Perks of the Manx Off-Season

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March 20th 2015
Published: March 20th 2015
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This place is not one that has been immediately endearing to me. That's not to say that it's awful; quite the opposite. It just takes me a little time to appreciate some of the features of the Isle of Man. My trip up to Ramsey and Laxey are exemplary of that. Before I get into that, though, let me tell you about my morning...

So, there was supposed to be a total solar eclipse today over the British Isles. I say "supposed," because I'll have to take everyone's word. As you can see from the picture, it was too cloudy to see anything, though I was told by some people that others on the island reported seeing it through tiny breaks in the clouds. Doubtful, but if it helps them sleep at night... So, I had set my alarm to get myself up in time to see that. Turns out, my neighbor wanted to play her music around 6:50 AM, so I was grateful that my alarm was unnecessary.

One of the perks of being here out of tourist season is all of the special attention I'm receiving as a tourist. I went by the Tynwald - Manx Parliament - for the free tour at 10 AM. I was the only one. So I got a private guided tour of all three chambers of the government! And yes, it's tricameral, so that's appropriate for the country whose symbol is 3 legs. I got to ask any questions and take as many pictures as I wanted. The guide was very considerate for the 45 minutes of the tour. After that, I headed to the Manx Electric Railway, a holdover from the Victoria days. The rail car hasn't changed a bit since then, either. There were only 4 of us in a car built for 50, and the car only went halfway down the full track (not yet tourist season...). So we made it to Laxey before we all had to disembark.

There's not a lot in Laxey - a few small pub-type places, several houses, and a lot that looks to be in disrepair. The famous water wheel - because it's huge - was not open yet (again, after Easter), so all you could to is look at it. So I did. While there, a kitty decided that I looked friendly enough to approach, so it came over while I was trying to selfie with the Water Wheel. People have named the wheel "Lady Isabella," so that's what I called the kitty. I didn't check its anatomy, but I don't think the kitty minded.

Ramsey was my ultimate destination. I took the bus there from Laxey. All along the way - both train and bus - the scenes were bucolic, with some seaside views, too. Ramsey gave me the impression of being a dump. I couldn't imagine why all the guidebooks said to make sure to visit here. But I gave it a shot. I walked along the river, where it looked like industrialization had long since gutted the town. As I got closer to the coastline, though, things changed. A lady in her 50s or 60s stopped me and said, "You look like a tourist." The big camera and Georgia jacket probably gave me away. We talked about the different pace of life on the island, and how proud they are of their heritage, and then we went our own ways. After that, though, my mood changed in the town. I found a place that sold Manx ice cream, which was very creamy. Then I went to this small cafe catering to the 70+ crowd. There I was, eating my chips, finally connecting to some wifi, and enjoying listening to all the conversations going on between these people. Most of it was about their relatives, or complaining about how such-and-such had changed, but it was a real slice of life in this town. I got down to the pier, which was massive. The wind was fierce today, so it made coastal adventures less than ideal. When I finally got back to the bus station, the schools had just gotten out, so all these uniformed teens and pre-teens were milling about, waiting for their respective buses. I went inside, where it was warmer, and this old lady was talking to a gentleman but including all of us in their conversation. She left me breathless - literally, I was trying to contain my laughter at what she was saying. She was a hoot, going on about how the government didn't know this, or how they had mess up that, etc. All in very colorful language to boot!

Now I'm back in my hotel, and you can be envious of the evening of homework ahead of me! I've got things for both of my TCU classes, and if the internet holds out, I'll get to grade my McAfee tests that are due at midnight tonight! Tomorrow and Sunday could potentially be busy, so I gotta take care of this business while I can. And seriously, this internet. It reminds me of dial-up sometimes, when it takes 6 minutes to upload a picture. Hello, 1990s!


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