My last round of Ireland on Instagram. I swear I am getting around to the bigger, nicer pictures. You just have to have patience, my darlings. Travelling is all about the little moments between the big happenings that a big camera is toted out for. This series is for all of those special little moments in between the bigger ones during my latest stint in Ireland.
Dining Al Fresco
I am dining on the top floor outdoor patio at Electric, having brunch with some friends I’d made. Electric is one of the few places in Cork that offers not just brunch on Sundays but an impressive outdoor seating. Temperamental weather makes dining al fresco a bit of an anomaly as well as a treat in Ireland. I have two more Instagram shots of similar views but this shot is my favorite (minus the unknown woman I accidentally caught in the shot). I don’t pay too much attention to churches (perhaps because I paid very little attention when I attended them) but they set the backdrop in Ireland and on this day, my absolutely last full day in Ireland altogether, just hours away from heading out to Shannon Airport, there really is no other view I’d rather have.
Soaking in my Vitamin D
This was a very momentous hour or so on that last Saturday in Cork. The clouds parted, the sun came out and shined very bright and true. Like a true child of California sun, I stripped to my sun dress, donned my sunnies, and plunked down on a chair on my host brothers’ balcony to enjoy some much-needed warmth. My errands may have been pushed back a bit, but my God it was good to feel the sun on my skin.
I found the Saturday Market that Stef and I fell in love with, hell bent on purchasing chicken and mushroom pasties from the same vendor as we did two years ago. Though she was there, her kitchen had been shut down because it did not meet proper business standards for cooking and baking. She is in the process of renovating a new bakery on Castle Street, though, and has heard enough lovely words about her savory pasty’s to consider bringing them back. I am hoping her bakery will be in full-swing by the time I return to Cork next. In consolation, I purchased this lemon tart from another vendor and took it home to enjoy as my second breakfast.
Shopping on St. Patrick Street
St. Patrick Street is the main thoroughfare of Cork City Centre and how I navigate myself through the city, which had me a bit turned around in 2010. All right; “a bit” is quite the understatement. I had Steffie walk me to a few places two years prior, I was that discombobulated. I’m more than a little proud to say that this time around I found my bearings fairly quickly and more often than not, only needed reminders where I would find such-and-such street. I shopped somewhat less than last time, carefully budgeting my money throughout my trip, but had the foresight to leave room in my suitcase for new apparel; something I did not plan for at all last time. Dunnes was particularly good to both Stef and I in 2010 as we purchased items that still remain in our regular rotation. This year’s selection, however, left me wanting. Like Target, it is a hit or miss store, but a decently affordable one at that. I just learned the hard way to avoid it on Saturdays when the whole city is riddled with suburbanite teenage punks.
This was taken after a very long day doing the one big, shameless touristy activity: a tour of The Ring of Kerry. It was an exhausting day because I had to leave Carrigaline around 6:30am. It was the first time I was up, ready and out the door before anyone else. The bus I caught was not to far from Naomi’s home, and in fact, it quite parallels my own straight-forward walk to a bus stop I frequent here at home. I can tell you precisely what I was thinking in this picture, too: I was thanking my lucky stars that the tour rolled into Cork early enough for me to catch the 19:30 bus (7:00pm) so I did not have to wait a full hour before the next. Choosing not to drive here in Los Angeles is certainly not an easy way of life, but it makes maneuvering through foreign cities on public transit a familiar and relatively easy task that I think would befuddle people who have otherwise never partaken in public transit.
On American soil
Truthfully this was not taken in Ireland, but in New York City. I was back on American soil and so incredibly sad to be there. However, it’s exhausting to be an American overseas; I find it to be somewhat of a handicap even. Hailing from a loud, sometimes obnoxiously so, physical imposing country that proclaims itself to be “the greatest country on Earth” is quite the burden because of all of the preconceived notions people have of USA and its citizens, whether they’ve traveled here or not. It is always my goal to be the best representative of America that I can be when I travel; that when people I meet reflect on me they have a better opinion of Americans as a whole. I may not always succeed – after all, I am only human – but I will always strive to put my best foot forward.
While I have no illusions (delusions is more like it), I do like America and I think it is more often than not misunderstood, with many of its charms overlooked, even by natives. I was a busker standing on an apple crate, giving declarations of the not oft visited beauty in places like Montana, Maine, and western Washington. I found myself repeatedly defending Los Angeles, ensuring critics that its weather was not its singular positive quality.
We are a deeply flawed country, but we are a fiercely loyal and passionate lot. We may have a questionable habit of speaking in the hyperbolic – everything is awesome! – because everything is awesome. I think if we channeled all of that enthusiasm for the awesome into bettering our country and building stronger, altruistic friendships with our friends outside the stars and stripes we might surprise ourselves on how truly great we can be.