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UK 2012: Visiting Cork

(Picking up three years later...)

Having arrived in to Heathrow at very early in the morning on almost no sleep, I immediately went to a different gate to await the plane to Cork. After all, my mad plan was to start off my London visit with two days in Ireland, joining my dad and his friend Steve, before then making my way back to British shores. See, very shortly after I had moved to London in September 2007, I'd found out that the two of them were going to be visiting Dublin for several days. So just a few weeks into residing in this new country, I had hopped a very short flight over to join them! It was great fun - and so, when I discovered that they were again going to be visiting Ireland (if the southern coast this time rather than the east), I decided to build my travel plans around it, joining them for two days at the outset before then going back into London.

Of course, the problem came in trying to coordinate such an unusual flight plan! The most direct route would of course have been to take a flight into Ireland, and then fly home a couple of weeks later out of London. But two one-way tickets are of course far more expensive than a round-trip ticket entering and leaving from the same location - hence my ridiculous plan to take an 8-hour transatlantic flight to Heathrow, then turn around and immediately get on another plane heading back west.

By the time I arrived at the hotel in Cork, of course, I was feeling bushed, bleary-eyed, and frankly somewhat dreading the day with no sleep and no energy. But I resolved to buckle down and enjoy our outings as much as humanly possible, while endeavouring not to fall apart (intellectually or emotionally). So it was a joy to phone up my dad's room upon arrival and find they had only just arrived themselves - and were going to nap for a couple of hours before heading out! This was the best thing I had ever heard, and I immediately threw myself into bed to get what rest I could.

We first set off on a bus tour that wended around the city and its local environs, and the beauty of these is that you can step off it at any point and then get back on when the next one comes round. So we let it take us on its winding path, first alighting to take in the Cork Butter Museum. Yes, Cork is such a happenin' place that they've got a whole museum dedicated to butter. After that, we next visited the Cork City Gaol - a 19th century prison no longer in use as such, but restored for the sole purpose of tourism. Given that one of the things I regretted having missed while visiting Dublin in 2007 was the Kilmainham Gaol (known to me largely through the historical ballads of Black 47), I enjoyed getting this glimpse into this very specific corner of Irish history.

The next couple of days were spent just wandering around the city, stopping in at pubs, and taking in the sights. Some of this city-wandering I did on my own; other times with my dad and Steve. I remember first visiting Dublin and falling instantly in love with the place as I had done when first visiting London six months earlier: The towns are beautiful, the buildings are beautiful, the people are beautiful. I could lose my heart to any and all of the above. I love the way the streets twist around, as well as (in Cork at least) rolling up and down the hills they're built upon. During the day, the streets are crowded with throngs of people, but as it gets closer to nightfall they gradually empty until they're almost deserted. (Everyone's in the pub drinking, I guess!)

Still, by the end of my time there, I felt a twinge that I hadn't checked out as much as I would have liked. Having read about Cork in the Visit Ireland guide my dad gave me, I had tried to talk him and Steve into the idea of visiting Blarney Castle, just outside the city limits. While not totally opposed, I could see that it also didn't really appeal to either of them. Finally, I realized on my last night in Cork that I could just go on my own! So I woke up early, hopped on the bus, and 30-40 minutes later was at the castle.

We had about three hours to visit before the next bus taking us back, so I checked out as much of the place as I could. The castle itself is stunning; while a big place, it was clearly something that had fallen into disrepair centuries earlier - for instance, I don't recall seeing any wooden doors still in existence (if it ever had such things). At one point I ascended to the highest floor and joined the queue to kiss the Blarney Stone; later on, I wandered out into the gardens and acres of land to discover such fascinating (and thrillingly-named) points of interest as the Poison Garden and the Witch's Kitchen.

Getting back to the hotel at just about noon, I had time enough to see Dad & Steve again before heading off to the Cork bus station, beginning the second, and more complicated, stage of my journey...



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2015 12:50 am (UTC)
You know, I've been waiting FOREVER for this update. Thanks for it. :)

Glad you like Ireland. Alice and I really enjoyed ourselves (booking B&Bs via prepaid vouchers), and hope to go back.
Apr. 12th, 2015 06:59 am (UTC)
Haha! I hope to detail the rest of the trip in relatively quicker fashion... ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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