29 September 2010--Is it odd that I would find Charles DeGaulle more tolerable than John F Kennedy? It's just
circumstance, I guess. My major complaint at CDG is that there is no ATM airside. I want to get some euros, both to
be prepared for Amsterdam later and to get a few odds and ends now, but my only option is the money exchange booth.
They stick you for about 15% either way, which is almost as outrageous as what the rental car agency does. At least
the money changers post their rates for all to see. I decline to be robbed this morning.
Boarding for Newcastle means getting on a bus and wandering all over the airport. The plane is apparently parked in Belgium. I'm ready for this, having been through it before. CDG is large enough, but we drive past a good deal of new construction going on, really major additions. Shame the economy is so bad.
Northern France and Britain are entirely cloudbound, so there's nothing to see on the flight. Newcastle is a nice- sized airport, large enough to have basic amenities, small enough to be easily manageable. It's annoying that the rental car booths are at one end of the terminal and the car parks are at the other, but it's really not that far. There are four agencies represented, and at three, there are no customers waiting; of course, the fourth, Europcar, which has half a dozen, is the one I'm going to. But I'm out of there in five minutes, in stark contrast to the ordeal I had with Hertz at Edinburgh last year.
Shortly I am wandering around the valley of the Tyne, and soon enough I find a town with an ATM and a post office. The latter is manned by a lady and a gentleman who appear to have been there since shortly before the war. That would be the Napoleonic War. My attempt to buy some stamps for postcards would be good fodder for a Monty Python sketch. Unlike the infamous cheese shop, the PO eventually proves to have what I need.
I find my B&B in Hexham and go out for a walk, intending to have a pint and return for a nap. I nod off several times in the Station Inn, and a couple more times in the Heart of All England. The nap is a bit rough, and I wake unable to make sense of the time on the clock, thinking it's tomorrow morning.
I'm out just in time to catch the pink post-sunset glow on the abbey. If the old "red sky at night" adage has any merit, there is the promise of a better day tomorrow. Cheap, fast, and edible dinner at the local Wetherspoon's, as well as free wi-fi; and a couple of pints at the Tap & Spile, which was closed temporarily the last time I was here. It's just the kind of pub I always hope for, a handsome and civilized place with six or seven casks on. A shame I lost a night here-- I'm already thinking about coming back for an extended stay. Not the beginning of the trip next time.