Wednesday, March 19, 2014

kinsale, county cork

I did a LOUSY job of blogging while living in Europe... since it's currently ALWAYS on my mind (it's rough being as nostalgic as I am, honest...) I've decided there's no time like the present.

Although things might not be quite as fresh as they were 4 years ago, I'm going to do my best to re-live them and document what I can manage to tap back into. Photos will help, of this I am sure. :)

The family I was working for found a phenomenal deal on airfare from Geneva to Cork for one week in March, they let me know when they purchased their tickets that I could either go with them as their nanny, stay and work at the house - cleaning and caring for the animals, or take a week off and take advantage of the deal myself. Clearly, I chose the latter of the options.

My friend, Amanda, is a missionary working at the church I attended while living in the Geneva area. (More on the church in another post... I know I say things like that all the time, but it was so wonderful, my tangent would fill up too much of this post that's supposed to be all about my nostalgic memories of incredible Ireland!) Okay, so back to Amanda. :) Amanda works at the wonderful church I had the opportunity to be a part of while living abroad, she currently is working as a part of their church plant, but was the Children's Ministry Coordinator while I was in the area. She's such an incredible girl and a great friend. 

I think our adventurous sides are what initially drew us together. We're also both American, which probably had a little something to do with it. Anywho, she and I had gone to the South of France that previous autumn and I was able to see how talented she is at organizing fun AND relaxing trips. We meshed just perfectly. Have you ever traveled with someone who you absolutely love in everyday life, but can hardly stand or just all of a sudden absolutely clash with while trying to explore and see a new location? Travel, it's tricky. Amanda and I didn't have that issue, and we were both in dire need of some true rest and rejuvenation, so I invited her along on this next rendezvous. 

I'll be honest, I feel a little bad looking back on it, because she took care of EVERYTHING. She made such detailed plans for our timeless trip that everything was beyond perfect.

While we were landing, I remember the little boy I took care of saying, 'Uhh... Mom, are we in Iowa??' Ireland was going through their first drought in years and in landing we only saw flat land with lots of dead grass... it did look a lot like landing here in Iowa. 

Amanda and I and the family I worked for parted our ways. Amanda and I headed south in our trusty 'hired car'. Thankfully, Amanda had learned to drive a manual while she was living in Scotland. She, unlike myself, was already a pro. 

Upon arriving in Kinsale, we asked around for local grub and were directed to Patsy's Corner... this was just the beginning of our gastronomical gluttony. (Who knows how much of the weight I gained from living in Europe was from this trip alone.)
Amanda entering Patsy's Corner.

Amanda and I dining at Patsy's Corner.

Deliciously rich crumble with cream.
After a few hours on a plane and another hour or so getting the hired car, we were ready to see where we'd be sleeping. We had the privilege of meeting Chrissie and Tom at The Olde Bakery B&B, oh my word, they were so unbelievably darling. They were the most perfect hosts for a B&B, so welcoming and knowledgeable about EVERYTHING in Kinsale and all of southern Ireland.  
Our beloved B&B!
We figured with all the information Tom and Chrissie loaded us with, it was time for some exploring! We walked all along the town meeting people left and right. It was so great. (Not to mention refreshing from all the sitting we'd done traveling and calories we'd consumed at Patsy's!) We ended up at historical Charles Fort. I had never been to the Atlantic Ocean, so I was excited to see that we were there! The fort was really neat, but we'd happened to walk past an intriguing golden yellow building entitled 'Bulman'.... we needed to check it out...
Charles Fort.
The Bulman was just as breathtaking and charming on the inside as the outside hinted it would be. We sat next to the fireplace and each had a half pint of our favorites and took in our surroundings. We were both falling hard for this unbelievably welcoming, not to mention, gorgeous-in-every-possible-way land. (Even during a drought!)  
The most perfect pub in the whole entire world! The Bulman!
We enjoyed our drinks and discussed our travels and the folks we'd met all while watching the sky fade to these juicy colors of pink, purple, and copper. The night was coming alive. We hadn't been sitting too long when a local came up to try to get our story. He could see we weren't too quick to share, so he gave us a brief snapshot of his story. Ugh, my heart swells just at the thought of how beautiful all the people we met there are. Ireland in all it's glorious details makes me want to open a B&B and extend the hospitality they so kindly showed us to everyone that walks through my doors. Just throwing that out there. ;) 

John was his name and he'd lived in Kinsale for, I believe he'd said 15 years. He was originally from the lovely land of Wales (or perhaps that was his buddy, Danny...) and had, much like us, fallen in love with the beauty and charm of not only the land, but the people of Kinsale. He created his own business and had no intention of ever leaving. He shared some of his adventures with us of his time in America. He'd gone all along the west coast, starting in Alaska and ending up in South America. His adventures put my mind at ease from some of the things I had been experiencing right then and there. Ah, isn't there such beauty in camaraderie?! 
The sun setting over Kinsale Harbour... a mere 10 meters from the Atlantic Ocean!
One of the things Amanda and I had discussed over our toddies was that we absolutely HAD to find some authentic, traditional Irish music! John assured us that especially on a Thursday night, we'd have no problem. He offered to show us around to ensure we found the truest, most authentic traditional Irish music in the land. I know, I know. STRANGER DANGER. Well, if you know me, that's not always applicable. Regardless of where you are or who you're with, sometimes you just connect with people! We took him up on his offer and headed back to Ye Olde Bakery to freshen up. 
Our gorgeous view walking back to the B&B.
We thought it was beautiful in the daylight, but the view of Kinsale at night reminded us of a world renowned piece of art!
Back in Geneva-land, we had a sweet lil British market run by Jim. He carried these tasty lil treats or something similar, but for quite a fortune compared to what I found them for at the markets in Ireland -- I stocked up and, naturally, cherished every bite.
John was true to his word and met us out on the town with his friend, Danny. Despite their efforts, we never did find true Irish music. We hopped from pub to pub and found plenty of live music (also a nice treat!) but, alas, this wasn't the night for the real thing. John and Danny gave us tips and tricks for the rest of our journey and introduced us to the local 'nightclub' (my first ever!). Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas now always bring memories of gorgeous people with perfect accents. Ahh... Ireland really can't get any more wonderful.
Our search for traditional Irish music ended up being a bit of a wash.... the covers were nice though!

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