What a cool name for a country — “Hey, I live on ‘The Isle Of Man.'”
It first appeared on my layman American radar when it was referenced as a penal colony in the dystopian Children Of Men, but otherwise has also become — at least for me — a symbol of an elusive exotic island off the grid of the civilized map (how wrong I was). It definitely has become one of those places that elicits a “that’s a real place?” when mentioned to the average American.
But I can’t see why it would be after 2 quick and easy flights from NYC.
For the uninitiated, the Isle Of Man is considered a sovereign state that also exists as a dependency of the British Crown. This means it is NOT part of the UK itself but relies on them for foreign affairs and military defense. Otherwise the Isle Of Man has its own government, Chief Minister, and a democratically-elected Parliament (The “House of Keys”) that nominates a “Legislative Council.” In relation to the EU, the Isle of Man is an associate member but not a full member.
In other words, visiting the Isle Of Man may count as a new country!
After an 8 hour layover in Manchester, I boarded a 5:35pm Flybe flight, arriving 50 minutes later at 6:25pm. Despite the short flight, I befriended my seat-neighbor Zoe who helpfully shared some pro-tips on exploring the Isle Of Man in 2 days.
Getting out into arrivals in this cute little airport took literally less than a minute.
At the information desk in arrivals, you can ask for a passport stamp for the Isle of Man:
Then I rendezvou’ed with Melissa, Joe, and Grayson (who flew in from London at the same time) outside baggage claims, where we were then picked up in our rental car by Alfred and Sam, both of whom had arrived a few hours earlier.
We then drove 20 minutes over to the capital city of Douglas and checked into our digs at The Town House. As we waited for Donna to arrive later at 9pm, we began a leisurely stroll north up along the corniche.
Following the din of random music, we enjoyed an impromptu dinner via food trucks at Bushy’s TT Village, featuring an outdoor concert on a rooftop overlooking the town center.
After an hour here, we then walked south around Douglas down its pedestrian-only Strand Street, taking in the golden hour.
Once we got to the southern docks, it was already 9:30pm local time, but as you can see it was still bright out:
Adding to the surreal atmosphere here, Donna would also happen to run into Sam and me along Strand Street as we picking up some water and groceries for the next day. We all then headed back to The Town House and gave into the jetlag.
The next morning we got up early for our big day exploring the island, first enjoying a lovely farm to table breakfast at The Alpine.
Then we set off north 15 minutes for Laxey, famous for its “oldest water wheel in the world.” Admission fee is 7£ for adults, 4£ for students.
Pro-tip (thanks Zoe!), if you arrive after 5pm when they close, you can jump the fence and make up for the bad karma later.
93 steps up to the top:
There’s also a lovely Mine Trail behind the Laxey Wheel that takes 15-20 minutes long to walk:
Then we drove southwest to the city of Peel:
It’s home to the 1000 year old Peel Castle, where it was once used by monks to hide from invading Viking hordes. Also 7£ (4£ for students) to enter.
After 30 minutes wandering here we then grabbed some ice cream at the famous Davison’s Ice Cream Parlour and peeked inside St German Cathedral (aka Cathedral Isle Of Man):
From there we drove south to Castle Rushen in the appropriately eponymous Castletown:
Also 7£ (3£ for students) to enter:
Find the pooping man inside:
Then driving through Balladoole Heritage Site, which lies 5 minutes to the west of Castletown, we headed another 10 minutes southwest to Isle of Man’s own “Stonehenge”: the Meayll Stone Circle:
After 5 minutes taking in the views of the south, we began our drive back towards Douglas to catch the annual Isle Of Man Tourist Trophy (IOMTT) practice races from the balcony lounge of The Creg-Ny-Baa. Of all the times to choose to go to the Isle of Man, I would pick the most popular time to visit!
For 10£ per person you can reserve seats in the upstairs lounge at The Creg no more than 48 hours in advance for prime viewing spots of what has been regarded the “most dangerous sporting event in the world.”
Grab your telephoto lens when the race starts; the elite riders go first:
At around 8:05pm, the sidecars come out:
What a time to be alive! After the race ended at 9pm and waiting for the roads to reopen at 9:15pm, we then drove back to Douglas for bed.
Tomorrow we set off early for Northern Ireland!
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