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At The Market

By Hannah

sunny 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

We left our rustic abode in Kinvara at around 10:30 this morning. The plan was to stop in town just long enough to pick up some lunch items and motion sickness pills, and then start the three and a half hour drive to Dublin. However, we were surprised to find a tiny bustling market taking up one of the streets we passed while looking for a pharmacy. Several kiosks lined each side of the lane, selling jam and vegetables and live chickens. We decided that we wouldn't mind arriving in Dublin a little later than originally planned.

large_160_Kinvara_to_Dublin_004

large_160_Kinvara_to_Dublin_004

We wandered about, taking in the Irish banter and beautiful weather that had eluded us for so long. The sound of traditional Irish folk music filled the air, played by a pair of elderly and very enthusiastic musicians. Mom and I paused at a stall selling wool tweed hats and headbands in a variety of colours. I ended up falling in love with a purple toque, while Mom went with a pink and purple knitted headband that doubled as earmuffs. We continued on, turning to look at jewellery and pictures and eventually coming across a stand laden with sauces, chutneys, and jams. Mom promptly picked out a jar of mango chutney, her favourite condiment. The stall's attendant struck up a conversation with us, and we learned he was originally from Scotland, with family from Northern Ireland and England as well. He had moved here roughly twenty years ago, but still wasn't considered a local, which he preferred. Laughing, he told us that he could get away with more if he remained a "foreigner". However, he seemed to me to be the perfect embodiment of a friendly, jovial Irishman. The three of us departed with wave and a smile. A couple of other kiosks caught my eye, including a display of the most interesting puppets I'd ever seen. A collection of griffins, elves, and other mythical creatures composed of colourful fabric and skillful stitches stared back at me as I attempted to wish more space into my already full bags. Just before we left, Mom bought Abby an adorable little handcrafted Edward Scissorhands figurine, a character that Abby is rather fond of, and a loaf of homemade bread for our lunch later that day. Then we said goodbye to Kinvara for good.

We drove for about an hour and a half, during which time the "slight drowsiness" the antinauseant was supposed to cause put me into a coma. We stopped for a brief lunch in the sunshine, laying our picnic out on a couple of benches. Besides the good weather, the only unusual thing we came across in the greenspace was a trio of worn statues of children, all looking slightly unsettling with their crumbling faces. We dubbed them "Medusa's grandchildren". Then we packed up once more and completed our journey to Ireland's capital city, Dublin.

Dublin is expensive. Our new apartment costs twice as much as our last accommodation. However, it also seems to be about twice as large. Its white walls, modern style, and clean atmosphere all stand in stark contrast with the country cottage's ramshackle exterior, grubby interior, and rough wooden accents. We're back in an urban environment, and while it's still pricey, this spacious apartment doesn't end up costing much more than a hotel might.

New digs in Dublin

New digs in Dublin

Once we had familiarized ourselves with our new home, Mom, Dad, and Abby all went out to pick up some groceries for dinner. I was still drowsy due to the effects of the antinauseant, so they allowed me to pass out on the couch instead. For dinner I cooked a sort of bangers and mash, except the mash was colcannon and the bangers were wrapped in bacon and stuffed with onions and sage. We haven't eaten a meal that hearty since I don't know when.

We have a great view from the balcony of our apartment. Row upon row of houses with four chimneys apiece sit in front of us, set off by a massive sports stadium in the background. The sky has turned a dusky blue and bright orange street lamps are flickering on. I have a good feeling about this city.

Posted by KZFamily 13:28 Archived in Ireland Tagged market ireland dublin kinvara Comments (2)

Thatcher and the Rock

by Ben

all seasons in one day 13 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

The Burren near Kinvara

The Burren near Kinvara

The glorious weather of yesterday has transitioned into liquid sunshine overnight. It was not a great tragedy as we chose to sleep in and then spend the morning washing clothes. The laundry process involves stringing up a number of clotheslines in our suite-so imagine an old Chinese laundry.

It also happened to be the day of Margaret Thatcher's funeral which we watched live on the BBC. I am not sure what amount of media attention her death has received in North America, but it is a huge story here. The controversy her tenure as prime minister still elicits is significant. The Irish have a great deal to say about her as well and very little is positive. The Wizard of Oz song, "Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead," is frequently referenced. Fortunately, the funeral was a much more respectful affair and was made even more fascinating to watch by the fact that we had just visited Saint Paul's Cathedral a few weeks ago and also had seen some of uniformed regiments from the funeral on parade at Buckingham Palace.

The Burren near Kinvara

The Burren near Kinvara

With most of the laundry done, Muriel and I were itching to get out for a walk; rain or shine. The nice thing about Irish weather is if you wait a few minutes the weather you wanted will make an appearance, if only briefly. Kinvara is located on the edge of the The Burren (from the Irish: Boireann, meaning "great rock") which is geologically known as a karst landscape. Karst is where parts of bedrock are dissolved by water causing all sorts of cracking, fracturing and cratering. In parts of Ireland, this dissolving process has created huge underwater rivers and caves. In the case of The Burren, the landscape looks like an even scattering of flat boulders that covers dozens of square kilometers of rolling hills and very low mountains. Throughout The Burren, farmers have over the centuries moved tonnes of this rock to create grazing land for sheep and cows and then piled the rock into fencelines that can extend for kilometers and traverse an entire mountain. It makes for a surreal and ancient looking landscape. We set out to explore part of this rugged and crumbling terrain.

About five kilometers from our temporary home is one of many trailheads into this region. At the top of a low mountain we could see a cairn made from piled stone and made it our goal. It was a 40 minute climb to the top. The faraway view of the ocean, grazing land, and farms beyond the karst landscape was spectacular. Photographs could not take in the immensity of the view or convey the atmosphere created by the vast carpet of broken grey stone. It is a terrain that appears alien and barren but is juxtaposed with subtle signs of life at every turn. There are small patches or threads of grassland every couple hundred meters and ample evidence of its recent use by livestock. Over every few rolls in the landscape one spots an ancient fence that seemingly divides one empty wasteland from another.

The Burren near Kinvara

The Burren near Kinvara

Throughout our walk we fought a fierce wind. It was powerful enough to make you lose your footing and cause an earache if you hiked at right angles to it. There were some reprieves. Within a span of twenty minutes we experienced bright sunshine, thick cloud, driving rain followed by a gentle warming breeze and then a return to the more dominant condition of near clothes-shredding wind. This parade of weather formed a cycle that repeated itself several times during our journey.

After snapping a large quantity of photographs, we eventually made our way back to our car a little ruffled by the conditions but greatly enthused by this land called Ireland.

Posted by KZFamily 12:18 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland kinvara the_burren Comments (1)

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