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Published: March 19th 2015
I had planned on going out around the island today, but a few factors changed my plans. Isn't that how an adventure is supposed to be?
There's a 2-mile-long Promenade that goes the length of Douglas. I've walked the whole thing now - once in the dark, and once in the daylight. Speaking of daylight, wow. I actually had to use sunglasses for the first time on the trip today - it was so bright! That was a pleasant surprise. My hotel is 1 block from the Promenade, and squarely in the middle of the 2 miles, so it's pretty ideal for exploring this part of town. I'm on the top floor (4th by American, 3rd by British practice), and there's no elevator. I'm glad I was able to lighten my luggage, if only slightly, with the donations for Eno back in London. This place has character, for sure. My bathroom has a shower and sink, but I have to go a bit down the hall for my private toilet with its own old-fashioned key. I'm the only one with a key, so that's both a relief and a burden. The bed is fine, but the curtains are far from
blackout - I miss those, Eno!
Most of my afternoon was spent at the Manx Museum. Those who know me know that I'm not much into museums unless they have a special exhibit. And on a trip like this, it's not going to take long before I'm museum-, castle-, or cathedraled out. I must confess that the Manx Museum is probably the best museum I've been to in a long time. I enjoyed the Fitzwillliam in Cambridge, and this one is at least as good as that. And like the Fitzwilliam, this one was also free! They had a special exhibit on World War 1 that was spellbinding. I must've read every word and looked at every artifact. The rest of the museum was dedicated to the history and nature of the island, and I made my way through that. They also had 2 short films. I probably spend over 2 hours in there, which I could hardly believe when I left.
My only other adventure worth mentioning was at the Isle of Man Bank. They print their own notes and mint their own coins here. I'm somewhat of a collector, so I decided just to hit up
the official bank instead of trying to collect change from various business around town. It's all of the same value as English pounds sterling, but it has different words and pictures. You can use English money here, and you could probably use the Manx coins in England, but people would think you were trying to cheat them if you gave them Manx bank notes. The lady at the bank counter didn't really know what I was asking, and she said that they didn't really have time to go through the till, looking for each individual coin. But that's what she did - not at my insistence at all. She started going through one bag of 2-pound coins, and then she was on a mission. Bless her. That's probably what she would've said about me when I left, if she had been from the South. But hey, my collection of Manx coins is complete, in less than 24 hours!
Before I came back to my room, I ate at the pub that's part of this hotel building. It's Mexican night, and the meal was a bargain - nachos appetizer, a choice of entree and side, plus any drink you want.
The nachos tasted like the ones I used to heat up in the microwave with shredded cheddar cheese on top (no problem for me then!), and the entree was Cajun baked salmon. Very authentic Mexican cuisine, mind you. It was quite good, nevertheless. And all that for 10 pounds! Trust me, that's a steal for a dinner of that size here.
It turns out that I'm here at a bad time for tourists. There is a definite tourist season on the Isle of Man, and it begins at Easter, after which everything opens up and all the train lines are operational. So, that's 2 weeks from now. A couple of the main sites I wanted to visit - Peel Castle and the Laxey water wheel - don't open at all until after Easter. The horse-drawn trams also don't operate until then, but that practice seems a bit inhumane, if you ask me. The steam railway opens at Easter, as does the full electric railway. Curiously, the electric railway DOES operate from Douglas to Laxey (site of the currently-not-open water wheel) on Fridays through Sundays. Castle Rushen and Rushen Abbey, 2 big sites on the island, do open on Saturdays,
so guess what I'm doing on Saturday.
The closures are somewhat of a mixed blessing. True, I can't go inside these tourist sites. But hey, that means I don't have to pay money to go inside them either. I did some tallying after the England portion of this trip, and I spent WAYYYY more than I intended. But then, I had to get out of London most days, which cost money; plus, England is one of the more expensive countries I'll be visiting on this journey. I've severely cut back on my spending since then, though it seems that part of that is not really by choice.
Lastly, there's a total solar eclipse in the morning around 9:30 that nobody in America is talking about, so I'm going to get up for that. I hope it isn't too cloudy! Then I'm planning on using the electric train to get to Laxey, then take the bus to Ramsey, on the north of the island. People say there are spectacular views there, so I intend to see.
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