Craic, prounced “crack” is the Irish term for fun. After a shop clerk looked at us and said “I hope you’re finding the crack,” we were a bit surprised. Does Ireland have a crack problem? Does everyone here do crack? She must have registered the shock on our faces and quickly clarified that she was refering to craic, and asking us if we were having fun. We had a pretty good time talking about all the craic we were having after that.
So, I’m sitting here in Fenit, Ireland reflecting on the past three weeks. How much we’ve seen, how much we’ve learned, and how much beer we have drank. I have a couple more days to tell you about first, and then we’ll get to the whole reflection thing.
After spending an amazing four days with Alice and Mike, we decided to spend two in Killarney. We had plans to stay in the house of a friend of Ashley’s dad, but still had a couple days before we could head down there. Killarney seemed to be a good in between, and we were happy to see yet another beautiful Irish city. We gave Alice and Mike big hugs, and headed over to Neptune’s Hostel, right in the center of town.
We got lucky; the hostel room we were staying in was very new, and we were so excited. As fun as it is to guess whether the hair on my pillow is mine or not, I was happy to be in a clean bed. They didn’t have wifi in the rooms which was a little annoying (first world probems), but we made it work. After getting our things situated, we headed out on the town.
The first pub we went to was quaint, not too full, and had a guy playing guitar and singing which was nice. We ordered two ciders and sat at an empty table near the back. We soon realized that we were surrounded by men who had t-shirts on that said “Half’s Stag Killarney 2015.” A bachelor party. It was funny to watch them all interact, and trying to guess which was the groom was harder than you would think. Two of them invited us over to their table for a drink, so we agreed. Why not?
The two men were hilarious. We asked them when they started drinking for the bachelor party and they responded, “Tuesday!” It was Friday. They went on to spend the next fifteen minutes or so telling us how beautiful we were, how we were welcome to enjoy their hotel rooms with them, etc. We thanked them for the drinks and left, laughing hysterically at how forward and hilarious they were. That is one thing I’ll tell you about the Irish men we have met: they are very forward! Now to all my Irish male fans out there reading this (I’m sure there are many), don’t get offended. The guys we have met have been very nice, they just need to work on their delivery.
Anyway, we left that pub to venture to another, but were stopped on the street by a man asking if we knew how to speak German. We told him we didn’t, and he informed us that he was taking a group of German tourists around, but was having some communication issues. We appologized and began to walk onward. As we walked away he yelled, “have fun tonight! But don’t get too cray-cray!” The people you meet.
The next pub we entered was fun because the band playing had a funky bluegrassy style, something we hadn’t heard yet in Europe. It was fun to watch them, and to meet more people from all over. Killarney seemed to be a little less touristy for outsiders, but more touristy for Irish people from other areas. We met people from Dublin, Clare, and more. No matter where we have gone in Ireland, people have been genuinely curious to know more about us; where we’re from, what we do, and what brought us here. It has been so much fun to meet other travelers, to meet locals, and to get a taste for Irish culture.
The next morning we explored downtown Killarney (we were not pleased when we saw that Tk Maxx was closed), and grabbed breakfast from a little cafe down the street from the hostel called Cathleen’s Country Kitchen. We had the usual fried eggs and rashers. Rashers are pieces of Irish bacon, which is thicker and cut differently than American bacon. We walked around, went into a couple shops, and then went back to the hostel for a nap.
Feeling refreshed post-nap, we decided on Indian food for dinner (it was a long nap), and headed over to Bombay Palace on College Street in downtown Killarney. To say this Indian food was what we wanted is an understatement. Let me start by saying that we are tough Indian food critics. Ashley and I both love it (it might even be my favorite food), and we have already experienced a few different places on our trip. None of these places have been able to beat our local Indian restaurant at home, so we had very high hopes for Bombay Palace. We both ordered chicken tikka masala, basmati rice, and coriander garlic naan to share.
The food came out steaming hot, and I knew right away it was going to be delicious. The naan was hot and buttery, with plenty of herbs scattered across the top. The masala sauce was a bright red, and smelled sweeter than I was used to, but in a great way. Biting into the chicken, I looked at Ashley and said, “I have to figure out how they made this.” It was probably the best chicken I’ve ever had. So soft, so moist, and it just fell apart as you sunk your fork in. We ate until we couldn’t eat another bite, then ate a little bit more.
Honestly, the thought of drinking on that full of a stomach was not happening for me, so we called it a night pretty early after venturing around Killarney a bit more. We were being picked up early the next morning by John, the brother of the man we were borrowing the house in Fenit from.
Fenit is absolutely beautiful. A little bare, but beautiful. We stopped at a tiny grocery store on the way to the house and picked up a few necessities for our four days of relaxation (bananas, yogurt, milk, eggs, a chicken for roasting, the usual.). I know we both were thrilled to be able to cook our own food and to have a couch to sit on!! It really is the little things.
The house was everything we had hoped for and more. The view was stunning, with big picture windows overlooking a pasture of cows with the sea and mountains just beyond. We got very lucky.
We spent our first day exploring the house, the town, and walking along the beach. Fenit, which means “the wild place,” boasts a rocky shoreline leading out to a pier filled with fisherman and their children. We walked the stretch of the beach, mist coming off the water and a few dogs stopping to say hi to us on their daily walk. Coming from a town on the water, a beach is a beach to us, but what made this beach so beautiful was the cascading mountains on the other shore, towering over the water and coming in and out of view depending on the cloud cover. It was amazing to watch the weather change and the huge hills in the distance disappear. Walking out on to the pier, we traveled forward stepping over fish heads and avoiding the occasional hook being cast off by an unobservant fisherman.
At the end of the pier stands an omage to St. Brendan the Navigator, who watches over Fenit and all who leave it on a voyage to sea. We climbed the stairs to the monument, and the view was spectacular.
We were hungry and ready to cook by the time we got back. For only shopping at convenience stores and a mini grocery, we were able to do pretty well. For dinner we made a whole roast chicken, with roast potatoes, carrots, celery, and garlic. It was exactly the meal we needed.
We spent the next day vegging out, laying around watching netflix and Irish soap operas, reading, and writing. You may be thinking that all we did was walk, lay around, and eat, and you would be correct. But don’t say we didn’t make any friends; once Ashley gave this kitty a treat, she wanted to hang out with us all the time!
Remember, we are ballin on a budget here, so for dinner the next night we put that left over chicken to good use and made chicken noodle soup. Ashley being the pioneer woman that she is, even boiled the chicken body to make a stock. It was the perfect thing to warm us up on our first day of real Irish rain. Did I forget to mention that there isn’t much to do here? Well, to keep ourselves busy we walked to the only store in town and bought two ice cream cakes, both of which were gone by the time we left (3 days). Thankfully, we walk a lot.
Reflections on Ireland:
- Dublin is beautiful, but very touristy. We weren’t here long enough to get the full experience, but my favorites were the smaller cities.
- Galway is the bomb. People are so friendly, there is a lot to do both in and out of the city, and there are lots of food choices.
- Cork is really cute, but people from the area will always ask you, “what are you doing in Cork?” We got to explore a lot here, and I definitely recomend seeing the old part of the city as well as the gaol and all the local breweries. Don’t forget to follow the music too, the best music was in the smaller pubs, where musicians came in and out of the jam session.
- Charleville: Even if it’s not Charleville you visit, there is nothing like staying in a small town and getting a sense of what true Irish life is like. I think the biggest thing I will take away from Ireland is the unbelievable hospitality and kindness we experienced being taken in by Alice and Mike, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be shown the sights by anyone else. Cities are great, tourist attractions are fun, but truly experiencing another country’s culture is what it’s all about.
- Attractions I loved: The Cliffs of Moher, The Aran Islands, Cork City Gaol, Blarney Castle and house, Cobh, Bunratty Castle and Folk Village (there are many smaller ones as well, but you’ll have to come over here and explore to find them yourself!)
Coming up next:
Next, we’re on to Italy! Were flying into Milan shortly and the Italian adventure begins from there! Ciao!
P.S. For Emma and any of my other gluten intolerant friends out there, I found gluten free jaffa cakes!!