Cork: July 5 & 6

Our brief encounter with Cork was engaging. After the three hour train ride from Dublin, we were whisked up to our hotel by a cabbie whose English was pretty unintelligible-okay, let the adventure begin!Our hotel, on a hill, a former hospice for Protestants, was a tarted-up Victorian brick building. Great views, and a healthy walk down to the river Lee and some gritty but happening streets. Here we found out where to go for good music. The center of town has been spiffed up to accommodate global shopping: wide, clean-cobbled promenades fronted by glassy shops, selling unappealing fashions. The English Market is quaint and bustling, with lots of fresh produce, eggs, poultry and meat, and cases full of cheeses. It all looks great, but it turns out that lots of it comes from other EU countries. This makes for a nascent food scene, still struggling to find its way. More later on diet and food portions.

The rain took a break for a day, to everyone’s delight. After a pretty good lunch at Farmgate Cafe, we wandered around the streets, hitting the Crawford Art Gallery and the Cork Butter Museum. The former was modest and comfortable, the latter providing a fascinating window into how a rural, decentralized cottage industry fueled a world-wide commerce during the 18th & 19th centuries. More exploring up and down hills, back to the room for tea and a little Wimbledon, and then off to hear music in the pubs. Two terrific jam sessions in crowded surroundings, with only a pint of Guinness and peanuts for dinner. Note: Irish Guinness is dark and smooth, with a very creamy head.

Another walk in the twilight (10pm or so), and to bed. Tomorrow: Driving!

Flickr photos here