Sunday, 19 July 2015

The 'real' capital, A trip to Cork city.

Cork, the peoples republic, the ‘real’ capital, whatever you like to call it Cork is a very unique city. It is like Dublin without the rushing around and Galway with the extra shopping!
My own love affair with Cork is actually more coastal then the city. My grandparents lived in Kinsale for years and it was very much a home from home for basically as many holidays as I could get there! However, in all the years I was visiting Kinsale I never once stayed in the Cork city.

The Room
So last week myself and himself headed to the Imperial Hotel to enjoy two nights. The hotel is part of the Flynn Group. Location wise  it is the perfect base to enjoy the city on foot.
My first tip for this hotel is make sure you have a rain jacket in the car! There is no parking at the hotel itself. They have a set rate (€9 per night which is an additional charge) with a car park that is about a five – eight minute walk away. So, park at the door, the concierge will give you a hand to unload the bags, and then you can go park the car and stroll back.
Check-in was swift and efficient.  We stayed in a room on the first floor with a view out the front of the hotel. The room was lovely. High ceilings, big bed, TV, nespresso machine (much to the delight of himself!) and a lovely bathroom with heated mirror (I Love them!!). 

  The room was very warm and I did end up saying this to reception. They didn’t move us but in the end this issue was dealt with in a manner that we were happy with. They are in the process of updating all the rooms with air-conditioning  so perhaps request one that is already has it.
Black Pudding Starter
Food in the restaurant was tasty. I enjoyed a black pudding starter. It really was a treat. Mains, I ordered steak cooked medium. It was perfectly cooked but there was a lack of seasoning. I ordered the red wine jus on the side but when it arrived it was very much like regular gravy so I asked for béarnaise instead and it was lovely.  Dessert was a hearty apple crumble and I really enjoyed that.

The highlight for me was the bar. It has a vintage feel about it and you could be sitting in the 1960s. Nice jazzy music and great staff served us after dinner drinks. A really lovely end to the day.
Would I stay again? Yes, I have to say I would. Every once in a while you will have a stay in a hotel and things, sometimes big or in this case small, go wrong or don’t live up to your expectations. The mark of a good hotel is how they deal with these things. The staff in the Imperial are top notch and dealt with the few issues we had in a polite and effective manner.

Blarney Castle
The great thing about Cork city is there are some great attractions within a stones throw of it. Blarney castle is only a ten minute drive from the city centre.  Admission is €13 each per adult. The usual concessions apply. I have to say I didn’t realise how big the gardens are. As we walked in there was a man with gorgeous red hair and a big beard, dressed in a Magees of Donegal style tweedy suit and playing a harp. The Americans absolutely loved it. He was literally the most leprechaun looking man I have ever seen.

The highlight of the visit of course is the Blarney Stone. Climbing up the steps of the castle there are beautiful views and a spectacular 360 from the top. I am not a huge fan of heights so I was happy enough to watch others kissing the stone. Himself already has a true ‘gift of the gab’ (he had kissed the stone years ago!!).
There is a coffee shop on site but there is loads of space to enjoy a picnic.
The village of Blarney is postcard perfect. Stroll from the castle and have a gander in the Blarney Woollen Mills. “The largest Irish shop in the world” is the tagline. It really is a who’s who of gorgeous Irish products.

Blarney Woollen Mills

The English Market, Cork
I am a firm believer that the rain shouldn’t impact a getaway in Ireland. We live here, we know what it’s like so we have no excuse not to be prepared. The second day of our stay it pretty much rained all day. No problem! We threw on rain jackets and off we went. The great thing about Cork city is it’s an easy city to navigate and as we popped in and out of shops the rain wasn’t an issue.
Shopping in Cork city offers something for everyone.  If you haven’t been to the English market put it on the top of your list. Fish mongers, delis, butchers, gift shops and my favourite, vintage shops.  Well worth a visit.
We strolled the city and shopped for the day. There are all the high street shops and lots of great little independent shops – great to see they are thriving among'st the big boys!
On our second evening we enjoyed dinner in a new Cork hotspot – Elbow Lane. (Review coming soon) It’s a funky smokehouse and bonus points – they brew their own beer.
Myself and himself are big fans of craft beers and so we couldn’t come all the way to Cork without visiting The Franciscan Well. As we were just post dinner we didn’t eat and just enjoyed some of their, brewed on site, beers. There is a little pizza hut out the back and they do stone baked pizza to enjoy with your pint.

For a city break with plenty of great places to eat, shop and visit, Cork is well worth a visit.

Hope you enjoyed the read. Apologies for lack of photos. My poor camera died! Shes recovered now though so lots of pretty pics to come!

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