A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about ireland

Rainbows, leprechauns and pots of gold

semi-overcast 10 °C

Continuing from yesterday (Sunday) night, we met up with J, E's friend in Macs at O Connel Street. Took a bus back to his place which is super nice! Lives somewhat on the outskirts of town (35min walk) in the backyard of his landlady. Literally. It's a little shed thing at the back that is basically one big room plus a toilet but it's so nice. Has his own kitchen, TV, small living room, and his bed is a double decker. Queen size below and single on top.

I really wanted to listen to live traditional Irish music but once we got there, everyone just nua-ed. Even I did a bit but basically no one else wanted to go to O Neill :( so we had a nice time just talking and relaxing there. J even brought out homemade Irish stew (real name of this Dublin version is Cobble) from a church potluck he'd been to earlier. It was so yummy! Made us want to get Irish stew even more. Went to the nearby Tesco to get food. I've got 5 bagels for today's dinner and tomorrow's breakfast. Took turns to shower, planned out the next day, went to sleep.

Woke up at around 9, and went out. After a bit if mix up when we walked an entire round around the city even though the place was at our start point, we managed to get to the food market. Unfortunately it wasn't bustling and outdoor like Cork was, instead there were just a few shops selling relatively upmarket stuff. I bought rosehip jam for AM, because according to the shopkeeper some people thought they might be able to get something relatively solid through customs.

Walked to the center of the city, attempted to find a spot to watch the parade from. S and I climbed up a statue (it was mad. Every climbable thing around was crowded with people) and accidentally met S's exchange friend there. We watched from a precarious position, from which some part was always threatening to cramp due to the effort to stay there. Parade was relatively fun, there were different marching bands and floats and stuff. What was really fun though was just the general atmosphere because almost everyone was in green, or had their faces painted, or had st paddy's hats, scarves sweatshirts, jewellery, you name it you got it.

Unfortunately I began to feel a bit weak for some reason so I changed my position slightly to be more stable, squashed between the statue and the wall. Then gradually my vision went white and I found it hard to breath or to control my arms. I spent the next 5 or 10min leaning my head and arms on the statue, forcing myself to breath against the tightness of my chest. I felt so faint. I could vaguely hear but it was muffled and far away. And I suddenly felt very warm, I was sweating. Eventually feeling and vision came back to me. I was wiggling my fingers and arms to attempt to get blood into them. It was all buzzy for a while, pins and needles. Then when that was gone I slowly climbed down and rested.

I don't know what that was but it was quite scary and I'm so glad S was there. At least someone to know what was going on. Mum, in case you're wondering, I don't think it was asthma because I don't have a drop of phlegm in me right now. Maybe I should eat more. I don't know, and hope nothing like that happens again.

We found E and J and found a restaurant that served Irish stew. Between the 5 of us (including M) we had 2 stews, half a roast chicken, and beef cooked in Guinness. Mmmm so yummy. Hot food. Later on people began to stream into the restaurant and the waiters began to pressure us to pay and leave, even though we'd practically inhaled the food anyway. But we figured the parade had just ended so we paid and left so that they could free up the space. Wheee finally got Irish stew! It's basically beef or lamb slow cooked in gravy with carrots and potatoes and celery.

As we walked down the street in the cold, we were so happy because we had hot yummy food in our stomachs. And we'd beat the crowd.

Chilled at J's place, then S, M and I split. S has a plane slightly earlier than mine, and M wanted to explore longer because his flight was only the next morning. Meanwhile E's bus only leaves at 8olus from the city centre so she stayed longer.

At check in, my rosehip jam didn't make it through. The lady said even pastes don't get through. But for some reason she let my achar through, I'm thinking out of pity haha. Two down, one to go.

J was so nice by the way. He actually didn't know E all that well but he shares common good friends with E in NUS. He gave up his Queen sized bed for us to sleep in, he let us eat his Cobble! And even though he hadn't felt like going out today (too crowded) he came with us anyway. So, wink wink, you know who you are.

I can't believe I'm saying good bye to Ireland so quickly. I've pretty much only been to Cork, Kinsale and Dublin. And I didn't even explore Dublin properly cos M was saying he went to Croke Stadium and got to see people (playing) hurling! And other sports too, so that was cool.

I think Ireland... Is lovely for a road trip around the country or something. By bus la maybe. But I'd definitely do a lot of hiking here one day, preferably in late spring or early summer. I want to roam around the forests. So prettyyyyyyy. The people are friendly even if they do drink a lot (maybe that's a st paddy's day generalisation) and they speak English!

One thing I realised I missed out from the previous day's tour summary. The Irish are required to learn Irish in schools. And a lot of professions like err lawyers? I think have to be fluent in Irish or something like that. That's the government's way of keeping the language alive, and although maybe it wouldn't be very fun at first (think Chinese.) I think it's a fantastic effort.

Also, Lisa the tour guide was telling us about how there was a war between the Irish and the English in the city a long time ago. At one point they were fighting across St Stephens Green with their rifles and what not. For the the next 8 days, there was a ceasefire for a short while each day while the park rangers fed the ducks and swans! Can you believe it. Only in Ireland haha.

It's 7.15pm now after typing all that (so long), my flight's not til 850 so i have lots of time. My cold bagel dinner is calling, I bid you adieu.

Posted by seaskimmer 12:40 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland stpaddys Comments (0)


semi-overcast 12 °C

Yesterday was an interesting evening where we just stayed at Owen's place and talked to these Irish people. They were hanging around drinking til they were to leave for the bar. But I think they only left at twelve plus lol. The two girls were younger than us by 2 or 3 years but seemed around the same age. They were really friendly and kept trying to make us go out for a drink haha even though we didn't really feel like it (E fell asleep after an hour, in the living room in her PJs with everyone talking so loudly). Taught us some Irish slang that for the life of me I can't remember anymore! According to them, most Irish people wouldn't really go and travel the world much. Didn't know that. The guys (who lived there) were really nice and funny, and gentlemanly, like they'll knock and wait everytime they want to come into the living room. Which technically is normal but it was nice.

Had a good rest, decided not to catch the earliest 8am bus to Dublin. Slept in a little, used the wifi, forgot to do some things I was supposed to do, left accom in a hurry. At the bus station we decided that we wanted to do a quick stop at Cashel which is on the X8 route to Dublin, but changed our minds because it's the same price (13) for any trip on the way, ie we'd have to pay 26 in total. So it's the 2pm Sandeman tour in Dublin!

It's a cloudy day today, has been since we left our accom and felt tiny droplets on our faces. The wiper on the bus has just rubbed noisily across the windshield. And I ask myself as I pass the scenery robbed of yesterday's gold, how do I like Ireland now? It's still beautiful, but doesn't have that golden glow of fantasy. But somehow it feels more wild and real that way.

Oh, and check out E's blog. The link is at the end of the right bar. I think it'll be an interesting read because she'll give a similar account of Belgium and most of Ireland but from a different perspective. Even if you don't know her and most of you don't.

Once off the bus we made a last ditch effort to catch the 2pm tour. City Hall (meeting place) is almost completely unknown to Dubliners, lucky some people knew, and lucky E had the itinerary of the tour. So we managed to catch them ten minutes late at Dublin castle. So glad we caught it, it was so fun and informative! Loved it. Sandeman tours, everyone, check it out. I wish I could write out the briefest briefest summary of Irish history here, but just Google it and the second link is pretty good. One cool thing I learnt: the shamrock (three leafed clover) was used by St Patrick to explain the Trinity.

Ended up in St Stevens Green, watched the ducks and swans, watched the seagulls swarm in, saw a few robins :) then off to find some dinner.

On the way we passed quite a number of street performers. First was some b-boys, that was fun. Then we saw this lame guy getting out of locked straightjacket, but he was taking forever, talking and trying to get some laughs, so we just left. A band, with a sign saying "Girlfriend(s) wanted" Hahaha.

Then we saw a restaurant at the corner, saying Irish Stew 7.95! We've been looking for affordable Irish stew since forever, and were thwarted once already at Tony's. So we went in and attempted to order it, but curses! Foiled again. They'd run out because of the high demand. We had something else though, it wasn't too bad. Chilled with the wifi. I mean I'm still here chilling with wifi, I guess chilling means blogging.

Soon we'll meet E's friend (staying with him tonight) and put our bags down, then go back out for a drink at O'Neil's hopefully. According to the tour guide, traditional Irish music there, which we gave up in Cork at Siné (shinnay) for the rock band at Charlies.

Need to get groceries for breakfast tomorrow and for my night at the airport. K bye.

Posted by seaskimmer 12:00 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland dublin mythology Comments (0)

Bus musings 2

sunny 15 °C

Ireland is an absolutely beautiful place. As we drive through the Irish countryside from Kinsale back to Cork, I can't help but love the green, which even as farmlandish land is already so much wilder and less kept than the Belgian and German countrysides. And as the setting sun bathes the uneven grass and spiderweb trees in gold, I can't help but love this land of green even more.

According to lonely planet, "Narrow winding streets lined with artsy little shops and a handsome harbour full of bobbing fishing boats and pleasure yachts make Kinsale one of Ireland's favourite mid sized towns; its superb foodie reputation is just another reason to visit. Its sheltered bay is guarded by a huge and engrossing fort, just outside the town at Summercove."

We spent a trying morning attempting to get a free brunch at the' feeding of the five thousand' city council event, one of the pre-St Paddy's Day activities, but E and I ended up separated from S and annoyed. We took the bus to Kinsale and managed to meet S there, walked around the pretty picture of a town, and spent an enchanted time walking part of the way to Charles Fort. We found a little path walking down to the bay, and sat on sedimentary rocks? Talked, had some scones, enjoyed the fabulous view across the bay. Saw a seal that bobbed around twice but refused to stay up long enough for a good photo.

Turned back about 40% into the walk to Charles Fort, had fish and chips dinner at Dinos. As we were eating by the bay, the bus to Cork came and we debated momentarily over whether to run for it or wait for the next bus in an hour. This quick discussion resulted in a frenzied picking up of the remaining fish and chips (E), the nabbing of the tartar sauce and Fanta orange (me) and the wrapping and throwing of the junk left over (S). We all ran across the road and then attempted to find our tickets. That done, we finished eating in the next 30s and settled down to enjoy the ride back.

Pretty glad we decided to come to Kinsale. I was right in thinking that the town would be kind of touristy like Bruges, but it totally makes up for that with the stunning views. The town itself is also somehow a little less pretentious and more local, relaxed seaside village. It's wonderful.

Tomorrow we might not to go to Dublin immediately. Technically the only things we really want to do/see there are Trinity College and a short bit of the parade. So depending on bus timing and price, we might stop for a few hours somewhere in the middle of Cork and Dublin. That would be really nice.

Posted by seaskimmer 16:40 Archived in Ireland Tagged travel bus ireland Comments (0)

Land of green

semi-overcast 10 °C

S and I took Ryanair from Paris Beauvais to Dublin. They almost didn't let my 500g achar through, thankfully the picture on the packet looked very dry. So despite the very watery feeling packet, the picture and my "Vegetable! Legume! Very little water!" pulled the achar through baggage check haha. Don't celebrate too soon, I have two more flights to get through. How could I have forgotten. I did buy some toffee in a pretty tin for her (AM) though so should be okay?

Spent a cold night in Dublin airport, huddled in my thick winter jacket (yay), curled over my small bag and lying on my large one. With the hood up and my eye cover thing it was relatively comfortable, though cold.

Four hour bus ride as mentioned previously, got to Cork. Had a lovely picnic at some little island in the middle of River Lee. Saw a bit of UCC, went to the English Market (so awesome) and had a nice dinner.

In the morning (this is Friday morning) we met E at the bus station and had a nice lamb pie for lunch! Mmm. walked around for a little while, met this awesome local, J, who pointed out on our map a bunch of great places to eat and see on Cork for us.

And and and, I accidentally met Z at our hostel!!! That was so cool. She was with three other Singaporeans, A and K (climbing) will know A from Geog haha. They were going to kayak in the evening to try to see bio-luminescent plankton, which unfortunately didn't work out because of the bright moon. Oh well. Made plans to maybe hang out in Dublin. What a happy coincidence!

In the evening we tried to eat at Tony's which is a cheap place that doesn't serve great food but they have okay Irish stew, which J said we could try. But it was closed! For some unknown reason so we just ate something random and chilled at a bar for a few hours. J said that there would be an awesome band playing that night, and yeah the band of 4 was cool and played maybe bluesy rock, very chill, but with wailing guitar and all.

The bartender was super nice. We got there early at like 8pm, when the band only starts at around ten, so it was empty when we arrived and we got to ask her about drink recommendations. Each got a drink (2 stouts and a cider) and she came over a few times to tell us things about Cork, and she even gave us 2 packets of chips free! So nice. Wanted to take a photo with her but in the end no chance to.

Good night's rest, and today (Saturday) we're off to the feeding of the five thousand city council event today where hopefully we'll be able to stuff ourselves with good food Hahaha. Then to Kinsale for the afternoon, and tomorrow morning we're off to Dublin.


PS sorry there aren't any photos, the ones in my camera won't be getting out until I get a computer, and the ones in my phone for some reason don't want to be uploaded. I'll see when I can get something up.

Posted by seaskimmer 02:11 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland singaporean Comments (0)

Bus musings

overcast 10 °C

While Paris itself has a comprehensive metro and train system, the whole of Ireland has been made easy to travel by bus.

There are several operators but the cheapest we found was eireann, because it's not a direct 2 point bus but instead goes to many stops. As such, its service X8 got us from Dublin airport to Cork in 4 hours rather than 3, but I actually enjoyed the ride.

Ireland is really cold and damp, which means that the sky is permanently overcast and visibility is persistently poor. I like that though, sounds like the Ireland of the many books I've read! No wonder it's the setting of so many fantasy stories, that thick white mist looks like it hides so many secrets. (edit: misty and freezing in the mornings and nights only)

One of the places we went to en route was cahir castle. I didn't know that we would actually go there, so every time we followed a road sign pointing us to the castle, I cheered inside. We finally got there, and it looked older, more crumbly and more grim than gravensteen. I could totally imagine gruff Picts (or is that the Scots?) striding around in battle gear there. When the bus turned a corner around the castle, I could then see a river already rushing with spring snowmelt running alongside the castle wall. So. Cool.

It also surprises me how much the Irish language is represented here. I thought it would be like gaelic, which is hardly spoken or known, but I see Irish in lots of places, like road signs have both the Irish and English names.

If France is a graceful maiden dancing atop a hill, Ireland is a slim unruly Irish lad, looking over his shoulder as he disappears barefoot into the forest, green eyes full of mystery and mischief.

I think Ireland is one place I would come back to and spend a week to see the smaller places. If course, this is before really exploring even Cork and Dublin so perhaps spoken a little too soon. We shall see.

Posted by seaskimmer 17:07 Archived in Ireland Tagged travel bus green ireland faery Comments (0)

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