My second day in Ireland with Corky was supposed to be the day she ran the Cork City Marathon. Instead, a couple of weeks before the race her doctor advised her that a nagging foot injury would need some time off, so we just watched and cheered. A shame, because pre-race scouting suggested she had a chance to win some money.
The city of Cork straddles several islands in the River Lee, in a county of the same name within the Southwestern Irish province of Munster. Unofficially known as the “Rebel City” (and County Cork as the “Rebel County”), Cork is remembered for resisting Anglicization and a strong Irish nationalism. Locals half-jokingly refer to Cork as the “real capital,” owing to the repeated English occupation of Dublin while Cork, mostly, remained Irish.
The marathon course is mostly level, winding around the city and out to nearby Lough Mahon and Cork Harbor. It saves its few hills for the space between miles 18 and 22, but as we watched near the finish, the runners looked pretty fresh. The day was perfect, clear and cool, and I know Corky was disappointed to miss out.
Photo Shoot at University College Cork
Since we weren’t running, we opted instead for drinking, touring some of the city, and shooting photos on the campus of University College Cork, just across the street from our bed and breakfast.
Built in 1845, and now part of the Irish National University system, UCC is rated as one of the top colleges in Ireland, and among the best in Europe. Graduates include famous scientists, athletes, and actors–including Fiona Shaw, who played Harry Potter’s nasty aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter films, and Paulina Novacek, the villain of Undercover Blues, an underappreciated 1993 spy comedy with some outstanding performances.
For us, it was more important that the UCC grounds are beautiful, including that classical ivy-covered gothic architecture common among European universities. Being that it was both summer and a bank holiday, the campus was very quiet, and no one objected as we brought along some cans of stout and did our best to reinforce stereotypes.
Gallery: Corky takes University College Cork
Exploring Cork and Nearly Getting Kicked Out of a Gay Bar
From UCC, we headed north, past our B&B and across the River Lee again, following a little nature path along the far shore, then back again. We wanted to explore, but didn’t want to do too much walking, with Corky nursing her injured foot and me still recovering from an ankle break in February. We stopped by churches and pubs, chatting up some of the locals and taking in sights.
Of course, as tends to happen with a stout or two (or ten), we started feeling confident, and decided to check out Chambers, one of the local gay bars. We also thought it was a good idea to order a fishbowl full of vodka. It wasn’t long before Corky had stripped down to her sports bra and unbottoned her pants, prompting the bouncer to inform me–me, not her, please note–that if she didn’t button her pants again he’d have to ask us to leave. Even in a gay bar, the Irish are still a little repressed.
From there, I’m going to be honest… I don’t remember a lot more of Day Two. I know we walked back to our bed and breakfast, but I can’t exactly say I remember it. At one point during our trip to Ireland, I asked a local about drunk driving laws. He told me Ireland has zero tolerance for driving with any alcohol in the blood at all, and I asked how that was compatible with a nation where drinking was such a common passtime. Simple, he explained: You always drink near home, so you can leave your car and walk.
Gallery: Exploring Cork and Making Bad Choices
I have been away for quite a while. Sorry about that! Life has kept my attention pretty well occupied so far in 2016. The good news is I’ve rediscovered my interest in fitness (and in not permanently affixing my backside to the sofa) and shaken off about 40 pounds since the new year–nearly all of the unwelcome weight I put on in the three years preceding.
I’m back to running on a regular basis, and got my speed to the point where I’ve set a few personal records recently: A new 10K PR in Central Park (which is no small feat considering the hilly terrain) and a PR of nearly three minutes at the Broad Street Run earlier this month, which I’m especially proud of. I have other running-related announcements too, but I’m holding those for a day or two–unless you follow me on Instagram, in which case you already know.
More immediately, in one week I am loading a backpack and flying to Yosemite National Park, where I will spend three days and three nights on a solo hike through the backcountry, sleeping in a tent, bathing in ice-cold streams of fresh meltwater, and eating my food cold out of a bear canister.
More precisely, I am flying to Oakland, renting an SUV, and driving to Yosemite Valley, then hiking into the backcountry. I have planned out an ambitious route that will carry me over 30 miles in 3 days, taking me over or past the park’s most famous landmarks. I don’t plan to summit Half Dome–the cables will be down, and while I know some overachievers have made that climb, I’m a fan of being alive with bones intact–but I will pass over Clouds Rest, visit North Dome and Tenaya Lake, and (if all goes as planned) conclude my trip by descending Yosemite Falls. Continue Reading
I spent last week sailing around the Caribbean with Liz (and 3,000 other passengers), which is why it was so quiet around here. We shot a bunch of video, which I expect to translate into one or more video blog entries, but for now I thought I’d share a few highlights because editing video takes a long time, you guys.
- Sailing out of NYC, which meant we skipped airports altogether and took a subway and a cab to our ship. Forty minutes after we left our apartment, we were on the deck of the ship with drinks in hand. Cannot recommend this enough.
- Discovering the wonder that is the chipotle martini, my new favorite. It starts out tasting like pineapple, then turns minty, then finishes peppery. We got the recipe, and this will definitely be something I learn to mix.
- Talking with the bartenders and cruise staff about their home countries; learning about the history of Myanmar from Htun, who lived there through about a half dozen governments; when we asked him his favorite place from all his world travels, he said “home.” He’s been working on cruise ships for decades, but he’ll never afford to take his family on a vacation.
- Finding my perfect vacation hat in San Juan, eating my first (and yeah, probably last) mofongo, exploring Calle de San Sebastian after dark (but sadly before it got really lively) and finding a cockatoo that said “hola.”
- Accidentally breaking up a date-rape-in-progress by drunkenly stumbling into a waiter who spilled a drink all over the poor girl. Subsequently being barked at (literally) by the guyliner-wearing “rocker” who’d been running his game on the victim.
- Acquiring $500-$600 worth of hooch in Saint Thomas for around $220. Yes, we’re those people.
- Discovering that most of Guyliner’s band was aboard the ship, that they were all in full regalia (including heavy eye makeup) at all times, and that the lead man looked like the chubby son of Simon Le Bon and Mark Hoppus. Realizing they spent 90% of their time trying to date rape girls by the pool.
- Walking four miles along the main road in Grand Turk, while every cabbie on the island stopped to offer us a ride, and encountering wild horses, wild dogs, and wild cows. Meeting a guy who repairs ships for a living, and who explained between puffs on his joint how he lived in New York City for a single winter before running back to the Caribbean. “That place was meant for people with fur,” he explained.
- Snorkeling twenty feet off of Governor’s Beach in water so clear you could see twenty feet down, and encountering like, seriously, hundreds of kinds of fish you guys.
- Secretly replacing all the promo cards the band left around the ship with Coach Corky Runs flyers.
- Discovering the ship’s piano bar late in the trip, belting songs terribly, and becoming part of the piano bar tribe.
- Finding out from the piano bar folks that the Guyliner band members were there with their parents.
- Getting home half an hour after disembarking from the ship, because once again we didn’t have to go to the airport. Seriously, you guys, we didn’t have to go to the airport.
In the end I’d say Grand Turk was my favorite port. It’s tiny and underdeveloped and quiet, and in a lot of places you could almost believe you were alone on the entire island. I’d also say that date-rapey cover bands from Connecticut who think wearing eyeliner still makes musicians look cool are just the worst.