Be careful with the money!
The Isle of Man is a British Crown dependency. It is not in the United Kingdom. The currency is pounds sterling, with the island producing its own notes and coins in the same denominations as those you will find in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland).
You can use UK notes and coins in the IOM with no problem at all. They are accepted everywhere.
BUT the IOM notes and coins are not legal currency in the UK. In other words, if you try to spend Manx notes and coins in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland they will not be accepted.
The ATMs at the airport and at the Sea Terminal in Douglas give UK GBP notes but all the other island ATMs give Manx notes and, of course, you'll usually (though not always) get Manx notes and coins in change.
So be careful to spend all your Manx money before you leave the island. If you find you are stuck with a note or two it might be worth asking if the airport cafes (there's one landside and one airside) or sea terminal cafes/shops can exchange them for you. I'm sure they will if they have UK notes available (and another customer, so they can open the till).Related to:
- Family Travel
Posts on the railways
It may seem obvious and go without saying but don't put your head or arms out the window on the Steam Railway and particularly not on the Electric Railway. The steam railway does have some posts though the electric railway has much more frequent posts. I did think on my first trip on the Electric Railway that I would just put my head out the window a little to peek around as and a post for the cables above nearly took it off (may just be me being a bit stupid, but do take care)
N.B. Similarly on the steam railway putting your head out of windows just before a tunnel is not a good idea as all the smoke will rush down and go in your face.Add to your Trip Planner
Having both a steam railway and an electric railway there are a fair few level crossings on the island.
The steam railway from Douglas to Port Erin has level crossings with gates and lights.
However, the Electric train from Douglas to Laxey and then to Snaefell or Ramsey has unmanned level crossings which are not gated. Some have lights, but at the majority the car driver or pedestrian is warned by the tram whistle and caution signs.Add to your Trip Planner
Manannans Cloak (Mist)
Be extremely cautious if there is a low mist, particularly if driving in the mountains or walking by the coast.
The mountain road does go very close to the edge and is very twisty with some hairpin bends and cattle grids too. The mist can completely engulf the mountain and make visibility very limited.
It is not advisable to walk either on the coast or in the hills if the weather is inclement as this can lead to low cloud or mist. Particularly as the paths go very close to the cliffs in places and can be loose near the edges.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Poor tourist information
It's not exactly a hazard but it can be a bit of a nuisance. There is a great deal of interest in the Isle of Man and neither the official website - which is not clear or informative enough - nor the tourist literature do it justice. Unless you are visiting for the TT races or intending to spend a week in August relaxing on Douglas promenade, the Isle of Man is perhaps not an obvious destination. Take the standard tourist brochure, for instance. This is an accommodation list with some added notes - although it has to be said this trend in tourist literature in not unique to the Isle of Man. The result is that you should have a fair idea of where you are going to stay but not necessarily a clear idea of why you should go there in the first place.
There is a lot of concentration in the tourist information about the sites that constitute the "Story of Man" (and a rather dismal DVD is available). Some are undeniably excellent, others are very much re-creation of history orientated - fine if you want to amuse the kids on one of those wet days but not everyone's cup of tea. Take Rushen Abbey as an example. The remains - especially by comparison with sites in the UK or Ireland - are minimal. To make it an 'attraction' you have to create something out of next to nothing.
The most helpful page in the tourist brochure is the one that suggests you buy the "All Round Guide to the Isle of Man", (or alternatively you could try something like the Pevensey Guide, for which see Internet second-hand sites). Also, the publications you will find in the Manx Museum in Douglas - historical sites, Manx crosses and so forth - are excellent.
My advice is to ignore what the tourist information says - or at least be selective about what you choose to visit. If possible, bring your car or hire one. The island is relatively small, the roads are quiet and you can see a lot in a few days. Read a little in advance - you don't need to know the complete history of the island - get out there and find the places for yourself. It's much more fun.Add to your Trip Planner
Beware of the Ducks
This was the first time I ever saw a warning sign for ducks.
I have never considered them to be very dangerous birds.
However, I have also never seen so many ducks and other waterbirds together this close to a street. So I suppose the danger comes from cars braking suddenly when the large group of ducks decides to walk across the street.Add to your Trip Planner
Force 9 gales and parking!
As these pictures show, the weather can get a bit windy and wet on the Isle of Man. While I was there we had a force 9 gale, which believe me is pretty windy!
Much of the obvious parking places tend to be right by the water in Peel and Douglas, so be conscious of where you park!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Overnighting in Ferry Terminal
If you're used to visiting the Island during TT week you may be under the impression that the Douglas Ferry Terminal is open all night, so that if you arrive or are leaving in the early hours of the morning you can doss down in a corner for a few hours' kip. Regard that as a tip, if you will...
However, outside of the TT period it closes! I'm not sure about the week of the Manx Grand Prix, but a friend who was travelling for the Southern 100 races in July was planning to while away the hours between arrival late one night and check-in time at his hotel early the following morning, and was asked to leave the terminal because it was closing. Fortunately he was able to make alternative arrangements, but if not, he'd have been wandering the streets of Douglas for 4-5 hours!Add to your Trip Planner
Hungry Monument Chasers
I have to tell you something completely beyond my comprehension. Restaurants, bars, pubs - nobody serves food between 14.00 and 18.00!
If anyone would care to explain this to me, I'd be really grateful. Because this island is trying to attract tourists.
I was desperate, with four hungry kids, to find a decent place.
Just near Castletown railway station, there is a pub that looks like a nice place. The waiter gave us the menus at 14.30. After reading and realizing that I'm going to pay 11 GBP for a lamb skewer or 7 GBP for fish and chips, I was ready to order. Then he told me we could order only after 18.00. Must be those old gas fireplaces.
Then I stopped looking for decent, but even all those pubs that smell of beer burp and smoke had no food to offer until 18.00.
So we jumped on a train to Douglas, hoping that a large town would certainly have some restaurants open all day. My little host told me we could check at their favorite Italian restaurant, located at the main promenade. Closed. In July. So we had KFC and it was good.
I was so frustrated, I forgot to take a pic of KFC food for you. So I'll use the pic of King William's College Dining room instead.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Food and Dining
- Road Trip
Dangerous Ducks !
On our way back from Snaefel Mountain, the Electric Tram stopped.
The driver went out. Everyone was patiently waiting, behaving properly and minding their manners. But I'm from another country, nosy tourist and a VT member, so I had to get out and check what's going on.
The driver was helping little ducklings to climb over railway tracks and catch up with their mom. Their little feet were too short to climb, so his help was necessary. I was wondering how he noticed them?!
Enlarge the picture and tell me - can you see that little duckling? And he stopped the train smoothly and just in time.
hmmm ... they have those Motorola things in their pockets, so I suspect drivers were informing each other about this extremely dangerous situation.Related to:
- School Holidays
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