A big money maker in Ireland is to host students and travelers – similar to Airbnb, but a bit different, as these were more like renting out long term homes, with a sort of mom-type added to sweeten the deal. This is especially good for young adult students who are traveling for the first time. This was something that the couple actively participated in, which helped take care of their bills and helped them save for their new house. So, they stuffed six to seven cot/bunk beds in two tiny rooms, to accommodate quite a few people wishing to come stay. They told me that near Schull is a language school that brought in a lot of foreign teens who end up staying with them, along with several other caretakers in the area. They had a young lady from Austria come during my time there, and they said they had booked each bed for the following days after my time was up. My WorkAway’s have a time limit, set by the host, and mine was a little over three weeks, as I said before. The timing worked out just fine, in the end.
Nearly three weeks went by and my time was coming to an end, and the couple began acting a bit finicky, and as I noticed a few odd happenings, I began to get the idea that it was time to move on – you can only stay somewhere for free (no matter the work you’re doing), before it’s just time to move on. Sadly, a few days before it was time to leave, their stress level hit boiling point and there was a bit of a dramatic argument, where awful things were said, and a lot of negative vibes were shared. I hate when that happens. I also hate when someone you thought of as quality friend turns on you and you’re left with that sour taste in your mouth, and a wound in your back. But so is life, eh? Sigh.
Days and days of silence followed after the argument, until I left a few days later for Cork. Last year I visited Cork, for literally one hour, before I moved on to tour the Ring of Kerry – all on the same day (bad idea, I tell you!). All in all, my thoughts about WorkAway are simple – for what it is, it’s a fine service to use, and there are also many others out there like it. Even though I had a negative experience at the end of my first opportunity, I still believe there’s some merit in its connection for travelers who are looking for an interesting, new experience or a cheap place to live abroad, trading time for stay (and food sometimes). But instead of leaving it at that, I decided to give it another try, so I signed up for another gig in the nearby seaside town of Kinsale.
I had a gap in time of three days from when I left Schull until I started my time as a ‘hostel housekeeper,’ and Cork is right next to Kinsale – so why not! In visiting for one hour last year, I only saw some of the area around St. Patrick's Street. Needless to say, I missed out on a lot!
I surfed through, messaging a few of the locals on CouchSurfing, when I received a quick response from an interesting couple. The girl was from Austria, but grew up half of her childhood in Miami, and the guy grew up in Australia. They were pretty young, lively and creative – my kind of people, surely. Our time was limited over the few days that I stayed with them, since they had to work at Apple each day. But the limited conversations were fun, light and interesting. I found it interesting to talk to a European who had a lot of relevance to the United States, in the terms of cultural understanding and in the way they spoke. I enjoyed our short time together and since, we’ve stayed in touch. It also doesn’t hurt to have a friend that works for Apple – haha – as my system is a Mac and they’ve graciously assisted me in saving money on my newest upgrade.
For my days, I would venture back into the center of town, wandering a bit further each day, checking out the stores and the pubs. I found that Cork was very much to my liking, however I don’t feel that I could live there, for besides pub drinking and the occasional festival, it didn’t offer a lot of things to do that would truly interest me for long. But I suppose I found most of Ireland fitting that description. It’s definitely worth visiting Ireland and touring around, but I find that once you’ve had your fill of the towns and the landscape, Ireland begins to set in a bit – I speak from a collective experience of nearly three to four months roaming about the country, where I’ve seen almost every area for an extended amount of time. The first time I visited Ireland was too quick, and I was left wanting so much more of it, but once your hunger has been satisfied, it’s time to move on I think.
I left early one Sunday morning and traveled to the nearby seaside town of Kinsale – a popular tourist destination, full of little cutesy shops, bakeries, and middle to high-end restaurants. To live in one of these places means you’re typically surrounded by the experience of catering, in some shape or form, as the main industry is tourism. My second WorkAway gig was in a small hostel – and since I’ve stayed in so many, I thought it might be a fun experience. Little did I know before signing on that this hostel was more-like a barebones guesthouse, where it was older folk and families (mostly), which is fine, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting – but little is, when you travel, eh? My deal was to be the housekeeper of the hostel, where I would have a room (nearest the front door on the ground floor) and food provided. My responsibilities were to collect the keys and check out the guests in the morning (sometimes as early as 4:00 or 5:00 AM), clean up the rooms and bathrooms before lunch, and then be around to check in the guests and to collect the money in the evenings.
The first week went by without a hitch, no problems and the work was light, with the hostel being less than half full each day – but that’s just how accommodations were in Ireland in the Autumn time. Although the agreement was for me to stay for one month, things began to go awry, with sketchy guests, stag parties (of douchey British men), and being asked to handle situations inappropriately. The third time was the charm for me, and I decided to plan out moving on from this opportunity, so I finished out my second week and left for Galway. The problem was a mix of bad booking policies and being that the lady who ran the company expected more than what was ethical – you would have had to pay someone to do the job that she wanted you to do. She wanted to keep her hands clean, with little thought to the dirtying of others.
But I digress – I soon left for Galway, excited to check out the ‘other big city’ in Ireland that I had missed along the previous year’s travels. Most of all, I was beyond excited to experience the gorgeous Connemara area on the west coast of the Emerald Isle.
More travel updates coming soon! Next update from Galway, Connemara, and Cong, Ireland
Travel update I – Barcelona, Spain
Travel update II – Madrid, Spain
Travel update III – Granada, Spain
Travel update IV – Ronda & Sevilla, Spain
Travel update V – Marrakech, Morocco
Travel update VI – Marseille & Nice, France
Travel update VII – Monaco & Florence, Italy
Travel update VIII – Rimini & Cesenatico, Italy
Travel update IX – San Marino & Verona, Italy
Travel update X – Venice, Italy (Part I)
Travel update XI – Belgium & Luxembourg
Travel update XII – Slovenia & Croatia
Travel update XIII – Venice, Italy (Part II)
Travel update XIV – Austria, Germany, and Switzerland
Travel update XV – Dublin & Dingle, Ireland