12 May 2010
After the hours of the flight and five hours of timezone correction, my flight made it into Manchester at around 9:10AM. After convincing the UK authorities that I came in peace it was time to move on. Manchester has something which every airport should have and few do -- a connection to the national rail network. This makes travel virtually anywhere in the UK really simple -- land in an airplane, ride the moving walkways and escalators, buy a ticket at the booth, and get on the train. This took less than 30 minutes in my case.
The train to Newcastle upon Tyne cost a grand total of £55 (roughly $85 at the then-current exchange rate) and left right on time at 11:05AM. This was very reasonable in my estimation. This was my first time in England and thus my first time on an English train. I've read some horror stories about rail travel in the UK but my experiences were all pleasant. If only the US had a system a tenth as good as the Brits!
After arriving in Newcastle I still had a bit further to go to find my first-night's lodgings at Tynemouth on the North Sea coast. This meant a walk from the train terminal and a short trip on the Tyne and Wear Metro. I finally made it to my lodging at No. 61 on Front Street at 3:10PM a bit bedraggled but eager to set off on the walk. My room at the B&B was up at the highest level of the old house but offered a splendid view across the rooftops from a huge dormer window on Front Street.
Since I was settled fairly early there was plenty of time to wander around Tynemouth and snap a load of pictures. Unfortunately I was too late to do more than look at the Tynemouth Castle and Priory from the outside. Tourist sites run by English Heritage have rather short hours and there is no use in entering a site just before they slam the doors at 5:00PM (sharp!) I did manage to get a few pictures of the castle and took a rather good one of the remains of the Priory from across the water as the sun got low in the sky. I wandered the city for a few hours and saw my first cricket game (incomprehensible). Appetite failed me that evening (a most unusual circumstance), probably due to the time shifting, but I managed to eat a bit of fish and chips from the takeout across the street, got a shower and settled in for the night. Tomorrow the real trip would begin.