07 March 2013

Aaaarr, like.

The Beacon, 50 meters high and 50 meters circumference, navigation aid of a bygone age and symbol of Baltimore. 
(Funnily enough almost exactly two years previously I was at another Beacon, but that's a post for another day) 

Baltimore, Cork, March 2nd, 2013
This week I have mostly been... in Cork.

Cork is a bit like Facebook in that far too many people there add unnecessary Likes (It's true, like. They really do, like), but I love the place and try to get down there at least once a year, mostly for the food. I travelled down last week on business, and decided to stay for a few days. The last few weeks have been somewhat hectic to say the least, and my health hasn't been the best, so getting away from everything in the wilds of West Cork was just the healing salve I needed.

We packed up our bags after the not-so-briefest of repasts at Cafe Paradiso, in itself reason enough to visit Cork, and headed south to Baltimore. No, not the "way-down-in-the-hole, in-deed, Omar-comin" Baltimore, but the other, slightly less crime-ridden harbour town that explodes with tourists each summer but on a typically cold and blustery March day is near-deserted and altogether rather nice. Many a cliff-top walk was taken and fresh air consumed like bunga-bunga at a Berlusconi banquet.

Sherkin Island and Cape Clear as seen from Baltimore 
Baltimore, Cork, March 3rd, 2013
Apart from being in close proximity to a sunken U-Boat, Baltimore's other main claim to fame (at least in my mind, there may be others) is that in 1631 the entire village was raided by Barbary pirates and the inhabitants carted off as slaves. Yes, that's right, 17th Century North-African pirates sacked West Cork and enslaved an entire village. You can read more about this episode in Des Ekin's entertaining The Stolen Village, a book that accompanied me across Europe some years ago.

Of course I only remembered this book on the last day of our stay there when noticing that one of the pubs was called The Algiers Inn. Revelation came less like a lightbulb above my head and more like an eco long-life bulb gradually flickering to life, slowly and painfully and not fast enough to prevent you from stubbing your toe badly on the side of the bed as you came in.

Despite the constant overcast sky, it was still jaw-droppingly jigsaw puzzle-box beautiful 
Baltimore, Cork, March 2nd, 2013
Anyway, I can highly recommend both the book and the town, but I suspect the book is less aggravating during High Season.

I realise that this is not the most polemic of posts, but you can be happy in the knowledge that the carefully crafted zen-like state of bliss lovingly nurtured in Baltimore has almost entirely vanished now, and normal service here at Booming Book will shortly be resumed.

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At 3:47 am, Blogger Sir Ludwig Rhinoceros III said...

I loved my visit to Baltimore. I went in winter, when Cork was closed. It actually does close. Every restaurant from our guide was closed. Did you get to Spein (pronounced Spain). I thought the locals were taking the piss. I liked getting taxis there.
"Where are you going?"
"Mabel's place."
"Sure enough."


Also made a trip to Cork just for Cafe Paradiso and I am not only an omnivore - I love meat. Although I love vegetarian food, I would gladly take down an animal with my bare hands and eat its flesh raw. I digress...

I stayed upstairs in Paradiso. It was winter. Cork was closed again. Not the city though. Loved that tiny pub that did not allow mobile phones. I thought the breakfast at Paradiso was divine and preferred the dinner there to my dining experience at Guillbaud's.


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