Visiting Cork, Ireland was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me when it did. When I boarded my flight after 10 days in the UK, I was tired, emotionally drained, and frankly, a bit of a mess. Alex (the friend I would be visiting) and I used to swim together back when he was in the States, but that had been over a year ago and part of me was a bit nervous that I’d receive the same welcome that I had earlier in the trip.
Mistake #1: Never underestimate the incredible good-will of a proven, amazing friend.
Mistake #2: Never underestimate the incredible good-will of the Irish, period.
The atmosphere of my arrival could not have been more different. The moment I stepped out of my gate at ORK, I was engulfed in a gigantic bear hug (at 6’3″, Alex just towers over me), my luggage was swiped genially from my hands, and I was introduced to my friend’s beaming mom–who also pulled me into a grand towering hug–faster than I could say “luck of the Irish.” 30 minutes later, we were speeding through the small, quaint downtown of Cork and happily en route to Blarney Castle, legendary home of the Blarney stone that (apparently) grants you the “gift of gab” if you kiss it.
Turns out that the rumored gab-gifting wasn’t in particularly high supply–I certainly didn’t feel very eloquent afterward!–but we did buy ice cream cones afterward to make up for it (and maybe to cleanse our mouths after kissing the wet, suspiciously dark patch of rock). The ice cream, which was my first official taste of Ireland, surprised me with its freshness and flavor: I had heard about the beer, but to be completely honest, I hadn’t had high hopes for the food…
Mistake #3: Never underestimate the universality of good food options if you know where to look for it (or know someone who knows where to look for it).… Read more