Monday, 5 September 2016

Cork: 5 Days of Rediscovery

As my internship with Stint came to an end, the rest of my summer holiday began again! Immediately after my last day in the office, a trip to Cork awaited me!

Lorcan and I coincided our bus journeys to arrive at Patrick’s Quay, Cork around the same time which was handy. The Aircoach bus from Westmoreland Street in Dublin took me there in three hours which cost €23 return online. The seats were so comfy and there was hardly anyone on board on a Wednesday morning!

Lorcan and I booked an apartment with Stay Cork which was located just on the north side of the river. For a 5D/4N stay, we got a great view from the 4th floor with a fully equipped kitchen/living room combo with a sofa bed, one bathroom and a double bedroom for €400 in total for the both of us.
Even though the accommodation was slightly costly, we were able to save a significant amount of money with our meals as we ate most of our meals in the apartment (with a handy trip to Lidl, we only spent around €50 for pretty lavish breakfasts + lunch + dinners + snacks). We also got to have our privacy instead of getting a private room in a shared apartment.

As I planned the transport and accommodation for the Cork trip, Lorcan offered to research the things that we could do there! For once I did not need to plan everything myself!

We spent our time there wandering around the city, popping into the occasional quirky-looking store. Thankfully, both of us enjoyed browsing through random stores just window-shopping! Our eyes were drawn to all things such as book stores, stationery shops, clothing stores, shoes and more. 

One of my favourite places was the English Market – so much so, that we popped by twice. Markets (especially food ones) tend to peak my interest. There were meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruit and lots of local produce. I found a jar of dulce de leche (milk toffee spread) which I have heard so much about from my Brazilian housemate, Juliana that I got her one €4.50! 

There was also a stir-in Belgian block of chocolate attached to a wooden spoon going for €2.10 for a creamy mug of hot chocolate. Lorcan’s eyes looked slightly attracted to it so I decided to get it for him.

We wandered off to the Cathedral where a wedding happened to be on so we could not explore it from the inside but its surrounding grounds were lovely! We started to quiz each other on guessing the amount of statue elements there were within the carvings – number of arches, gargoyles, etc. 

As mentioned earlier, most of our meals were eaten in, but Lorcan took me out for a delicious dinner at CafĂ© Paradiso. With reservations made, both of us got a taxi to the top restaurant in Cork. Our waiter, Tadgh, was an absolute star with the level of service he gave us – very polite and enthusiastic at the same time.

We got two 2-course dinners but we got an appetizer, two mains, and a dessert with wine to share.

First up, we got the tortellini of cavolo nero and hegarty’s cheddar, green chilli sage butter, sungolds, grilled summer squash for the starter  

For the mains, we got feta & pistachio couscous cake, smoky greens, lemon chickpeas, coriander yoghurt, zhoug oil, date jam  

And the aubergine parcels of cavolo nero & knockalara sheep’s cheese, miso gravy, beluga lentils, walnut crumb, summer beans

To finish it all off, the dark chocolate mousse, raspberries, with candied hazelnuts sealed the deal.

The flavours of each dish was absolutely phenomenal and amazingly – everything was vegetarian! I would absolutely recommend my friends and family to check this place out as I myself would love to return to try out the other things on the menu.

After dinner we walked over to the Edison, a local cocktail bar which had pretty interior decoration with a groovy vibe filled with good tunes to bop to by the DJ. Cocktails there ranged from €8-12 and were very tasty and had decent amounts of alcohol within them. There were even board games for us to try out! We liked it so much that we even returned to the Edison for another night. There was even a cocktail served in a gun (something to try next time I guess?)

Cocktails that we tried were:-
·         Sage Advice – Teeling small batch whisky, strawberry shrub, sage, egg white, bitters (my favourite)
·         Dollicious – Baileys, Kahlua, Malibu and cream
·         Long Island Iced Tea – Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Rum, Cointreau and coke
·         Strawberry Margherita – Tequila, Cointreau, strawberries, lime and gomme,
·         Zombie – can't remember what went in this haha

Hilariously, one of the evenings we thought it would be nice to go on a stroll to Cork Lough (lake) - not this photo though. It was getting dark so we took a bus there. Weirdly enough, we showed the bus driver our Leap cards, the bus driver just told us to sit down and didn’t charge us for it, even when we brought it up again as we were leaving the bus. The moment we left the bus though, we started to regret it. The place was the definition of dodgy – dark and deserted. 

We didn’t think much of it but as soon as we heard someone smashing a glass bottle nearby and we were surrounded by bats (yes, bats, I’m not even kidding), we power-walked back and got the next bus back (and got another free journey as it was the same bus driver – I really don’t know why). In the moment it was terrifying but it seems pretty hilarious right now (especially the part with the bats).

Moving on….

On one of the good days, we wandered into the University of Cork campus! The last time I was there was during its Open Day in 2012 when I was wondering if I should study there. The weather was wonderful so it truly brought out the green of the campus.

Not to forget, good weather in Ireland always turns into photo opportunities.

We also stopped by the free on-campus exhibition gallery which displayed art installations based upon a nomadic theme inspired by the artists’ experiences through life. Some things were slightly interactional – like the adorable hipster-like World maps that highlighted things to do in other countries.

As the weather was so lovely and warm, I craved for ice cream. Google wonderfully directed to us to a local gelato shop by the river on the South side which had gelato freshly made daily! 

Intriguingly there was a naturally BLUE gelato made from spiruli seaweed which apparently turns blue naturally when dried! Thus, blue gelato! The kids seemed to go crazy for it. I tried a taster and it was actually very delicious – totally recommend this gelato shop in Cork – it’s the real deal. 

He got his double scoop of strawberry and chocolate ribbon while I got my delicious hazelnut. 

Found ourselves a little place to chill out by the river and just soaked in the Irish sun.

On our last day, we had a meal at the Food Co-op market and got ourselves a beef quesadilla from Brendan’s Burritos and thosai with a selection of chutneys from the Indian stall. The chef manning the Indian stall was so sweet he decided to give us an extra thosai on the house! Was it because I said I normally ate thosai and was from Malaysia? I don’t know, but we got free food! 

The time spent in Cork was priceless. Great weather, delicious food, fun experiences, irreplaceable company, new memories. 

Cheesy but true

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