One of my resolutions for this year was to travel + explore more in Ireland. We’ve lived here for nearly a year now and yet barely travelled outside of Dublin. I decided that any time we had a long weekend free we would take the opportunity to travel. Last weekend I had 4 days off work so we decided to head to Cork.
We left early Saturday morning on the aircoach which took around 3 hours, thankfully stopping half way for a toilet break as there wasn’t one on board and I was ridiculously desperate! I packed some quinoa porridge for the bus so snacked on that during the journey. We got to Cork around lunchtime, the drive was beautiful, it was a stunning day and so bright and beautiful. We left our bags at our hotel which was on the top of an enormous hill- rivalling San Francisco hills here!- and we set off to explore.
Our first port of call was lunch and we headed to Gourmet Burger Bistro as it was pretty much the first place we passed! I had the falafel burger, which was 4 little balls of falafel. I had it minus the bun, and it came with two lovely salads, and some delicious fresh hummus as well as some homebaked fries- though sweet potato would have been better!
We headed into the city centre, and wandered round the shops and the main city sights like the English market, which was totally amazing! I found this little organic shop and bought the best fresh medjool dates I have ever tasted, they were super pricey but worth every cent! We popped in and out of a few health stores, although I didn’t pick up much other than these ridiculously amazing raw chocolate coated mulberries which lasted all of about 4 days, so so good.
We headed back to the hotel late afternoon and stopped off at a cute little tea shop where they had the most amazing range of loose leaf teas. I bought 3 although I could have bought the whole store, everything smelled amazing. I have tried the mate and rooibos ones so far and they are fantastic, can’t wait to try the fruity one either!
We headed back out in the evening to the Quay Co-Op which is an institution in the Cork vegetarian scene. The health shop was closed but we dined upstairs at the quirky little restaurant.
There was plenty of choice on the menu, it reminded me a lot of Cornucopia in Dublin. I had the sweet and sour tofu with brown rice, sprouted salad and some cabbage in ginger and tamari which was amazing! Nick wasn’t too hungry after a huge burger and massive portion of onion rings at lunch so he went for the spring greens soup, which I tried and was also lovely. I followed this up with a fennel tea and a slice of the vegan chocolate cake, most of the cakes were just veggie but they had that option and a flapjack which was also vegan. I usually never get dessert, so this was a nice treat, I have no idea on the ingredients, but it was pretty good. Nick thought it was an adequate alternative!
On Sunday we had a leisurely morning walk around the town and went for brunch at a place called Cafe 14. I had an enormous bowl of porridge made with water and customised it by adding some almonds and a banana that I had in my bag! I also had a fresh grapefruit juice. Nick had a full Irish! We headed off at lunchtime for an afternoon tour of Blarney Castle and Cobh.
I kissed the Blarney Stone which is supposed to land me 7 years of eloquence! It was pretty terrfying as you lean backwards over the grate to kiss the stone. We stopped for a tea in a lovely little cafe/deli on the site and I also had a nakd bar and an apple to keep me going. We then headed to Cobh which was a little fishing village type town, which was the last stop the Titanic made, and also the site of mass emigration out of Ireland. We had a beer in a pub there and I bought a bag of popcorn as I was getting hungry as we didn’t have any lunch.
We headed back to the hotel and then went for dinner at a lovely Thai restaurant called Banna-Thai. I had a really nice yellow curry which was veggie (no fish sauce thank you!) and had loads of yummy tofu and a variety of vegetables. It was really really good, the coconut milk sauce was totally amazing! We had a little wander around the town and then headed back to the hotel.
On Monday we headed to the English market and I got a fresh vegetable juice for breakfast, Nick went with a strawberry + banana smoothie. We had another browse around the market, I bought some more dates, and a mini kabocha squash, first kabocha I have found in Ireland, it was so delicious!
We then headed to the O’Conaill chocolate shop for breakfast part 2- hot choc. This place did the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted!
I had the dark chocolate with orange and cinnamon- although I could have picked from so many of the flavours!-and had it with soya milk. It came with chocolate drops on the side, I traded Nick his dark ones, which I then added to the drink and they were so melty and delicious. This was so amazing, I totally could have drank another ha! I bought a bar of their 100% chocolate, which is so outrageously bitter, I love it, I’m going to add a tad to my hot chocolate when I make it at home, although that isn’t very often!
We headed to Vibes and Scribes which was an amazing 2nd hand bookshop, I could have stayed all afternoon browsing around the store. I bought a Paulo Coelho, Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, and the 80/10/10 book by Dr McDougall- I just love reading nutrition books! We quickly headed to marks and spencer’s and I picked up some carrot sticks/hummus, some fruit and some baked edamame to have for lunch on the coach home- I wanted the superfood salad, but no sign . We headed back to Dublin where the view was decidedly bleaker, it rained the entire journey home!
I had a great time in Cork, it was very relaxing and lovely to be somewhere and do something different. Can’t wait to explore more of Ireland!