bed in the guest room, and if we know each other well enough you are welcome to stay there. Also, one of the sofas in my living room (a.k.a. lounge) is long enough to sleep on if you’re not much taller than I am.
There is also a small family-run hotel nearby: the Hansen Hotel. It’s about 1/3 mile away and the prices look quite reasonable. I have not yet checked it out personally, only visited the website. I’ll update this page after I’ve had a chance to look it over and talk to the management.
Traveling to Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne is in the North East of England, about three hundred miles north of London and near the North Sea.
If you’re coming to visit, I will give you my address and phone number via private communication.
You can fly to Newcastle from various places in the UK and Europe (nonstop flights from the US are few and far between, mostly to/from New York). There are several flights a day from London, and they take a little over an hour gate to gate.
From the airport to my flat you have two options:
- Metro: You can take the Metro from the airport into the city. Trains run every 12 minutes Monday-Saturday and every 15 minutes on Sundays. Get off at the Jesmond station (about 20 minutes from the airport), where I will meet you and we can walk the half-mile to my flat. The airport is at the end of the Metro line, so any train you take from there will stop at Jesmond (the stated destination will be South Hylton). The Jesmond station has only one exit, so we will have no problem meeting up; just phone me when you’re ready to leave the airport. You can find information about Metro at the Nexus website.
- Taxi: If you use the regular taxi service, you can just walk out the front of airport and catch a cab at the taxi stand; and although I’ve never done it myself I’d guess it will cost about £25 (roughly $40, possibly more for more than one person). If you use one of the private taxi services (these are registered with the city), you will have to phone them and go to the passenger drop-off point (two lanes over and all the way to the left) to be picked up, and it will cost about £12 (roughly $20, possibly more for more than one person). I use the private service Walker Taxis, whose number is 0191 2652237.
Trains generally take just over three hours from London Kings Cross and 90 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley. Newcastle Central Rail Station (“NCL”) is about a mile and a half from my flat.
You have four options for getting to my flat from the train station:
- Metro: Take Metro north from the train station and get off at Jesmond. The Newcastle Metro system can be fairly confusing, so pay attention to the direction you’re going (you want north). The destinations stated may vary, so pay attention!
- Taxi: Regular taxi cabs pull right up in front of the train station, and will charge about £7.50 to take you to my flat (possibly more for additional people). The private taxis stop across the street (in front of the Copthorne Hotel) and will charge about £3.50 (possibly more for additional people). I use LA Taxis, at 0191 287 7777.
- Bus: Bus 38 towards Freeman Hospital runs every ten minutes Monday-Saturday during the day and every 20 minutes evenings and Sundays. Right in front of the train station stands a map of nearby bus stops; you want the one labelled Q, a couple of short blocks away. Tell the bus driver you’re going to Benton House and he will sell you your ticket (it should be £1.40). You can pay on the bus, and the driver will give you change. Although route 38 uses double-decker buses, you should sit downstairs because it’s only six stops away (that sounds awfully close for you to be taking the bus, but bus stops here aren’t very close together). Ask the driver to let you know when the bus has reached your stop; it’ll be about ten minutes. Call me when you get on the bus and I will meet you at the stop. Here is a link to the PDF of the Route 38 timetable. DO NOT GET ON THE 38 BUS THAT STOPS IN FRONT OF THE TRAIN STATION; IT IS GOING THE WRONG WAY.
- Walk: It’s almost 1.5 miles, and I will need to meet you to show the way, but I walk almost that far to get home from rehearsal. If you’re up for walking (weather permitting), so am I.
Generally, train tickets cost less if you book them in advance than if you wait until you get to the station. Tickets become available 12 weeks before the date of travel. Generally, the cheapest fares can be had in the first few days of availability.
Railcards are available for seniors (over 60) and full-time students. These cost £28 for a year and offer a 1/3 discount on train fares throughout the UK. Even though you won’t be staying in the UK for a year, if you’re planning to do a fair amount of rail travel during your visit, that £28 will pay for itself very quickly. You can either order it online and have it sent to the first place you’re staying in the UK, or you can buy it at a train station after you arrive in the UK. All you need is your passport proving that you are at least 60 years old, or your student ID and a letter from your institution. (The student railcard is called “16-25 student railcard” but one-year cards are available to “mature” students with proof of full-time student status.) My three-year senior railcard paid for itself before the first year was up. For more information, see senior-railcard.co.uk or student-railcard.co.uk.
Note: UK trains aren’t as comfortable as Amtrak (the cars are narrower and the seats have less leg room), but they run frequently and in my experience are generally on time.
If you’re driving from London, you should expect the trip to take five hours or so, but of course driving allows you to wander and explore on your way. Use Google Maps for directions.
I’ve got a visitor’s parking permit for my street, so you’ll be able to park close to my flat (perhaps even right in front) for the duration of your stay with me.
Getting around Newcastle and the area
I don’t own a car, but I do have a UK driving licence. Lots of places are reachable via Metro, trains, or buses, so there’s a lot we can do without one. If you want to see things that aren’t reachable by public transportation, you’ll need to rent a car. (As a student, I doubt my finances will allow me to contribute to car rental for more than a day or two.)
For the most part, Newcastle is relatively flat, with some rolling hills. It’s a steep climb up from the river, but after the first couple of blocks the hills are mostly gentle. Newcastle is a very walkable city.
Be sure to look at my Things to See and Do page before you come!
I have a washing machine, which you are welcome to use while you’re here. Like most people in the UK, I do not have a dryer, so laundry is dried on the line (in good weather) or on racks indoors. Plan for it to take 24-48 hours for your laundry to dry, depending on the weather (outdoor temperature and humidity do affect indoor drying times). Plan ahead — if you’re leaving Newcastle on a Friday, you’ll need to wash your clothes no later than the Wednesday before.
What to bring me
At risk of seeming presumptuous, I am requesting a very specific hostess gift from my American friends. (I know that everyone will bring something, as all of my friends are thoughtful and courteous. :-) I ask everyone who visits from the DC area and points south to bring me a jar of Duke’s Mayonnaise. In the DC area, you can get this at Harris Teeter and Food Lion (Southern-based grocery chains). A quart jar is ideal if you have room in your luggage; a larger jar will not fit in my fridge.