Cork, or at least Cork City Centre, is not car friendly, in any sense of the word. The streets are tiny, parking is limited and expensive, and the City Centre is ruled by pedestrians, so cars are lucky to hit 10 mph. I’m glad I didn’t plan on having a car while I’m here. Instead, on my first full day in Cork, I got up, ate some fruit for breakfast, and headed out into town. According to the weather report, there was supposed to be a high chance of rain, so I actually wore shoes (remember, I’m from California. “Shoes” are hinderances that you wear only when absolutely necessary). This turned out to be a mistake.
The first order of business was to get something to eat; thanks to google and my laptop, I had found another Insomnia Coffee in Cork, which provided a good excuse for breakfast. Next up was Vodafone, because getting lost in Dublin had firmly convinced me that I need active GPS to get around. My last stop, then, would be to get groceries. After carefully mapping my route on the computer, I transfered it to my phone and screencapped it (remember, no data=no maps, so pictures of maps are good things). Hopeful that I might survive my first day, I went out to find my own personal type of liquid courage (hint: it isn’t whiskey).
I managed to get lost. Again.
The troublesome thing is, google maps doesn’t know how to deal with alleys. They’re big and broad and might maybe count as a street, and sometimes they’re on maps and sometimes they aren’t, but the on and off maps part doesn’t necessarily correlate with the cars-drive-on-them or cars-don’t-drive-on-them part. After a little bit of bumbling around, I discovered that Cork is nicer than Dublin in that it DOES have street signs (and the congregation said “amen”). The street signs are sometimes on the side of buildings above awnings or in a plaque on the sidewalk, but there are signs. You just have to learn to spot them. Once you spot them, you’re in business.
Armed with this new knowledge, I moved on in search of coffee, but was again defeated–where, according to my map reading skillz and my new-found knowledge of street signs, I came to the right place, but instead of the bright yellow coffee cup with wings, I was greeted by a very obviously not-coffee-serving pub called “Murphy’s” that was very obviously closed. I walked by it several times, trying to figure out if the little coffee cup was hiding behind the sign, or if Murphy had just moved in, or what, but it was very clear that Murphy had no coffee. My feet were starting to hurt, especially my right one, so I walked down the street, just to check and make sure it wasn’t next door, turned a corner and found…Vodafone.
Still a bit nervous about talking to people, I went in. Now, to explain the nerves thing: I pick up accents subconsciously and really, really fast. The problem with this, however, is it generally makes people think that I talk the same way that they do, which equates to them speeding up and talking really fast. When they talk really fast, I don’t really understand them. This isn’t an international phenomena, either–it happens in Chicago, in Texas, in New York–pretty much everywhere. It happened here, too.
Screwing up my most Californian accent possible, I waited for the next available representative, and then told him what I wanted–I needed a SIM card and an Irish number, yes, my phone was unlocked (I was a good girl and did that before I left the United States), and no, I didn’t want a contract. The interaction went splendidly until the new card was in, and I was informed that I would need to log on to the internet to register my new number before the SIM card would activate. Unaware of what dangers lay in wait for me, I payed my ten euro and left the shop.
As I turned my phone on, I realized that there was one small problem: I could not access my map pictures until I activated my SIM. So, no grocery shopping for me. Since it was now sunny out, and my feet were really starting to complain about the shoes, I decided to try to retrace my way home. My memory might have been fuzzy on a few points, but it did not fail, and soon the bridge across the River Lee was in sight, with my apartment just a bit beyond that. My feet sore, and my hem a little wet (I supposed it must have fallen into a puddle I had hopped over), I crossed the bridge and returned to my humble abode and happily sat down to activate my SIM card and regain control of my phone.
It took me a couple minutes to realize that the reason my feet were hurting was because I hadn’t taken my shoes off yet.
I kicked them off, then realized that my hem still felt wet against my foot. Apparently, instead of creating a blister like any normal foot, mine had decided to just start bleeding everywhere, and I mean everywhere. It took forever to clean up. So, since I won’t be going anywhere in shoes anytime soon and will be wearing flip flops constantly, if I mysteriously vanish, you can let the Garda know they can get a DNA sample from the inside of my shoe. They’ll be in my room, under the desk, waiting for another poor, innocent victim to come along.