We are finally leaving Continental Europe after nearly a year of road travel. It has been an amazing year, and it has been a bit like a marathon race these past few months to get back here in time with the car.
The insurance expires the day after we arrive back at midday.
(Our last night in Amsterdam city – you can read about that here.) But we had made friends with a UK couple when their car had a flat battery and the needed battery jumper leads, so we were able to give them ours to use.
On the way up the ramp, the car slipped backward and they had to use the hydraulic lift to raise the back of the car. It was a freaky and nerve wrecking experience for me. A bit like driving in the snow in Turkey. I remember when our car slipped backward down a snowy hill. It was so scary. This felt the same – out of control, and a moment for angels to come and help us as we prayed.
When I got into the cabin I was shaking. I felt I needed something a little stronger than water to calm my nerves.
As we walked upstairs, we met the couple whom we had helped to restart their car in the rain, and they kindly offered to buy us a ‘thank you drink’, and we sat together and chatted; and waited for the departure. They left and we stayed to relax and use the internet. Boy, I now realize I had a sunburnt nose from the canal boat cruise.
Nerves settled for me!
When we were due to leave we waited two hours in The Netherlands port. It was such a storm the ferry could not cross.
The ferry crossing was so very rough, we were glad of our cabin. The best thing we did was go straight to sleep.
When we arrived, I realized I had forgotten to complete the Immigration form. So I had to pull over the car and sort things out with the lovely customs lady. She was so sweet. Two times I’ve come into the UK and both times the Customs and Immigration star have been amazing. I have heard horror stories, but I have had nothing but lovely service so far.
Next, I found myself suddenly driving on the left-hand side of the road. Now, this felt so strange. I really had to think. As an Australian, I thought this would be something that came naturally to me, but it didn’t. I had to consciously think the whole time.
It was wet, cold and stormy, and we pulled over into a shopping center car park. We had been in our clothes for two days and so we had a quick change back into winter wear. I did not expect this at all. We repacked what we needed into 2 smaller bags, and sorted out the rest of the car. I am glad I stopped. I felt like I had to get a grip of driving on the left side of the road again.
The bulk of our luggage we dropped off to our final Newcastle destination, and then drove around to the Travelodge Newcastle Central and dropped off our smaller bags.
We then made a surprise visit to the car yard to sort out returning the car for trade in. They had not been replying to my emails with any solid answers, so we had decided to come a day early to ensure we could finalize the matter. If not, we would have to organize an alternative that may involve keeping the car. We needed a decision from them.
With that sorted (and at a very disappointing and low price), we then drove back to Travelodge Newcastle Central.
The management was delightful, and I had a box of car gear (including the jumper battery leads I had used the night before) to give away. So I was pleased they could use them. We had our car in the car park under the building for a few GBP a night, and this was the end of a chapter.
Once upstairs in our room, I was just so relieved to be here. It was a really spacious room with a view down the side street looking out to the river and out across to Sage Gateshead.
Explorason made a slow fall on the bed and I happened to catch it! He looked like he was floating in space.
I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders having the car sale sorted out. I had a deposit and was to return with it after going to the dentist near Metro Centre tomorrow – perfect.
I ran a lovely hot scented bath, and had a nice soak and relax. Perfect on a rainy afternoon in England.
Next was Explorason’s turn. He had a nice long soak in a bubble bath, and I connected the wifi.
Our from was so large and spacious, and as it was the end one on a corner, the view was great, and it was very quiet. We could open a window for fresh air, and I liked that too. Something some multi-story hotels lack from time to time.
I felt really a lot more relaxed, and we decided to go out for a walk along the river.
I’d selected this hotel because I wanted to be near the center of town; I needed a car park, and I wanted to see the River Tyne area of Newcastle. Something I hadn’t been able to do when we house-sat in the suburbs of Newcastle last year.
We first walked down past the Travelodge Newcastle Central building.
I love this scooter we saw under the Tyne Bridge area. The old boys were out tinkering with their bikes, and there was a bit of a car boot sale going on of army clothes out of the back of a van.
We wanted some pub grub, but children are not allowed in most pubs after 7:00 p.m. and we had forgotten this.
We managed to find a different one with a side restaurant and had a great meal there on the same street as this pub.
We headed back around 10:00 p.m. and it felt so safe to walk the streets. we sat and read the English paper. It was lovely to be here.
It was off to bed and ready for the next day. “D. Day”.
“Dentist” and “Decision” Day (will the car really be sold?)
We only had one set of clothes, so it wasn’t too hard to decide what to wear!
We headed downstairs, and the lovely lady at breakfast was ever so helpful with ideas on us planning the next part of our trip.
We had to go and purchase tickets for either the bus or train today, and she was full of useful information.
There was a hot and cold breakfast buffet.
For us, this was the first time we had Marmite in ages, and it was the closest thing to Vegemite in a while (an Australian spread that we love). Explorason was thrilled. Then there were more sausages (bangers) and baked beans.
And Weet-A-Bix. Right there on the top shelf of the cereal assortment rack. I had been craving them for months.
I looked like I had been on a starvation diet and just broken the fast. I devoured so much comfort food that morning.
We drove off allowing extra time for the car yard. My gut feel was they were going to ‘stuff us around’. And I was correct. Sadly the car yard really messed us around a bit, and we nearly missed our dentist appointment. No money to pay us and asking us to come back. Then more messing around and saying they couldn’t get enough money from their bank. I nearly decided to lose my temper, but instead, I prayed instead. And guess what – I got all the money in the end.
I was really uptight, but ‘finally’ they came through (it was a power waiting game with us pacing the car yard for an hour in the cold) and we were able to get a ride to the dentist.
It was a clean bill of health for both of us at the dentist.
We were both so pleased (Explorason has an addiction to chocolate), so we stopped in and had English Hot Chips with Vinegar and ‘Crispies’ from the “Chippie” for lunch. If you have not tried English ‘Crispies’ you are missing a delicious and fattening treat. Bits of leftover batter deep fried and delicious. How nice it felt to be in England.
We then had to wait for the bus to take us back into the City center of Newcastle. We had been wanting to ride a double-decker, so we didn’t mind waiting. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a double-decker bus, so we missed that experience. It felt strange to wait for a bus, and not have our car. Really strange.
Explorason was smiling. He said he loved hearing what people were talking about on the mobile/cell phones, and could ‘eavesdrop’. To him, this and English newspapers were his new delight.
We ended up purchasing train tickets in advance. So a bit of a walk back and forth in Newcastle between the bus station and train station 2 times to compare times and prices (not the same as online) but the hotel was close by, so that was all good. The tip from the lady at breakfast proved very valuable, and we were all to get an advance train ticket at a very good price.
Back at the Travelodge Newcastle Central Hotel, the manager suggested we try their cafe style restaurant for dinner, so we did.
I was quietly and pleasantly surprised at the quality of the meal. The restaurant was quite busy. I had a lovely glass of wine and a fantastic meal for around 10 – 12 GBP if I remember rightly.
They also had a Kids Menu, Guess what Explorason had? Yes – Bangers and Mash – again!!
For our first stay at a Travelodge, we really were surprised. We had exceptional service, and the staff was ever so helpful and nice. I’d be happy to recommend them.
Some of you might wonder why we selected Newcastle in the first place to buy a car and to visit last year. It is because this is where one of my grandfathers is from. I wanted to come and have a look at the birthplace of some of my ancestry.
A lot has changed since Newcastle was known for the shipping and iron industries of a century ago. It has many trendy areas, quaint pubs, and great shops. there are areas to explore with tree-lined streets filled with restaurants and cafes in the Jesmond areas. And there is a lot of history to explore and discover as well.
We have been surprised at how modern this little city is. On our third evening here we went bowling at Lane7.
I just thought it would be another average bowling alley, but we arrived and it was a really groovy set-up of ’boutique bowling’, and like nothing I have seen in all our world travels.
I believe it used to be a petrol filling station or mechanics, and now it is several floors of bars, a restaurant, bowling alley, table tennis, billiard – 8 balls and more. But Lane7 so ‘uber’ cool.
I think there are two levels (or more) of bowling, and we were in the small upstairs one. First off was a drink from the upstairs bar.
Then we discovered another area to play 8 ball and billiards. Lane7 was really very cool.
We were pretty early for our dinner booking. Yes, you need to book at Lane7. It was empty when we started but wait and see what happens.
We order fantastic food. Best Mexican I have had outside of Mexico! Explorason orders off the Kids Menu and gets a pretty big serve.
But he always “leaves a ‘pocket’ for dessert”, as he says.
We look up and the place is packed! To the rear are more bowling lanes. All full.
Ever single table around us is ‘choc-o-bloc’, and they are even adding chairs to the ends of tables. As we go to leave the front bar has people socializing after work. This is the middle of the week. This is more of an adult trendy hang out, and not your average bowling alley. Lane7 is really very cool.
So look out for our next blog. See what we get up to now we have no car. We have more fun things in store for Explorason right here in Newcastle.
We think we really are – falling for Newcastle.
Attraction Name: Lane7
Location: 80–90 St. James’ Boulevard, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 4BN
Telephone: 0191 261 6161
Date visited: May 2015
Child-friendly: Yes – check for times suitable for children
Accommodation Name: Travelodge Newcastle Central
Location: Forster Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2NH United Kingdom
Telephone: 0871 984 6164 Fax: 01912 617105
Date stayed: May 2015
Breakfast: Option to include when booking
Bar: Yes Restaurant: Yes
Wi-fi: Option to purchase
Information from the Travelodge Newcastle website:
Travelodge rooms have everything you need
- King-size Travelodge Dreamer Bed – made exclusively by Sleepeezee
- Showers in all rooms
- Baths in most hotels, please contact the hotel to discuss
- TV with 17 channels
- Tea and coffee making facilities
- WiFi* – 30 minutes FREE per day, 24 hours for just £3
- Hands, hair & body wash
Enjoy a luxury night’s sleep in the king-size Travelodge Dreamer Bed™
Designed exclusively by:
- Over 950 individual pocketed springs
- Extra comfort layer
- Hypo-allergenic fillings
- Medium/Firm support
- Cozy 10.5 tog duvet and 4 plump pillows
Available on request
- Hairdryers and irons available from reception
Disclosure – I would like to thank Travelodge Newcastle Central and Lane7 for all their assistance. These are solely the personal opinions and experiences of the writer, and are not that of the management or staff referred to for any business in this article and are used as a guide only. All experiences are our own, as we recall them and are accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. Information is subject to change. Please consult other sources for prices and verification.