Yesterday was wonderful. I woke up late (because my Fridays are sans classes) and met Kristina on campus at noon. I splurged a little on food, buying not just my typical personal pizza but also a box of chips (potato wedges, actually). Quizno's, where Kristina got her lunch, had a free-refill offer (this is not the norm here at ALL), so I got some Coke for the first time in weeks.
It was a beautiful day, so after we dropped off our stuff at my apartment, we decided to just go out and walk around Cork. We stopped in the English Food Market and bought a small cake of chocolate mousse and an eclair, then went back outside to eat them. They were absolutely heavenly, and the two put together were only 5 euro (about $6.50). Trust me when I say this is a good deal.
I had my sights set on seeing two Catholic churches that are a bit further out of the way, but before we got there we got sidetracked by a display in a small dress shop. The mannequin in the window was wearing a beautiful, V-necked, deep purple dress, and I immediately wanted to try it on. It was a little complicated to put on, being a wrap-around dress, but it looked gorgeous on me. Kristina tried it on too, and despite the fact that we are two very different body types, it suited her quite well too. I glanced at the price tag. It was on sale, but I didn't have the heart to spend money on a frivolous purchase for myself, so I begrudgingly hung the dress back up, thanked the shopkeeper, and we left emptyhanded.
We went on and crossed the river to see St. Mary's, which from the outside looks almost identical to the Cork Courthouse, except for the tall, white soapstone statue of Mary on the roof. (Why didn't I bring my camera? She's beautiful.) Kristina told me she needed to use the bathroom and that she'd meet me inside, so I went first to the front, then to one side, then to the other before finally finding a door that would open, and I went in by myself. It was styled similarly to St. Francis, with the main altar in the center, but smaller statues in the front corners. Mary was on the left-hand side, and a beautiful statue depicting the Holy Family was on the right. Further to the right was a statue of Jesus, in front of Whom was a set of votive candles. Kristina and I lit one to pray for our trip. There were also doors on the right wall of the church leading into a separate chapel dedicated to St. Martin, one of the first black saints I have seen.
After leaving the church, we went up the hill to find the other one I'd seen on some maps. This was totally unexplored territory for the two of us, and I was charmed by the quaint, quiet, narrow roadways and the typical mushed-together styling of the buildings surrounding. Kristina was carrying a pretty satin bag which she mentioned she'd seen for a couple euro and wanted. As we walked, she asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, which is in a couple months. I told her she didn't need to get me anything, and that the fact that we'll be in Munich on my birthday is good enough for me. Then she handed me the bag, and said, "Happy birthday! Open it!" Inside was.... the beautiful purple dress from the shop display. :D I was so thrilled, I hugged her and thanked her again and again. I'm really going to have to do something awesome for her one of these days... :) :)
On our way, a man standing in the doorway to a pub stopped us and chatted with us for a few minutes ("Where are ye from?" "America." "I know that, where in the States??" Apparently our accents give us away even from a distance, haha.) He talked to us about Obama, seemed dubious that he'll make any real change to the current state of affairs, and asked us if the First Lady was pregnant. Which she isn't, according to Google News, but he seemed convinced by some paper he'd read. Tabloids are popular here - surely the man isn't silly enough to believe what he reads in the tabloids?
Anyway, we didn't find St. Anne's, but we found the North Cathedral, which has to be within 3 blocks of the former. I have never seen so many churches crammed so closely together in my life. At any rate, the North Cathedral is the most modern of any of the churches I've seen yet. They also have a relic - a bone of a man who lived and died in the 15th century, and who isn't a saint but has the title of Blessed. I thought that was pretty cool, but it freaked Kristina out that they keep some guy's bone in a case in a church.
We went back after that, and Kristina caught the bus back to her host-home. And I hung out with Susan, who is now here again, and we're going to go shopping. So I need to leave.