by Ifeanyi Dike JR
True, Newcastle is very cold, even in the summer. It’s also true that it takes four hours to get there by train from London’s Heathrow Airport. It would be nice to chat about the landscape and all the fun places in the city, but I know for a fact that what we really want out of life is a good bargain – or else why do we haggle even when it is unnecessary?
Still for the sake of those who tour for deeper reasons, why Newcastle? People have said Newcastle is to England as Abuja is to Nigeria, the sweet escape from the Lagos (or London) rush. It’s for people seeking a true English experience: people who like old architectural structures, parks, aquariums wineries, resorts, historic sites and everything in between. And though few know it, Newcastle hosts over 45 tourist attractions.
How do you enjoy your Newcastle trip to the fullest? I’ll tell you, but first know that whoever said, “you can’t eat your cake and have it” wasn’t eating the right piece.
Make extreme use of internet services before and during your stay in Newcastle. Book all your trips over the internet for a 30% discount. Usually a train ticket from London to Newcastle costs as much as £95 when you pay over the counter but if you book the trip over the internet, you can get up to a 30% discount on when you book on www.eastcoast.co.uk. The best part is that you don’t have to pay online; you can do so when you get to the counter.
A four-hour trip can seem endless and boring, so you hook yourself up with the free wireless internet on board and view the city before you reach, and make hotel reservations. Affordable ones like the Premier Inn, where everything is premier but the price, are always a good bargain.
Liberate yourself with Lebara and the Bumper advantage
When you’ve finally settled in and want to begin calling your friends and family at home and abroad, here’s what you do.
For home calls (instead of buying calling cards and going through the literate process of calling home with all those tedious codes), buy a Lebara SIM card. It allows you to make direct calls in an easy and familiar manner – all you have to do is dial the phone number and press send, no codes attached. Also, when you buy the SIM card for £5, you get a free £5 top-up to start. You can also call UK numbers with the same SIM, so it’s virtually free and effortless to use.
For U.K calls, instead of topping-up frequently to make calls and send text messages, take notice of the bumper advantage. This allows you up to 500 minutes and unlimited text messaging for at least a month and for as low as £15. All you have to do is call the customer’s service and follow the voice prompt.
Shop in discount and style
Are you a student? If you are, then you are in luck because a good number of select stores in the UK allow a student discount of up to 10%. All you need is a valid ID card with a visible expiry date – even non-UK ID cards qualify. If you don’t have an ID card and can’t get one from school before your next trip then log on to www.isic.org to get an international student ID card. Stores like Topman, Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Wallis, Peacock, New Look and many others are student discount friendly.
Let the sales begin
Take full advantage of sales by visiting websites frequently to keep yourself in the know about on-going sales. View items you’d love to purchase and keep track of their prices just so you’ll have an idea of how much you are willing to spend and know which ones are more important in case of those “scale of preference moments”. You can also reserve things over the internet and pick them later if you aren’t ready to purchase them at the moment.
Don’t be afraid to try new meals and visit new places. My personal favourites are the whopper meal from Burger King and the Cheese Burger from MacDonald’s. Worry about losing the weight later. Ssome of Newcastle hottest spots are the Metro centre, Eldon Square, the Attic, Life, Salt-well Park, Alton Tower, and Flamingo Land. When you’re ready to be up and about, make sure you buy a whole day or a whole week’s bus pass because it is cheaper to pay for transportation in bulk rather than in single fares.
Saving the planet, one phone at a time
Rememeber those old mobile phones in your cupboard that don’t work anymore? Well somehow they add to global warming, and those phones can fetch you some cash while you save the planet at the same time. Just take them on your trip and log on to www.envirofone.com. Find out how much your phone is worth, and then trade them if you like the offer.
Eat your cake and have it
Be sure to keep all your receipts and request for a VAT or Tariff form at the store. Not all stores are involved in this, so ask before you start to shop. Fill the form carefully and present it to Immigration at Heathrow or Gatwick airport. They’ll refund every dime you spent on tax. So basically, you can shop all you want and get some change on your way out.
Note: A good number of these tips apply in other parts of the UK.