Ireland best spot for a family day: Cork and Fota Wildlife
Getting around Cork
If you've already seen Dublin and tasted the sweet-bitter-Guinness like urban life meaning Temple Bar, visited the list of museums (pubs) and listened for a 100 times the Molly Malone song, only then you're ready to leave Dublin for a new adventure. You need a bit of fresh air this time, so look no further than Cork where an oasis of the wildlife is waiting for you and I'm not talking about the city it's self. No, there's a region there about 20 min away from Cork called Fota Wildlife, huge shelter for animals allover the world and a marvelous place to spend a day away from the city.
There's so many things to see and do in Cork, after all is the second biggest city in Ireland. I am not going to bore you with all the museums and churches you can of course visit if you have more time and interest, however just to fill you in, Cork is very much alike Dublin only on a smaller scale. The city is located at the southern part of Ireland being the second most important port in the country after Dublin. So, if you are travelling from France and looking for a see adventure, then take the ferry from Roscoff and you'll get to Cork in about 14 hours. Otherwise Cork is served by an international airport which is 15 min away by car from the City Center.Coming from Dublin, like we did, and not having a car the best option and cheapest would be the bus. We spent around €50 for 2 people on return tickets with GoBus. The tickets can be bought online from here and the journey will take 3 hours. Once arrived in Cork, the bus will drop you at the main bus station on Parnell Place and you'll have to hop on in another bus to the hotel.
Where to stay in Cork
The accommodation was at Cork International Hotel for 1 night in a huge room and such a comfy bed. The hotel would be a handy option for those coming from the airport as it's in close proximity and they also do a shuttle bus. We chose it because it has great reviews and is really good value for money, however for us the location was not brilliant.
As we didn't have a car when we first visited Fota Wildlife, the train was the best option to get from Cork City to the island. So, hop on the train in Kent Station- Cork City, not any train, but the one going towards Cobh and enjoy the journey which takes about 15 minutes then hop off in Fota train station. The return ticket for one it's €9.70 and it can be used all day.The entrance is just at a stone's throw from the train station and once you get inside you won't want to come back, trust me. Since the beginning of your exciting journey your hosts will be a cheerful kangaroo and some colorful peacocks. I know I've created some bonds, just ask the kangaroo, he's my bestie. If your kid is travelling with you, I bet he'd be your number one fan for life. If not, don't worry, we all have something childish in our heart, so just enjoy it! So, you're inside now. First thing first, grab your map from the entrance or from here, as the estate is pretty big and you do want to see everything. Otherwise, info panels are placed all over the park. We didn't have a map, so we just started to walk on the opposite way, but was a good thing as we saved the best for last: The Asian Sanctuary.
The tour is not only so much fun but also educative. You will see how Cheetah is the fastest land mammal at the Cheetah Run. A scene of hunting is recreated where the animal is lured with a piece of meat hanged on a hook which is dragged with such a high speed you barely notice. You wouldn't want to be near it in real life. The park is well maintained and the animals are so well being looked after that if you're lucky enough you can spot the Cheetah cubs coddling next to their mother or maybe the playful red baby pandas doing the rolls in the grass. My favorite was the giraffe sanctuary. These ladies are so much fun and terrible photogenic. I like the way their space was designed, with low wooden fences so they can actually bend over and maybe give you a kiss. Just be aware, not to feed the animals, they have their own special meals and certain hours when being fed. The hours are listed on the website. The journey through the park will be accompanied by all sorts of bird songs and monkey roars which is quite pleasant and makes you think you're actually in a real forest, turning your head every time a leaf is falling of a tree thinking that Bagheera might come out at any time. We arrived in the park at around 11 am and left around 4 pm which gave us plenty of time to take a close look at each shelter, take a 100 pictures with the giraffes and feed the gooses and ducks.
Things to do- 5 hours left
Enjoy a traditional meal
By the time we realized we have to eat something after all that walking, the Oasis coffee shop had already closed so the best option was to get something in the city. So said, so done! There's so many options in the City Center, however fish& chips for me and a big healthy Irish beef burger for him, topped with a pint of Guinness seemed to be the best one. So we stopped at the Restaurant 14 A on French Church Street and lapped up the delicious meal.
Visit The English Market
If you still have time to kill and if you're a food lover then go around the City Center and stop at The English Market which is said to be the most famous in Ireland and the UK. You'll find all sorts of traders from butchers to bakers and chocolatiers who will offer mainly Irish made products. Since you are here, under no circumstances the artisan chocolate shop is to be missed. Now it's time to get greedy so do not miss your chance. I had the chili flakes, salt caramel and coffee pralines, but any would do if you'd ask me.
Our 24 hours in Cork are gone, so off we go! Next time we'll be here for whale watching in Kinsale and we'll have the car with us.
Remember to take an umbrella, a pair of comfy shoes and a jacket with you every where you go.Don't let the bad weather stop you!