After sleeping for about four hours, I woke up around 10:30 a.m. Since our time was running out in Cork, I decided to take a walk. Being that it was so soon after we all retired from a night and morning of celebrating a wedding, nobody else was awake. This was the perfect setting for me—I was able to escape to be by myself. Amy’s father told me that there was a pretty neat park area behind the house where we were staying, so that was the direction that I headed. Given that it was New Years Day, the streets were relatively empty and things were generally quiet. After walking for about five minutes, I encountered a little old lady who was walking back from a local church. Apparently she did not realize that since it was a holiday, they were not having 10:30 mass, so she was on her return trip back to her home. She stopped me in the street and talked to me for about fifteen minutes. Normally I hate talking to people, but I entertained her because she seemed lonely and she just wanted to talk.
She asked me about where I was from and why I was in Ireland. Apparently I looked that out of place—walking around some random streets of Cork, with a camera around my neck—that there was no mistaking me for a local. I told her that I was from the United States (a rather strange sounding answer, I thought to myself, given that I had only been outside the U.S. twice in my life previously -- once to Canada for a couple of hours when I was pretty young and it didn’t take any hassle at all to cross the border and once to the Cayman Islands for a week for my honeymoon).
“Ooooooh. You are from the U.S. of A!” she recanted. “How do you like living there? I have a niece [maybe a nephew] who lives in the U.S. of A. That’s wonderful!” “And what do you do back in the U.S. of A.?” she inquired.
“I am a lawyer back in New York City,” I answered.
“Ooooooh. That’s wonderful! So you are a solicitor.”
“No, not really. I am an attorney. I do United States tax-related work.”
“Ooooooh. That’s wonderful! And what are you doing here in Ireland?”
“I came over for a wedding. It was last night.”
“Ooooooh. Where was the wedding?”
“At the chapel, across the street, at the College.”
“Ooooooh. That’s wonderful. Did you have a good time?”
“Yes, we had a lot of fun. We were at the wedding reception until about five in the morning. We had a good time. Everybody else is still sleeping, so I decided to go out for a walk this morning.”
“Ooooooh. How nice. And the reception was at the University?”
“No. The reception was held out at the Cork airport hotel. They apparently just built a very nice space out there.”
“Ooooooh. That’s wonderful.”
“And whose wedding was it?”
“It was the wedding of my wife’s cousin. She married a guy from the area.”
“Ooooooh. That’s exciting. He’s from Cork?”
“Well, I think he grew up in Carrigaline. Not too far away."
"I am from [some town in Ireland that I forgot before she even finished saying the name]. The groom. Ask him. It is a nice place.”
“Okay” I replied.
“Carrigaline, that’s a pretty area. Did you see that area?
“We took a little tour of some of the countryside the other day. We went to Kinsale. That was a nice area.”
“Yes. How nice. And your wife? Where is she?”
“She is still back at the house sleeping; we were up too late last night with the wedding.”
“Do you have children?”
“No, we don’t have any children yet.”
“Well I will pray for you to have many children.”
“Uh, okay, thank you.”
After a few seconds of awkward silence, I tried to free myself from the lady’s grasp. “Do you mind if I take a picture of you, to remember you by?”
“I guess that I should continue on my walk. It is cold out here, so I better keep moving to try to warm up” I said.
Then the old lady mumbled something to me. She probably wasn’t so much mumbling, as it was the fact that I have poor hearing. I asked her to repeat herself twice before I finally realized what she was asking. “Do you have a card?” she repeated. (I initially thought that she asked whether I had any money to give her.)
“I’m sorry, I do not have a card on me” I replied. Since I was on vacation (and since I never carry them anywhere) I did not have a business card on my person.
“It was very nice talking to you” I told the lady as I started to turn and walk away. “Enjoy your holiday,” I said.
“You are lovely. Take care. I will pray for you,” she said as I walked away.
Then and there we parted ways. I am certain that I will never see her or talk to her again. Had I had a business card with me, maybe the old lady and I could have become pen pals.
I continued with my walk. I stopped by an old bridge with a nice scene of small houses along a river. It seemed like a very nice peaceful, tranquil community. Walking up a hill, I encountered the church that the little old lady was probably coming back from. Along the right side of the road up the hill was a fort-like wall that lined the street, making the passageway seem even narrower than it was. When I got to the top of the hill, I was starting to get hungry since I hadn’t eaten in over fifteen hours. I stopped in a local market and bought a bottle of water and a Mars bar. Expecting the apparently retired, American version of the Mars bar (plain nougat, almonds, caramel and milk chocolate), I was hit in the face with what was effectively an American Milky Way, but even more gross. On my way back down the hill I had climbed, as I got closer to the town centre, I came across several vibrantly painted restaurants and pubs. One was bright blue and the other purple. It took most of my willpower to refrain from entering either or both of the places for a pint of Beamish.
I finally made it into the actual city of Cork, and walked around several of its winding, narrow, shop-lined streets. Bored with the prospect of returning to the house, I wandered around town. Since it was lunch time, I started looking for a place to eat. I was trying to find a good place to get a portion of fish and chips. I had it two nights previously, and it was excellent.
Unfortunately, my quest was extinguished, and I never found a place to grab a bite to eat. I was having a great time being alone and exploring the city and its surroundings on my own. I would have enjoyed exploring more and seeing more, but like all things, my journey came to an end. I was beckoned back to the house, so that I could drive some ladies to a place where they could do some repeat shopping. Being the only one who was allowed to drive the rental car, and because everybody else was too afraid to drive on the left side of the road, I was stuck being the chauffeur.
While my walk was cut short, I did have a wonderful journey that day. I look forward to exploring more places, both by myself and with my wife. I’m sure that I would have had just as an enjoyable time on my walk that day had it been our walk (Amy and me), with a possible exception or two. Had Amy been with me, she probably would have done most of the talking with the little old lady, and I would have zoned out and become restless, thinking about wasting time standing in the cold air on the sidewalk, only five minutes into our walk, talking to some stranger. Also, the walk probably would have been substantially shorter had Amy been with me. While I have been able to drag her with me sometimes on my wandering journeys to nowhere, she does not have the patience necessary to walk endlessly with no goal in sight and with nothing to entertain her. Back when we used to own a vehicle, I used to like to just get in the car and drive around endlessly, with no destination in mind, exploring roads and communities. Each time that I told Amy that that was my plan for a random Saturday or Sunday afternoon, she would get upset and not want to go along with me. Each time, she would get antsy as we drove around, me not telling her where we were going, either because I wanted to surprise her because I found somewhere cool to explore and I wanted her to see it and not hear about it first, or because—for the more likely reason—I had no idea where I was headed. I was just in the driver’s seat, making a turn whenever I felt like it or the name of the road intrigued me. Each time, however, she really enjoyed the experience, and was happier after we finally returned home from our exploration.
As a footnote, according to Google Earth, I estimate that I walked about 6.70 kilometers (4.25 miles) in all on that journey, seeing many new and exciting things.
(*Note from Amy: Apologies to Firefox users for the FUBAR formatting. It should look fine in IE now but it's still messed up in Firefox.)