I’ve finally made it back home after 21 hours of traveling (what with the flying and landing and waiting and rinse and repeat. Fun stuff). What was interesting though is that, while waiting for my last flight from SFO to LAX, the Virgin America flight was actually oversold, and they were offering a $400 Virgin America voucher and meal voucher for any folks who volunteered to get bump to a later flight. I ultimately had to decide against it because I didn’t see any openings for myself to travel again within the next year (voucher expiration), and I was pretty tired and just wanted to go home already. So. The Asian in me hurt pretty badly at simply watching it slip away. Le sigh.
But. This entry isn’t about the coming home part. This is me coming back to the blog to try and finish up the last couple days in Ireland. I mentioned in my last post that I was heading back to Dublin from Galway, for the purposes of catching a tour bus out of Dublin to see some southern parts of Ireland. The stops listed for this tour included Cobh, Cork, & Blarney. Which were all fantastic little places to visit, but knowing what I do now, I wouldn’t want to take a tour out of Dublin to visit the south of Ireland. It was about 3+ hours each way just to get to the southern region, and then there was additional local travel time in the area. In total, we had 4 hours actual time on the ground, with 1 hr in Cobh, 1 hr in Cork, and 2 hrs in Blarney. And our driver for this tour was an older gent who’d been at this for 15 years he said (his name was Joe), and he clearly was giving off the dgaf, let’s get this over with vibe. He’d spit out some interesting tidbits and trivia about various things, but his delivery was really dry. (The tour I signed up with was with Paddywagon tours. And they run trips all throughout Ireland.)
Cobh. Is a small little town on the southern coast of Ireland, and is famous for being the last place the Titanic stopped at before heading across the Atlantic to meet her untimely appointment with the iceberg. Cobh was the last boarding point for a hundred some Irish who were fortunate (or unfortunate?) enough to get a ride on the ship.
Cobh also got itself on the map for being one of the closest large towns to respond and assist the RMS Lusitania, which for those who remember their history, was a passenger ship sunk by a German U-boat, and the direct consequences of this action helped spur the sleeping giant that was America into action in WWI. Interestingly enough, May 7, 2015, was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania, so I’d gotten into town just a couple days after they had a few remembrance events.
This is a tidbit of history I learned off our dry tour driver. Cobh (pronounced as “Cove) was actually named “Cove” when it was first settled. It’s name was then changed to Queenstown when Queen Victoria came for a visit in 1850. It’s name changed again after Ireland gained its independence to its current name Cobh, which is just the Gaelic spelling of Cove. So there you have it.
We also happened to pull into Cobh on the day they had a giant Cruise ship in town. It had just stopped off in Dublin (and made headlines because Dublin port had to do some special maneuvering to get her to dock. See video of folks getting splashed haha) and was here in Cobh for a day. She’s called the MSC Splendida, and according to wiki is tied for the 21st largest cruise ship in the world right now.
Right after Cobh, we headed over the town of Cork, which is like the main city in southern Ireland. It kinda seemed like a smaller Dublin, what with it’s river down the middle of town, similar street names, and just the whole vibe of it. We didn’t really have too much time to explore the place (again, 1 hr stop, boo!), but I did make sure to check out the English Market, which was famous because Queen Elizabeth stopped by on her visit to Ireland in back in 2011. The place kinda reminded me of a nicer, cleaner Hong Kong food/street market, as there was open live seafood, meats, and veggies for sale, in addition to cooked foods available for purchase/consumption and other products lined up by the stalls. But a cleaner place means… it just feels a lot nicer to be at. (Even though I do kinda feel at home in the danky HK markets haha).
And last by not least, we ended the day with 2 hours in the little town/village of Blarney, famous for it’s Blarney Castle and grounds, and more specifically, the Blarney stone. Legend has it, that a man who had a speech impediment was just absolutely terrified of speaking, like, at all. But he was a higher ranking man, kinda well off in the world, and had to dally about in the proper circles. So he found a witch who told him that, if he could kiss this particular stone, he’d be given the gift of eloquence. As a result, he was able to talk circles and stories when it came to his business dealings. It was even said that some of his debtors preferred when he couldn’t pay up, as they preferred his stories to his money. At least, that’s how the bus/tour driver told it to us. So nowadays, the story goes, “Kiss the stone, and you’ll be given the gift of gab for 7 years.” And the location is just about a foot below the highest point of the castle, so there’s railings and a guy holding you up so you don’t fall down as you kiss the stone. (There’s also a railing below you, but you have to lie down and kinda climb down, so it’s a big deal, ish.) They’ve also set up a lil photo set up: €10 for the 1st shot of you getting ready, and another €10 for the shot of you in action. Lol no thanks.
I didn’t have lunch until like 3 pm because of all the driving we did and quick stops we were allotted. I could/should’ve spent more time on the Blarney Castle and grounds, but I was starving and decided to kill my remaining hour w/ food and booze. No regrets there haha.