3.30.09 Blarney - Cork - Coast- Angela & Mia
Cork Travel Blog› entry 15 of 114 › view all entries
3.30.09 We wanted to see Cork, but knew it was a big city. The closest campground in Midleton was 15 km out. Parking in cities is basically non-existent for a big rig. Driving in them is foolish. Yet, I remembered from the Calgary Stampede that if you get anywhere early enough, you can find parking. And I’d read that in a blog of a European Motorhomer- make it there by 8am, he said, and you can find parking right by the square.
So I arose at 6:30 am and we drove the 6 km into Cork. I don’t think I hit any streetlights and before I knew it, I was right up by the iconic tower with 3 squares and the salmon on the weathervane! With the help of about 6 kind people I managed to get situated. I found a nice double spot where I could pull out (this is important). I found a "disc" for parking, which involved walking down the block to a small store and buying a scratch off parking paper- you scratch off the date and the current time, then you have the number of hours indicated on the sign near your parking. We had 2 hours and I hung 2 in the window (2 E each) because, as one man pointed out, I took up more than 1 spot and he didn’t want to see my wheel get clamped, so that I had to "ring" for the parking people. Given I have no phone, this would be a problem itself. Anyway, the people of Cork were some of the nicest, most helpful people we’ve met along the way. I was surprised by this given we were in a city.
By the way, since parking ticketing began at 8:30, I had from 7am to then to sleep, which I did with the kids who never woke up during the drive.
So by 9:15 we’d all eaten and the parking disks were hung in the window. We toured on foot around beautiful Cork and went ALL over that city until on the way back to the rig, we finally found the starting point for the walking tour that we were trying to follow initially. The statue on Grand Parade was indeed lovely.
Finally, we returned to the Butter Museum right by where Sugar was parked and enjoyed a half hour learning about the largest butter market in the world that was right here in Cork. Who knew?! We absolutely must buy some Kerry Gold butter and cheese now. (By the way, we flew over on Air France and were served Tillamook Cheese, which we recognized from our tour of Tillamook’s Oregon plant this summer! It was a little ironic given France’s reputation for wonderful cheese.)
Anyway, that was a fascinating small Butter museum. It was no wonder, given Ireland’s rich dairy heritage, that Jazy said Kieran (our Irish Exchange family) suggested she get *real* butter on our first trip to the Irish market. We came back from the Butter Museum today and looked at our "Move over Butter" tub of imitation butter with disgust!
We drove out of Cork. Easier said than done. One lane, 2-way cobblestone streets, right through the heart of the city (given we were at the center already). It was a little stressful, but everything is well marked and the GPS is worth it’s weight in gold. People were very polite and helpful, allowing us to go first on the single lane roads, which made it nice.
Several times along the way, we stopped to call Angela and Mia to arrange dinner with them. Mia and Lia are both from the same Chinese orphanage and we’d met online many years ago, so we were thrilled that they were willing to come meet us at a campground. We tried to find an open campground close to them on "the sheep’s head" peninsula, but none were open this early in the season. So they agreed to drive over an hour with just a few hours notice to come see us- hooray!
Along the way, finding pay phones to call Angela was difficult. But as soon as I asked if perhaps I could borrow their personal cell phone and pay them for the local call, each of about 5 places was very helpful in supplying both cell phones and land lines. Some I was able to tip a Euro, but others refused or it didn’t seem appropriate. But they were all like, "No, sorry, no public phone" and then "sure, here’s the office phone" or "here, try the reception on this mobile phone." I haven’t yet figured out the "private" declaration versus the follow-up of generous graciousness, but it’s intriguing. We were able to finally nail plans down with Angela and were grateful for the phone help.
The campground we’re in now (20 E) is a permanent village of light green trailer homes. We are just backed in beside one trailer and our electrical cord is strung though it’s window. We’ve seen no one except Mr. O’Roiden, who is extremely nice and I enjoyed our chat.
We made spaghetti for dinner, served some Irish cheese and cashews for appetizers, and many of the service stations where we stopped for phone and gas had homebaked goodies supplied by locals. Irish soda bread and fruit, then deep chocolate cake and cupcakes for dessert rounded out the "gourmet dinner" - we prepped it all in advance to have time to relax with our guests.
Angela and Mia were delightful and the time spent was precious. Mia said she hopes to come to Texas to "see my new best friend" and Lia kept commenting after their visit on how happy she was feeling. While they weren’t at the orphanage at the same time (Mia is a little younger), they share a connection that both seemed to feel. Angela is a fun and fascinating world-traveler and I cherished her visit.
We all walked the 50 yards to the gorgeous beach at sunset, accompanied by a fat black lab named "Hoover" because he eats everything, his 7-year-old owner later informed us. All in all, it was a wonderful visit and we were thrilled they came to see us- I have a hopeful feeling that we’ll see them again in the future.
We’re winging it after this- headed on the Ring of Kerry, a circle tour around one of the western coast peninsulas, into Killarney and then into Northern Ireland to the Giant’s Causeway on the northern shore before hopping over to Scotland. We’ve no ferry plans and it all feels very loose, but that is what we love. We want to figure things out in English before we head south to France and beyond, so that is the plan for this hour.