I will never be able to explain how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to go to Europe when I graduated college. It was literally a life changing experience. Cork, Ireland touched me the most. Cork is actually a fairly large city, yet, it feels like a small town. The pace is slower, calmer. People are genuinely friendly, not the fake friendly you find in Smalltown, USA. Cork is happy. Actually everywhere we went in Ireland was happy. People smile real smiles. People enjoy their time and don't try to rush through everything.
Then there's the beauty. It's magical. It's hard to describe. Not only are the area surrounding the city and the parks breathtaking, but there is a magical quality to the buildings and streets as well. Though a city, it feels welcoming. When you walk into a store, you are greeted by real people with real smiles, not people who are getting paid minimum wage to "welcome" you. Proprietors talk to you as you are checking out and find out your story.
The moment I stepped off the train in Cork, I felt at home. There is something there that calls to me. There is something that makes me yearn to be there. Someday, I will go back. Until then, though, I am ever so grateful I was able to visit.