24. Cork, Ireland
(Actual Trip Date: October 14-15, 2010)
Ireland was one of those countries that I was skeptical about going to. I wasn’t interested. It was never really on my list to go. I had no clue what to do there, and I still wasn’t excited about it after reading some of the guidebooks on the country. The plane ticket was kind of expensive. But I think expecting nothing and just showing up made the experience so much better.
The first two days of being in Cork, Ireland blew me away. When they say Ireland is the land of green, they weren’t kidding. It was chilly up north and winter was languidly setting in, but all around me were rolling plains of the most emerald-colored grass I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. The texture looked so soft that I just wanted to jump out of the bus windows and lay in them all day watching the blue skies and clouds pass on by. If I could go anywhere in the world to lay in the grass and giggle and write and read and watch the night sky or play guess what the cloud shape is, it would be any grassy plain in Ireland.
The first sight I hit in Ireland was the Blarney Castle where three of my friends and I ventured upwards to kiss the stone while laughing at our awkward pictures in the aftermath. While I saw many natural sights in Ireland including the Poulnabrone, the Burren, Bunratty Castle, King Johns Castle, Limerick Treaty Stone, what takes the cherry is the Cliff of Moher.
Towering cliffs covered in rolling green and jutting off dangerously against the crashing blue waters reigned the edge of Ireland. Wind blew around ruffling our locks and casting a glowing chill over our skin covered in gloves and warm jackets. Breathing in the fresh air while looking over the edge and beyond at the vast amounts of Atlantic Ocean, I couldn’t help but feel like I was truly at the edge of the world. That there was nothing else across the great span of waters and if I was to sail or swim across them, I would drop off the edge or land in a completely different universe.
The cliffs truly test your ability to go against your fears of height. Venturing out onto a man-made path made by many past adventurous travelers (where really we weren’t supposed to be since we had to dive under the fence), I trotted along with another friend as we marveled at the sights ahead of us. Just one wrong step or a slip would send us over the edge into the jagged rocks. There was no fence to save our lives from a crash into the ocean forever. The walk was one of the most thrilling things I’ve done. Looking back, I couldn’t believe that I did it. I’m usually not one to take risks.
I really can’t even explain the beauty around me on the cliffs in words. Pictures don’t even give justice and since my camera died that morning, I’m using one of my friends’ pictures able to capture amazing color.
Fun fact: a scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie was, I believe, shot here. Can anyone guess which scene? Unless I’m completely wrong.
Oh, and I also recommend the Paddywagon Tours.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend over lunch that day as we sipped warm, delicious seafood soup and ate yummy pasta. All these breathtaking sights we are seeing around the world: they are beautiful and these cities are wonderful, but would you live out here? I say I prefer the country to the city, but do I mean that by sight-seeing or living arrangements? It’s kind of a hard question, but in the end, no, I wouldn’t choose to live out in these tranquil hills and cliffs of Ireland. Even though I would get all the peace and fresh air and beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the world, eventually I would crave company of some sort. In the future, I would want a family and to separate my children from others and good hospital care is selfish. These are places I would consider having a holiday home (ha, if I had the money in the future) – places where I can retreat to quietly to regain my mind or whip up a good story once a plot bunny has jumped into my brain.
But that’s just my point of view.