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Isle of Man
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The Isle of Man (in Manx, Ellan Vannin) is an island in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland off the coast of Western Europe. It is a United Kingdom crown dependency (and therefore a sovereign nation not part of the United Kingdom itself). It is not a full member of the European Union, but an associate member.
Map of Man, Isle of
Temperate; cool summers and mild winters; overcast about one-third of the time.
A plain in the far north, with hills in north and south bisected by central valley. One small islet, the Calf of Man, lies to the southwest, and is a bird sanctuary.
The Isle of Man was part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Hebrides until the 13th century when it was ceded to Scotland, the isle came under the British crown in 1765. Current concerns include reviving the almost extinct Manx Celtic language.
A number of airlines operate regular serives to the Isle of Man from regional airports throughout the British Isles such as Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin, Belfast, London (Gatwick, Luton, London City) and Birmingham.
Ferries operated by the Steam Packet Company 1 (http://www.steam-packet.com) to Douglas from:
A Steam Train Runs Between Douglas and Port Erin. The Manx Electric Railway Runs Between Douglas and Ramsey. Snaefell Mountain Railway Is Connected To Manx Electric Railway. Groudle Glen Railway is in North Douglas.
The Isle of Man has a very extensive road network which is passably well maintained. Congestion is low (outside Douglas at rush hour). Rules of the road nominally mirror those of the United Kingdom with the exception that there is no overall speed limit for private vehicles (in other words, in a derestricted zone there is no blanket 70 or 60 mph limit like there is in the UK).
However, Manx driving standards are pretty low. Cars have no annual roadworthiness test (in contrast to the UK) which in combination with the salt spray from the sea can lead to some fairly spectacular rustbuckets on the road. Headlights are never lit except in pitch darkness, and foglights (front and rear) are used only when there is no fog to be seen. Drivers habitually pull out of side-turnings in front of oncoming traffic and meander down the middle of the road at 37.5 mph. Rear view mirrors are never used. The Manx will frequently stop to chat a friend they see approaching in the other direction, oblivious to the build-up of traffic behind them.
The one saving grace is that caravans are illegal.
The TT races, held annually in June, are unquestionably the greatest motor racing event on the planet. For this reason, every motorcyclist has heard of the Isle of Man and will try to make the pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime, if only to find a nice clear piece of road and hurtle down it at 180mph totally legally.
Douglas Horse Trams are in the Manx capital.
Many UK chain stores are represented in the Island (mainly in the capital, Douglas); for example, Boots, WH Smith, Ottakar's, Marks and Spencer, Woolworths, B&Q. The island has its own supermarket chain, Shoprite, with branches in Peel, Douglas, Ramsey, Castletown and Port Erin and there is a small lifestyle shopping centre at Tynwald Mills in St John's, with a number of outlets selling upmarket clothing, furnishings and gifts.
Uniquely Manx products include Smoked Kippers and Manx Tartan.
Manx food is pretty fantastic, and continues to improve. Catering standards are almost universally significantly higher than those in the rest of the British Isles, assuming your culinary experiences in the British Isles are limited to Harvesters or NHS Hospitals. Examples of such "pretty fantastic" Manx food include the chip bap, the chip bap with gravy, and the the chip bap with gravy and mushy peas. Seriously, you can get a very pleasant crab bap from the kiosk on Peel Quay.
The Isle of Man has two breweries, Okells and Bushy's. The Isle of Man has a beer purity law that permits no ingredients in beer other than water, yeast, hops and malt. Accordingly, a well-kept pint of Manx beer is worth seeking out.
The Isle of Man is generally a fairly safe place. Town centres have real glass in bus shelters and graffiti has become a thing of the past.
Isle of Man Guide (http://www.iomguide.com/)