Back in my student days at Sunderland Uni I was a regular on the Tyne & Wear Metro. Those bright yellow carriages would transport me to lectures, parties and days out, then after I graduated and got a job in Newcastle I relied on the Metro for work too. I always enjoyed travelling on the region’s light rail system but since I moved to Newcastle and passed my driving test, I hadn’t been on board for years.
However, since reducing my working hours and handing back the company car, I have found myself with not only a bit more spare time on my hands, but also back on public transport!
We’re really lucky in the North East as there are loads of great places to visit that are easy to get to by Metro. There are 60 stops across the region, with frequent services to coast, country and city destinations. Plus, if you have a handy Pop Pay As You Go Card, you can save money on tickets!
It’s basically a top-up card that you can use to pay for journeys on the Metro, plus the Shields Ferry and nearly all local buses (a bit like an Oyster card).
I bought mine online, topped it up with a tenner and it arrived within a couple of days. I found it really easy to order and use and loved the fact that I didn’t have to worry about working out which tickets to buy. With a Pop PAYG Card you can travel on the Metro as many times as you like in a day and you’ll never pay more than the daily cap (£2.60 for one zone, £3.70 for two zones, or £4.70 for all zones).
It gives you discounts on single and day tickets too. In fact, it’s 30p cheaper than cash single tickets and 40p cheaper than cash day tickets. There’s also a special Pop Card for under 16’s that means the Metro costs just 60p for a child’s single and £1.10 for a child all-day ticket.
A couple of weeks ago I had the rare opportunity to spend a full day exploring the North East at my leisure. Sadly my fella was at work but I embraced the chance to have some me time and I thought it would make a nice change to head South of the region and check out my old stomping ground.
I boarded the Metro at Newcastle Central Station and planned on travelling all the way to Sunderland. The weather was so nice though that I couldn’t resist hopping off at Seaburn to go for lunch by the sea.
The short walk from Seaburn Metro station through Roker to the coast was a pleasant one, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the pretty period properties.
My route took me through Roker Park which I’d never been to before but will definitely re-visit next time the family come to stay. It was very tranquil but with lots to do, there was a children’s railway, play areas, basketball and tennis courts, model boating lake and direct access to the beach!
Sunderland’s twin beaches at Roker and Seaburn offer miles of beautiful coastline with a vibrant promenade where there are lots of places to cool down with an ice-cream or re-fuel with a spot of lunch.
I always think that fish and chips taste better by the sea, don’t you? I couldn’t resist the tempting aromas wafting out from the various restaurants and takeaways on Marine Walk in Roker. I finally settled on The Pier fish and chip shop as they had a well priced light bites menu.
I grabbed a seat on the colourful terrace overlooking Roker Pier and felt like I was on my holidays! There were shady spots in booths decorated like beach huts and a huge kids play area, I would definitely recommend this place for families!
I burned off some of the calories by taking a walk around the pretty marina where I day dreamed about owning a yacht some day!
After soaking up the sun in Seaburn and Roker I caught the bus in to Sunderland city centre, where I made a beeline for Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. I used to visit this place in my student days and it was always one of my favourite parts of the city. Entry is free so it’s very popular with local families and culture vultures who come to marvel at the precious art and glorious indoor garden.
Some of my lovely Twitter followers had recommended I call in to Holmeside Coffee which is located in the Museum with a sun soaked terrace overlooking Mowbray Park. I ordered a latte and treated myself to a peanut butter brownie and could have happily sat there watching the swans glide across the lake all afternoon but the temptation to hit the shops was too much!
As soon as I entered The Bridges Shopping Centre in the heart of the city, memories of blowing my student loan in TopShop came flooding back (I must have owned at least five pairs of Moto Bootcut Jeans!) I was pleased to see that lots of my old favourites were still there, including H&M, TK Maxx, Debenhams and New Look, plus now there’s a massive Primark too (I might have actually had money left for textbooks if Primark had existed back in the year 2000!)
With my bag full and bargains and my head full of new ideas for North East adventures I headed back to Newcastle on the Metro. The journey was a lot quicker than I remembered from my commuting days and I will definitely be using the Metro a lot more this summer. It was so liberating not having to worry about getting lost, parking and being stuck in rush hour traffic. Having the Pop PAYG Card in my pocket also helped me have a stress free, cheap and cheerful day out.
If you fancy ditching the car and daytripping on the Metro I would highly recommend you order a Pop PAYG Card, the card itself is free, you just need to top the balance up by at least £10. Details here: www.nexus.org.uk/pop/payg
I’m thinking of heading to Tynemouth next, where would you go?
*This post is sponsored by Nexus, which own and manages Tyne and Wear Metro. They covered my expenses for this day out but all words, pics and opinions are mine.