I should have known that this entire trip would be a gong show from beginning to end. TheAmazon and I can’t spend a weekend together without someone fucking a cowgirl or winding up in the hospital, so I should have foreseen that this would not be your average backpacking vacation.
It started with our flight there, which was cancelled due to tornadoes in Philadelphia. Why not? So then we were put on standby with Lufthansa, a German airline, got seats with 20 minutes before takeoff, TheAmazon wound up sitting next to the hottest chick on the plane, and I got stuck with an old Austrian man. But he did get me drunk, so all was not lost. We landed in Germany instead of Portugal, transferred flights, I got bumped to first class (YES!!), and eventually we made it to Lisbon.
Our first few days were uneventful, save for drinking one too many pitchers of Sangria, scaling a 30 foot monument at 4am in front of what turned out to be a security guard, and finding out our hostel roommates were two Spanish Men named Manuel and Juan. Ola.
We did the good little tourist thing in Lisbon, and then decided to head south to the Algarve. We wanted to go to Faro, but we decided to stop in this small town called Lagos for 2 days on the way. We had heard it was a pretty neat little town, so a pit stop there seemed reasonable.
Oh my god, Lagos. LAGOS!!! We accidentally stumbled about the hedonism paradise of Europe. First of all, it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The water is aquamarine, the beaches are golden, and the backdrop is a series of tall cliffs jutting out into the ocean. The weather is perfect every single day. Thank god I packed my booty shorts at the last minute, because I didn’t take them off for 10 days. It’s flinging flanging hot in the Algarve.
We had no idea what we were getting into when we got off the train on our first day there. I mean, we could see that we had landed in paradise, but we didn’t know that we had landed in drunktown/fuckville. After a day spent at the beach, we decided to get dressed and head out for dinner. We were a little tired, so we decided it would be a quiet night. We made it two blocks from our little guest house before an Australian heartbreaker named Garreth stopped us in the street and offered us a free shot if we went to his bar.
We looked at each other. Well, what’s the harm in one free drink before dinner?
Next thing we know it’s 6am, an entire Aussie footy team has just done body shots off my ass and TheAmazon’s tits, TheAmazon has lost her shirt, and my g-string is hanging from the ceiling. Ok.
Not too sure what happened there. We slept for 4 hours, stumbled to the beach, and lay there until the world stopped spinning.
Multiply x 12 days.
Lagos is a strange little place. It’s a backpacker Mecca, where travelers from all over the world visit and then never leave. The entire town is run by Aussies and Brits, save for a few old Portuguese ladies who run the guest houses. You can forget you’re in Portugal until you go to the bathroom and have to squat over a hole in the floor with 3 other people.
Every single bar plays “Tonight’s Gonna be a Good Night” by Black Eyed Peas. It might as well be the Lagos anthem. And with happy hour all night, 2 for 1 mojitos, and free shots, every night really is a good night. The trick is not to resist. You have to let yourself become a part of the rhythm that moves Lagos, otherwise you need to get the fuck out. Drink until you’re blind, smoke like a 50 year old hooker, and enjoy the company of hundreds of other people who just want to drink, smoke, and get naked on the beach, up against the walls of the old town, in the clubs, etc. And for the love of syphilis, use a condom.
This isn’t to say we did nothing but drink. We went to Sagres to go surfing and nearly died in the violent waves. We walked 6km through a desert to get to the point of Piety – the most southwestern point in Europe – and felt like Jesus dragging his cross. We hiked through cliffs, swam in lagoons, and explored caves.
And then as soon as the sun went down we went back to being sloppy, drunken cunts. One day I woke up with a giant bump on the back of my head and no recollection of how I concussed myself. Another day TheAmazon woke up with a sprained ankle. I have a series of bruises from hip to calf on my left leg. Really wish I knew how that happened.
I adopted the town dog, a stray little monster with an underbite and crazy eyes. His name is Steve and I gave him bacon every morning. He loved me and I loved him until he bit me, the little fucker. Add rabies to the list, along with lung cancer and skin cancer. We made friends. Many friends. Some were special friends, like the sexy Irish bartender who bought me shots of absinthe and smirked as I flirted shamelessly.
“Yor a dorty gurl.”
Oh fuck me. It’s all over.
Turns out Irish accents make my clothes come off. Like, immediately. I can add that to the list, along with tequila, guys who can sing and play guitar at the same time, and anyone in a position of authority. Note: this list is not to be used for evil by any of my readers.
But by our last day in Lagos we were getting disillusioned. And not just because Ireland eventually burned me for a German whore (new favourite expression = pump and dump) and TheAmazon’s Aussie bartender decided she was no longer a lesbian.
On our last morning I sat on the curb, holding my absinthe-riddled head while TheAmazon shopped for souvenirs. A giant rat ran past me. How metaphoric.
The thing is, everyone in Lagos is running away from something. I was trying to forget my failed relationship, TheAmazon was trying to forget her hateful job, and everyone who works there has basically run away permanently. Nobody throws their entire lives away to live in perpetual sin if they’re not escaping from something back home. So the town has a bit of a dark edge to it. When you realize this it starts looking less and less like paradise. You start noticing the how all of the ex-pats have little guts and are prematurely aged from drinking 8 hours/day. You see the beggars with no feet. You see the fucking rats.
We left just in time, I think. My recommendation is to stay no more than 10 days.
That said, we were both wrist-cuttingly depressed to leave hedonism, which was only made worse by the 20+ hours we spent in transit on the way home. We were so grumpy on our first flight that I actually started yelling at the parents of one of the two screaming babies in our cabin. “BABY GRAVOL!!!” “BABY GRAVOL!!!” “FOR FUCK’S SAKE!!”
So anyway, to keep ourselves from getting arrested, we did the math. For real, it took us a good 4 hours. I give you…
Portugal By the Numbers:
Average Hours Slept per night: 4.8
Average Drinks consumed each per night: 11.8
Total Drinks consumed each over 12 days: 153
Number of times the word “cunt” was used per day: 37 (approximate)
Number of cigarettes smoked each per night: 9
International Man Bingo Winners, rated by performance:
- Team Event: Australia, with an average 8.25
- Solo Event: Ireland, with an average 8.5
I also give you: Strange Facts about Portugal!
2. The number 2 is pronounced “douche” in Portuguese. Therefore TheAmazon and I ordered everything in pairs in order to say douche as much as possible. Douche bus tickets. Douche tequila. Douche surfboards. Obrigado.
3. Bidets are everywhere. I used them to clean my feet after the beach.
4. 5 euro Portuguese hair straightners WILL tear out half your head of hair after 2 weeks of use. Bad choice. Good price.
5. At least 5 Indian restaurants on every street corner. Vindaloo while backpacking and averaging 11.8 drinks per night = not recommended. Bowels no likey. NO LIKEY.
So anyway, that’s pretty much my trip in a nut shell. Before I left I said I had 3 goals: to come back fat, relaxed, and with some serious perspective. I think I managed all three, although “fat” is questionable. But most importantly, moving on from FauxHawk is starting to seem less impossible. Like maybe I won't die alone after all. Or die of a broken heart. Also, I really hope he keeps his promise to stop reading my blog. Moving on seems more possible (eventually), but hurting him is still impossible. My heart still aches when I think of him.
One final note: Pauly Shore was on my connecting return flight from Philly to TheBigCity.