After a day or two more of class class, work work, we then had our “travel block,” an allotted time to travel on our own since our study abroad trip was a tad different from most, moving around often on the weekends.
A few had parents meet them to travel in Europe, while others traveled on their own. However a group of us, staring at the prices of absurd train tickets, skeptical of the few available hostels left, and feeling just how tired we were, we gave up on the idea of Belfast. We decided instead to stay and explore a little more outside of Cork, without having to stay the night anywhere.
While this isn’t quite as exciting as traveling to other parts of Europe, we still had some adventures of our own that looking back now, I wouldn’t take back for a beautiful view by myself somewhere further away. Not to hurt anyone’s feelings who had other plans, but those days really brought the group of us closer together, and more of friends than just travel companions.
So after the disappointment and frustrations of learning (yes, parents, we know) that you really do have to plan things out well in advance to work out smoothly, we didn’t want to let the first travel day go to waste. We got up early (as in before lunch time) and hopped on a bus to Kinsale, a beautiful and historic fishing town in County Cork, just forty or so minutes away from our apartments.
While we were loving the city life, I think we were all grateful for a change of pace. Kinsale was small and had a completely different feel to it: people were just walking around playing fiddles and drinking outside before breakfast. All starving, we walked into the first restaurant we walked by: Fishy Fishy. Luckily for us, we overheard other tourists in there that the very place we stumbled into is known as one of the top town favorites.
After eating together and walking around some, we divided up between the walkers and the drinkers: half the group stayed to drink at a local pub, while the other half went to explore a historic fort. I decided on the historic route, which at first I deeply regretted: it started to downpour and the wind was atrocious, and after a mile or so, I asked how much longer we had, to which the person who was in a sense “leading” this little walk replied it was a three mile walk there and back. I was drenched and really regretting not bringing rain boots, then a few more paces and I just plain regretted not staying behind to drink, as early in the day that it was.
However, like all things, even walking down the side of a windy road in the rain, ended up being completely worth it. When I took a few minutes to stop being miserable, I snagged this picture of what our walk was like.
So yeah, stop complaining Taylor. We took a few wrong turns, asked a few directions, and climbed upward on a very muddy trail and at the top we had quite the view of Charles Fort, circa 1677.
This partially restored fort was amazing to walk around, and even had this cute archway, which required a mini-photo shoot of course. After seeing the fort, because I didn’t realize we were going on a six mile long excursion, I asked a few locals if there was a restroom nearby, since there seemed to be quite a few businesses still open. To show Ireland’s well-known hospitality, one of the locals said sure, and before I knew it keyed me in to a garage with a restroom. As soon as the door closed I thought, well here I go, already getting into sketchy situations all because of my need to use the bathroom. I decided I might as well go before finding out my fate.
Obviously, I’m still here. Sure enough I was able to leave the garage, with the locals smiling and laughing with the rest of the JMU students and then moving on their merry way.
The walk back to civilization wasn’t too bad without the rain, plus you know, after finally having used the restroom after hours of having to go.
After our tired legs finally got back, we decided we really needed a pint. However, we made our way to The Black Pig. They did did not have beer, (plenty of wine) but it was so cute that we decided to stay. We found out later that we really lucked out with this hole-in-the-wall of a place as well, voted one of the top restaurants in Cork.
Trying to find the other half of our group that split up earlier in the day (the downfalls of having no cellular service and relying on spotty wifi ((pronounced by our professor, weefee)) basically meant zero communication availability,) we went walking to find “the loudest pub possible… the boys will be there.”
While we didn’t find them, we did stumble into some live music, and locally brewed Kinsale beer.
So, I’d say a success of a day.
We grabbed some fish and chips, coated with vinegar and salt, while waiting for the bus to take us home. We were exhausted and worried about the rest of the group (who was in fact sound asleep and drunk, already back home having caught a bus back earlier) but ended up watching the sun set in quaint Kinsale before crashing in our apartments in Cork.
So we learned the hard way that:
A. It’s extremely difficult to travel in a small town with a large group.
B. Communication is inherently limited in foreign countries. Don’t rely on it for anything.
C. Expectation of meeting back up with that group should be kept at a minimum. Don’t wait up.
No harm, no foul, and unlike the drunkies, at least we were able to see some amazing fiddling… and a drunken local trying to keep pace with said fiddler. Definitely a highlight for sure.