Isle of Man 2007 – 2

In view of the 61 steps, we took all our kit with us when we went down to breakfast and went straight out afterwards.

These days, hotels are becoming readier to accommodate vegetarians so we were a little shocked when we asked what was available for vegetarians and received the curt reply “What’s on the menu.”

After breakfast, we went to the tourist information centre and bought 5-day travel tickets. These give us unlimited travel on buses, trams and trains for 5 days. Good value at £35 each.

The first thing we did with them was to to travel from Douglas to Port Erin by rail. First, we had to find the station. We could see where it was on the street plan but that is less than half the battle because in Douglas they are curiously reluctant to put up street names. We had to ask the way and finally found it.

The station is beautful with a magnificent gateway. To go inside is to step into the past, into the Victorian era. There is a museum attached but the station itself is already a living museum.

The railway is the Isle of Man Steam Railway, another magnificent piece of living history. The important point to grasp is that while there are other steam trains and steam railways in the British Isles these have been restored after ceasing to run whereas the Isle of Man service opened in 1874 and has run continuously ever since. It is a functioning transport service, not merely an “attraction” run for tourists, and we certainly used it as such.

The small but well made locomotives and the old slam-door carriages, still divided into compartments, are a fascinating sight and a joy to behold for railway enthusiasts.

Port Erin is small and on Sunday nearly everything is closed. We had a cup of tea in the station cafe, then went looking for lunch. When ended up back at the station cafe eating “toasties”. Nothing else was open.

We took the train back to Douglas and explored a bit more of the town. We then took the horse tram along the promenade to its terminus. Having patted the horse and met a cat called Elvis who lives in the tram shed, we decided it was time for dinner.

Nearby was a Chinese restaurant called Chinatown, so we entered and asked for a table. The service was efficient and polite but I would say the food was no more than average.

As we didn’t yet feel ready to climb the 69 steps to our room, we sat on a bench until a bus turned up and boarded it for the round trip. This reminded me of what I only half jokingly referred to as our white-kuckle bus rides around Newquay in Cornwall. As then, the bus jolted and rattled along narrow roads, suddenly turning right or left to visit outlying communities, until we lost all sense of direction.

Back in Douglas, we were not sure where to disembark. As a result, we ended up in the bus depot and surprised the driver who had no idea anyone was still aboard.

Outside the depot was a bus stop so we waited there about 40 minutes. On Sundays, even in Douglas itself, buses run at a frequency of 1 an hour.

When the bus eventually came, it was the same driver. We explained where we wanted to go – our hotel – and he kindly dropped us off at the nearest point on his route. We walked down the hill to the hotel, took a deep breath and, 69 steps later, were back in our room brewing up.

I am writing this over a second cup of tea while Tigger reviews on her laptop the photos she took during the day.

Douglas Station
Douglas Railway Station
Port Erin Station
Port Erin Station
Steam Loco
One of the steam locos

 

Port Soderick Station
Port Soderick Station
View from the train
Beautiful view from the train
Castletown Station
Castletown Station

 

Horse Tram
Riding the horse tram
Horse Tram Stables
Where the tram horses live
Elvis retires
Elvis the Cat retires for the night
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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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