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

One Problem After Another! Super speedy exploration of Jersey in just three hours – highlights include an unexpected aurora, the impressive enigma machine and a disappointing Jersey Zoo.

The Domain Island Tour has finally resumed after two years and two months, since being suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My first stop back on the road – Jersey Island. While mostly known for its Jersey milk and for being the birthplace of the sports jersey, let’s learn all about Jersey’s little-known attractions through Interlink’s Domain expedition. The ccTLD (country code top level domain) for Jersey is “.je”.

◆Where is Jersey?

Located approximately 160 km south of the British mainland and 22 km from France, Jersey is a British Royal Territory. With an area of 116 km², it is about 1.5 times the size of the inner JR Yamanote Line and is the largest island in the Channel Islands. Because of how close France is, French is spoken in addition to English and Jèrriais, the traditional language of Jersey. It can be reached by propeller plane from London in about one hour, or by ferry from Carteret or Granville in France. The local currency is pound sterling or the Jersey pound.

= Table of Contents =

◆Encountering the Aurora!

◆Chaotic Heathrow Airport

◆ Trouble in Transit

◆Local Rugby Team Stadiums

◆Jersey War Tunnels – see the Nazi code machine “Enigma”.

◆Mechanical Heritage Museum for Car Enthusiasts and the Disappointing Jersey Zoo

◆Jersey Milk Soft Serve Ice Cream, in the Heart of Jersey’s Capital, Saint Helier

◆How to Purchase an eSIM & Test the Internet Speed


◆Encountering the Aurora!

First, I took a late-night flight to London, which departed Haneda Airport at 23:35. The flight takes 15 hours and 40 minutes, 3 hours longer than usual, as it takes a northern route through the Arctic Circle due to the situation in Russia. On board the airplane, I passed the time watching movies, etc. As we entered the Arctic Circle, you could look outside and see the Northern Lights! The captain of the Domain Expedition, who has bitter memories of not seeing any aurora on a Northern Lights Tour in Scandinavia, was very impressed! The Arctic Circle flight route is not so bad after all.

◆Chaotic Heathrow Airport

We land at 6:30am, almost perfectly on time. On arrival at Heathrow, I transfer from Terminals 3 to 5 for immigration and a security check, feeling sure that there’s plenty of time before catching to the 7:55am flight to Jersey.

However, there were very long queues at the Immigration checkpoints. It ended up taking much longer than expected, partly due to the airport staff’s poor handling of the situation. There are automatic gates, but they don’t work as smoothly as in Japan. After finally clearing immigration, I go through security. Strict security checks are carried out here too, and the queue moves slowly. I now fear not just barely making the flight, but missing it entirely. I tried talking to the airport staff but they didn’t take the situation seriously, only replying that I’d make it in time. Time is slipping away and I am getting impatient.

Finally, I get through security and dash to the gate. However, there is already nobody left at the gate. Boarding had closed. After explaining my situation to the staff at the gate, I was directed to the British Airways service counter. The service counter area was full of people like myself who had missed their flight. In the end, I was able to rebook a flight for 12:05pm.


◆Trouble in Transit

Since I was originally scheduled to catch a 7:55am flight, it meant I ended up spending 4 hours in the British Airways lounge before going to the departure gate for Jersey.

However, after presenting my boarding pass and passport, the airport staff started discussing something amongst themselves with serious looks on their faces. Apparently, there were two problems. First, no immigration history could be found and second, I had been processed as having already boarded the 7:55am flight to Jersey. In both cases, the fault was on the part of the airport staff, but still, they would not let me board the plane. If I missed this flight, I wouldn’t be able to go to Jersey and all my plans would be ruined!

Just as I was about to give up and reschedule, one of the staff members gave me permission to board, saying, “Have your photo taken and then you can board the plane.” When I finally boarded, one of the male passengers gave me a wink. Looking around the cabin, I see that it’s full of the same people who had missed the earlier flight. Having all been through the same trouble, there was a feeling of camaraderie among us.


◆Local Rugby Team Stadiums

Arriving in Jersey more than 4 hours later than scheduled, I have only 3 hours left to explore.

So, I decided to hire a taxi. My driver is James, who emigrated from Liverpool in England 40 years ago. Apparently, a lot of people like him leave the busy British life behind and move to the laid-back Channel Islands.

We drive for 5 minutes. There is a stadium located not far from the airport. What kind of stadium is it?

A ticket counter. There’s no one here. You can see “JERSEYREDS.JE” written at the bottom.

Maybe it has something to do with rugby?

I go into the office and finding a man there, ask him what kind of stadium it is. It turns out to be the stadium of the local rugby team, the Jersey Reds. And he was the team manager. “No one is here today, but I’ll show you around”, he says, and gives me a special tour of the place. At Domain Island Tours, we basically check out places without making prior appointments. As we restart our tours, we’ll continue to do things this way.

First, the grounds. It’s the club’s day off, so none of the players are around.

Next, we go into the clubhouse. Although not well known in Japan, the Jersey Reds are a historic team, founded in 1879, and the week after my visit, the former head coach of the Japan rugby team, Eddie Jones was scheduled to visit.

At the end of the tour, I received a pin and a badge from the Jersey Reds merchandise line. Thank you for your kindness, Jersey Reds manager, even on your day off!


◆Jersey War Tunnels – see the Nazi code machine “Enigma”.

Let’s head inland. On the way, there is a peaceful farm with Jersey cows.

Jersey has many narrow roads. There are also many speed bumps.

I’ve reached the Jersey War Tunnels. The Jersey War Tunnels are underground tunnels dug initially to be used as armoury and barracks, then converted into a hospital by the Nazis, and now a museum which displays the scars of war.

I buy a ticket. It costs £16.

Many videos, photos, artifacts and documents tell the story of how tragic life became in Jersey under German occupation.

Projector and communication room used by the Germans.

Gas masks, too.

I come across the Nazi code machine “Enigma”. It’s not a reconstruction but the actual machine used at the time. The Enigma was a code machine used by the German military to encrypt radio messages, a state-of-the-art device at the time. It is said to have created one of the world’s strongest encryption keys.

The tunnel is more than 1km in length. Some of it was unfinished and had to be dug out. The excavation work was carried out by prisoners of war taken from Russia, France, Ukraine and other parts of Europe.


◆Mechanical Heritage Museum for Car Enthusiasts and the Disappointing Jersey Zoo

I’m running out of time. My hurried destination is the Pallot Heritage Steam Museum, a mechanical heritage museum opened in 1990 in the Parish of Trinity.

The museum displays farm machinery, steam locomotives and other items used on the island of Jersey and collected by Lyndon Charles Pallot, who was born and raised in the Parish of Trinity. There is also a 1923 model of the famous Model T Ford, the car that made Ford what it is today.

Mr Pallot was a brilliant engineer who invented tools that made life easier for Jersey farmers, leading him to become a local favorite, known as “Don”. Admission costs £8. Let’s take a look inside.

Once inside, it’s the many well-preserved classic cars that are particularly eye-catching!

Old ladder truck with barrel.

Some of the cars held their car inspection certificate until this summer. Some of the exhibits are available for sale or on long-term loan.

A locomotive was also on display.

In the car repair shop next door, there was a car with the word “Skyline” written in Japanese Katakana.
Perhaps it’s waiting to be repaired?

I left the Mechanical Heritage Museum, which you could spend hours in, and headed to the Jersey Zoo.
It had been raining on and off since the start of my expedition.

I arrive at Jersey Zoo. The zoo protects various endangered species with the goal of returning them to the wild, and they have a breeding program for rare animals. They were able to successfully breed a black lion tamarin in 1990, and again in 2022 they welcomed another baby. What animals will I see? I’m getting excited with anticipation. Admission is £18.

Photos of Hamadryas baboons, bears and raccoons are displayed along the path.
But, I don’t see any real ones.

Looks like there’s a booth with frogs and snakes. Let’s go inside.

There were blue frogs. There were also snakes and turtles.

Stepping outside the booth – a bear! I finally get to see a big animal.

But unfortunately, I’m out of time. During my 30-minute visit, I only got to see bears, frogs and turtles. The zoo covers an area of 32 acres, so maybe there just wasn’t enough time to see the other animals. Like the scenic spots of Samoa, or the Seven Coloured Earths of Mauritius, it seems disappointment is just part of the domain island tours… Pulling myself together, I set off again.

◆Jersey Milk Soft Serve Ice Cream, in the Heart of Jersey’s Capital, Saint Helier

Montorgueil (Gorey Castle), a quick stopover on the way to the city centre. It’s one of Jersey’s famous tourist spots. This ancient castle, built in the 13th century, is said to have protected the island from an attack by France some 600 years ago. When I told a young couple out walking their dog in a pram that I was from Japan, they were really surprised.

I come across a golf course. It’s called the “Royal Jersey Golf Club”. My driver, James, is a club member and excitedly tells me: “We’re playing tomorrow. The weather forecast says it’ll be sunny!” I decide to check it out.

There was a statue of legendary pro golfer, Harry Vardon, who played around 1900. The Jersey native, who won the British Open a record six times, is credited as the “father of the modern swing”, after developing the “overlapping grip”, where the right pinkie (if right-handed) overlaps the left hand.

As you enter the city center, you will see advertisements, shops, etc. using the domain “.je”.

I visited Island Networks Jersey Ltd., which manages the .je domain, but was unable to meet the person in charge as the actual office is located on Alderney Island.

I then went to the historic Central Market, which was established in 1882 during the Victorian era.

Finally, I see it! The name Jersey of course makes you think of Jersey milk!

I’ve come to Central Market just to enjoy some soft-serve ice cream made from Jersey milk, right in the heart of Jersey’s capital, Saint Helier.

Delicious, with a rich, milky flavor, unique to authentic local Jersey milk! Well, actually it wasn’t like that at all. It didn’t taste much different to the Jersey milk soft-serve ice cream in Japan.


◆How to Purchase an eSIM & Test the Internet Speed

Domain Island Tours have investigated 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 an eSIM made it easy to sign up for a connection that works in Jersey. Jersey eSIM speeds as measured at Jersey Airport. Airalo was 31Mbps.

Ubigi was 25 Mbps.


■ List of Places Visited

■ For access to Jerseyclick here

■For “.je” domain detailsclick here

■For “” domain detailsclick here