Our visit to Cork City didn't get off to a promising start when the shuttle bus from the dock at Ringaskiddy left us off at a dreary strip of the quay on the River Lee. But once we crossed onto Patrick Street, the main thoroughfare, everything changed for the better, with Irish music playing on loudspeakers and banners flying in the breeze. The shops and stores along the street were a mix of old and new, fancy and not-so-much. The real eye-opener was the English Market, a 19th century arcade that seems like an earlier version of today's indoor malls. But this one is a lot more charming than a typical suburban mall, more along the lines of the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia or the Lexington Market in Baltimore in that it offers a variety of food stalls, along with other vendors, too. It's a good place to soak up the local flavor for an hour or two.
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