cork-ireland-harbor

Savoring my First Taste of Europe: Cork, Ireland

It was a gloomy 5 days of robotic, routine and unending work before we finally set foot on the continent of Europe and my first time. Spring was just starting to cut through, so I knew it would still be cold. People from Midwest America would be laughing at me for bracing myself for 9°C (48°F) weather, but you have to understand that all the time I have spent in the US was mostly during the spring, summer and I think I only spent one fall there, ever, (plus it was in California, duh) and that I have lived in the tropics for the entirety of my existence. So yes, 9°C will freeze the hell off of my butt.

I decided to take a look back in Europe after the epic 5-post entry on Boracay. From the islands in the Philippines to cold and gloomy Europe. And Cork can really deliver with the gloom. Can you say, “last port of the Titanic before sinking?”

 

I’ve never heard of Cork prior to this trip although it is actually the 2nd largest city in Ireland, next to good ol’ Dublin. And speaking of goold ol’ things, Wikipedia tells me that Cork is the “second largest natural harbour in the world by navigational area.” I just thought I’d throw that in. Bear with me, I’m not used to injecting my posts with some bit of semi-useful but good-to-know (sometimes) information.

 

I have wanted to go to Ireland since the 4th or 5th grade. Blame it on the boyband craze and my deep obsession for Boyzone. Add to that, my most favoritestest movie on the planet, The War of the Buttons, is a small little Irish film with Irish actors set in Ireland. I have dreamt of setting foot on Irish countryside, hearing everybody speak with that distinct sexy accent and experiencing Ireland as my school girl crushes idols have.

After the blinding chill and the numbing, bone seething cold, I inhaled the crisp breeze coming in from open sea and witness a oddly quiet town. I thought  Ireland would be a tad bit bigger,actually. But of course, my senses failed and orientation failed me – this was merely a small harbor district compared to the massive city that Cork really is.

But Cork still delivered. It was still my first taste of Europe and I intended to savor every single moment of it starting with a genuine European beer in a genuine European pub. Yes, a real pub! I passed on the Guiness this time and saved that for Dublin. Right now, I’m indulging in generic draft beer, brimming to the top with foam.

This first sip was memorable, it was a realization of a lot of things – me, finally setting foot in Europe – in a country that my mom, to this day, has not visited. It was also the beginnings of new adventures, more countries to visit, more food to taste and more people to remember.

Walking around the small harbor, there really isn’t much to see and soon enough the cold has driven me mad in both directions – to chug down a coffee and suck down some ice cream. Hiking up towards the church, walking down towards the square and walking through museums and trails – it really isn’t much. It wasn’t the sensory overload I was expecting – but maybe the butt-numbing chill was responsible for that. I don’t know.

As I walked back home, I was humming every single Boyzone tune I know – and I do know ALL of them – and I was completely content of my first slice of Europe, as calm and uneventful as it was. I had a perpetual smile plastered on my face and a deeper hunger for more of this ancient continent. It’s a good thing too, because there was more to come.

 

 

TOURIST THINGS TO DO IN CORK:

  •  St. Colman’s Cathedral, no doubt the most massive structure in the entire area, dominates the skyline with its sky-high spires pointing straight up. It is beautiful, magnificent and there is no way in hell you will be able to get this beautiful structure in one single photo. The cathedral is massive and towering and the town is small and compact — good luck with that.
  • Irish Heritage Walking Tours will be available for history and Titanic buffs with their Titanic Trail. It is a complete walk through of the small town with spooky sections designed to highlight the paranormal activity that started happening after the sinking of the great ship. You would be recounting the events that led up to its tragic end. They will also feature the different areas of the town, which is not-surprisingly unchanged since, like, forever.
  • The Heritage Museum would be Ellis Island’s counterpart. Ellis Island in New York has been known in history as the place where all the European immigrants first had their taste of America. 2.5 million of those American immigrants jumped off from Cork and you’ll see the history and chain of events that surrounds this global immigration.
  • The statue of Annie Moore. I could include this little statue with the Heritage Museum itself but she is such an icon in Cork. She, together with her two brothers, is the very first person to have her papers processed in Ireland and the first person to ever pass through American via Ellis Island. It is interesting to know that there is a similar statue of her on Ellis Island too.
  • The museum is there if you are really really bored. There isn’t much there that can really rattle you historically, culturally or otherwise.Or maybe, because, in my opinion, it was just a small space and the exhibits weren’t cohesively drawn together and didn’t provide any form of flow or transition.
    However, it is a good note that this museum is a very reflective one. With a look back on events during WWI and the larger span of Cork’s history with Irish, British and American naval forces, it also gives you a better and deeper dive into Cork’s simple town life and the domesticated lifestyle they had.

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