Isle of Man – More Than Just Motorcycle Racing! Check Out a Manx Cat Café, Drive on Roads With No Speed Limit and See Trains Inspired by Thomas the Tank Engine

The Isle of Man is most famous for its Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, the world’s most dangerous motorbike race, which has been held on the island since 1907. We of the Domain Expedition decided to explore attractions on the Isle of Man outside of bike racing, such as taking a look at trains modeled on Thomas & Friends and a cat café for Manx cats, a tail-less cat that originated on the island. The ccTLD for the Isle of Man is “.im”.
It is used by quite a few messaging services such as arenastatusGapMessengerTocaro, etc.

= Table of Contents =

◆Where is the Isle of Man?

◆Refugee Staff Member from Ukraine

◆Only 3 Motorbikes Seen on the Isle

◆”Manx Cat Café”, the Isle of Man’s First and Only Cat Café

◆Discover 10,000 Years of Isle of Man History

◆ Is Thomas & Friends really modeled on the Trains From the Isle of Man?

◆Driving on Roads with “No Speed Limits”

◆Finding “.im” Around Town

◆How to Purchase an eSIM & Test the Internet Speed

◆Where is the Isle of Man?

The Isle of Man is a British Crown Territory situated in the middle of the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland. It has a population of about 90,000 and covers an area of 572.39㎢, roughly the same size as Awaji Island in Japan. The isle’s military and foreign affairs are outsourced to the UK and it is heavily dependent on the UK economically. The local currency is pound sterling.

◆Refugee Staff Member from Ukraine

Having finished our bus exploration of Guernsey, we’re now heading to the Isle of Man via London. While we’re in London, it’s only right that we enjoy some famous local fish and chips.

We arrive by the British low-cost airline, easyJet. Outside it’s extremely cold and windy.

We want to go to our hotel by taxi. But where are the taxis…? Since the Isle of Man has more tourist attractions than Jersey or Guernsey, I honestly thought I’d get a taxi more easily. It’s already past 9:30pm. The airport staff let us know that, like in Guernsey, there is a last bus of the day. Phew! Taking a Mercedes Benz bus to the hotel.

It takes about 30 minutes. We arrive at our hotel, . The heating isn’t on so it’s pretty cold inside. Perhaps they’re conserving energy due to the situation with Russia?

When I was chatting with one of the hotel staff members before breakfast, she told me I had the same name as her son – Yuri. Her son is called Yurii, which is a Slavic male name. In Japan, Yuri is a female name but it’s a male name in Eastern Europe. The most famous male Yuri is probably Yurii Gagarin, the first man in space (Soviet Union), who said “the earth is blue”. The lady I spoke with had been evacuated from Ukraine to the Isle of Man via Kraków, Poland. She nows lives with a host family and works in this hotel. Hearing that her son dreamt of going to India but is now unable to, made me realize I shouldn’t take the ability to travel freely for granted. When I left the hotel, I shared some Japanese sweets with her as a parting gift.

◆Only 3 Motorbikes Seen on the Isle

Breakfast was fried and scrambled eggs, bacon and orange juice.

Unfortunately, going outside we see that it’s raining now. We take a walk around the hotel.

SPAR is the world’s largest food retail chain, operating in more than 30 countries, mainly in Europe. We don’t see them in Japan very often.

Here’s an intriguing looking shop. It’s called SOUND RECORDS.

The radio-cassette player is marked with “OSHIMA”. Maybe it’s the previous owner’s name.

An expected sight on an isle famous for motorbike racing. Three men arrived on motorbike. They were on off-road motorbikes. How cool. I had wondered how many more will we see during our time here, but surprisingly, in the end we only saw those three.

The weather turned sunny as we strolled around the area.

◆”Manx Cat Café”, the Isle of Man’s First and Only Cat Café

Our first stop was Manx Cat Café. It’s about a 7-minute walk from the hotel.

As you enter, there’s a sign instructing customers to close the door behind them. It would be a problem if any of the cats got out.

At the entrance to the cat café. We enter cautiously as I see there is a cat near the door.

We paid an entrance fee of £7 at the counter. The price includes a drink, such as a cup of tea.
It’s recommended that you book via the website.

View of the café as seen from the reception counter. Today there are three cats wandering about freely.
I wonder where they all are?

Here’s one! An orange tabby Manx cat.

Next, a black Manx playing hide-and-seek.

And a grey Manx, taking a break. I found all three!

Kōtōbu enthusiasts (those who love the back of a cat’s head) can enjoy the view for as long as they like.

I tried to tempt him with some catnip, but was unsuccessful. It seems he keeps a clear distinction between work and break time.

All three cats are here now. The Manx is a breed of tail-less cat that originated on the Isle of Man. All the cats here are authentic Isle of Man Manx cats. I tried the catnip again, but was ignored. Perhaps my way of tempting him was too Japanese?

Manx cats are known for being gentle and kind. There are many theories as to why they don’t have a tail, the most famous being that when the last Manx cat jumped on board Noah’s Ark, it lost its tail when it was caught in the door slamming shut.

Three women enjoying delicious-looking toast and sandwiches. By the way, 20% of us here at Interlink Co., Ltd. are owned by cats.

Today’s menu. The cake looks delicious.
Better get going before I lose the will to explore anywhere else.

The grey Manx is on another break. Bye! Take care!

◆Discover 10,000 Years of Isle of Man History

Under beautiful blue skies that belie the morning’s rain, let’s go and check out the Manx Museum, where we can learn about the history of the Isle of Man.

Here we are. Admission is free.

Many artefacts and treasures unique to the isle are on display.

You can really get a sense of the 10,000 years of history on the Isle of Man.

The story of Tynwald, the world’s oldest continuous parliament.

The Natural History Gallery showcases the island’s landscape, wildlife and habitats.

A section dedicated to the world-famous Isle of Man TT Races, showing legendary riders and Michelin motorcycle paraphernalia.

They were selling cute Manx cat soft toys at the souvenir shop.

Also the Isle of Man flag.

◆ Is Thomas & Friends really modeled on the Trains From the Isle of Man?

To find out if the rumor is true – that Thomas & Friends was modeled on trains from the Isle of Man – we decided to visit the Isle of Man Steam Railway, arguably the most popular tourist attraction on the isle. First stop, Douglas Station. Magnificent brick arches give it a historic and grand atmosphere.

Let’s enter the platform.

Some people are already on board. All seats are in private compartments. Each compartment has its own door for entry and exit. Pretty unusual!

The leading steam carriage. It does look a bit like Thomas the Tank Engine. All of these steam trains were built around 1900.

The private compartments seat 4 to 6 people. The railway runs for 25km with 11 stations, but since we didn’t have a lot of time we decided to just go from Douglas Station to Castletown and then come back again. The fare was £11.80 return.

A short time after leaving the station we could see the sea. It looks like a framed picture but it was our actual view! The windows are designed to look like picture frames.

Passing through Port Soderick Station.

They’re so small it’s hard to see but there are sheep in the fields. The idyllic scenery continues.

We’ve entered a residential area now.

We arrive at Castletown Station.

Castletown was the seat of the Isle of Man parliament until 1863. There was a stone building on the station grounds.

So, were the trains on the Isle of Man really the inspiration for Thomas & Friends? We talked to five staff members at Castletown Station and they all told us, “Yes, that’s right”. We were told the steam train “Southerland” on display at the Isle of Man Steam Railway Museum was the model for Thomas. Isle of Man Steam Railway Museum, which we unfortunately didn’t have time to visit, is a one-minute walk from the railway’s final station, Port Erin. If you’re a Thomas fan you won’t want to miss it.

We return to Douglas by steam train.

◆Driving on Roads with “No Speed Limits”

Back in Douglas, we now head for the airport. In order to continue our exploration for as long as possible in the little time remaining, we book a taxi. Is it true that the roads on the Isle of Man have no speed limit? The speed limit on this road was 40 km/h.

Suddenly we see a white road sign with a black diagonal line.

Then our driver starts going faster and faster!

That white road sign with a black stripe meant “No Speed Limit”.
While drivers can go as fast as they like, it seemed like everyone was sticking to safe speeds.
You see a lot of these signs on the way to the airport.

Thanks to them, we arrived at Peel Castle in no time at all.

Since we didn’t have enough time we didn’t go inside, but we did take a stroll around the outside.

View of the sea from the outer wall. What a magnificent view!

The famous prawn sandwiches were incredible, even if we had to eat them in a hurry.

We walked 5 minutes to St. German’s Cathedral.

It’s called the ruins of St. German, but it doesn’t really look like ruins to me?

Ah, unsurprisingly, the ruins of St. German’s Cathedral were located within Peel Castle.
The cathedral within Peel Castle dates back to the 12th century and was abandoned in the 18th century. It was decided not to rebuild within Peel Castle, and the present cathedral was build outside the castle between 1879 and 1884. Since we didn’t go inside the castle, we didn’t realize this. Keep this in mind if you are visiting the ruins of St. German’s Cathedral.


Finally we visit , which manages the “.im” domain.

We didn’t have an appointment so we explain the purpose of our visit over the intercom.

The director was out, but David, the Senior Manager was there to greet us with a smile. We gave them some Japanese souvenirs and talked about our Domain Island Tour. A few days later we received an e-mail from the director of Domicilium Ltd Isle of Man Datacentre apologizing for not being there after we had traveled all the way from Japan.

And that concludes our exploration of the Isle of Man. We left on a propeller plane operated by Scottish commuter airline, Loganair.

◆Finding “.im” Around Town

Fitness Club

The largest building contractor on the Isle of Man.

This is a construction company too.

The Isle of Man Railway website, which has timetables and other information.

Isle of Man tourism website, which I saw at the airport.

◆How to Purchase an eSIM & Test the Internet Speed

Domain Island Tours have reported on how to find and purchase local SIM cards from June 2018 to September 2020. However, since it takes a surprisingly long time to find a store and buy one, from now on we’ll use eSIMs. Switching to eSIM made it easy to sign up for a connection that works in the Isle of Man. The one I used this time was Airalo for the Isle of Man (Isle of Man compatible, 1 GB, 7 days, $5 USD) Isle of Man eSIM speeds as measured at Isle of Man Airport (Ronaldsway Airport). It was 51 Mbps.

■List of Places Visited

■ For access to Man click here

■ For “.im” domain details click here

9737 Kilometers from Japan, Touring Guernsey Island by Local Bus! I’ll be taking some of the “few and far between” local buses to visit 5 points of interest, including the Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum and the largest park on the island

After a 3-hour whirlwind exploration of Jersey island, the Domain expedition team heads for Guernsey, the second largest of the Channel Islands. The beauty of the island attracted the French impressionist painter Renoir, and is still a popular tourist destination today. The island is a tax haven and has favorable tax treatment for foreigners, as does the Virgin Islands, Mauritius and Malta. This is the first time in the history of Domain Island Tours that local/public buses will be used to get around and explore. The ccTLD assigned to Guernsey, “.gg”, is a popular domain in the gaming and sports industry as it stands for “good game”.

Where is Guernsey?

Guernsey island, known for being the setting of the 2018 film “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, is one of the islands that make up the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy, France, and is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. While the British government controls foreign affairs and defense, Guernsey has its own parliament and government and a high degree of independence, different from most overseas territories and colonies. The population is about 65,000. The local currency is pound sterling, or the Guernsey pound.

= Table of Contents =

◆The first Japanese Person to Stay in a Classic Guernsey Hotel

◆First ever on a Domain Island Tour! Exploring by Local Bus

◆The 2nd location, the Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum, once a Napoleonic Fort

◆A Japanese Garden at the 3rd Location, Saumarez Park

◆ Locations 4 and 5 – a Japanese Restaurant and a Game Shop Selling Japanese Anime Goods

◆Finishing on Time and Without Incident

◆Finding “.gg” Around Town

◆How to Purchase an eSIM & Test the Internet Speed


◆The first Japanese Person to Stay in a Classic Guernsey Hotel

On my way to Guernsey from Jersey. The trip began with a one-hour delay due to airplane maintenance, but our small Blue Islands propeller plane made the trip to Guernsey in about 20 minutes.

The airport is quite modern, despite James (my driver in Jersey), telling me that Guernsey is not a city.

Let’s head to the hotel by taxi. But… you could wait forever and a taxi would never come. I’d booked a restaurant, so I impatiently asked the airport staff for assistance. They called the company for me, but no one ever came.

Walking around the area, I notice a bus stop. I board what is likely the last bus of the day.

I get off at a bus stop that I presume is near my hotel. I walk about 20 minutes, with the help of Google Maps. At around 10pm, I finally reach the hotel. I have a late dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Oh, and incidentally, the restaurant I booked but missed out on was called “KOI KOI”. It’s a local well-known restaurant that offers Asian, fusion, creative Japanese cuisine, steak and sushi. I really wanted to check it out.

I’m staying at Les Douvres Hotel, a converted 18th Century manor house, previously owned by a lord or nobleman. It has a lovely, classic appearance.

The staff told me I was the first Japanese person to stay there. It seems it’s not visited by Japanese people, perhaps because it’s located in the suburbs. They were very friendly and kind, and the English Breakfast was excellent! I really recommend this hotel. Why not be their second Japanese visitor?

◆First ever on a Domain Island Tour! Exploring by Local Bus

When I found the bus stop at the airport the night before, I also found a map of the island’s public bus route. I’ve explored 29 islands so far, but this is the first time to see an island with a local bus route! So, I decided to explore Guernsey by bus. I’ll visit 5 locations on the island.

My starting point is the bus stop near the hotel. I plan to take the bus to the first location, the German Occupation Museum. However, it’s proving difficult to find the bus stop. When I finally come across the bus stop, it simply has “BUS” written on the ground. I guess you tend to think a bus stop means a place with a timetable and a sign with the name of the bus stop, but in Guernsey, some bus stops only have the word “BUS” written on the ground.

Here is the “Town Terminal” bus. I take this bus to the next connecting bus stop.

The bus fare was £1.25. It’s easy to pay with just a swipe of your card.

The bus was pretty empty.

Once off the bus, I looked for the bus stop where the airport-bound buses depart.

I found it! This one has a sign.

The bus turns up.

I arrive at the closest bus stop. There is a sign pointing the way to the German Occupation Museum. Everything is going well today.

I arrive at the German Occupation Museum. It’s open.

I walk around the grounds before entering the museum. Propeller wreckage is displayed in memory of the Royal Air Force’s 153 Squadron and Allied aircrew who lost their lives over Guernsey waters.

Let’s go inside. Entry costs £6.

After the fall of France in May 1940, Hitler saw the Channel Islands as a springboard for an invasion of Britain. A large number of valuable documents are on display, showing what it was like in those days.

The Enigma machine and other communication devices used by the Germans look like the forerunner of modern laptop computers.

A sign reads “Keep Your Heads! Don’t Be Yellow! Business As Usual”, encouraging people to go about life as normal.

There was also a notice that said: “Anyone with a communication device will be punished.”

Due to the lack of facilities available, it seems that German soldiers and local residents had to live together.

The Jersey War Tunnels told of the misery of life under German occupation and expressed negative feelings, but here at the German Occupation Museum there is also material that talks about the kindness of the Germans.

It’s time to head to the second location. As I was leaving the museum, a man at reception told me to look upstairs as well. When I told him that I would miss my bus so I’d come back another time, he said “There are no buses to Japan”. Since he was so enthusiastic to recommend the second floor, I hurried up and took a quick look. Anyway, was his comment about “no buses to Japan” the dry humor of a British gentleman, or was he really worried about me? Maybe it wasn’t a joke as he was straight-faced and didn’t smile at all.

◆The 2nd location, the Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum, once a Napoleonic Fort

I head to the 2nd location, Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum, which was once a Napoleonic fort. I’m traveling now to the west coast of the island. The local buses are very handy! Something that looks like a fort can be seen in the distance.

I’ll get off here.

I’ve arrived at Fort Grey . Right in front of me is the Napoleonic fort. Where is the Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum?

I walk in the direction of the fort.

The museum is in the fort. Entry is £4.

It’s not that big inside. It’s divided into two floors.

The Napoleonic Fort refers to Fort Grey, originally built as a defense by the British in 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars.

The west coast of Guernsey is rocky and many ships have suffered shipwreck here over the centuries.

The museum displays the records and remains of these sunken ships.

There’s a reproduction of the cockpit of a sunken ship, using the remains of a shipwreck.

Let’s go down to the first floor.

Dishes and portholes (small windows in the side of a ship) that have been recovered.

Life jackets are also on display. Huh? What’s that? There’s Japanese writing.

It’s on a life jacket from the Liberian registered grain carrier M.V. Radiant Med, which capsized at 1:30am on the 24th of January 1984 and subsequently sank 18 miles off St Martin’s Point, Guernsey. Why is there Japanese writing on life jackets from a Liberian registered ship? The ship was originally built in 1970 by Hashihama Shipbuilding, owned by “Murakami Kaiun” and called the “Shunseimaru”. It changed owners in 1977. So, it seems the Japanese life jackets were kept as part of the ship’s supplies.

I got to see valuable artifacts that we don’t often get the chance to see.

Finally, looking out to Rocquaine Bay from the fort, I see a number of stranded boats?!
It’s just low tide, so they’re not really stranded. Let’s make our way to location number 3.

◆A Japanese Garden at the 3rd Location, Saumarez Park

This time we are heading east, away from the west coast to Saumarez Park, our 3rd location, so I wait for bus 91 to Vazon Bay.

It’s here.

We can see the west coast on the left as we drive.

I need to transfer en-route.

We arrive.

Saumarez Park is the largest public park on the island, with a museum of traditional costumes, a cafe, a playground, lawns and a pond.

For the time being, I’ll just walk around this large park.

A lady walking her dog asks me if I am from Japan. “There’s a Japanese garden here”, she says. Let’s take a look.

There’s an ISUZU truck parked here.

I walk a few minutes more. I find a sign that says in Japanese, “Guernsey’s little Japan”!

James St Vincent Saumarez (4th Baron Saumarez), who was posted to the British legation in Tokyo for three years from 1876, brought in Japanese carpenters and built a Japanese house in Guernsey.

The building was removed after it was damaged in World War II. However, the Japanese plants he brought back with him still remain to this day.

A nearby sign reads “Japanese Walk”. Let’s see what’s that way.

A turret-like building comes into view.

Built in 1935, it was badly damaged during the occupation. It was restored in 1989, but closed in 2019 after an inspection in 2016 showed that extensive repair work was needed. It reopened to the public on September 17th, 2021 after two years of restoration work.

◆Locations 4 and 5 – a Japanese Restaurant and a Game Shop Selling Japanese Anime Goods

Let’s head towards the town center.

I’m now at St. Peter Port.

Looking for the Japanese restaurant.

I’ve found it. Fukku Izakaya, a Japanese bar and restaurant that serves Japanese food. It just opened on April 29th of this year. It’s pretty busy.

The inside doesn’t really feel like Japan. Huh? What’s that? Those lights hanging from the ceiling… pretty sure I’ve seen something like that before.

It’s shaped like a soy sauce bottle. Nice touch. I was starving, so under the light of the giant soy sauce bottle, I ordered squid tempura, takoyaki, chicken katsu curry and miso ramen.

First to arrive was the squid tempura and takoyaki.

The ramen.

The katsu curry. On other islands, sushi, tempura, ramen and takoyaki are often found on the menu, but this was the first time I had seen katsu (cutlet) curry on offer.
Apart from being surprised that the green tea was fizzy, everything else was pretty good.

With a full and satisfied stomach, let’s now move on to our final location, the game shop that sells Japanese anime goods.

The store behind this statue of a Guernsey cow sells Guernsey milk. Jersey milk is more well-known in Japan, in fact there are only 3 Guernsey dairy farms in the whole country. Guernsey milk is said to have high nutritional value and a clean aftertaste.

I find our 5th location, “Just Games”.

Let’s take a look around. I see some Pokemon.

They have figurines from One Piece and Demon Slayer.

They also sell novelty erasers from the brand iwako.

I had a great time. Thank you! Now it’s time to make my way to my final goal, the airport.

◆Finishing on Time and Without Incident

By using the Google Maps Route Planner, I was able to visit all five locations within the limited time I had available.

I’m waiting for the bus to the airport, but there’s no sign of it.

This could be a problem. The bus I had planned to take has been cancelled, and the buses now arriving were a bit chaotic because they either had the wrong destination sign or they’d forgot to display any sign at all.

After asking other people waiting and the bus driver, I was finally able to board a bus heading to the airport.

Local bus trip in Guernsey – finished successfully! I’ve made it in time for my flight.

I leave the Channel Islands and set off for my next destination.

◆Finding “.gg” Around Town

The “.gg” domain is used by several businesses. At a barbershop.

An organic specialty store.

Co-working Spaces.

A specialty tapioca tea shop.

And, on the buses that helped me out today!

◆How to Purchase an eSIM & Test the Internet Speed

Domain Island Tours have reported on how to find and purchase local SIM cards from June 2018 to September 2020. However, since it takes a surprisingly long time to find a store and buy one, from now on we’ll use eSIMs. Switching to eSIM made it easy to sign up for a connection that works in Guernsey. Guernsey eSIM speeds as measured at Guernsey Airport. It was 74Mbps.

■List of Places Visited

■For access to Guernsey click here

■For “.gg” domain details click here

■For “” domain details click here

■For “” domain details click here

■For “” domain details click here