I'm sitting in one of the lounges in my hostel in Cork, Ireland eavesdropping on these Italians at the table next to me. Is it really eavesdropping if you don't know what they're saying? OH wait, it's not even Italian, it's Spanish, my bad. See? I'm doing nothing wrong; I could not even identify the language. That's what's so cool about hostels, all the random people. And everyone is so easy to talk to because we are all, most of us anyway, are all alone, all in the same boat and more specifically, in the same hostel. I wish I was staying for longer than one night so there would be a point to me actually meeting people. I am in a co-ed dorm style room (it was the cheapest) with 12 other beds in it, all bunked, but the only people in the room are me and this guy with dreadlocks from somewhere Slavic. We have not had much interaction. Some guy in the computer lounge complimented my fast typing when I was about to leave asking if I wanted to be his secretary. Hey may, if you lived in Oxford and seriously need someone to type for you, sure, but I am pretty sure he was kidding. Anyway, I was talking to someone online, and my time was running out, so I had to type fast. And I'm all hyper on no sleep and all those bad things you drink to keep you awake, so I am only half aware of what I'm doing even now. Zombified man.
So anyway, if you are ever in Cork, Ireland, I don't know if I would recommend Shelia's Hostel or not. It was the cheapest thing I could find, that's for sure, but it's not terrific. Not much going on. The wifi won't work on my laptop (but I think that's my fault), the lights went off while I was taking a shower and…well that's it. It's a fine hostel, I'm not picky. As long as it has a bed for me, I'm cool. I was even able to stash my backpack for the day under lock and key until my room was ready while I was out gallivanting. That's really all you need.
I know what you're wondering, I can read your mind. What's so great about Cork? Why should I go there? Well, I'll tell you. Lots of things. Let me put them in a list because you all know how much I love those things. And I'm zombified remember? Lists are easier.
- Blarney Castle is sweet. I mean come on; it's a castle you can climb around in, what's not to like? And there is that Blarney stone thing you have to hang backward over nothingness being supported by your grip on these metal rods and a strangers hand on your waste. What? That does not appeal to you? ("In 2009 Tripadvisor.com ranked the Blarney Stone as the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world," says Wikipedia) OH come on, it was fun if not a little bit weird. So now that I've kissed it I'm going to be more elegant or something. Just kidding, it's eloquence I'm getting, not elegance. Clearly it's working already. I could use a little more elegance and eloquence, or any to begin with. I made friends with these older people, I don't know if they were family or friends (there were a few couples) from St Lewis and we talked about me going to Brookes and them traveling around Ireland. They were nice and not at all embarrassing like the last Americans we encountered (twice!) last time we were in Ireland. The 'we' are my grandparents and I and the Americans were these jerks on our plane who happened to be on are plane going home too, all of which were loud and drunk and made me want to defect to Canada as to not be associated with them. Anyway, the St Lewis gang was cool. I took an awesomely spectacular picture of all of them (they did not think I could fit them! Come on people, I'm a professional!) at the top of the Castel, with the sweeping Irish countryside in the background, perfectly framed if I say so myself. In turn they took some really bad pictures of me with my camera kissing the stone and at the top of the castle. Oh well, at least they were good company. So in conclusion, Blarney was awesome. Do that.
- Cork has a Butter museum. After Blarney I had to go back to my hostel to get some new batteries for my big camera. I've been awake for almost two complete days now with only like one collective hour of sleep, so when I got to my room I came very close to passing out then and there. But no, I only have one day in Cork! Wake up Maria and explore! So I did. I had no plan after Blarney; I just picked a direction and walked. And walked. And walked. It's amazing how much I did walk actually given my exhausted state. I think at some point I got past it, got a second wind and just could not stop my feet from walking. I even walked up hills, weird. Cork has some very Morgantown like roads in it, one of which leads up to my hostel. So anyway, while I was wandering around in a daze with no plan and my maps tucked safely in my bag not being used, I stumbled upon the Butter Museum of Cork. One minute before it closed. Dang. Well anyway, the fact that Cork has a butter museum, even though I can't tell you what it's all about on the inside, is reason enough to visit I think. It's just so delightfully weird.
- Cork is delightfully weird. In general. I was just wondering around thinking to myself, 'man this place is weird.' It smells like fish, contains the tallest building in Ireland (which is about 5 stories, no joke. So huge.) and seems super proud of their local Gaol (prison), which was also the case in Dublin. I never found the prison, but I could have. There were signs everywhere and could have found it if I had not just been that direction already and if there was not something else in the other direction. I just followed my feet; I had no say in where we ended up. I found a bookstore/fabric shop called Vibes and Scribes and it was basically the coolest place ever in history of cool places. And other weird things. I don't know, just like buildings that seemed weirdly placed or a painting on a wall that seems out of place. OH, I've noticed that the Irish like to put weird things in their windows. Like, if you walk down a residential street and look in the windows, there will be stuff on the sills and then be a curtain behind it so you can't see in the house. Like mini window displays. So you will be walking and you see flowers, flowers, flowers, skinned chicken statue with vines coming out of its head, flowers, flowers, flowers. That sort of thing. Or you will be walking toward a church and you pass a door and suddenly the whole street is filled with weird techno music in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, then when you look inside it's just a room with junk in it, blasting music. And no one on the street seems to mind. Whatever Cork, do your thing. It's all good in the hood.
- It's easy to walk everywhere. This might just be because I'm a naturally fast walker or because it's not that big of a city. It is probably a little of both. All I know is that I was up on one side of the river, up high looking out over said river at some huge church thing with domes, then the next thing I know, after walking what seems like a short distance, I'm suddenly in the view I was just looking at. IN THE VIEW. Woah! If I had like one more day and a few hours of sleep I could totally own this city.
- There are like a million churches. And I guess that's cool. You know, if you are into churches.
- This is the best reason to visit Cork. The people of Cork are seriously the friendliest people ever. I know, this could be said about almost anywhere. Most people are nice in the world, BUT not as nice as the people of Cork. I've been a lot of places, but never have I been treated so kindly for no reason besides someone else's desire to be friendly. My bus driver from the airport to my hostel basically gave me a personal tour of the city, pointing everything out just to me (the people in the back of the bus didn't care) and telling me all the best places to eat and shop. He drew me a map from where I got off the bus to exactly where the hostel was and went over it with me like twice to make sure I got it. Super super super nice. Polite people just make my day, friendly and polite people make my world go round. AND the people I've talked to who have helped me, they all seem genuinely excited for me to have a good time. That's what makes Cork's residents different. Like when I got off the bus at Blarney. I asked the driver if this was where to go for the castle, since I did not see any signs (because I'm a zombie. There were signs everywhere), and he said 'yes it is, the castle is right over there!' and pointed. But it was the look in his eyes that said it all. He pointed and grinned, like the castle was his castle and his surprise just for me. Like he was excited for me to see it because he took me there and therefore he was excited for me to be there. Or something like that. You just had to see his eyes. And this kid was not that much older than me I'd say, and yet he was still genuine. This is the number one reason to go to Cork, Ireland. People there rock.
Ok, now if I don't go to sleep for at least a few hours before my bus to the airport in the morning (at 5AM) I might not make it through another day. Fair well Cork! Thanks for the hospitality, I'm telling everyone.