Spontaneous overnight in the harbor town of Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland Sept 19 – 20, 2015.
Advice to future travelers, make the most of every weekend/days off you have! September is practically over and gone and I know I wish I could’ve filled a couple more of my weekends with exciting trips, local or far. Granted, a few rest days are necessary every once in a while. Two weeks ago, my travel buddies (Megan & Kate) and I were discussing the absence of field trips in our lives ever since our Early Start Archaeology Program had ended. We were determined to do something with our lack of weekend plans. And so a trip to the town of Kinsale was planned!
Kinsale is a harbor town located 17 miles (27km) south of Cork City. The roads are lined with colorful buildings filled with unique boutiques, bookshops, cafes, and restaurants. We hopped on a Saturday morning bus and were greeted with a chilly breeze off the water. The bus drop off was conveniently located next to the tourist information office filled with all the pamphlets you could ever hope for about all things Ireland (I grabbed a handful). Dempsey’s Hostel was about an 8-10 minute walk outside of the main shopping scene and basically one of two hostels in all of Kinsale, so we were pretty darn lucky to book beds at the last minute. We ended up with a 5 bed room for the 3 of us when we were expecting a shared mixed room so great surprise there! (The mattresses were definitely better than the ones in our respective accommodations.) Granted, there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs in the Kinsale area, but hostels are ideally priced for students and backpackers. After a rest break and dropping off our backpacks, we headed on out to Charles Fort!
Side note: I do not recommend walking to Charles Fort. If you’re up for a nice hike and want to stop for the scenic bay views, go right ahead! Find a taxi, hitchhike, whatever you need to do, the giant hills are killer.
Our trek took a surprisingly short 30-40 minutes on foot (it felt like we had been walking forever), but it was well worth the struggle. Thankfully, Charles Fort has a quaint tearoom on site where we took the time to sip tea and eat pastries and just relax. We even gained the affection of a crow that I named Carl, he decided to sit with us. After our relaxing tea break, we strolled around the grounds of the old fort. Built right on a cliff of the harbor, the fort provided amazing views. Saturday turned out to be an absolutely GORGEOUS day with the sun shining making the water and our eyes sparkle. Between my two friends, the historic buildings, and calm waters, this excursion was exactly what I needed.
On our way back into town, we stopped for lunch at Bulman’s pub, recommended to us by the guy at our hostel. The pub boasted various “best pub” awards on its walls and tables. The quaint traditional pub filled with more people as time got closer to the start of Ireland’s first World Cup Rugby game of the tournament. We ate and watched the game for a while (still confused on the exact rules of the sport) before heading back into town to check out some shops.
I’ve heard The Spaniard bar and restaurant is also recommended and closer to the center of town.
We spent the rest of the rare sunny day wandering around peeking in little boutiques inside colorful buildings. We also made an obvious stop at the Kinsale Chocolates shop for a tastes of some chocolate truffles. Megan happened upon a small world story by talking to a lady running a unique shop who had lived near Seattle for a while before moving back to Ireland. More relaxing was done sitting on a bench in the park across from the harbor with Kate saving our heads from the occasional flying soccer ball kicked astray by a group of teenage boys. There was also this little boy on a bike with no pedals just using his feet in a running motion to move the bike. It sounds strange but it was the cutest thing and he did not care if someone got in his way, they were in charge of moving. He just biked/ran along with a huge smile on his face.
Dinner was at Fishy Fishy! Originally, I thought this would be some sort of casual bistro but I was VERY WRONG. Fishy Fishy is a NICE restaurant which we were definitely under-dressed. However, they let us in and we splurged on a fancy dinner (consisting of the cheapest filling item we could find and a glass of rose). I felt adventurous and ordered the brandy lobster bisque never having lobster or brandy before. It was delicious and creamy but also HUGE. I may have been able to finish it had my Caesar salad not existed but I think I did the dish justice. Stuffed and happy (never minding the dent in our wallets) we headed back to our hostel.
Sunday we had planned on taking one of the harbor cruises advertised at the tourist office, however it was fairly gloomy and rainy. Instead, we found a cafe for a nice hot breakfast, hot chocolate at Kinsale Chocolates and grabbed an earlier bus home to Cork City. Thus concluded our getaway to Kinsale!