blarney is located just about 25 minutes outside of the city of cork, a bustling metropolis that is the second largest city in the republic of ireland (after dublin). we chose to spend one day walking around cork to see the sights and get some good food.
apparently, everyone else in blarney decided it would be a good day to go to cork, too. the "line" to the bus (more like the mass of people near the bus stop) was quite big and growing by the minute. there were these really high-strung americans there who were totally freaked out that they wouldn't get a seat on the bus. they were all concerned because they heard that some people had been waiting for the bus for an hour (the only reason they were waiting is because the bus only comes once an hour and they probably didn't check the schedule before standing on the street corner), and there was no line, just a mob of people, and they were totally freaked. they kept yelling at each other, "hurry up!" and "maybe we should just get a cab, oh but that's too expensive, whatever shall we do blah blah blah..." sigh. stupid americans. everyone was going to get on the bus and we really didn't know why they were so stressed out on their vacation! and if they didn't, what's the worst thing that could happen? you end up staying in blarney for another hour to drink a guinness in the sunshine? oh, poor babies! adam and i were secretly laughing at them and how high strung they were on their vacation! (do i sound totally annoyed? i guess i was. it was just stupid, but laughable too...) then we met a really lovely irish woman in the line, and as we were trying to get on the bus, she threw a pick for adam and blocked a bunch of people from getting on until he could get on the bus with me ("you're not having your baby on the bus without your husband, dear! i'll make sure he gets on there too!"), which was really sweet of her. and then, because there were no seats left, i just stuck out my belly and a kind american man from LA offered me his seat, which i of course accepted. and EVERYONE got on the bus, even the high-strung americans. see how everything works out? it's all good.
once we got to cork, we weren't quite sure where to go. we had checked off a few things on our map that we wanted to see, and just started in that direction. along the way we stopped off at a juice bar so i could get some fresh-squeezed juice (not easy to find in hengelo, so it was a real treat) and kept our eyes out for some lunch options as it was getting late in the day.
our first sight was the the most holy trinity church, a beautiful gothic-style church with a sort of art-deco interior. we walked about inside, i lit a candle for a girlfriend of mine who is dealing with some health issues, and we sat and rested for a while. i also had a chance to have a small smackerel of scone while i sat in the sunshine outside and adam snapped some pictures. then i saw the shortest woman i've ever seen, i think she was part leprechaun, and it made me think of my stepmom who is 4'11'' and would likely tower over the leprechaun lady. (i don't think she was a little person or a dwarf or anything -- i just think she was THAT short!) seriously it was cool. rosie would have loved it cuz that never happens.
then we saw the red abbey tower, which we were expecting to be more user-friendly than it really was, but it was just this old structure outside that we admired and took pictures of. i didn't realize that you couldn't actually go inside it. but the story is pretty cool: it's the only structure left in cork that has survived since medieval times, and for a long while it was left abandoned because catholicism was illegal for a period in ireland. it was originally built sometime in the 1200's as an augustinian friary, and later was used for a sugar refinery (in the 1700's). i think the british held it for a while and used it to fire cannonballs into the city during some seige in the late 17th century. i bet the monks didn't like that very much.
and, as long as we were in the neighborhood, we wanted to go see elizabeth fort, which is this large star-shaped structure high on one of the hills above the lee river. this is when i started to wilt, because we still hadn't found any lunch yet and the walk to the fort was uphill the whole way and we got lost a little bit too, which certainly didn't help my mood! anyway, we finally found it, but there wasn't much to do there: the fort is under "emergency renovations" so we couldn't walk along the upper walls to get a view of the city. and we didn't take any pictures of it either because there was a police station located (fittingly) inside the walls, and i'm never sure how foreign police feel about foreigners snapping their pictures. so we left, walked into the first bar we saw, and i plopped my fat butt down and held back tears (literally) of exhaustion. i just can't move the way i used to, and i seriously felt like crying i was so tired! adam was so sweet and ordered a sparkling water for me, and the two of us sat inside the quiet pub and watched a horse race and just rested our feet for while. i felt much better after that.
then a very late lunch at a funky cafe that reminded me of something we'd find in boulder on the hill, with world music and good salads. we also did a little bit of shopping at a babies-r-us type of store, bought a book of irish folktales that we can read to spruitje after he's born, and had a cup of coffee at a cafe before catching the bus back to blarney. had dinner that night at a thai restaurant across the street from our hotel. it was good to have fresh veggies and tofu and spicy sauces in my tummy after a few days of fish and chips, irish stew, and shepherd's pie!