Sunday, March 13, 2016

Diary of a World Traveler

Cork Day 2: Kangaroo Court in Kangaroo Cork

Today has been a great day. Finally, we set aside time to book our flights to Norway and Britain, so we are officially headed off on two extra adventures while we are here! We also took a trip to Saint Fin Barr’s cathedral, the beautiful University College Cork campus, and then back through town to do some shopping. Another sunny morning in Ireland turned into a great day of wandering to see the sights. We are very happy settling in here! Can’t wait to do more exploring tomorrow. 

It’s finally Sunday, and I couldn’t be happier. A morning of rest was gratefully received this morning, along with a splendid breakfast at the hotel, looking over the River Lee on a sunny day. The feast included pan au choclat, poached eggs on toast, pork sausage, and some wonderful tea. Just the right way to start our day. After that, we took a short trip to the fancy health club/hotel gym, which was a much-needed dose of activity other than walking. Biking for a half an hour really gets the blood pumping, even if it makes you a little shiny!

For a light lunch, we ate our stolen goods from breakfast. Though I didn’t go as far as Diana’s salami, egg, and cheese sandwich, I did appreciate the small croissant and boiled apple that I consumed before walking around Cork. We set off at 1PM toward Saint Fin Barr’s cathedral, a surreal building about a 20 minutes’ walk from our hotel. The river was never far from us, as we weaved through the main streets and crossed bridges the entire way. The smell of water was a nice, calming edition to our trek. It always makes me feel at home in a city, since it brings a little bit of nature back into the concrete jungle—even in the smallest way. Soon, we arrived at the church. The blue sky and clouds made the impressive structure bounce off the backdrop, making it seem more like a mural amidst the rest of the residential homes surrounding it. It was truly an amazing sight to see. We plan to go back when it is open so that we can see the inside of it, which is sure to be just as beautiful as the outside.

Continuing on up the perpetual hill that is Cork, we walked through another residential area lined with townhouses. Eventually, we came upon the campus of University College Cork (UCC). Forget Hogwarts—this place was magical in its own way. We got to see a whole display of ancient Celtic runes and walk in and around many of the buildings on campus. Many of the buildings, including the giant hall with the exhibit, had an established, old-building feel. They actually looked like castles, not administrative buildings! But the amazing thing is that they often combined old with new, so a modern glass front building stands next to an ancient structure. That is the fascinating part about these universities with history—everything that is old looks it, but that doesn’t mean that new buildings cannot be added. I enjoyed walking around the grounds without our big group, exploring and finding interesting buildings to take pictures of. I especially liked the old observatory, since it was so small and placed right in the middle of campus, but hidden away behind a wall of bushes and trees. It was like a fairy tale house. 

After the campus, we walked back down and followed the river walk the entire way. Our professors let us loose, so we did a bit of shopping before heading back to the hotel. We first followed one of our professors to, quote, “the best chocolate shop”: Butler’s Chocolate Café. The cute yellow building housed some amazing things, including but not limited to ice cream, self-selection single chocolates, pre-packaged chocolate bars, hot chocolate, and boxes, and a full-service hot chocolate and coffee bar. They also had bakery treats like muffins, squares, and croissants. I will absolutely be going back there to get some of their hot chocolate—they boil milk and then melt a whole piece of chocolate in and stir it up to make a thick, rich mixture. Sounds perfect to me! I would absolutely recommend this shop to any chocolate lover, but especially enthusiasts like myself. I picked up a 70% dark cocoa bar and a package of dark chocolate sea salt caramels. I may or may not have sampled both, and they are delicious.

On our way back to the hotel, we wandered in and out of some more department stores like Brown Thomas and Debenhams. I decided I will be back to a Brown Thomas to purchase a Tom Ford lipstick, since I feel I need at least one to complete my collection!

For dinner, we had a starter of potato and spinach soup, some great cod in pesto sauce, and a fruit bowl for dessert. I did not like either of the dessert options, so they brought me a great selection. For a person who usually goes against mixing fruits together in the same bowl, it was a great way to end my meal. Plus, I feel as though I had already consumed enough chocolate for an entire week, so it all worked out well.   

photo credit Diana Cleveland & Katie Walker

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