Published: June 28th 2008June 27th 2008
Looking Up the Liffey
The river that runs through Dublin
The day after my last entry, I traded in the sunny, warm Greek weather and flew into the cool, damp Irish night. As if there is an inverse relationship between temperament and temperature, even in the rain I found the Irish people to be warm, good-humoured and helpful. I'm sure the smooth Irish accent helped cement this impression in me - my heart does a gleeful dance every time I hear it; but there was also something that made me feel at home - maybe the way everyone says "sorry" when they brush past you or the cheerfulness with which they serve you. Whatever it was, they had me at "hello."
Blessed with some decent weather (read: it only rained a few times and not very hard), I enjoyed a day in Dublin, walking around the city by myself before joining two American cousins from the Navy for a "Musical Pub Crawl" (the best part of which was the Guinness we drank) and a stop at a random club on the way back to our hostel where we busted a few moves with some girls out celebrating "summer" on an otherwise empty dance floor. Perhaps it is best to visit
My first Marks & Spencer sighting in Dublin. Everything inside has pretty colours and nice packaging (not to mention exotic flavours of yogourt)...like a little food and clothing museum!
Dublin clubs on weekends...
Feeling pressed for time and stressed by crowds, I left the next day in search of some peace and quiet and mountains in beautiful, if ultra-touristic, Killarney. Though I was expecting to spend another couple of days alone, hiking in the hills doing endless amounts of self-discovery, I happened to be placed in a dormitory full of other solo girls who invited me along on their bike ride the next day. I can't describe how nice it was, after days of near-solitary conversational confinement, to be able to verbalize the things that had been running through my mind, not that there is anything exceptional going on up there; just the standards: boys, travel, home, future, food...in no particular order of importance. We became groupies for a day, rallying after our bike ride to produce a stir-fried feast with fruit salad dessert, watching the German soccer team cream whoever they were playing that night in the Euro Cup (in support of the German girl in our group) and hitting the town for some wild dancing. The weekend was off to a good start.
From Killarney I hopped over to Cork (a.k.a. People's Republic of Cork)
Millenium Knitting Needle
Rising high in the centre of the city. Ireland does have some sizeable wool sweaters hanging around...
to meet Tom, one of the Irish lads I traveled with in Vietnam. He whisked me away from the bus station and into a whirlwind of activities that included attendance at an excellent Buena Vista Social Club concert, consumption of delicious seafood chowder in seaside Kinsale, drives through the Corkian countryside in both the rain and the sun, experiencing a complete car breakdown in the middle of said countryside in the rain, meeting Tom's wonderfully witty and entertaining friends and consuming countless pints of Murphy's (the Cork version of Guinness). By the time I left Cork, headed north to catch my ferry to Scotland, I felt as if these people were my own childhood friends, whom I would be seeing again soon when my travels were over. (Don't worry Mom or Tom, I haven't made any changes to my flight home!)
I wasn't able to dwell for too long on my fondness of Cork, however, as my next task was to ensure that I made it onto my 7:15am ferry the next morning. This required me to travel by bus to Belfast on Monday in order to wake up at 4:30am on Tuesday, catch a 5:55am train (the first
From Garinish Island in Cork (courtesy of Tom's Facebook page)
of the day) to the Port of Larne and board the ferry. It should have gone like clockwork and yet I arrived at the ferry terminal to discover that I was 15 minutes too late to board my ferry and would have to make alternate arrangements. As my original ferry sat at the dock with its doors still wide open, I was shuffled onto a 7:30 ferry, which delivered me to the-middle-of-nowhere-Scotland (even my Scottish friend hadn't hear of the town we landed in) where I was lucky enough to meet two other ladies in a similar predicament who helped me find my way here to Dundee. Having paid £72 for a trip that took about 16 hours from start to finish (not including a day-long bus ride from Cork to Belfast), I would strongly advise anyone considering the journey to go ahead and book the £80 plane ticket for hour and 10 minute Belfast-Dundee flight.
As difficult as it was to get here, my arrival in Dundee was a happy one. I was greeted by my old Calgary Outdoor Club cohort, Shona (yes, this trip has a theme...three guesses as to what it is...) who has graciously loaned
Growing in the sub-tropical climate of Garinish Island (also courtesy of Tom's Facebook page)
me her couch for the week and has been a great travel advisor about day trips to do while she's at work. With yet another party organized for tomorrow night, for me the fun just never ends!
There are more photos below