I started volunteering this week! These posts from now on will be a little more "everyday life" than "tourist" but that's what I'm here for--to live like a local! Monday, 10 Mar: This is my last day in a hostel! Wahoo! I moved hostels since EIL, my volunteer organization, set me up with my last night. After getting checked in, I headed for the train station and caught the 11am train to Cobh (pronounced Cove), a little town about a 25 minute train ride from Cork. The day was bright, sunny, and chilly, perfect for more wandering. I didn't have a ton of things planned to do while I was there, mainly just visit the famous cathedral. Since it was a beautiful day, and there wasn't much to do in the town, I sat in the park near the water, and just relaxed. I caught the 1:30 train back to town and sat next to a lady who lives in Cobh and talked with her the whole way into Cork. I headed back to my hostel and rested for a little bit before getting ready for dinner. Since it was my last night as a tourist I treated myself to a nicer dinner with a glass of wine and walked around town for a little bit. I got back to the hostel around 8:30 and got about three hours of work done, before heading to bed.
Tuesday, 11 Mar: I met up with Cliona, from EIL, at 9:15 in the lobby of the hostel and we walked to their offices. I was glad this was my last day trekking my suitcase around! I met everyone on the EIL team and had a short orientation with Cliona before heading over to my project site. The bookshop was within walking distance of the EIL offices, and soon we were entering Unbound, a giftshop and bookshop in Cork City. I met Beth, the missionary who's part of the Unbound team, and Carla, a fellow volunteer from Germany. I got a quick tour of the shop before Carla and I headed out to find some lunch. It was nice chatting with her -- she's really sweet and I soon learned she had just graduated from secondary school! She's a youngin! In the afternoon I just worked around the shop a little bit and learned how it's run. They're big on their coffee breaks -- one at 11 and one and 3pm. :-) Works for me! The shop closed at 6pm, but Beth let me and Carla catch the 5:30 bus to our house, so we left a little early. The bus in the city is really close to the shop, so there wasn't much of a walk. The house is in the country, in the town of Blarney (yes, near the Blarney Castle and the famous Kissing Stone), which is about a 30 minute bus ride. The only downside of taking the bus is that it's about a 15/20 minute walk to/from the house! It's a pleasant walk, a little uphill on the way home, but it may end up being just enough to be annoying to get into town on my days off. We'll see. The house is really cute though -- it's an old farmhouse although quite basic. I like it. I'm sharing a large room with Carla and then there are two additional bedrooms upstairs with two bathrooms. The common room and kitchen are downstairs. I left my suitcase in town for us to pick up (Beth has a car) after our grocery shopping trip in town. Finally I was unpacked and no longer living out of a suitcase! Hallelujah!
The big one is the key to the front door.
Wednesday, 12 March: My first full day in the shop! I caught a ride into town with Beth, so I could get caught up on some things, so she let me into the shop and I worked in the back room for about an hour before it opened. I was working with Carla and Padraig, the owner of the shop, today. We got a new shipment of jewelry, so Carla and I organized and inventoried that before getting the display ready. It's simple work, but I like it -- I'm not sitting behind a computer! The people who come into the shop are lovely and so far everyone's been welcoming. The day went by quickly and I'm kind of amazed at how much there is to do. Carla and I took the bus home and we all had a relaxing night in.
Thursday, 13 March: I worked with Padraig today, and a local volunteer Margaret who only comes in on Thursdays. We had some more inventory to do on some Mother's Day things that came in (Mother's Day here is March 30). It wasn't the quickest of days, but we had decent sales and a consistent flow of people. Padraig and I chatted a lot about the history of the store and how he and his wife founded it and use it as a ministry. He also got me thinking on what type of bigger project I'd like to do during my time here. After work, I stopped at a shop and looked for pants and wandered around a bit before heading home on the next bus. This was the first time getting off the bus and walking home by myself, and I'm glad to say I made it safely.
Friday, 14 March: Beth and I were in the shop today. It wasn't the best of days in terms of sales, but we had a lot of people come in and browse with the promises of being back. Carla's birthday had been on Monday, so she came down after we closed (it was her day off) and we went to dinner at a crepe restaurant. We all decided to get the set menu which was a savory galette, a glass of wine, and a sweet crepe. If we had known the size of the galettes and the size of the sweet crepes, I think we would have reevaluated. The galettes were so ridiculously good that we each ate the full of it and were completely stuffed as we were ordering the sweet crepe! Luckily crepes aren't super heavy, so even though I was really full, it wasn't an uncomfortable full. And, of course, I ate the entirety of the sweet crepe. Oh so tasty.
Saturday, 15 March: My first day off! I have Saturday and Sunday off this week, and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself! I had a relaxing morning in the house -- I had it to myself! And then headed out on a walk to town. I found Blarney Castle and was hoping to walk around the grounds, but it was 12EU to just get in, so I passed and wandered around the town square. I walked into a charity shop and found a new pair of Gap skinny jeans for 6EU--score! After some more wandering around, I headed back up the hill toward home for a shower and getting ready. Tonight there was a huge rugby game on -- Ireland vs. France -- and I was going to catch some of it! I took the bus into town and headed to a pub called the Old Oak. The game started at 5pm, and I got in around 5:30, so I missed some of it, but already it was a close game! I made some small talk with the people next to me and they explained the game a little bit and answered some of my questions. It was a super tense and close game and towards the end I actually understood what was going on and I was yelling at the screen as much as the others. Ireland won--22 to 20! What fun! Carla had met me in the pub after her shift and we caught a bus back into Blarney. We watched a movie and then headed to bed.
Sunday, 16 March: My second day off in a row -- what am I going to do with myself? I was thinking about heading into the city for church, but I didn't. I'm going to have to figure out a system there as there really aren't any options in Blarney. Going into the city isn't bad, just takes about an hour and costs 7.50EU for a round trip. I'll figure it out. Instead I watched the Veronica Mars movie (yay!), went for a long walk while texting with my mom, cleaned, took a nap, and video chatted with Becky, Carly, and Elizabeth and Elisa. It was lovely to catch up with good friends! Oh, and Elisa and Elizabeth are coming to visit!! They booked their flights for one of the last weeks I'm volunteering, so that'll be something to look forward to! I then watched an episode of Silk on Netflix -- if that show is available on the US Netflix, I highly recommend it!
Until next week! --rvp