No, really, it's not that bad. Chilly, yes, but my clothes are adequate (my North Face rain poncho is getting another workout) and I admit that I like everything I've eaten so far (with the exception of a smoothie which, judging from the taste, was made with none-too-ripe strawberries). I'm a bit bitter about the bed, which has a sunken Grand Canyon-sized hole in the middle and caused me to walk around with a sore back all day today, but I have to admit that it's warm.
Overall, I like Cork better than I liked Ireland last time I was here (in Belfast and Kilkenny), probably because I get to do things myself rather than having Tara shepherd me around. On the other hand, I'm three years older now, and the difference between 18 and 21 is never so apparent as when traveling internationally. Ah, well.
I got here yesterday and will be leaving tomorrow - short trip, yes - but here are the high spots:
- I stepped off the tarmac into the Cork airport, and was greeted by a fireplace with an open-flame fire. Next to it lay a bellows, yes, an honest-to-god bellows. In what other public place would you find a merry fire than in an Irish airport?
- The grocery store has a large ready-made area where one can get, among other things, pasta salad, fried potatoes, and cucumber-tomato-feta salad. Needless to say, I have taken advantage of this. Multiple times.
- I talked with a shy Irish teenager with long red hair, wearing a green school uniform and looking exactly like how I'd imagine a female leprechaun to be.
- Immediately afterwards, I talked with a NOT shy Australian girl with long red hair who, like me, was heading to Blarney Castle, so we spent the morning together. Kissing the Blarney Stone, it turns out, means lying down on the floor of the roof of the castle, holding onto a bar, and hanging your head into 82 feet of open space and feeling the pull of gravity while a strange man holds your waist. LOL.
- I finally saw Pride and Prejudice, which many of you will no doubt think is a terrible way to 'waste' two of my 48 hours in this country. I disagree. First, the film was made in the UK and won't even be released in America for another month. Second, you can tell a lot about a country by the way they run their movies. For instance, I've learned that the Irish do not need a nicotine break in the middle like the Dutch (though that's not to say that they smoke any less!), and that they are relatively tolerant of amateur projectionists who can't get the focus right. Educational. (Okay, really, I was just walking past and saw that it would be playing in 20 minutes and couldn't think of a good reason not to go... happy?)
- I spent a couple of hours in a bookstore called Waterstone's (I think?) and managed to find my Belle de Jour book, which isn't available in the US. I'd been planning to buy it for months, and just finished it a few minutes before getting online. Funny, it's more like the blog than I thought - there are certain passages I remember word for word, from when she was still blogging. (Her link is over in my right-hand column somewhere, but I can't add it again here because I can't figure out how to make the double-quotation mark on this godforsaken international keyboard, and that's rather essential for link HTML.)
- Rain, rain, and more rain. Oddly enough, it seems to go on all day and then stop around dinnertime... never met a climate quite like that one.
- The hostel, quite conveniently, is next to a Quality Hotel (for the USAers, that's Quality Suites), and for 10 euro we can use the pool, sauna, gym, everything, as much as we want. I'm planning to take advantage of that tomorrow, since I don't really have enough time to make a full day of things (got to catch a bus to the airport at 3pm) and this weather simply invites being inside with soup and a magazine. Did I mention it's cold and wet?
- Gaelic is everywhere. Apparently there's been a big attempt to revive it as a first language in this country. Busanna = buses, labhair = please... and that's all I know so far.
- Who would have thought that orange juice, banana, and peanut butter - nothing else - would make a great smoothie?
- The accents. I love the accents. But it makes people surprisingly hard to understand if they're not speaking directly to me, especially if the background is a crowded street. It could almost pass for a foreign language in the sense that I find it to be possible to let it simply 'glide' over my ears without comprehension or picking out specific words, even though it's technically my native language.
- Those earrings Tara sent me? The triangular shape with the swirls? That shape is everywhere. I went in a jewelry shop in Blarney today and every other piece had something to do with that shape. Sadly enough, none of them were earrings, or I would have bought another pair - mine are almost dead, possibly due to the six months one of them spent lying on David's bedroom floor (in the Netherlands. While I was in America. And still I got it back.)
- The driving-on-the-left-side-of-the-road thing is driving me (no pun intended) nuts. I never know which way to look while jaywalking. :)
- The chocolate? Is wonderful. Why don't we have Malteasers or Aero in the US?
- The houses, at least around the hostel, are really colorful. I have a great picture of the uphill-slanting street with a rainbow of houses on the side. If only those parked cars hadn't been there.
- Speaking of hills, they make for great scenery. (NL and FL are both flat, so this is a nice change.) Especially when the leaves are changing, like they are now. I swear I filled up half my Sony card with pictures from the top of Blarney Castle.
I swear I had so many more details to write about, about how I might not have done much in the way of 'history' or 'culture' but how I still felt like I'd learned a lot about the country and people, etc... but it's just not coming to mind right now. And the timer says I have only 7 minutes left, so I guess I'd better go cross 'Kiss the Blarney Stone' off that right-hand-column Life List. :)