My spirits have improved since my last post and I apologize for my use of the word 'defeated' at that time, probably too dramatic. Deflated seems to be a more suitable term. Changing cities has really helped me rebound and I am confident that when Dublin and I meet again in a few days, I'll be plenty prepared for whatever it throws my direction. A quick recap is in order: as I mentioned, I have moved on from Dublin, traveling early yesterday via bus to Cork, Ireland's reluctant "second city." The four hour ride was for the most part quite peaceful, exhibiting some of the natural landscapes' beauty for which this country is famed. I'd imagine the experience would have been only that much better if there were not two polish men in the back screaming into their phones every few minutes of the trip, but wont go any further there as I promised a more positive message this time.
Cork is a vibrant city with a busy city centre set on an island created by a river which splits to the east of the city, and meets up again further to the west after what seems like little over a mile or two. Having arrived on a Saturday, it seemed that most of the city was out and about, walking along the busy shopping streets. Beyond the main avenues, many of the streets are dominated by pedestrians. Pubs abound, and two local beers battle for dominance - Murphy's and Beamish Stouts - and oddly enough compete with America's own Bud Light for supremacy in the region. Weird no? Even stranger, as I arrived at my hostel, a little more pressed for space then the one in Dublin, I was handed a 'buy one get one free' voucher for Coors light at the bar inside the hostel. I reluctantly accepted later on in the afternoon. This hostel was located to the north of the city, on a street also shared by the local polish population - same as Dublin. I remember hearing about polish plumbers storming the UK when the borders were opened but had never seen the result, functioning polish communities but a few years later, with polish supermarkets, and even a pizza place which I ate at for dinner last night, though it wasnt very good.
So, as I mentioned, my time spent in Cork has been therapeutic. This morning the sky opened to reveal its familiar, though recently absent, blue tone, and the sun continued to shine most of the day, though it did give way to some rain late afternoon. I ventured to blarney castle only a few km from the city center by bus, spending a few hours on the grounds of this famous castle, with its famous stone which, when kissed upside down, allegedly grants one the gift of eloquent speech. The weather could not have been better - no jacket, no sweatshirt, so if I was to have clear skies for but one morning, this would be the time to have it. I also made friends with an older girl from Niagara, Canada - maybe young 30s - also traveling alone, spending the next few hours with her, returning to the city, and visiting the Cork City Gaol. Yes, a Gaol, or Jail, that very same thing which had eluded me during my time in Dublin. Hence, serenity now. It was truly cathartic experience, and helped to cleanse the memories of my previous failure. The jail was ok to visit, nothing extraordinary, but interesting to see what life would is like living in such a setting. I was disappointed that most of those who had been incarcerated had committed only petty crimes, whereas the gaol in Dublin had revolutionary relevance. That said, this visit was not about what was inside anymore, finding it was enough.