21 Mar 2011

We are looking forward to receiving the regional studies community in Newcastle for an exciting and productive international conference. However while attending this event we hope that you'll also take some time off to enjoy this beautiful city in the North East of England. Here are a few tips on how to occupy your free time.

Newcastle city centre is relatively small and compact. Therefore the best way to explore its many attractions is on foot. Add to the convenience of walking the fact that it is both the healthier option and the most environmentally friendly and we have a sure winner! To guide you in your explorations the best is to get a map such as the one shown below at the tourist information point. It can also be downloaded by clicking on this link.

A suggested route starts at University (one of the conference locations) and takes you down Northumberland street, the main shopping area in Newcastle, and home to iconic shops such as Fenwicks and Marks & Spencer. At the bottom of this street turn right and walk to monument, where you will find a statue of Charles Grey. The latter was the prime minister of the UK when the Reform Act of 1832 was approved, which among other things abolished slavery in the British Empire. He is also famous for naming the tea 'Earl Grey'.

From Monument you can take Grey Street towards the river, and enjoy a beautifully restored part of town. It's so nice that in 2002 it was voted the best street in Britain by listeners of BBC Radio 4! As you keep walking down it will turn into Dean Street, before leading to the Tyne Bridge, one of 7 bridges that cross the Tyne river and link Newcastle to Gateshead. This part of town has received a sizeable amount of investment in recent years, and it's currently one of the nicest places to go for a stroll. Across the river you'll see an old flour mill that has been converted to a modern art museum, and the Sage Gateshead, a concert hall designed by the architect Norman Foster. Alternatively if you want to know more about the city of Newcastle and its industrial heritage the best place to go is the Discovery museum. (http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/discovery/).

If you have more time to explore, an excellent day out can be had by taking the Metro towards the coast. If visiting during the weekend you can enjoy the second-hand market on Tynemouth's metro station. Then while walking to the coast why not stop at Marshall's for a traditional and heart-stopping fish & chips, that you can eat while admiring the beatiful Northumberland coast. If a walk is exactly what you need after such a nice, hearty meal, take the road along the coast all the way to Whitley Bay where you can take the Metro to return to Newcastle.

Last but not the least, Newcastle also offers great opportunities for a meal and a drink. You can try places such as Blackfriars or Jesmond Dene House for some great English food (watch out though, they're pricey!). For options less damaging to your wallet most Pubs will serve food untill 8 or 9 pm: Bob Trollop next to the Quayside offers a nice selection of vegetarian options alongside normal pub food, while the Forth will offer you traditional dishes with a modern twist. Other suggestions include the Komal, or The Carriage for Indian food, El Coto or La Viña for spanish, Hei Hei, Nudo or any place in chinatown for Chinese and many of the nice small cafes that have opened up recently for a lunch snack and a coffee (find out about these and other places here). If you're looking for a nice pub, the Bridge Hotel, The Bodega, or the Hotspur, which is located near the University, are good options, offering a wide range of beers and the ambiance of a typical English Pub. You can also head to the Ouseburn area, and attend nice concerts and other events at the Cluny or the Cumberland arms.

These are only suggestions though. If you want more advice about what to do in Newcastle feel free to approach someone from the organising committee and ask for help. Above all, we hope you enjoy your stay. See you soon!