It is impossible for me to stay in Cork on the weekends. I love Cork, but I do enough exploring during the week. I’m proud to say I haven’t wasted a single weekend lounging around since I’ve been here. By the way, today marks my first full month in Ireland! After being antsy during the week last week, a few of us took a trip to Galway for the weekend. I initially planned on studying abroad in Galway so I was super excited to finally travel there. It did not disappoint in the least 🙂
We took a bus on Friday around noon (toting many peanut butter sandwiches and apples as per usual) and got to Galway around 4ish. Again, I slept most of the ride so I can’t tell you if it was a pretty drive or not. Sorry. But I woke up once we got there and that’s all that really matters. Marlene and I know a girl who lived on our floor freshman year who is studying in Galway so we met up with her and she let us cook dinner at her house (we saved tonsss of money by doing this instead of dining out for every meal). We watched our favorite Irish dating show (Take Me Out…look it up, you won’t regret it) and headed back to hostel to get ready. It turns out that Miz (our friend) lives way further from the city center than we realized. It took around 30 minutes to walk back to our hostel. I guess that was alright since we’d just had sumo wrestler portions of pasta, though. We ended up wandering to two bars that night, both of which had live bands, which I’ve discovered I LOVE. I’ve only been to one place in Cork with a live band but it was more of a sit down and watch kind of place (and everyone was at least 20 years older than me) but in these places people were dancing and being social and whatnot. It was grand as the Irish would say.
Saturday was our big day out. We found a pretty cheap tour that covered everywhere we wanted to go and it ended up being great. First we stopped at the Aillwee Caves, but we didn’t actually go in. Well, most of the people on our tour did, but we didn’t realize it would cost an extra 5
euro, so we opted for the free “Woodland Walk.” Who wants to see some lame caves anyway? The Aillwee caves are in a region called The Burren, where the mountains are covered in rocks. After our woodland adventure we walked a little way up the mountain and it was just rock after rock after rock, not all of them stable. It was cool to move up the mountain and be able to see the landscape, though. We also stopped at a thing called Poulnabrone, or Portal Tomb. Poulnabrone means “the hole of sorrows.” The tomb was used around 3,000 BC and when it was excavated there were remains from over 20 adults and children, plus other artifacts, found inside. It kind of reminds me of Stonehenge. Sorry for getting nerdy there but I thought it was really interesting 🙂
After those little stops we moved onto the main event- the Cliffs of Moher! I’d heard amazing things about the Cliffs and was excited to take beautiful pictures and just marvel at them. Since its not at the height of tourist season (nowhere near it), we didn’t have to wait in any sort of lines or navigate around groups to take pictures and whatnot. The Cliffs are absolutely gorgeous. If I could post every single picture on here, I would. The sad part is that none of my pictures actually capture how beautiful they were; no picture could. We broke a few rules and climbed up onto a high bank of grass and ended up getting some amazing shots (sorry mom).
The Cliffs were used in the 6th Harry Potter movie and Inception, so now of course I’m going to watch those movies again until I find the scenes with the Cliffs. The waves below the Cliffs are great for surfing (not that I would know, but bus driver Billy said so), and surfing movies or videos, or whatever surfer people watch, have been shot there as well. Our bus driver (who was just a wealth of information and corny jokes) also told us that people have died at the Cliffs (duh) but very recently there was an abandoned car found in the parking lot and the owner was nowhere to be found. Later on, the body of a German tourist was found on the shore, and he was found to be the owner of the car. There is no way to be sure, but it was thought to be an accident. So, if you travel to the Cliffs, wear good sneakers and be careful!
After the Cliffs of Moher we stopped at a smaller set of sea cliffs in a town called Ballyreen. These were nowhere near as high as the Cliffs of Moher
sea cliffs in Ballyreen
but they were just as beautiful. Plus, the sun was setting while we were there and made it even more amazing. We walked right to the edge of the cliffs and looked into the water. These are just on the side of a road in a small town. I can’t imagine living so close to something so gorgeous.
A lot of the time its easy to forget that I’m in another country. I haven’t experienced any type of culture shock or anything and I’ve gotten used to hearing the accent, so most of the time I just bop along on my way and then I remember I’m in Ireland when I hear people say funny phrases that I don’t understand. On our way back to Galway something odd happened that reminded me I was certainly not in Kansas anymore (well New York..you get it). Our bus driver slowed down so that we could look at yet another farm then started to drive off. Then, he threw the bus in reverse and started staring intently at a cow that was lying down. He explained that it is not normal for cows to be lying down like this. Then, after staring at her for a few more seconds, nonchalantly said, “yeah…I don’t think she’s breathing. I think she’s dead. [pause] Yup, she’s not breathing. She probably died in childbirth. We should tell the farmer.” From here he stopped at two houses and a shop attempting to find the farmer. The farmer wasn’t home so he left a message with the owner of the shop across the street. Only in Ireland would you go on a wild farmer chase to deliver news about a cow. But, something else that reminded me that I was not home was how natural it seemed for the bus driver to go out of his way while he was working to tell the farmer about his cow. People here are so much more considerate of others. Its not a cold “every man for himself” type of vibe that I get at home; people truly care about others and will go out of their way to help them. America, take note.
We ended up seeing one of the bands from Friday again on Saturday night but we stayed for more than a few songs this time. They were AWESOME. They only played covers, which I liked, because then you don’t stand there awkwardly bopping around to a song you don’t know, and they did rock versions of “Telephone” by Lady GaGa and “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. I approve. We also splurged and each got a Baby Guinness, which are apparently popular everywhere in Ireland except for Cork (Cork loves its Beamish). It was ridiculous to pay 5 euro for a shot, but we’d been frugal the whole weekend, so why not? I just looked it up to see what is actually in a Baby Guinness, and there is no Guinness (which must be why it tastes so good); its just coffee liqueur and Baileys. Yum yum.
Sunday we wandered around the city before anything was open (literally everything is closed until at least 11:00 am) and just enjoyed the sights without crowds of people. We trekked over to Salthill, an area right outside of Galway that has a gorgeous bay and shoreline. It kind of reminded me of Cape Cod. We also made our way to the Galway Cathedral and the Spanish Arch. After treating ourselves to a real meal (with 20% discount coupons, of course) we walked around Shop Street and went in some touristy shops. I bought myself a pair of fleece-lined hand made wool socks which I’m actually wearing right now…best investment I’ve made thus far.
Well, if you’ve made it to this point, congratulations and thank you for reading all of that. Who knows where this weekend will take me. I’ll be sure to update 🙂 Slán!