It’s been a while since my last update, which is mostly because after eight whirlwind weeks of grad school, I can’t write anymore. Never thought I’d say that as a creative writer, but there it is.
First of all, I’ve had a lot of people asking me how I fared during Hurricane Ophelia. I’m good, don’t worry. We even got a “hurricane day” off from school. It knocked down a few trees here, but it’s nothing a girl raised in Idaho, Gale-Force Winds Capital of the World, can’t handle. It hit Cork and Galway pretty good, apparently – but still nothing compared to what the people in Puerto Rico were (and still are) going through after the hurricane over there.
Since Ophelia passed over, I have traveled to three more places – Dingle, Cork, and Killarney National Park – all of which I plan to revisit, for various reasons. Right now, though, I think I’m done with my gallivanting – at least until I go to Dublin in December and then fly home for the holidays.
Fall is beautiful here with the leaves falling from the trees in orange and yellow and bright, bright red. Sometimes I forget I’m not in America – until I see the grass and the ivy, both of which are unrealistically, almost Technicolor-green.
But that also means it’s starting to rain more (didn’t think that was possible) and get dark earlier. So I’ll just have to stick around Limerick and do homework.
So, to recap: I went with the university’s International Society to Killarney National Park three weeks ago, along with my roommate. This is the largest national park in Ireland, which has a ton of lakes and Carauntoohil, its tallest mountain. During this “taster” experience, we got to see some of the important sites: Moll’s Gap, Ladies View, Torc Waterfall, and Muckross House and accompanying gardens.
This is what the waterfall looks like:
The town of Killarney reminds me a lot of West Yellowstone, Montana – not in the way it looks, just in the fact that it’s next to a national park and there’s a lot of good places to eat. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, there is a LORD OF THE RINGS-THEMED PUB.
All in all, it was a pleasant trip. I mean, there was a guy serenading everyone, both on and off the bus, with all the best guitar songs that everybody kind of knows, but it’s nice to know that guy exists everywhere, not just in America.
My second trip started off with a little more facepalming. We had a couple days off from classes, so a friend and I had decided to go to the Rock of Cashel for the day. I had planned the whole thing, knew all the scheduled bus times, and where to change buses. So you can imagine my surprise when we got to the bus station a little late for the 9:25 bus and were told the next one didn’t come until “half eleven” (Irish for eleven-thirty).
My friend, Katie, who is more spontaneous than me, said, “Why don’t we just go to Cork? The bus is right here.” So that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t really explore the city. Instead, we just did Blarney Castle, poked around the Woolen Mills, and had lunch, all of which was very relaxing to a normally anal-retentive traveler like me. The castle gardens had been damaged by Hurricane Ophelia, so we couldn’t see them, and it was raining hard, but exploring the castle (best one I’ve seen in Ireland so far) and kissing the Blarney Stone were pretty cool.
Apparently, we’re supposed to possess the gift of eloquence now. I’m waiting to get last week’s papers back to confirm this theory. But hey, Winston Churchill kissed it before becoming, well, Winston Churchill. So that’s something.
My third, and final, trip was to the little seaside town of Dingle, and it also included a mishap, in the form of Halloween fog about three days too early. This meant that Inch Beach and Coumeenole Beach, two popular stops along the Slea Head Drive, were misty and gray instead of welcoming and turquoise. This almost made it cooler in some ways, though.
After our drive, we went into Dingle, which is a bit overpriced, but very cute. It was there that I ate approximately 35,000 mussels (which were amazing, of course) and felt immediately sick afterward. I spent the next day in bed, but don’t worry. I would never swear off seafood – maybe just mussels for a while.
Speaking of restaurants, I’ve found some great ones in Limerick. Lest you think I’m just eating out every day, just know these are spread out over a month (okay, maybe just two weeks). Taikichi is a wonderful, authentic Japanese restaurant:
When I’m feeling cold and in need of comfort food, I head to Glen Tavern, which is more of a low-key place than the bars in the city that the undergraduates frequent (those are nice, too, it’s just that I’m kind of a grumpy old lady sometimes). It has the best Irish stew and cottage pie I’ve ever had, and really chill live music on Fridays.
Finally, I’m happy to announce that after extensive research, I’ve found the best chippy (fish and chips shop) in all of Limerick: Luigi’s. They season the fries just right, and sprinkle the fish and chips with just the right amount of salt vinegar (very important).
When I’m not scouring the city in search of food or breaking my brain writing papers, I’m on campus, hanging out with my friends in the master’s program. Through several (sometimes heated) discussions about politics, we’ve discovered that we have a lot of differences. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s kind of everybody’s instinct to stay away from people who come from other cultures and countries, because we may think their customs and habits are weird, or even rude. But once you actually sit down and talk to them, you find out that they like the exact same things you do. They want to be liked and respected. They’re worried about term papers, too. And sometimes they get lost on buses. So you know what? Let’s just all be nice to each other. World peace issue solved. Does this mean I get out of my term papers?