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Published: March 14th 2014
And of course, there will be those of you who wonder, “Why did they go to the Isle of Man?” The simple answer is because it was in the neighborhood of Ireland, which we have set out to explore for the next few weeks. A longer answer is that MJ has wondered about the isle for a couple of decades due to its relationship with the banking industry and those who invest. At any rate, we were, already going to Ireland, so why not pop over for a few days?
When we began to plan our trip to the Isle of Man (IOM) we had contacted a B&B on the far north part of the island as it looked quite cute, but the lady wrote back and apologized for not being able to take our booking, as “they would be busy sheering sheep this week.” Well, there you have it. You have to respect this reason, right? We reached out to Angeline, who books some of our best quality travel and sure enough, she found a perfect place to stay, the Meresides Hotel in Douglas, the capital of this nation of some 80 thousand souls.
Isle of Man
Riding the rails
Okay…now for some detail……
Since we have been on the island, one of the things we have learned about are the local Manx Loaghtan sheep. We tried our best to get a close-up of these but from the train it was nearly impossible. Our photos are a blur. We are posting a photo of one of them that we took at the Manx Museum. They have the wonderful two sets of horns. Really love these sheep.
Manx. Everything here is described as “Manx.” Probably has something to do with the Gaelic influence most likely. You may have heard of a breed of cat called the Manx and it hails from this part of the world. MJ had one many years ago. It is a cat with no tail or just a stub. Very smart animals.
Now for some additional detail….the Isle of Man is a sovereign nation, not exactly part of the British Crown, but there are many ties. Douglas, the capital, has about 25,000 people and is a lovely town. The income tax for the Isle of Man is a flat twenty percent, there’s no capital gains tax, inheritance tax
Douglas, Isle of Man
or many other forms of tax at that. Primarily tied to farming and fishing in the past, they’ve latched onto the world of finance. Let’s conclude by saying that the words “offshore banking” and “banking secrecy” are in play here. This is most likely advantageous to this nation, as most industries in this small island nation aren’t likely to provide much national support.
And so, we flew over for a quick visit and were not disappointed in the least. We enjoy traveling on the off-season, mainly to avoid the crowds and it provides wonderful opportunities to engage people in conversation. The locals were quite friendly and we took full advantage of the fact that they weren’t at their busiest.
Have you ever felt no matter how long you stay some place you always wish you’d stayed a little longer? We could have used at least another day or two here……
When we arrived at the airport our cab driver to our B&B was telling us that when he moved here from Liverpool he was unable to sleep the first six weeks because it was so quiet. He said they don’t have
a rush hour but a rush twenty minutes. We’d come to the right place, all right….and to boot, during the off-season.
Our short days were filled. We took the bus to Peel one day to have a look around and enjoyed the Manannan Museum, which was extremely well designed and told the history of the island, from the Celts to the Vikings. Manannan is part of the Celtic lore and is tied quite strongly to the Isle of Man. It is said that he would exert his great powers by somehow widening his robe to create a great fog, that would in turn prevent the isle from capture by invaders. This of course didn’t stop the Vikings from making an appearance, where they settled and became part of the history for the island. All in all, a great history lesson which was furthered on our visit to the Manx Museum in Douglas a day later. We couldn’t visit the castle in Peel, as it was off-season, but took some nice photos nonetheless. We hiked a nearby hill to take some photos of the city from on high.
We also took advantage of the steam
train ride to Port Erin, which whisked us past the countryside en route to a cute (but extremely cold due to the temperatures and windy town) where Merry Jo got to sample Davison’s ice cream. We can now add the stream train to our collection of modes of transportation.
The weather forecast for our visit on Friday from the official Isle of Man government website: “Rather cloudy for Friday with a slowly freshening southwest to westerly breeze, and the risk of a few spots of rain later in the day.” This translates to: seriously breezy cold!
For a bit of background, The Travel Camel fancies himself a connoisseur of ice cream and said the local delight was one of the finer he had tasted. We can concur….it was quite good, even on cold day. After a bit of research we’ve learned this is made with fresh cream and that translates into fan-tas-tic ice cream.
We took the train back to Douglas and took in the Manx Museum, which was again, very well done and extremely informative. One thing that surprised us about this island is that it has Palm Trees! Guess
we didn’t do enough research before arriving. We knew about the gulfstream current comes through here and keeps it warm enough.
This area is full of green rolling hills. The countryside is dotted by large shrubby bushes; blooming with lovely yellow flowers. They decorate the land and serve as dividers among fields. With those and the daffodils popping their heads out the landscape was lovely. All of the homes we saw were brick, stone or stucco, makes sense when you think about the rain and wind. Many, many homes have lovely glass sunrooms on the back of the houses. The lawns are well manicured and we love the hedges and stone fences.
We have since learned that in sports circles the Isle of Man is well known for a race that has been called the greatest road race for the past one hundred years, the TT, the “Tourist Trophy festival”. This race is associated with many of the great names of motorcycle history (that have been unknown to us until now) like Mike Hailwood, Joey Dunlop, and John McGuiness. This race is a 37 and ¾ mile mountain course, is extremely tough and apparently
dangerous over the years, as over 200 people have died trying to ride extremely fast over these roads. It’s still a big deal here and it is easy to see why; people have the need for speed, whether it’s being part of the actual race, or being an observer.
Worthy of note is that like many nations in this part of the world, the pub is a popular place, where people gather to imbibe and swap lies. Douglas is no different. We paid a visit to a few, and can report that this is true. The Prescot, The Thirsty Pigeon and The Rover provided us with good examples of good conversation and company. In our conversations we learned there are four local beers. Two rather large breweries, and two very small ones. We never did get to sample the smaller brewing companies but Okells and Bushy’s were very good. Each brewery produces a small variety of ales.
We can also report that the food here is not bad at all. The Harbor Lights, HQ Restaurant and Bar, 14 North each provided us with quality food and a pleasant dining experience.
our travels one of the things we most enjoy is sitting in a park, a coffee house and or pub and starting a conversation with a local. We found the people on the IOM to welcome conversation with us and we learned a great deal about the country’s life, social security, medical care, schools and universities, crime or lack their of, guns, drugs, prisons and talked about food with more than a few people. Many of the locals leave but the pull is great and they come back. The Isle of Man was a pleasant excursion, but now back to the Emerald Isle………
Where we stayed:
Mereside Bed and Breakfast Restaurants:
The Harbor Lights, HQ Restaurant and Bar, 14 North Pubs:
The Prescot, The Thirsty Pigeon, The Rover, HQ Bar
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