Along with that whole nearly sovereign status thing, the island issues its own pounds sterling, even printing a £1 note (this doesn't exist in the UK proper because all £1 are coins). Of course you'll find the triskelion (the three-legged symbol) prominently featured on everything, along with Isle of Man landmarks on the reverse.
Getting our grubby mitts on the special money proved to be a challenge until we passed a place along Douglas' harbor. The Velvet Lobster...hmm, an interesting enough name and a cozy interior got us inside no problem. As it turns out, The Velvet Lobster is a coffee snob's paradise, as Allanthe proprietortakes special care in sourcing his beans and even offers multiple preparations, including the AeroPress.
As far away from the rest of coffee geekery as he is on the island, Allan knows his Stumptown from his Square Mile and will gladly give you his opinion on Chemex. Bonus! The Velvet Lobster also serves food and has free WiFi. You know we sat there far too long. It's difficult to leave a place when you're just so...happy.
As luck would have it, Allan had some Manx pounds in his register and we gladly traded off our regular GBPs. Rare money and excellent coffee obtained, we moved on to stamps.
The Isle of Man, much like other itty bitty territories, panders to Philatelists with limited stamp releases (including the just announced Top Gear collection). Learn from our mistakes and remember to go to the main Post Office in Douglas during weekday opening hours for the best selection. We ended up with blah butterflies after last-minute gift shop browsing.
Even writing all this now makes us yearn for a return to the island. If only for the little thingsthe pleasant Saturday evening at The Velvet Lobster, the feeling of pocketing coins most people will never get to see in their lives, and of course the thrilling driving. It's just one of those places where you want to scrapbook every single second.
A perfect latte at the Velvet Lobster
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted[