I don’t know what it is about me, but I always get afraid when somethin’ good happens. Maybe it’s because of the past that I’ve been through, I’m not sure. But because yesterday was so good, I was just nervous about today goin’ to be rough!
I started out the day at 10:00 A.M. Pretty early if you ask me. But I needed to get several things taken care of! Not the least of which was packing...I have been in this house for the past three or four days (it all runs together), and I had sort of taken over the room I was in. So after a quick shower, grabbin’ my clothes from the dryer (I was able to wash clothes!)
Ooohhh...quick story about that. So a couple of days ago I decided to try out the washing machine. It’s a bit different than back home (a front-loader), but it wasn’t too bad. I added detergent, threw my clothes in there, and then pushed some buttons. The clothes starting spinning, although the water never really filled up inside like back in the States. But I think it was supposed to be like that...haha...who knows, I may have dirty clothes again. But anyway, after that, I open up the door and transfer my clothes from the washer to the dryer, and they are soaked! As in dripping-wet soaked! I don’t think the spin cycle really did anything. Well, who cares, as that is what a dryer is for. So I push some other buttons, and the dryer turns on. About 45 minutes later, it turns off. I open up the door to get my clothes, and...
They are soaked. As in dripping-wet soaked. As in they just spun around in circles for fun. That’s it. No drying. Well, I figured that if they were that wet, then it may take another cycle to completely dry them. So another 45 minutes. And then I open up the door. And this time...
They are soaked!!! As in dripping-wet soaked! The only difference is that they are just a little bit more dizzy. Nothing else has changed! So I do what any guy in his right mind would do...I push some more buttons and go for Round 3. But it’s late...so I would have to wait until the next day...
Somewhere through the day, I open up the dryer door, and much to my surprise...
My clothes are soaked!!! As in dripping-wet soaked! Still!!! Well, by this time, I’m figurin’ I’m goin’ to have to set them out in the sun to dry or at least take them to the neighbor’s house, because we’ve got a big problem here. But, of course, before that, I figured I would ask one of the guys in the house...it turns out he is the only guy left in the house by now...the others have left. “Hey, how do you use your dryer? My clothes are still wet, and I can’t figure it out.”
“Oh, I don’t know, man. I never use that thing.”
Great. Just what I was lookin’ for. But he goes back to the room and inspects the unit. And by this time, it’s not even turning in. “Just kick it a couple of times,” he says. Umm, about that. And then he asks if I have drained the water.
“Have you drained the water out?” And with that, he bends down to the bottom of the dryer, pulls out this big container that holds water. It is not completely full, but that sure explained the light that had come on earlier (it had a picture of a water bucket!). Well, he puts the container back in, then tries the dryer. Nothing. So he says he doesn’t know and leaves.
But I need dry clothes! So I hit the dryer a few times, and wouldn’t ya know it, it starts right up. I let 45 minutes go by, and then I open up the door, and...
My clothes are only damp! Far from soaked! I reach down to the bottom, pull out the container, and water is at the top! So I dump the water in the toilet, put the container back in, start another cycle, and 45 minutes later, my clothes are DRY!!! Wow. It was seriously a two-day fiasco to get one load of dry clothes.
Who knew that a dryer actually took the water out and kept it?! Whatever happened to the days of, oh, you know, sending it out into the wind as vapor?! Silly Irish.
Well, anyway, I pack up, and head into town for the Post Office. I need to get rid of several things...I just packed too much. The backpack is very heavy, and I can get by with having a lot less. So I send home my running shoes, some clothes, my old duffle bag, and some weird cast that my doctor had made for me. It ended up costing me way more than I had anticipated, but I just needed the items gone. (That whole process was a fiasco, too, as the Post Office doesn’t supply boxes...go figure). So I had to go to a couple of shoe stores, then to an ATM because they only accept cash, blah, blah, blah. And I had to use this little tape dispenser to close these boxes, so my guess is that my shoes are probably lyin’ in the middle of an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean. Oh, well...
From there I head to the bus station. I’m off to Blarney today. As a good American citizen, I cannot come to Ireland and not go kiss the Blarney Stone. And it turns out I’m only about 10 miles away. So I buy a return-trip bus ticket, then head to Blarney.
It’s a 25-minute trip, and we come into town. It’s a nice little town...very touristy...imagine that. What part of Ireland isn’t touristy?! And I start headin’ for the castle...
It costs 8 Euro to get in. I’m not thrilled about it, but I’m not goin’ to miss an opportunity like this, so I pay the bill. The walk towards the castle is a bit exciting...I didn’t know what I was there to see (that’s the beauty of not having seen the stone or the castle even in pictures before), so I was just waitin’ for the best! And in the distance, you can see the top of the castle. And I’m not goin’ to lie...it’s a pretty sweet castle! The town has probably spent millions on the landscaping all throughout, so there are trees blockin’ the view for the longest time. But as you approach the castle, its majesty becomes bigger and bigger!
I took several pictures, then went inside the castle. I don’t remember when the castle was built, but it’s been around for a veeeery long time. And it’s in great condition! Of course, much of it is missing, but it’s still neat to walk through! Several of the floors are long gone, so you can actually look up two or three floors at a time, but with a good imagination, you can picture what it used to look like. There are bedrooms, a kitchen, a place for throwin’ tar on people if they broke in, a huge banquet room, and several smaller side-rooms. Most of the plaques throughout the castle are purely speculation (dare I say blarney?!), but again, it’s neat to imagine what it would have been like in its prime.
You can walk into all of the rooms, go to the windows (which are very tiny) and pretty much do whatever you want to. But the Blarney Stone is on top. So I started that way. And to get to the top, you have to take these VERY tight spiraled steps. I mean very tight. And I have a huge backpack on my back and a small backpack on my front! There were a couple of times where I had to squeeze into some rooms!
There is a rope provided to assist with climbing the stairs (they are steep, too!). Let me just put it this way...this tourist attraction would never fly in America because of all of the dangers and lawsuits that could happen. In all seriousness, you would only be able to take a picture from the outside. But here I am walking on the very steps that were used by kings and knights! It’s quite fun!
I eventually make it to the top, and I still don’t have a clue what the Blarney Stone is. This entire time I had thought that it was...well, a stone in some town. I had talked with people back in the States, and they had mentioned how the locals had peed on it during the night, so that when tourists kiss it, well, yeah....And the guys that I had just stayed with had mentioned the same thing...that they themselves had decimated the stone. So I picture this stone in the middle of a town square that the locals pee on in the middle of the night.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I get in line to kiss the stone (why not?!), and as I get closer, I see the people laying down, then shimmying back and kissing the wall. Hmm...very interesting. There is a man there to hold you from falling back (off of the castle wall?) and another man taking pictures.
A person every few seconds. They are seriously herding us through like cattle. I can only imagine what the pictures would cost, so I have the guy behind me take a picture with my camera.
As I get up there, I am told to lay on a mat, lean back, grab two poles to hold myself, tilt my head back, and kiss the Blarney Stone. I do. In all, it took maybe six seconds. “Well, that was that!”
I’m not goin’ to lie, it was very anti-climactic, but, hey, I have kissed the Blarney Stone. I guess Discovery Channel named it one of the 99 Things To Do Before You Die. My list has a checkmark now. Sweet action.
From there, I go to the beautiful gardens they have (an amazing trip through nature), and then I get back on the bus, but not before talking to a guy at the bus stop. He more than encourages me on my trip, wishes me the best, gives me his business card in case I ever need anything, and tells me to hit up Eastern Europe (most come over to the west!). He also says that Australia is a must-see, no excuses offered. We talk for about 20 minutes. I walked away feeling like I had made one of the best decisions of my life in goin’ on this trip!
I take the bus back to Cork, buy a ticket for Limerick, then get back on the bus. I have a flight to catch tomorrow...I meet a fellow traveler from Canada, and we sit next to each other on the bus. We talk for a good couple of hours...she is on her last leg...she has been travelin’ for 2 ½ months...11 countries, and she is within days of goin’ home. She couldn’t pass up Ireland, though, so she came over...a night in Galway, maybe one more in England, then off to school in Canada. We shared where we’ve been, what we like, what we don’t like, the pluses and minuses of travelin’ alone (she’s been soloin’ the entire time!), and just talk. She was tired from travelin’, and I imagine after three months, I’ll be there, too. But she didn’t have any regrets. But now she was happy to go home to see her brother and pregnant sister! I had a great time with her...
Well, the bus rolls into town in Limerick. And I’ve seen much of Ireland by this point...but Limerick just struck me as different. The town was dirty (all the other cities were clean as a whistle), the entrance to town was met with garbage and run-down houses...needless to say, I wasn’t gettin’ a good vibe from the city. I didn’t have a clue where I was stayin’ that night, so I was bankin’ on the worse!
I hop off the bus, then immediately start askin’ for a couch. It’s about 6:00 P.M. I head to one neighborhood, ask if it’s good, am told not at all, so I go the opposite direction! Several people tell me I don’t want to stay in a certain part of the city.
I head into the city center...much of the city has already died down. It’s not like Cork or Dublin...it shuts down pretty early here. But I still ask people...bus stations would have locals. “Nope, sorry.” “I live 45 miles away...” “Nope, I don’t know of anyone.”
I meet a few who would house me, but they are out of town. One is from Paris. He says he will give me his contact info for when I’m there, though. I pull out a notebook I had been given, and he freaks out. On the front is a verse from the Bible...
“Oh, no, man, you’re not one of those religious people, are you?! YOU ARE!!!”
And with that, he hands the notebook back to me with nothing written in it! Whoa, buddy. I assure him that I’m not some freak, and it takes a bit of convincing, but I think his other friends assure him, as well.
“Well, as long as you don’t be talking God stuff to me, man. No God talk, ok?”
haha...wow. I would sure like to know this guy’s story.
I leave there, walk up and down several streets, ask more people, meet a couple different people a couple of different times that don’t speak English, and then keep goin’.
I eventually come to a pub, see two guys, pass by it, then have second thoughts...so I turn around, walk down the alley, and ask ‘em...
“You guys wouldn’t have a couch I could stay on for the night, would you?”
“No, sorry, we have to move out tonight...well, wait...”
He whips out his cell phone, calls his landlord, asks for a day extension, then gives me the good news. “You have a couch (actually a bed!) tonight!”
They are two Polish guys...they are being kicked out of the house because of the students coming in. They had rented cheap student housing during the summer, but the University starts up soon, so they have to move out. And they don’t have a clue where they are going. So I think it was a welcome relief to them, as well!
We take a 15-minute bus ride, walk a bit, then arrive at the house. It’s nice...houses six people during the school year. And I am given a full-fledged room and bed!!! This worked out a lot better than anticipated!!!
We have a great time together...we talk over drinks, we watch a bit of Prison Break, then we head to their friend’s house so that I can use the internet. I am supposed to call a guy in Scotland. He had promised me a couch, but I needed to give him further details...and I haven’t been with the internet or phone for awhile!
We walk 15-20 minutes, then they tell me to walk in first! I walk in, yell “Maja!” (the girl’s name), and out comes this beautiful Polish girl! Ha! Not what I had expected there, either!
She gives me her laptop, I get the guy’s number and call. No answer. Bummer. I leave a message, then I start talkin’ with my newly-found Polish friends.
The phone rings. “It’s your guy!” Marcel says. I answer. It’s Tim from Scotland! He says he’s more than happy to host me...even for a few days! He says there is a key to his house outside the door, tells me where it is, and says he’ll be home late! Make myself comfortable!
Haha...these people are crazy! But he had a SWEET English accent, so it’s all good.
I write down directions, then hang up! I have my next few nights covered...in another country! This is more than good...this is how it all should work out! I’m stoked!
So from there, I start learnin’ Polish words and phrases...they tell me that I am surprisingly good. That’s always fun to hear! I make a few mistakes, say some funny things, I guess, but that’s learning a language for ya!
After a while, the cigarettes come out. Then the reefer comes out. Too bad, too! I know it’s legal, but it just seems like everyone does it! It’s frustrating! So I watch my two Polish guys and their friend (though not Maja!) light up.
Then we walk home. I take a quick picture with the Polish guys, then I’m off to bed. I have a new country to go find in six hours!
(Note: The Polish are everywhere! I guess out of the 4.5 people in Ireland, that 500,000 of them are Polish! Marcel was tellin’ me that he makes 9 Euro/hour at his job. If he were to take the exact same job back in his country, he would make 1.5 Euro/hour. I see why they move out of their country! So far in my two weeks, one entire week has been taken care of by the Polish! Thanks, Poland!)
2007-08-29 12:42:29 GMT