Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A taste of Ireland

All right, time for nostalgia then.

Exactly four months ago I left Belgium for the beautiful country of Ireland, and now that I am back I cannot resist the urge of sharing that life-changing experience with you guys… For those who haven’t spotted the hypocrisy let me rephrase this: I’m writing this blog entry because, well, it’s part of the job, but let’s pretend I’m doing it from beauty of heart, shall we?

So, Ireland…where to begin? At the beginning? Good idea:
AurĂ©lie, Bruno and myself decided to leave our home country together so as to shrug off the still vivid images of tear-shedding farewells we had just experienced. We decided to take the plane in Schiphol, following the advice of a fellow –ex-Erasmus– student whose name I will keep secret. The problem was that the Aerlingus plane we were supposed to take left Amsterdam at 9.30 am, which meant that we had to spend the night in the largest city of the Netherlands, lest we wouldn’t make it. So we booked a room in the well-known Stayokay inn, in Vondel Park, which brought back some delightful memories of the preceding year. We got up around 5-ish to take a bus that led us (on a bumpy road) to the airport, where we could board on this direct flight to Cork.

A few hours (and luggage taxes, but no spoiler) later, we finally arrived in the soon-to-be-missed town of Cork, or Corcaigh in the country’s first official language. That same language in which the first Irish person we met (a bus driver) spoke to us, or so we thought. We would soon realise that it had actually been English, but then a very peculiar variant of it. It would take a while to describe all the characteristics of it (this, for those who have time, might give you a good idea), so suffice it to say it was pretty tough to understand. Anyway, the very first thing we were worried about on arrival was to find our way to university, so as to make sure the administrative side of the trip was taken care of. This being done we parted (this story is full of these, you’ve been warned) to try and find our accommodation. And that’s where the real stuff began. I spent something like 4 hours (Brunonian measures) looking for it with a 20 kg suitcase in one hand and another 10kg bag in the other, walking along streets that had nothing to envy to Mount Everest. Eventually, after many a disappointing turn, I came to a lovely pink house on the corner of a street, where I was welcomed by a friendly-looking chap that went by the German name of Jens (took me some time to get it right). Jens told me everything there was to know about the house, that is: narrow kitchen, 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 4 housemates and 1 smoker, him, hoping to find another cigarette bud(dy) and therefore disappointed in me from the start. The three other tenants were all girls: 2 Germans (Christina und Franziska) and one Dutch (Maitta), which totalled the amount of Germans to 3 out of 5.

Mmh…I’m getting lost in details here, as usual…anyone still following? That’s what I thought. Ok, so to put it in a nutshell, my house did not live up to my expectations (no I won’t mention the price but it was a downright rip-off), my housemates were great for the most part and life in Cork was really enjoyable. On the few errands I had the chance to go I didn’t see as many sheep as I would have liked to, I did see as many red-haired as I would have liked to, and Beamish rules. There. Oh, I wish I could have mentioned the trips to Dublin, Bantry (with the Belgians), Limerick (with another, anonymous Belgian) and Galway (with the photography society), as well as the “non-trips”: Killarney, Ring of Kerry, Belfast and Northern Ireland… but space is short and I mustn’t overdo it. Just allow me a word about the Mardyke arena, the sports centre (not to be confused with the Mardyke bar, where one can play pool and bowling among others): grand!

All right, I’ll let the others go on with the Granary theatre (where we watched the play “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” performed by students); the mass we attended at The Shandon Bells, aka Saint Anne’s church (my favourite, God knows why); the photo society and Stephan; the orienteering club and the campus race, the badminton club and the unintelligible coach Colm, and so much more I can’t think of right now, but they surely will.

PS: also worth a glance: blog entries of Michael and Aurora, or older ones such as Flo and Aline
And thanks to Bruno for technical explanations.


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