We stayed a couple of nights in Newcastle, just enough time to do a bit of exploring in this great city. A hotel on the Quayside was our perfect base. Husband and I visited Newcastle (many) years ago and barely recognised the place. The whole Quayside area has been totally transformed from what was once derelict into a swish entertainment area, perfect for strolling day and night. There was such a chilled atmosphere, loads to see and do, we loved it here.
Son groaned a bit at the news that our first stop on our first morning was the Baltic Art Gallery. Once an old factory, now a home for modern art I loved the building – free to go inside and explore. We worked our way through the galleries and contrary to his initial misgivings, our youngest family member loved it. Surprisingly engrossed in the artwork, he was the one we ended up having to hurry along. We all loved the viewing box and the ride up in the glass lift. The views of the bridges and the river are gorgeous. One level down is another (outdoor) viewing area – you get a close up of the nesting kittiwakes on the side of the building.
We passed the Sage building, strange and not to everyone’s taste but definitely noticeable – a £70 million Norman Foster designed concert hall that Son thought looked like a giant silver blob. Apparently you get good views from here too but we didn’t go inside to find out.
Highlight of the Quayside has just got to be the bridges, I became mildly obsessed with taking photos. The fortifications may have given Newcastle its name, but it was the river that gave it its fortune and the bridges are all tied up with this. They are magnificent, each one dates from a different time period, each one looks totally different and a glance down river makes for the most amazing view.
The Swing Bridge was built in 1876 and swivelled aside for warships built and repaired upstream to pass through. The High Level bridge was designed by Robert Stephenson (son of George) and has trains on the top and cars on the bottom. Best of all for me is the Tyne Bridge – the top is 200 feet above the river and it was designed as a prototype for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The same company – Dorman Long apparently built both bridges. Son made it our mission to cross the river using as many different bridges as possible – we managed three, bit of a poor show!
The newest bridge (and Son’s favourite) is the Millennium Bridge – it swings up like a “blinking eye” to allow ships to pass underneath. It is beautiful, modern and quite elegant. We spotted a list of the tilting times and made it our business to be there on our last evening at 10.15 when it was due to open. No ships, this was just for the tourists (there were plenty of them). It was very cool to watch it “blink” open with all its twinkling lights. A fitting end to our Newcastle trip.