We know your first question: “Where’s the Isle of Man?” and yes, it is a real, actual country with its own flag and currency and everything. It’s a small island between Ireland and England in the Irish Sea.
We know your next question: “Why did you go there?”. The simple answer is that Melissa’s grandparents are originally from there. The more expanded (and romantic) answer is that after an entire lifetime of hearing about this magical island, this was a must-do pilgrimage that was ordained from birth.
So here are the 5 things we loved about the Isle of Man after 5 days:
We were greeted by family we’d never met before and welcomed like we’d known each other forever. We were wined and dined and treated to a pretty much complete tour of the entire island. Everyone went out of their way to make sure we had a great time and lovely stay, and we certainly did. We hope to return the favour one day when we’re a) back in Australia and b) have a home to welcome people to 😉
Stunning Landscape & ancient architecture
This was something neither of us were prepared for. We’d seen photos, we had images in our minds (Melissa especially, having heard so much about what the Island looks like from many stories of growing up there), but nothing quite did it justice.
The Isle of Man is BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful.
The Sound and Calf of Man, with its ferocious waves hitting ancient cliffs on one side, and calm deep waters where seals play on the other. The rich, green hills which are mere minutes from the Douglas city centre. The Victorian style architecture facing the beach fronts in Port Erin and Port Douglas, a memory of a tourism boom in the early 20th Century. Traditional thatched-roof cottages in Cregneash, in as pristine condition as they were when they were built by its village inhabitants in the 1700’s. Together, with brick wall lined windy roads, lush thick greenery everywhere, and the crisp cold days of Autumn, we were blown away.
There is a sense of magic that is undeniable here. There are centuries of stories which permeate the culture. Words of streets and towns derived from the Viking times. Bridges where the fairies live, who, when crossing the bridge, must be (and are) greeted “Hello, fairies”. A tricky native language – Manx Gaelic – which is sadly, at risk of being lost forever, the last native speakers now long gone, but not before having left their recordings so that it may be remembered and preserved.
And of course, there’s a ‘magic’ in the nation’s sport, the TT races, which even outside of the race itself in the middle of the year, is clearly a source of pride and excitement for locals. Heroes of the sport from decades are recognised in plaques and statues throughout the Island.
Ok, we’re joking a bit, it wasn’t fine dining. But we did love the food. We had our first bacon bap and black pudding on the island and they were good. Best of all though was the local delicacy: chips, cheese and gravy. It’s exactly that. Hot chips with grated cheese on top with gravy to melt the cheese. Delicious on a cold day (especially after a few beers the night before).
After going through a lot of airports, we’ve gotten used to the drill of airport security. Liquids in plastic bags, take out everything of your bag, take off (pretty much) all your clothes and shoes. It’s a pain (yes for a good reason) and the staff usually seem more annoyed than we are to be there.
Not on the Isle of Man though.
On our way out, we still had to do the usual, but the man operating the conveyer saw our passports and asked why we had visited. He then chatted with us while we waited in line, and then farewelled us saying it was a pleasure to meet us.
Friendliest. Airport. Security. Ever.
We noticed it wasn’t just with us, he had a chat with everyone. The rest of the security were smiling, happy and helpful too, and this was the last flight of the day. Happy security = happy passengers. Kudos, Isle of Man.
We’ll definitely be back one day. 5 days was all we had there, which as we left felt painfully too short, but we know we’ll return.