We are now both doses down with the Pfizer vaccine and made short work of putting our newfound liberty to use, with assistance from Rob J.
This will be a short post as I/we’re pretty wrecked having been up and back from Dublin today to see the GAA Hurling semi-finals, where Cork beat Kilkenny 37-32 after some nail biting comebacks and going into extra time. Even from the nosebleeds and with less than half the stadium’s capacity you can see the atmosphere of the place!
It has been three months since our last post but it feels like an eternity, doesn’t it? We have all seen the world change completely in this time due to the Coronavirus and global economic collapse, so wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, we hope that you are safe and sound.
For us, documenting our new adventure took a back seat to meeting our basic needs here. Myself and the other employees at my work office were furloughed during the week of St. Patricks Day after all events were cancelled and Covid-19 began to take over our lives. For seven weeks after my first payslip I had no welfare support payments, despite being entitled to them. This due to a technicality about payslips and reporting between my employer and Revenue. It has since been resolved through Welfare instead of Revenue, many thanks to them, but it was a stressful process nonetheless.
As we were just getting “settled in” at the time of the shutdown, we had no internet connection as this required a bona-fide Irish bank account to sign up. Until the banks could reopen we could not get this arranged, and lengthy tedium ensued. Suffice to say it was an enormous weight lifted off once we were able to get connected. We completely agree that in 2020 the internet is a basic human right and essential service.
Adding to the fact that Aoife still had both of her jobs, which at that point she had just started, and both required a stable internet connection. Tethering our phones seemed to barely work at times, but as our service provider stumbled under the administrative weight and burden on the network, this soon became impossible.
Fast forwarding to now, we’re grateful to have moved beyond these roadblocks. I guess, like many others, we are still uncertain about many aspects of our lives in the midst of this. We have been very fortunate and grateful to have made it to here with all of our basic needs met. Many others we see here have not been fortunate enough to have that outcome, so as we enter the real “mental game” stretch of this crisis I/we aim to continue our practises of gratitude. Writing this here is to some degree a note-to-self and self-reminder.
Yesterday was the first time we caught up with someone we knew. We were delighted by a surprise “exercise visit” from Rob, and we walked our quarantine quota distance back towards Blackrock in the beautiful May weather. Ireland is still in Phase 1 of reopening at the time of writing, and has one of the strictest health mandates in Europe still in place. As such the per capita infection and death rates among the lowest, and with any luck the restrictions will further ease according to schedule in a couple of weeks time.
In other non-Covid, non-Trump related news, the days are getting longer as we approach the summer solstice. We are beginning to understand why the Irish gush about spring and summertime so much here: it truly is glorious. Sunup is at about 4:30am and sunset at 9:45pm with clear skies and hardly a drop of rain in the last few weeks. On that note I shall keep this brief, get off my backside and go enjoy it, and let you do the same 🙂
From both of us here in sunny Corcaigh, we wish you every blessing and providence to endure these wild and strange times.
Simon & Aoife
We’ve been here in Ireland for two and a half weeks (in Cork the entire time) and it’s safe to say we’re completely smitten! We’ve been blessed with blue skies as well as some unseasonal sunshine however as the day closes in, the temperature drops really quickly and gifts us with some of the most beautiful wintry sunsets conceivable (I’m hopeful we might get snow based on the extra warm days).
We are generally getting around either on public transport (double decker buses that give us a bird’s eye view of charming narrow streets and gorgeous houses). We’re also walking a lot and, as always, it’s my preferred way to discover a new place. I’ll put it out there now: Cork begs to be enjoyed and there’s so much to enjoy. We basically stop every half a block to bookmark places and take pictures.
Amongst our visits to recruiters, we’ve also made our way to UCC (University College Cork) and soaked up some of the lush campus. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves — it’s about 25 minutes walk from the city centre.
Finally, we’re still loving all of the street art and sculptures dotted everywhere — here are some gems from the last few days or so. Let me say it again: we love it here and are thrilled to be sharing this special place with you, too.
This morning Quinn finally took us for a walk down to Blackrock castle as the sky cleared. Well, I say morning. It was about noon by the time we returned back home to Rob’s. It’ll take us some time yet to get adjusted to the 9am sunrises and 4pm sunsets.
Quinn is a golden retriever–poodle–horse about about 4 years old. She just about trampled a poor lady to death who was power walking in the opposite direction. “JEAYSUS!” the woman exclaimed. Thankfully I had enough leash to yank her in the other direction. That was my adrenaline fix for today.
In other news, the precise day last week that I attempted to put Euros onto our Travelex card the company was hacked and its website and app have been down since. According to the chap I recently spoke to in the Phillipines they are having to rebuild their entire security system.
We had planned to use this as an interim solution until we set up Irish/Euro bank accounts, but it seems we’ll just continue to use our Aussie cards (albeit with the crappier exchange rate) until our bank cards arrive next week. So far we’ve signed up with N26, which is some new fandangled online bank. Aoife’s account is already created, using her EU passport, and her card is on the way, but I’ve had no end of being messed around by them and their app. I think it just doesn’t like Aussies…
Also, some of the local entertainment thus far:
All too quickly our time in Dubai was over and we were packing up yet again for our final travel leg: Dubai to Dublin by plane and then Dublin to Cork by bus.
Our final day in the UAE was spent in the Hatta area with a healthy mix of hearts (may the record state that I shot the moon to win the game) and kayaking before returning to Dubai for dumplings shared under the Burj Khalifa.
Post-hike up to the dam in Hatta with Eoin and Sarah, adventures in marital kayaking… and post-lunch mural photos – this one’s for you, Dad!
At the Mall Of The Emirates and looking up at 800–plus metres of the tallest building in the world
In yet another marathon Tetris packing mission, we repacked our bags and assembled for our 4am wake-up call with Waffle the cat helping throughout (Simon is Waffle’s favourite person and she couldn’t get close enough, including jumping in and out of our suitcases). All too soon we were running the checking in baggage limit gauntlet and successfully avoiding excess baggage fees before boarding our flight to Dublin! It would be off-brand for us not to comment on the caffeine offerings and we can happily report that the Jones The Grocer departures outlet does live up to its promise of good coffee. It definitely hit the spot in terms of our overall sleep deprivation and impending travel four hours backwards to Irish time.
Ready to fly north!
Touching down to blue skies in Dublin was an early lesson that weather changes quickly in Ireland and by the time we were on the bus heading south to Cork, the afternoon light and the rain were closing in. After landing, we began the immigration process (more on this in another post) before collecting our luggage and sharing a pre-bus ride ‘Mighty Irish Breakfast’. I am very happy to report that my earlier endorsements of Irish bacon were upheld in the Mighty Irish Brekky and Simon is now an initiate and convert to the traditional delicacies of black pudding and white pudding (again, more on this at a future date).
Snapshots of Dublin including those blue skies – we are looking forward to a proper stint in the capital as soon as permits!
We arrived in Cork slightly ahead of schedule with our host Rob picking us up before the cold really got into our bones and fatigue from a full day of travel could make us entirely delirious. At Rob’s place just outside the Cork centre, we enjoyed our first night in our new home city with the local seasonal meal of spiced beef shared in outstanding company. Rob’s place is lovely and we’re very grateful to feel at home already.
As we don’t have any further photos from our arrival, I’ll close with my mum’s welcome message that seemed to echo as we were driving through the historic streets of Dublin and then getting off the bus at Patrick’s Quay by the River Lee, Cork: “Welcome to the island of saints and scholars.”