London, Liverpool & Isle of Man

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I took a trip to the U.K. in September ’04 that included a visit to the Isle of Man. Ariving at London Heathrow Airport, I chose to take the underground to the center of the city for £5.40. This took approximately 45 minutes, but it was certainly the least expensive way into central London.

Prior to leaving the U.S. I purchased a 7-day London Transport pass (www.ticket-on-line.com) over the Internet for $36, thus I did not have to queue up to buy an Underground ticket. There were plenty of signs at Heathrow directing one to the underground, the Heathrow express train or the National Express coaches to central London. I stayed with friends in London.

My Internet explorations had led to a plethora of fares from London to Liverpool (my first stop). A walk-up train fare can cost as much as £60, but I found that the bus company National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) had a “senior fun fare” of only £3 (if you met the day/time/advance-purchase requirements). The bus left on time from Victoria Coach Station but came to a dead stop for almost two hours because of an accident on the motorway, causing me to miss the ferry from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man.

Arriving at the Liverpool bus terminal, I found that all services were closed by 7 p.m. At the Lime Street Railway station all services for help in finding a hotel also were closed. There was a football (soccer) match that evening, so a taxi ride to four hotels proved fruitless. The police suggested I try the Gladstone Hotel (Lord Nelson St., Liverpool L3 5QB), which was just a 5-minute walk from the Lime Street Station and under renovation. There, for £59.30 ($114) including an excellent breakfast buffet, I got what that night may possibly have been the only vacant room with bath in Liverpool.

The next morning I took a taxi to the dock and the office of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (www.steam-packet.com) in time for their 10:30 a.m. fast catamaran sailing (2½ hours) from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man. I had booked the original sailing through their website and for the reduced senior citizen rate of £14.70, which was honored.

I had booked, through the Internet, a room at the Welbeck Hotel (Mona Drive, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM2 4LF; e-mail welbeckhotel.com), located a short block off the main seaside central promenade. I was given a fantastically large corner room with king bed, tub bath and a sitting area with a view overlooking the bay. The rate was £56 per night for two nights, including breakfast. The Welbeck had a very friendly staff and a welcoming, solarium-type dining room. Dinner with starter and entrée was £12.50.

There are many memorable things about the 13-mile-long Isle of Man. It has the world’s oldest continuous parliament and its own flag, currency, stamps and language. Their unique transport company includes horse-drawn trams on the central promenade for 60 pence a ride; an electric train that dates back to 1893 and travels to Ramsey in the north, and an old narrow-gauge steam train to Port Erin in the south. The trains cost £6 and £7, respectively, or you can get a transport card valid for the trains and trams for £10 for one day.

ROBERT PELLETIER
Hollywood, FL

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I took a trip to the U.K. in September ’04 that included a visit to the Isle of Man. Ariving at London Heathrow Airport, I chose to take the underground to the center of the city for £5.40. This took approximately 45 minutes, but it was certainly the least expensive way into central London.

Prior to leaving the U.S. I purchased a 7-day London Transport pass (www.ticket-on-line.com) over the Internet for $36, thus I did not have to queue up to buy an Underground ticket. There were plenty of signs at Heathrow directing one to the underground, the Heathrow express train or the National Express coaches to central London. I stayed with friends in London.

My Internet explorations had led to a plethora of fares from London to Liverpool (my first stop). A walk-up train fare can cost as much as £60, but I found that the bus company National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) had a “senior fun fare” of only £3 (if you met the day/time/advance-purchase requirements). The bus left on time from Victoria Coach Station but came to a dead stop for almost two hours because of an accident on the motorway, causing me to miss the ferry from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man.

Arriving at the Liverpool bus terminal, I found that all services were closed by 7 p.m. At the Lime Street Railway station all services for help in finding a hotel also were closed. There was a football (soccer) match that evening, so a taxi ride to four hotels proved fruitless. The police suggested I try the Gladstone Hotel (Lord Nelson St., Liverpool L3 5QB), which was just a 5-minute walk from the Lime Street Station and under renovation. There, for £59.30 ($114) including an excellent breakfast buffet, I got what that night may possibly have been the only vacant room with bath in Liverpool.

The next morning I took a taxi to the dock and the office of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (www.steam-packet.com) in time for their 10:30 a.m. fast catamaran sailing (2½ hours) from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man. I had booked the original sailing through their website and for the reduced senior citizen rate of £14.70, which was honored.

I had booked, through the Internet, a room at the Welbeck Hotel (Mona Drive, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM2 4LF; e-mail welbeckhotel.com), located a short block off the main seaside central promenade. I was given a fantastically large corner room with king bed, tub bath and a sitting area with a view overlooking the bay. The rate was £56 per night for two nights, including breakfast. The Welbeck had a very friendly staff and a welcoming, solarium-type dining room. Dinner with starter and entrée was £12.50.

There are many memorable things about the 13-mile-long Isle of Man. It has the world’s oldest continuous parliament and its own flag, currency, stamps and language. Their unique transport company includes horse-drawn trams on the central promenade for 60 pence a ride; an electric train that dates back to 1893 and travels to Ramsey in the north, and an old narrow-gauge steam train to Port Erin in the south. The trains cost £6 and £7, respectively, or you can get a transport card valid for the trains and trams for £10 for one day.

ROBERT PELLETIER
Hollywood, FL