Saturday, November 13, 2010

Where Fisherman Go When They Don't Go To Hell

Roommates. WTF. We have a weird living situation anyway because we have very little contact with each other, somehow. Claudia and I have remarked upon this before, that it’s bizarre to live in an apartment full of people who don’t really try to be friends with each other. Friendly, but not friends. Or if not friends, then at least, I don’t know, aware of each other’s existence more than just in passing. I mean, obviously there is guilt for that on everyone’s part, but it’s still weird. But also, someone (or maybe a couple of someones) apparently doesn’t think it’s necessary to clean things like pans and oven racks after using them and that pieces of food too big to fit down the sink drain will magically disappear instead of sitting there being wet and disgusting. It bugs the hell out of me. I had intended to leave a polite-but-angry note about it before leaving for the weekend and forgot, and then the other day I discovered a note from Claudia to the same effect—on top of the roasting pan that had been sitting unwashed for days and that she had finally cleaned herself even though she’d never used it, let alone last. That made me really angry, because that’s not the first time she’s taken it upon herself to clean something that shouldn’t have been her responsibility, and I left a note next to hers that was considerably less polite than it would have been before this development, saying she’s clearly a better person than me and it’s ridiculous that people can’t clean up after themselves. I also pointed out that the other oven rack, which I’d just pulled out, was ALSO dirty and someone had better wash it.

As of last night, it was clean, both notes were in the trash… and the roasting pan was back in the oven and dirty again. If it’s still like that when I go in there to make lunch today, I may kill someone.

Onwards, then, to being almost caught up. After Killary, there followed several weekends over which I didn’t go far from Cork for various reasons. In hindsight, this may have been poor planning since those were the last of my three day weekends and the last weekends over which I could get away with pretending not to have essays hanging over me, and now the weather sucks to boot. But at least I had good weather for the short trips I went on…

The first was to Kinsale, a small town on the southern coast of County Cork, about thirty or forty minutes by bus from Cork City. Seemingly everyone around me had already ventured to Kinsale back in late summer, so I was behind the times, but I’d heard all about how adorable it is, and how good the fish and chips are, and how cool the 16th century fort is. The first and second facts are true. I may never about the third, because there are in fact two 16th century forts at Kinsale, outside either end of town, facing each other across the harbour. Charles Fort has been preserved or restored or both and is open as a tourist attraction, with exhibits and tours and a trolley shuttle from the center of town so you don’t have to walk the two kilometers or so to get to it. James Fort, roughly the same distance in the opposite direction, is accessible (on foot) but in ruins. I picked that one. I had a reason for doing so at the time that I’ve now forgotten. I was planning to go back another day and visit Charles Fort as well (I could have been able to do both in one day, but I’d gotten a late start and only had the afternoon to work with.), but as I’m running out of days and the weather is getting colder and wetter I’m no longer sure I’ll manage it.

Regardless, I absolutely do not regret that decision. It was a long walk, along the highway, and part of it was a little sketchy. The path up to the fort was more sketchy. The fort itself, on a hill overlooking the harbor, was EPIC. You can’t go into the main part of the fort, but you can walk all the way around it, and there are places where you can climb onto/through/over some of the outer walls, which are pretty much totally buried and grown over. There are also some other structures, including one that almost looks like the remains of a small church and what’s left of some kind of guard tower or something on a promontory right on the harbor (we’re talking windows right above the water and water on maybe five out of eight sides) with views in almost every direction. It was late afternoon on a bright, clear day, so the light was amazing and I took an absurd number of pictures.

I spent a lot more time at the fort than I’d expected it to merit and would have stayed longer if it hadn’t been getting close to sunset with a two kilometer walk back to town. There, I ate fish and chips in the park, and took a few dozen more pictures of the harbour and its assortment of fishing boats at sunset (because the colors were awesome) and then walked around for a bit before the bus back to Cork came. I would really like to find time to go back and explore a bit more.

That Monday, since I still didn’t have classes on Mondays yet, I carpe diem-ed and took another short bus trip to Youghal, another small coastal town, this time east of Cork City. Youghal’s biggest claim to tourism, other than beach and fishing boats, is its medieval ruins. It’s one of the few places in Ireland where a substantial part of the old city wall still survives, including an interesting clock tower that’s now in the middle of town straddling a main street. There are also several old churches, a tower house (which is interesting because these tend to be countryside phenomena; urban ones exist but are relatively unusual), and an assortment of other old buildings, many of which have been renovated over the centuries and are still in use. I think my favorite is the friary-turned-pizza-restaurant. There’s a well-marked historic walk around the town with information about a lot of the different things to see, and although it didn’t quite live up to my enthusiasm, it was still pretty cool. I don’t think I could ever get tired of being able to walk down a modern street and pick out medieval doorways or parts of medieval walls just hanging out alongside more recent additions to the same buildings. Everything changes; things never change—in some places, those phrases aren’t contradictory at all.

The only other significant adventure I can remember from October was the weekend after my explorations of Cork’s historic fishing villages, when I and four other girls got up on Saturday morning and went to Midleton, home of the Jameson Whiskey Distillery. I guess I don’t have anything in particular to say about that; I like history, I like drinking, and I like to do touristy things with fun people, so where could it have gone wrong? One could argue that before lunch is a bit early in the day to take a tour that ends with free alcohol, but hey. It’s not like we college kids were the only ones.

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