Friday 5 February 2016

My Metro Day Out with Pop PAYG

It's been almost 3 years since I moved to the North East and can you believe that in all that time we haven't owned a car?  I'm sure those of you with your own wheels are probably wondering how on earth we've managed to cope all this time without one but, in all honesty, it hasn't been as tricky as you may think.  We've become experts in using public transport to get around and over the years have discovered we can pretty much get anywhere we want.

The Metro has been a particularly great friend to us and it's been an invaluable way of getting us out and about on our many weekend adventures.  It's great to have a service that runs to Newcastle, Sunderland, the airport and the coast.

Metro have recently launched Pop Pay As You Go (PAYG), allowing you to top up you Pop card and use it to pay for journeys as you make them.  It's a great way to travel with single tickets costing 10p less and Day Savers costing 20p less than buying a normal paper ticket.   You can buy a Pop PAYG card at a Nexus TravelShop and then top it up online (once you've registered your card) or at any Metro station ticket machine. Then simply touch in at the start of your journey and touch out at the end.  

To celebrate the launch Metro challenged us to create the perfect Metro Day Out travelling with Pop PAYG.  What better way to spend a Saturday than visiting places that we love in North Tyneside and Newcastle!

We decided to begin our adventure with a trip to the seaside.  Boarding the Metro at Regent Centre and travelling round to Whitley Bay on the coast.  I love to make an early start at the weekend, and although it was a struggle to get out of bed, it's great to beat the crowds and get out into the fresh sea air.

Coffee was the first thing on our minds so we decided to head to Coffee Central on Whitley Bay Metro Station.  We got 10% off our drinks by showing our Pop cards - result!   You may not realise it but there are a number of money saving offers you can get at attractions and restaurants in the area just by showing your Metro ticket or Pop Card.  The offers are constantly updating so make sure you check here to see what's currently available.

Our growling tummies quickly reminded us that it was breakfast time so we began our hunt for some great food to keep us going.  There are so many lovely little cafes in Whitley Bay but one we've been meaning to try for a while is Sugar Loaf.  Famed for their delicious breakfast, their pancakes have been recommended to us by friends time and time again so a visit was long overdue. 

Simon ordered his with bacon and maple syrup and I went for cooked banana served with a jug of thick honey.   When they appeared at our table we were stunned, we really weren't expecting such huge portions!  We had three deliciously fluffy buttermilk pancakes each and they were amazing, the perfect weekend treat.   Next time you head to Whitley Bay on the Metro I definitely recommend you start your adventure with some pancakes.

We were feeling a little stuffed after devouring so many pancakes so decided to have a little stroll along the seafront.  The best thing about the North Tyneside coast is that there are several Metro stations, meaning you can create your perfect walk.  We quite often walk to Tynemouth but this time decided to walk to Cullercoasts, the next Metro stop along.

It was a gorgeous day with a beautiful warm sun, even if the Winter wind was a little biting on our hands and faces.  I honestly think that nothing beats a walk by the sea in the Winter months, it always brings a smile to my face.

Reaching Cullercoats Metro Station we had a quick look at the map and decided to continue our adventure with a trip to Newcastle.  It was a short wait to the next train and then a dash for the first carriage to try and get the front seats so we could pretend we were driving the Metro (please don't tell me we're the only big kids to do this?)

On the short journey to Newcastle I managed to convince Simon to get off at Haymarket for a quick look round the shops.  Northumberland Street is Newcastle's busiest shopping street and also home to one of the largest Primarks in the country.  I can never resist a hunt for a bargain.

Next on our agenda was a visit to the Life Science Centre. Situated a stones throw away from Central Station it's a short walk from the Metro.  It was pretty packed when we arrived with a bit of a queue to get in but we were determined to wait it out to see the new exhibition that's just started.   "Robot" is on until 17 April and features over 40 robots, cyborgs and androids from the world of TV and film.  Perfect for geeks like us!

As you can imagine, after so much excitement we were more than ready for a sit down and a bit of peace and quiet so decided to head to the Crowne Plaza Hotel just behind Central Station for some cocktails at the Gin Bar.  It's a great little spot to chill out on a Saturday afternoon and a very short walk from the Metro. 

We settled ourselves down in a comfy corner and had a look through the huge drink list.  I decided on a Singapore Sling and Simon had a Vesper and we had a peaceful hour or so resting our tired feet and having a gossip.

Our Metro Day Out was almost over but there was just enough time for some food before we returned home.  Blackfriars Restaurant is one of our favourite places to eat and is a definite must if you're planning a day out on the Metro.  The former refectory was built by Dominican Friars in 1239, making it one of the oldest dining rooms in the country, it's a stunning place to enjoy a meal.

The food on the menu is all locally sourced and studying the tablemats always prompts a great conversation with your dining partner. They show a hand drawn map of the north featuring all of the locations where your food comes from.  I love eating somewhere that's as passionate about local food as I am.

Really deciding to push the boat out, I went for the Northumbrian ribeye steak with marrow butter, chips and peppercorn sauce.  I asked for my steak rare and it was absolutely perfect. The meat was so delicious and melted in my mouth. 

Simon opted for slow-braised beef Wellington with char-grilled hanger steak, mushy peas and stout jus with a very generous side order of chips.

We pretty much fell silent during our main course, the food was absolutely beautiful and reminded us exactly how much we love eating at Blackfriars.

Despite being completely full we knew we had to squeeze in a dessert.  Simon had the Chocolate delice served with orange ice-cream which looked delicious, but unfortunately was a no go zone for me because of my nut allergy.  Explaining my allergy to the restaurant I was really impressed by the way they dealt with it and they came up with loads of options for me.  In the end I decided to order off a different menu and had the chocolate brownie with ice-cream. 

We made our way back to Monument Metro Station feeling rather full but very happy.  We loved spending the day exploring our beautiful home!

How would you spend your Metro Day Out?

This post is part of #LoveNorthEast



  1. I love a good metro day out, my favourite thing to do is get the metro to either North or South Shields and then get the ferry across to the other, it's a great day out.

  2. Gosh, I wish that card existed when I lived down Newcastle! We used the metro a lot due to work and to take Baker to the beach once we moved further into the city and got rid of the car. I can image that card saving a lot of time and money!

    Looks like you had another awesome day out in the fabulous NE!


  3. You packed so much into your day! You picked a lovely day for a coastal walk, the sky looks beautiful! I still need to take Steve to the GIN bar!

  4. Wow those pancakes look good. It sounds very similar to oyster and is so much easier than paying for single journeys. You look like you fitted lots on Lucy x

  5. Thanks for linking to #LoveNOrthEast - we are taking your advice and going to enjoy a day out ONLY using public transport in a few weeks

  6. Love this! I have never learnt to drive, and think living in Newcastle I really don't need to! I am a Pop card holder and love getting out for adventures. I will definitely be checking out Sugar Loaf.

  7. That sounds like an absolutely perfect day, Im going to look into getting a pop card PAYG it certainly seems like an ace idea for a part time metro user like me. Thanks for linking to #LoveNorthEast


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