So finally, I get around to adding a bit to Bret and my blog, instead of just relying on him to post interesting pictures.
I wanted to relate some of the pictures to our first impressions of Ireland. We have been here a solid four weeks now.. wow. I mostly was working on finishing edits to my dissertation up until the end of last week, but now I am semi-free to start telling anyone who is interested about our journey (except for manuscripts from my dissertation and other research, which just don’t seem to write themselves unfortunately).
We arrived in Dublin on Christmas eve, and walked out of the secured customs area to a live choir serenade (well, christmas carols). Bret and I were both, I think, rushing a little because we couldn’t believe how easily they let us through customs and we were afraid they might change their minds. We picked up the car and it was TINY!
I don’t know if you can tell from this picture, but fitting our luggage, the two cat crates, and us in this car required a shoe horn. Lucky for everyone, Bret was in charge of driving. I have to say that driving was the most stressful part of all the travels to get here… that is more stressful than dropping off my 19 year-old cat at a cargo shipping facility, getting grilled by the Manchester, UK customs officer because he didn’t think Ireland was going to let us in with the paperwork we had on us (plus a few hours to stew that around in our brains before we actual went through customs in Ireland), and having our final flight delayed because of crazy high winds (and not knowing if we would arrive in time to pick up the kitties before the 3 day christmas holiday). No, driving was definitely the most stressful part… streets that are perfectly wide enough for mule drawn wagons, but currently operate as two-way high-speed autoways.
We made it to our hotel in Dublin in one piece and settled in for the holiday. We were warned that nothing would be open on Christmas day and very little would be open the following day (St. Stephen’s day), so we stocked up on some snacky food (and, of course, wine and whiskey). Our first pints were at a pub that completely fit the bill of our expectations. Just a couple doors down from the hotel, a somewhat seedy entrance led us into a cozy, warm nook crowded with yummy beers and food.
We loved that place.
We had a really lovely day on Christmas wandering through a deserted Dublin. It was a really interesting way to see the city- not distracted by people. There were a few others millling about by the time we headed back to the hotel, but it really felt like we had the city to ourselves for a while.
That is us at St. Stephen’s green in the heart of Dublin.
The next day we stopped in a couple coast towns to break up the trip to Cork ( because, again, driving was very stressful), but we made it into town just as it was getting dark and stormy.
Cork is a real city… I was expecting it to be a little more quaint, but that is probably because I did not do much research. We realized when we got here just how bad our timing was. I had emailed probably ten people about looking at houses/ apartments for let and we heard back from one person. Ireland is pretty much closed between Christmas and New Years we learned. Luckily, The one house we did get to look out worked out perfectly. It is a 25 minute walk from Bret’s work and and a 10 minute walk to the heart of downtown Cork. We debated a little about whether we wanted to find a place that was a little more open (perhaps a small yard) further from the city center, but in the end we decided to own our year of being city dwellers and go for the downtown location. Luckily, one side of street is a cathedral (St. Finbarres), so it actually is pretty quiet for the location.
We are very happy with our choice! The kitties settled right in to the new place and we are really enjoying the access to restaurants and shops. We returned the car after we moved in, so we are all on foot now (although we should have bikes by the end of the week!).
Cork is interesting. The weather is similar to Oregon… mostly rain with a cold, sunny day here and there, but the rain has been intense. No misty, wet days. When it rains it comes down hard and often in conjunction with strong, swirly winds. There was some extreme flooding the first few days that we were here, but luckily we are up on a hill. Also, it seems like these floods happen every few years, so the town can handle them.
Many people told us that the people in Cork are the friendliest in Ireland. Our experience has been that people are not unfriendly, but we definitely have to engage them to bring out the friendliness (a lot like Pacific northwesterners- we hypothesize that the similarity in climate leads to a similarity in personality).
Well, I think that is a sufficient start, more on life in Ireland later.
Happy 2014 all!