Thursday, March 10, 2011

Part III: Ireland

Everything about Ireland is lovely--the scenery, the buildings, the people. I loved it all.
Cork Sunset

Jillian and I landed in Cork at around 7 am. We hopped the bus into town and made it to our hostel just as the sun was rising around 8. A very nice man named Liam was working at the front desk, and we were able to check into our room immediately. We considered going back to bed since we had gotten up at 3 the night before to get to the airport by 4, but we decided to get food first because we were both starving.

Because New Years fell on a weekend, the following Monday was a bank holiday. So Cork was a ghost town. Granted it was only 8 something in the morning, but still it was a bit weird. It took quite a while to find anywhere open for breakfast, but finally we spotted a bagel place and happily inhaled sustenance.

Blarney Castle
We went back to the hostel and passed out for a few hours before going back to the front desk to ask Liam's advice on where to go. He gave us a pamphlet with the top 10 places to see in Cork and helped map a little route for us, starting with the city gaol, which was supposed to be the coolest site. So to the city gaol we went. And it was one of the most simultaneously depressing and hilarious things I have ever seen, mainly because of the audio tour. The Irish narrator told the story of Mary Sullivan, a single mother who ended up in jail because of her drinking habits. Her children were sent to work in factories, which in theory would have been good because they'd at least get regular meals, but probably gave them the plague. Oh well. The rest of the tour was similar, with presentations of hope that were abruptly stomped on before they got too believable.

Blarney grounds lake walk
While in Cork we also went to a couple pubs that had live music. The pub scene was really nice, very friendly and generally chill with folky music and a mixture of younger and older people. We also went to Blarney Castle to kiss the stone, and walked around Rock Close. We got lucky with the weather, it was beautiful and it made all of the views and the nature walks that much more stunning.

View from the bus on the way to Dublin
The next day we got on the bus to Dublin. Dublin was alright but it was just kind of generic--it didn't have a unique quality that makes it one of a kind the way that Paris or London do. It was still nice though. We skipped the gaol there and instead went to the Charles Beatty museum, Trinity College, and O'Connel street. The best day though was the one where we got a little lost. The weather was pretty nice because the sun was shining, and we ended up in this beautiful park that looked like the park from 101 Dalmatians. Then we saw both of the big deal cathedrals before getting back on track and going to the Guinness Brewery. We watched the sunset over our free pints at the top of the viewing gallery, then went for dinner and walked around the boutique-ey street to find the fake archde triumph. We didn't really get to do the whole night life thing because we were running out of money--we McDonaldsed it on more than one occasion.

I will definitely return to Irland. I want to go back to Dublin and party it up, and I definitely want to make it to Galway and Wicklow Park. Next time.

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