…and welcome back to the next installment of my adventures in the UK/Ireland during les vacances de Noël.
After having spent a pleasant stay in Dublin, I was off to Cork! Situated about two to three hours south of Dublin, Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, located along the harbor near the sea. Unlike Dublin, which is a very international city, Cork has a more local feel to it, thus giving me a better slice of the “typical Irish life.”
Took the two-and-a-half hour train from Dublin, and arrived in Cork around 12h30. My host for my stay there retrieved me from the station, and we walked over to her house near the city center (then again, Cork is not a big city- many places were easily within walking distance). Dropped off my belongings, and settled in her flat for an hour or two to rest. Even though I had only been traveling since the morning, I was surprisingly tired. And hungry. My host (let’s call her “Lisa”) was very kind enough to fix me a light lunch, and we spent part of the afternoon chatting and getting to know each other. A friend of hers came by, and we went out for a walk around the city of Cork.
Saw the city center, which was bustling with locals and tourists doing their last-minute Christmas shopping. Crossed over the street and took a peak inside of the English market, which is known for selling organic and locally-produced food. Afterwards, we headed over the St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, the crown-and-jewel of the city. Really, its architecture is just incredible.
Around 16h00, Lisa and I dropped off her friend (who was heading over to Dublin) at the bus station, and afterwards, we went to check out the University College Cork campus (or “UCC,” for short). The campus was quiet and empty, as the students and staff were gone for the holidays. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was pleasant, albeit freezing cold (which was strange, because in Dublin, it wasn’t cold at all! Cork is south of Dublin, so don’t know why it was colder…).
We left the university campus, and decided to get some drinks before dinner (it was only 17h00). Went to a pub, where I got a beer (again, don’t like it, but only in Ireland…). Chatted a bit with Lisa, and we left an hour later to get some food at another pub. Got a vegetarian Wellington (not bad), and afterwards we went over to her friend’s house, for a “girls’ movie night.” Watched Disney’s Enchanted, which I hadn’t seen in a long time, but nevertheless was fun and brought back good memories.
It was past 23h00 when we left Lisa’s friend’s house (after the film, they ended up chatting for another half hour to an hour). Went back to Lisa’s house, where I got ready for bed. Was crazy cold at night, even with blankets and everything. Again, very strange that Cork is colder than Dublin, despite being in southern Ireland…
In any case, I woke up early the next morning to take a morning trip to Blarney Castle, located about thirty minutes outside of Cork. Originally, I had planned to go upon arriving in Cork the day before, but didn’t have the time to do so. I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to go, since I had to leave by 13h00 to the airport to catch my flight to the next destination. But I decided to take the chance, and I was glad that I did. 🙂
Caught an early bus to the castle, where I paid €13 for admission (kind of pricey, but not too bad for the place, which was huge). Blarney Castle is, of course, a medieval castle that dates back to the 13th century, but refurbished to its current state in 1446 by Lord Cormac McCarthy. Over the centuries, it had gone through many changes between families and today is a tourist site. Besides the castle itself, there is the estate, home to plenty of gardens, rock formations (including the Witch’s Cave and Wishing Steps), and caves/dungeons to crawl in (literally, crawl) and explore. I was also able to climb to the top of the castle and kiss the Blarney Stone, which has been thought to give good luck. 🙂
Spent a bit over two hours walking around the castle and its estate. Of course, couldn’t get through everything, but I managed to see most of the main attractions near and around Blarney Castle. Left to catch the bus back to Cork, and arrived back close to noon. Had some lunch with Lisa, before we went over to the bus station where I was to catch the shuttle to the airport for my flight. I thanked Lisa for the lovely time in Cork, although it was only for one night. She sent me off, and I was on my way.
That was it for my visit to Ireland. Admittedly, I wished that I had stayed longer, in both Dublin and Cork; due to the shortness of my time there, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy everything, as well as see more places within the cities, let alone the entire country. When planning my vacation, I just wasn’t aware that there was so much more to Ireland than I had thought. Perhaps if I had given myself a full week, maybe even two, in Ireland, then I would have probably gotten more out of the experience.
That said, I would love to return and properly explore not only Dublin and Cork, but also Limerick, the rest of West Cork, and the cliffs of Moher (which I have heard are absolutely beautiful). Didn’t get a chance to visit Northern Ireland (albeit separate from the Republic of Ireland, but still…), so perhaps another time!
More to come soon! Next up: Glasgow, Scotland!
— The Finicky Cynic
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