SailRail is an incredibly good deal. It costs only E34.50 (E in this case being pounds) to get from London to Dublin. The first train leg, from London to Chester, is a bit boring, but the ride from Chester through Wales to Holyhead is gorgeous and fine. The ferry from Holyhead to Dublin is like most ferries: boring, but otherwise just fine. We ran into trouble, however, getting from Dublin to Cork.
Dublin Ferry Port is sort of hell-and-gone from the city center. Our only real option to get there was a bus that the ferry provided. Another 5 euros each. More than ten percent of our original fare. Oh well. The bus dropped us off at Connolly station, which was conveniently not the train station that we needed to get to Cork. Heuston station was a half-hour tram ride away. Another five euros. Sigh.
We missed the 3:00 train to Cork by about two minutes, but we weren’t particularly worried because the train runs every hour basically all day. We grabbed some train station food (Maynard’s wine gums, etc.), hunkered down on a bench, and waited to see what platform the Cork train would be assigned. We waited,
And at about 3:52 I thought, “Jesus Christ, I’m just going to ask somebody,” and did. The guy I asked, stand up Irish Rail employee that he was, was pretty pissed by my asking. About twenty other people had asked him in the last minute, you see. Perhaps that was because THEY DIDN’T POST THE INFORMATION ON THE BOARD AND WE WANTED TO GET ON THE TRAIN TO CORK.
Platform 10 had, to our great dismay, about a hundred thousand people lined up to get on the train. Fortunately, the train’s capacity turned out to be about a hundred thousand people. Sophie and I couldn’t find seats together, but we sat close to each other, and sat down expectant. We had heard great things about Ireland’s scenery, you see.
Unfortunately, Irish Rail put the train tracks in possibly the most boring part of Ireland, so the scenery was nothing special. Flat. Trees. Flat. Cow. Trees. On top of that, we were informed by the commuters that the train was traveling about half as it should have been. About an hour later we found out that the reduced speed was a result of broken engines, and disembarked about halfway to Cork to wait for a train that actually worked.
The train we got was the 5:00 train from Dublin, which was already completely full of people, so Sophie and I had to stand by the door with our giant backpacks and hope that people would get off soon so we could sit. Eventually we just sat down on the floor and started to read. We got up when we heard a commotion across the way.
Naturally, the commotion had been caused by a giant poisonous spider. No one had been bitten, fortunately, but the presence of said ferocious beast (Its body was the size of a two euro piece! Its legs were the length of my little finger! Its malice was unmatched by the fiercest of salads!) forced Sophie and I to cling to each other like orphaned children with our four eyes locked to the tiny hole near the door that the spider had crawled into. You know the saying, “It’s the icing on the cake?” This wasn’t the icing on the cake. This was the tarry mess that BP spilled on the cake.
Sophie has absolutely zero faith in my ability to successfully navigate us to any destination by foot--and to be honest, I can’t blame her--so when we arrived in Cork she immediately decided we were lost even though my map said that our hostel was a half a kilometer away on the same street as the train station. The map was right, Thank God, and we arrived at the Windsor Inn with no real issues beside gnawing uncertainty for the better part of ten minutes. The Windsor Inn, it turns out, is more of a pub than a hostel, and in order to get the keys to our room at the top of the stairs we had to inquire at the bar. Lucky for us, the room was clean and had hot water and so we had no complaints.
A block or so from a hotel was a restaurant, Isaac’s, which claimed to have been voted the best in Cork. We were totally exhausted at this point and probably would have stopped there even if they had instead claimed to have not killed anyone this month. Sophie and I decided to share a salad to start.
Sophie’s main was a tasty Indian-spiced lentil soup. I ordered the fish cakes. The minute they arrived, I realized something. “Don’t the Irish like smoked fish?”
I smelled the fish cakes.
My worst enemy in the form of a fried cake. My appetite suddenly diminished, we paid the bill (bitterly, I might add) and walked the block or so back to our hotel, tails between our legs. Once in bed we quickly fell asleep, haunted by dreams of fish and smoke.
The next day we mostly just wandered around Cork, which is really a lovely town. It’d be a nice place to live, I think. Things to do, and all, but generally quiet and quite beautiful. Cork is also the foodie capital of Ireland, which basically means that there isn’t a whole lot of Irish food around. We had lunch at a burger place with strong Indian influences. I had a Paulaner, which is my favorite Hefeweizen, with my burger but staged the following photo to make it appear as if Sophie is savoring a pint.
Cork, it turns out, doesn’t drink Guinness. Cork drinks Murphy’s. Verdict: Murphy’s is stronger than Guinness. Tastes a lot like coffee. Less mainstream. Like Cork. Humm. If you want to know the difference between Guinness and Murphy's, try to imagine the difference between Downy toilet paper and this, the premium toilet paper of Cork.
That's right. KittenSoft. Softer than ever.
Before Sophie and I left on this wonderful trip, I had a crazy idea. “My time here is valueless, but my time in Europe will be quite valuable,” I thought. “Instead of being jetlagged there, I should be jetlagged here!” So I stayed up all night a couple of nights before our flight to Frankfurt. One of those nights I booked a bunch of random shows for us to see in various places abroad. One of those places was Cork, which was having its Midsummer Festival at the time we arrived.
We had tickets to see Mike Daisey, a self proclaimed “monologist.” What that means in real life is “hyper-dramatic storyteller.” Luckily, he was good. Really good. Like Ira Glass on methamphetamine. And without interviews. So not really the same at all. But meth’d out all the same.
I enjoyed Mike Daisey’s storytelling so much that I decided to take a picture of him which turned out to be a huge mistake. After sneaking off to the bathroom for totally legitimate reasons, I stood near the door in a sneaky position and snapped a picture. Being a conscientious audience member, I made sure that the flash was off. As I was (still) sneaking back to my seat, Mike Daisey, monologist extraordinaire, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Don’t take pictures of me. It shines a light.” Except it was more like this: “DON’T TAKE PICTURES OF ME OR I WILL KILL YOU. IT SHINES A LIGHT AND I WILL KILL YOU. I WILL KILL YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE INTERRUPTED ME AND I AM MIKE DAISEY RRRRUUUUUUURRRRGGH.” Later in the show, Mike Daisey mentioned that he wished that he could remit people for their ignorance. I would remit to you if I could, Mike Daisey! I’m so sorry. So very, very sorry.
I did get a picture, thought. Here it is. Was it worth it?
Once again, after the show Sophie and I went promptly to sleep. Well, that’s not strictly true. Sophie did try to call the human resources lady at Providence for a while. But then we went to sleep. Next up: Galway and Sophie’s friends from the interwebs. I leave you with a picture of Sophie peeling an orange in the Windsor Inn and LV Bar Breakfast Room. A full Irish breakfast is just not for her.