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After a fun and unexpected evening on the islands off of Galway, I still felt awful for ditching my New Zealand host and leaving him with a story of the Chicago girl he had fun with but ditched him, but I had to focus on the good. I was getting a free ride to Cork, I met some more lovely people and played music for them, and we were making our way to a small town in County Clare, where I knew a guy who lived there whom I had met in Chicago that winter. The weather was rainy and gross and Jason had some plans of what he wanted to do and after asking my opinion and realizing that I really didn’t mind because I didn’t have any real plans, we made our way to Ennis. I had really good conversation with Jason, and after a short time together he commented that our lives could probably not be much more different. He was travelling for work, a company he’d been with for 15 years, had a wife and kids at home in Philly, and here I was travelling on my own and just going with the flow for the most part. He couldn’t imagine living such an unstructured style of life as I am currently living. I wonder if someday I will be that settled.
We both were hungover so instead of doing his planned activities we just went to the town were he had planned to stay that night. He said the B&B where he was staying wouldn’t be too expensive for me to stay at also, but I found a hostel in town, the only one, and made my way there and we intended to meet for a drink later. It was a really lovely huge hostel, really friendly, and I immediately met an awesome girl staying in the bunk below mine. She used to live and work in the town, went to university in Ireland, and was originally from New York. We had some really good chats and she told me all about how she had just finished studying Adventure Therapy and was looking for work in the States. It was so nice to meet her! I took it easy for the afternoon and chilled in the hostel and the cafe until the sun came out and I wandered around this adorable small town and got some groceries. They had an Aldi there which I was excited to see, haha. Also, I caught the end of a local soccer game which was fun.
I had contacted the Irish guy I had met in Chicago and told him I was in his county and he offered to come into town for a drink at a bar close to the hostel, and Jason ended up at the same bar for dinner, so I went to meet both of them. It was fun actually and really nice to see Paidi and him and Jason ended up having a lot to talk about since they were both accountants! Paidi told us about how he was playing hurling now and living at home for a month or two after his work in the States and travelling for a bit. He had a game upcoming so he couldn’t stay out late, but it was a lovely evening and so nice to see a familiar face. It was so random that I ended up in this town, that was 20 minutes from where he lived, and actually where he had gone to high school. I wouldn’t have even come to this town if it weren’t for Jason offering me a ride. I couldn’t believe it had worked out so well.
After a good night’s sleep, I met Jason so we could make our way to Cork, but we stopped at a few spots to check out some sites. It turned out to be a beautiful day and we had a nice hike around the Kilkee cliffs and checked out the Burren National park. They were both really interesting and fun to see, and places I wouldn’t have gone if it weren’t for Jason. I really appreciated the ride and he seemed to really appreciate the company. We talked a lot about our families and our childhoods and music and it was surprisingly fun to spend the day with a stranger touring the Irish countryside in a car.
He dropped me off at a hostel in Cork and I checked into the old building before wandering around the city. I thought it was a really cute place, set up nicely around the river with a city center of shops and pubs, a lot of good colors, and set within a hill so the surrounding buildings and homes are visible. I found a Wetherspoon and had a beer there, because I had learned from Karen that those bars are known for being converted from historic buildings, and this one was once a linen factory. It was also in the Rory Gallagher place, which had meaning for my dad. I went back to the hostel and talked to my girl from home while I ate my dinner. The hostel was really big and had a good atmosphere and it would have been easy to meet people if I have been feeling more social. I wasn’t really up for it, though, and just wanted some good sleep. But it was fun to chat with the Irish boys in the morning who were also in my room. It turned into a lovely day and I wandered some more, checked out the Lough and the University College of Cork, and walked some parks along the river. I nabbed a coupon for a burger for 3 euros and had that before I waited for my bus to Dublin.
Getting into Dublin, I wandered around and marvelled at how big city it felt after my week in small towns. I treated myself to a nice dinner of mussels and goat cheese salad and everyone at the restaurant was really friendly. On my way downtown, I stopped at a bar because I heard karaoke, and stopped in to sing a song, everyone seemed to like my rendition of ‘Let’s hear it for the boy,’ but no one started to talking to me, I felt like I was crashing a party, so I wandered on. I went out in the Temple Bar district, where all the young people go, and there were a lot of Americans in for the Georgia Tech game, and I had some good conversation with a boy from Atlanta. There was good live music everywhere and I had some delicious Irish whiskey. I was looking forward to getting back to Belfast and seeing Karen again, though. It had been a long week. I was ready to get on over to Scotland.