Newest Review: ... take 15-20 minutes and will set you back around £20. If you prefer the ferry option, then the Isle of Man Steam Packet company offer gre... more
Isle of Man, not part of the UK or EU, but part of the British Isles
Isle of Man
Member Name: julwhite
Isle of Man
Advantages: Interesting location to visit, not cheap to get to
Disadvantages: Probably not enough to see for a longer holiday
This review is of the Isle of Man, a large island situated between Ireland and the UK in the Irish Sea.
The journey for me began by ferry, using The Steam Packet Company's boat, "Ben-my-Chree" which takes just over three hours to cross. You can also however fly by plane, and Easyjet have launched a new service from Liverpool. This is likely to prove cheaper than using the ferry, but you can't of course take your own car.
The ferry journey over is quite easy, I set off from the port of Heysham, and check in was smooth and we boarded promptly. The ferry service has a very good punctuality rate, so you're likely to be in for a reliable journey. I'll write a separate review on the ferry journey itself, but it was comfortable and cost around 80 pounds for two people and a car. The ferry arrived in the capital of the island, Douglas, which is on the south east of the Isle of Man.
I was only staying in the Isle of Man for two days, and I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I went at a time when politics was playing quite a big part in the news stories on the island, as large budget cuts had been made. They were talking about the possibility of 1,000 people being unemployed on the island, from a population of around 80,000 people (fewer of working age).
There were pockets of significant wealth on the island, which is likely to be partly because of the generous tax situation on the Isle of Man. This is really because of the history of the island, which isn't part of the United Kingdom, and isn't part of the European Union, although it does have special arrangements to allow it to trade.
The reverse however is also true, and there were a lot more signs of a lack of wealth on the island than I had imagined. Many buildings were closed, some run down and there was an air in Douglas of the area being not what it was. One newsagent in the centre of Douglas, near the Parliament buildings, had a sign saying that they had installed CCTV due to crime problems, and there clearly problems with graffiti and vandalism in Douglas as well.
In terms of things to do on the island, you might want to experience either driving or motor-cycling around the TT track, which is used in the summer for a range of motorcycle races. During this two week period, the island partly shuts down and focuses entirely on the motorcycle racing. If you do drive around this track, you will see some amazing views of both coastline and mountains, which are one of the highlights of this island.
I'll post separate reviews on the places where I ate and stayed on the island, but there are a wealth of fine dining restaurants, so if you wanted to make a very special weekend on the Isle of Man, you could easily do so. There are a range of food outlets and hotels however, from KFC and McDonalds and cheaper bed and breakfasts, through to the fine dining and expensive hotels.
I enjoyed my time on the Isle of Man, but feel that I'd have struggled to have spent much longer on holiday there. Going in the winter months made a big difference as well, as more shops and outlets were closed, and the wind from the Irish Sea really was very cold! However, the locals were friendly and the island as a whole does feel welcoming.
I only visited two of the towns on the island, Ramsey and Douglas. The views from Ramsey are superb, and I liked the atmosphere in this town. The other two official towns on the Isle of Man are Castletown and Peel, which I was told by an islander is a city as it has a Cathedral.
Overall, this is a fascinating place to go for a holiday, somewhere different and with its own culture. Getting around is easy as there are frequent bus services which reach most parts of the island, there are lots of roads, although the mountain roads can be shut frequently in the winter, and parts of the old railway system remains in places on the island. The locals are welcoming, and although this might not be a place which you'd stay for a long holiday, it makes a superb location for a long weekend.
Summary: Great location for a long weekend break
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