Continuing my 1-year-later blogging, this week I’ll be talking about Isle of Man, a lovely island that gets an undeservedly bad rap. A year ago today, I hopped on a flight to Liverpool’s John Lennon airport (with a yellow submarine outside) and caught a Steam-Packet boat, the Viking, for the 3-hour journey to Man.

The island has a curious status: it’s neither part of Great Britain nor the United Kingdom or the EU, but it is part of the British Isles. Isle of Man is infamous for attracting tax evaders and petrol heads – and I’ll cover that later this week. First, however, I want to talk about other things: Man’s beautiful nature, great hiking, nice people and interesting history; Viking history even, always dear to a Norwegian heart. This was once called the Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles. Tynwald, the Manx Parliament, dates back to the Viking era and is among the oldest in the world.

Douglas – capital of Isle of Man

The Viking docked in Douglas harbour about ten o’clock in the evening. The long parade along the bay was all lit up and pretty. In the hills above town loomed what appeared to be castles, illuminated slightly, just enough to look a bit spooky. This looked promising, indeed. Next morning, I noticed they weren’t castles, just large houses; nothing spooky about them. Apart from that slight disappointment, Douglas was pleasant. And flowery.

With the long ocean parade and elegant Victorian buildings, it reminded me of Llandudno.

Public transport is excellent and comes in many forms: busses, electric trains and horse drawn trams.

I’m not big on horse drawn carriages as I’m almost certain the horse would much rather be elsewhere. However, several locals assured me the trammers worked max 2 hours per day, were treated well and sent off to a nice horsey rest home when they retired.

On the way out of town one day, the bus drove past the Home of Rest for Old Horses. It looked nice, roomy and green and I was sorry I didn’t have time to visit. Apparently there’s also a Manx cat at the rest home and I didn’t see any of those either. Plenty of sea gulls, though. But although I appreciate their photogenic qualities, I’m a bit apprehensive around sea gulls. They look as though they’re about to stab me in the head with their sharp beaks.

Isle of Man seagulls

More Isle of Man tomorrow, when we head for the hills to Mount Snaefell and the Great Laxey Wheel.