So this past weekend 3 other lady friends and myself ventured to Cork! We left Saturday morning and took the 4 hour bus ride to the city, checked in our hostel and headed into the city center. We went to the English market that was I was slightly obsessed with and would have spent the whole day in there if I had an empty belly and cash to burn (I brought my lunch on the bus to be economical and wasn't super hungry). I DID however split the famous Cork culinary masterpiece, Chester Cake, with my friends. It's basically a cake made up of leftover breadcrumbs held together by sugar syrup with sugary white icing on top. It was as delicious and dense as it sounds. I wanted to get a full one for myself at 1.25euro a pop, but I resisted. Next time I'm getting my own, though. Anyway I visited the cheesemonger, as always, and the lady sold me some delicious creamy cheese, but I have no idea what it was called or what animal it came from. But it was gooooood. Then I stopped at the chocolate man (naturally) and got a homemade caramel truffel. I'm such a sucker for sweets. Then we tried to find the Cork Public Museum but realized it's closed on Saturdays--why would they close a museum on the most popular tourist day? So we headed to the Crawford Art Gallery (free!) because the BUTTER MUSEUM is closed for the winter season and looked around for a while. It was actually really cool-one of the exhibits was on terror and the sublime which I'm currently learning about in my 19th century gothic lit class! Small world. Then we walked around an outdoor market and sampled some especially stinky blue cheese, found a fudge place with BAILEYS FUDGE-delicious, and then headed to a trendy cafe for 3euro tea. It definitely wasn't worth that much--is tea ever? But we looked through my handy-dandy guidebook for places to eat dinner at and found a few, walked to one of them and realized they only took reservations/were super expensive. So we sort of scrambled to find a pub which were sort of hard to find, imagine that. We seriously walked around for 10 minutes before we found one, and they stopped serving food at 5:30..it was 5:40. So we freaked and tried to find another...and another...and another. ALL WERE CLOSED FOR FOOD! SOooooooo annoying. So we headed back towards our hostel and found Mike's Diner, decked out with Elvis and Marilyn Monroe pics with the Eagles live album playing in the background, and then Johnny Cash. It was cute and homey and everyone working there was just lovely. I ahd the fish n chips special which was so fresh the scales were still on-slightly creepy. Then we headed to the Franciscan Brewery, an old Franciscan monastery which was thought to be on a magic well or something that healed people. The well is all dried up now but the beer flows! It was really cool and sort of hipster inside. I got a Red Rebel, a yummy beer I thoroughly enjoyed. After we finished our frosty beverages we headed to the "Craichouse," a comedy club where we laughed at some up and coming comedians. It was mildly entertaining, I enjoyed myself.
The next day we headed to Blarney Castle! I absolutely loved it..it was so cool and old and in ruins. We poked around the dungeons, some caves and toured the remains of the building. And, naturally, kissed the stone. It wasn't scary at all, considering you have to sit facing away from it, lie down on your back while a dear old man holds your waist as you hold on to some bars and learn out over the tower, stories and stories from the ground. What I was more concerned about where the 100 teeny tiny steps you had to walk up to get there. Phew! But the guy taking the touristy photos of you kissing the stone is a composition grad student at UCC. He told me all about his project on the 7 stages of grief and I told him if he needed a soprano to let me know. I really really miss singing :( Anyway the girls were really cold from being out in the cold weather for an hour and decided to go get an Irish breakfast after we explored the rock gardens which were SO AWESOME. Old druid caves and apparently the site of the first Celtic settlers. Very spooky but awesome. So the girls left but I decided to get my 8euro's worth and take the lake walk through the grounds by myself. The weather warmed up and it was just beautiful! Although I did get a bit lost. But it was allll good. Then we headed home! It was a fun weekend, and I think one night there was just perfect, though I do wish we had been able to see the Butter Museum/UCC's campus (I hear it looks like Hogwarts!)
So I'm staying home this weekend to explore Galway a bit oh my own, get me some amazing heavenly donuts, visit the free museum and walk along the beach to the lighthouse. I want to look into some more Claddagh ring stores to find a new ring--apparently mine isn't even Irish. Stupes! Then next weekend I'm headed to County Clare for a surfing trip with my housemate and our new Irish surfer friend. Cowabunga, dude! He'll provide wetsuits, boots, gloves and boards for us and a 2-3 hour lesson! AND he lives 5 minutes from the Cliffs of Moher so that'll be awesome to see them and now have to take a 25euro bus trip to do sooooo.
I'm looking into some other choir options in town..I'm not quite comfortable in the Choral Society at school. It's just a tad different from what I'm used to, and by that I mean having a competent director who can keep a beat and warms us up higher than a G above middle C. Last night I took a free yoga class and wasn't sure I'd be able to contain myself. I figured I'd laugh the whole time but it was actually quite relaxing! I also registered with the Garda this morning before the sun woke up and it was actually quite painless, except for the whole paying 150euros to stay in the country. But it ain't no thang! AND I registed with the U.S. Embassy! Coolio.
Alright I'll keep ya'll posted!