My favorite weekend trip was, by far, my trip to Cork with Sara. All of our other excursions had been decently planned out, with at least a general idea of what we wanted to do. But this time, Sara and I just went with it. We got ourselves some bus tickets, survived the creepy kid who looks like he fell asleep on the toilet, and headed south to explore.
Like I said, we really hadn't thought anything through. But we did know that we'd be fairly close to Blarney Castle, so we wanted to get over to see that. The woman who was working the front desk at the hostel told us that the castle closed to visitors in just a couple of hours, and that it really was an entire day kind of thing. So, instead, we used that first day to explore the city. It was small, but beautiful. All of the buildings were painted and there were beautiful old cathedrals. Our view from the hostel room was pretty incredible as well!
We set off by foot with a general map of the area and a few ideas from that of what we wanted to see. We had amazing crepes by the water, meandered through parks, and stopped by a pub with local beers.
We had a good time exploring, but we got very hungry very quickly. After checking out the map, we decided we wanted to try out a Mexican restaurant in the city, off the main shopping street. We were having a hell of a time finding it though, and as we aimlessly tried to find it, a man noticed us holding the map and asked if he could help us find something. We told him what we were looking for, and soon found out that he was quite the talker, and had something a bit off about him. Once we had finally escaped from the man, we ended up in a narrow alley. Which also happened to be where the entrance to the restaurant was! Go figure.
We ate mediocre nachos and had some truly AWFUL tequila sunrises that made us sick after only a few sips. So we ended up going back to the hostel and laying down for a few hours in pain. At this point, we met two of our roommates. They were both from Canada and were working as teachers in London. The nausea wasn't going away, but we really still hadn't eaten, and getting sick on an empty stomach would be a bad idea. So we reluctantly ventured back out for dessert. We came across a fancy restaurant by accident, and had a delicious cobbler and brownie, along with lots and lots of bread to help with our stomachs.
After dessert we returned to the hostel. The two guys we had met earlier were gone, but two of our other roommates were there. We introduced ourselves. The first two had been in their late twenties, but these two were in their late teens. Apparently there was a juggling convention in town, and they were visiting from I believe it was the Netherlands to participate. We called it a night pretty early so that we could have a fresh start the next day for our Blarney adventure.
So the next morning we got up at a decent hour and headed straight to the bus station. We had some fruit roll-ups for breakfast while we waited. These busses were a lot different than the ones we were used to in Dublin. The drive to Blarney was beautiful. We drove on back roads through the country. On this drive the best thing ever happened: I SAW A BUNNY! It was certainly the best way to start the day. The bus driver let us know when we got to Blarney. It was a pretty empty, quiet town, which was surprising. We looked around for a place to eat a proper breakfast. Nothing really seemed to be open. Not that there was much of a choice to begin with. Luckily we happened across a hotel restaurant. At first we weren't sure if they were open because there was no one in there, but they quickly led us to a seat and brought us coffee and menus. It was the type of town I imagine everyone knows one another well. We had the Irish equivalent of a breakfast sandwich, then headed down the street to find the castle.
Once we found it, we saw that there was already quite a line. But it actually moved along at quite a decent pace. The grounds were AMAZING. Better than any park I've ever been to. And as we got closer to the castle and saw that there were caves, I left no time for debate and headed straight to them. We explored the caves, then the castle, and finally, we had to kiss the Blarney stone of course. After that, we looked around the grounds for the rest of the day. Boy was that lady right- it's a full day kinda thing!
Since we had been there all day, we were starving. We headed to the local pub and found the coziest corner to order some food.
When we got back, we saw that the flea market was open on our walk back to the hostel. So we popped in and browsed for hours. I could've spent so much more time in there. They had tons of old cameras that I was totally drooling over. Right across the street from that was a local pub that looked pretty awesome. So after we freshened up in the hostel, we checked it out. The music was so good that we ended up staying there all night. Luckily we remembered to run down the street (literally) and grab some pizza before everything closed down. I even sang Galway Girl with the musician.
When we got back to the hostel, all of our roommates except for the first two were there. The two newest ones, who we hadn't met, were from Spain. They were also young, around our age. They'd brought a ukelele, and before we knew it the six of us were all singing Jason Mraz songs from our bunks while one guy played the uke. They also showed us some of their traditional songs. It was pretty much the best night.
The next morning we got up, had a quick breakfast in town, then headed back to Dublin.