A Different Type of Island Holiday: The Isle of Wight off Portsmouth, UK

Happy Friday, RMT’ers! I’m making today’s post more of a “Foto Friday” because words alone simply can’t describe our day-excursion two hours south of London to the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth to ride the old steam trains. It’s also more of a photo post because we took a lot of photos, so please enjoy!

Our London Holiday, March 31-through-April 9, 2013:

1. British Airways LAX-LHR
2. The Waldorf Hilton, London
3. Covent Garden Neighborhood
4. London Transport Museum
5. Day Out in London – Traditional Landmarks
6. Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens, and Green Park/Buckingham Palace
7. Muggles and Magicians: The Harry Potter Experience
8. Family Remembrance and Celebration: Brookwood Cemetery and The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre
9. Day Trip: Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, UK TODAY’S POST
10. Day Out: Greenwich, UK
11. Tower of London
12. London’s Shopping Shrines: Hamleys Toys and Harrods

Our trinket take-away from our day-trip down to the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. This is about a two-hour, one-way train and ferry trip south of London. The tickets on the righthand side of this photo represent T's ticket package that we purchased at Waterloo Station in London for the entire trip and steam train excursions for the day.

Our trinket take-away from our day-trip down to the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth (UK). This is about a two-hour, one-way train and ferry trip south of London. The tickets on the right-hand side of this photo represent one of our ticket packages purchased from Waterloo Station in London for the trip down and back, including all steam train rides for the day.

Yes, you read that correctly: We took a train to go ride more trains all day long, and it was a day we will never forget. Our trip to the Isle of Wight off the coast of Portsmouth originated out of Waterloo Station in London. There we purchased a ticket package that included National Rail day-return (meaning round-trip) tickets to Portsmouth Harbour, the passenger ferry day-return tickets from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, the Isle’s Southwest Rail train day-pass, and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway train tickets out of Smallbrook Junction. Each of us received three pairs of tickets at Waterloo, with the ferry and London-to-Portsmouth Harbour ticket printed on one pass. You can do what we did and walk up to buy the ticket package the day-of, or you can buy online before your holiday. As we were unsure which day we’d be up for the day away (jet lag, weather, feeling comfortable leaving London for an entire day, which this trip requires), we bought morning-of and left within the hour of our purchase. For more information on this all-inclusive day-trip ticket package through National Rail, go to this website; to check which steam train lines will be running while on the Isle, please check their website.

Kinder Eggs are a great European treat for all ages. They are also available at pretty much every train station.

Kinder Eggs are a great European treat for all ages. They are also available at pretty much every train station.

This warning isn't enough for Americans. Kinder Eggs are not sold in the States. Boo!

This warning isn’t enough for Americans. Kinder Eggs are not sold in the States. Boo!

00 opening egg

00 chocolate egg toy

00 train egg

Oh, and do not forget to pick up some Kinder Eggs before your day-trip! Kinder Eggs are an inexpensive, fun way to keep the kids entertained and a nice vacation treat for anyone. T got very used to having a “chocolate egg” during our longer train travel days, which meant I got chocolate (since he doesn’t care for it much) and he got a toy. Yes, these eggs have small trinkets and toys inside of them! They are highly sought-after by us Americans because of our silly laws that do not allow them to be sold Stateside (choking hazards and such). But there’s apparently no law about buying-and-bringing-back (which we certainly did)! Tip: Hold off to make your larger buy at the airport duty-free to carry on your flight back to the States. Not only did duty-free offer a wide variety of Kinder Egg gift packs, but it was much easier (and involved a shorter amount of time in your trip) to transport without breaking or melting the eggs, too.

C and T heading to the Wightlink ferry from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight.

C and T heading to the Wightlink ferry from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight.

C and T on the Wightlink.

C and T on the Wightlink.

The boys heading to the Island Train, which connects the Wightlink station to and throughout the Isle of Wight.

The boys heading to the Island Train, which connects the Wightlink station to and throughout the Isle of Wight.

The Island Train rails heading over tressels onto the Isle of Wight.

The Island Train heading over its trestles onto the Isle of Wight. This is the line connecting the Wightlink ferry with the Isle, including the stop to transfer onto the Isle’s local Steam Railway.

Map for the stops along the Island Train, the rail that runs through the Isle of Wight (not the Steam Railway).

Map for the stops along the Island Train, the rail that runs through the Isle of Wight (not the Steam Railway).

Hmm, does the Isle of Wight remind anyone out there of another certain isle devoted to the love of all things steam train-related?!

Hmm, does the Isle of Wight remind anyone out there of another certain Isle devoted to the love of all things steam train-related?!

C and T in front of the steam train ticket window. C made sure our ticket package included those tickets also (which it did).

C and T in front of the steam train ticket window. All passengers waited here to either show their pre-paid tickets or buy day-of (we did the former).

OK, back to the trains. Once the ferry docks on the Isle of Wight, a local rail takes passengers over the causeway onto the island proper. To get to the steam trains, we got off at Smallbrook Junction. There you walk up to the steam train ticket window to either buy or show your pre-bought tickets for the island’s steam railway lines, which are good all day on any of the trains operating.

03 smallbrook junction

04 waiting for steamie

04 steamie engine

05 aboard steamie

The door could be tricky at times!

The door of our steam train car could be tricky at times!

The railway line for the steam train is short, small, and quaint. And T loved it. So did we. Enjoy chugging through even more pictures.

05 steamie leaving at lunch

06 boys watching steamie workers

06 inside museum

06 inside other museum

06 steamie shed

06 steamie taking on water

06 steamie workers

06 t in front of engines

06 t in front of invincible

06 t in switch room

06 t w engineers on steamie

06 t waiting for steamie after lunch

We spent all afternoon on the Isle of Wight, including stops inside of their local steam train museums, switch rooms, and repair yards at Havenstreet, the main station along the steam railway.  The history here is proud, long, and loved by its people, and they are eager to share it with visitors and locals alike.

Sign in front of The Ship Anson, a local pub in the town of Portsmouth, UK.

Sign in front of The Ship Anson, a local pub in the town of Portsmouth, UK.

Fish and Chips plate at The Ship Anson.

Fish and Chips plate at The Ship Anson.

Nachos at The Ship Anson. I don't know what the white stuff was but it was not sour cream, or if it was it was unlike any I've ever had. We got these for T. He (and we) were missing our food back home big time by this point in the trip.

Nachos at The Ship Anson. I don’t know what the white stuff was but it was not sour cream, or if it was it was unlike any I’ve ever had. We got these for T. He (and we) missed our food back home big time by this point in the trip.

All of us in front of The Ship Anson in Portsmouth (UK).

All of us in front of The Ship Anson in Portsmouth (UK). Thanks again to the lovely local (and fellow pub patron) who took this photo of us!

After our day riding the train back and forth on the Isle of Wight and before our return to London, we had dinner in Portsmouth. We found a local pub near the port and train station, which was the perfect ending to a fantastic day-trip away. They even had nachos!

Portsmouth Harbour at sunset (UK).

Portsmouth Harbour at sunset (UK).

I’d recommend Isle of Wight to any family looking for a different kind of day-trip out of London, especially for those who love trains. The naval and boat history in Portsmouth is also worth mentioning, though we ran out of time for that on our visit. As we like to say, maybe we’ll go back and do that next time. I think it was Rick Steves that said it best: “Believe in a lifetime of trips, not the trip of a lifetime.” Another way of saying it is, that ship hasn’t sailed yet.

05 t on steamie car

Looking for more train-related fun closer to home? Then please check out my new train page devoted to rides, outings, museums, and other activities!

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