Chapter 9: Lehgo Lagos

A little Sevilla, a little Lagos

Hello from Sevilla (again lol), and welcome to Backpackin'! If you want to join 800 others reading about this weird trip around the world, add your email below: 

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Before I begin, shoutout to Tanner’s grandma and family. You guys are awesome 🤝

I talked to Tanner and Rylan today, sounds like Tanner lost his phone in Greece. Sorry Grandma Galen, might be a minute before Tanner calls home again.


Wednesday, September 15th

Viva Sevilla, I love this beautiful little city. Barcelona and Madrid are awesome, but they are also massive international cities. Sevilla is as Spanish as it gets. The historic sites are beautiful, but it’s the day to day life that I love. A lot of people don’t speak English in Sevilla, and those that do are the hostel-goers and study abroad groups littered throughout the city. The food, wine, and daily vibes in Sevilla are Spanish af, and it’s awesome. I spent the morning walking through the Los Remedios neighborhood, and I came across the gym that I used to work out at when I studied here. I bagged a one month membership for $5. First “real” gym I’ve seen in weeks, and it was much needed.

I met Nathan and another guy from our hostel, Phil, at the Plaza de España. You might recognize this site as the Kingdom of Naboo in Star Wars.

We went to an Arabic place for lunch afterwards, and I headed to a Starbucks to write for the rest of the afternoon.

After the sun set, I walked back to the hostel and met everyone else on the rooftop bar. We had a fun group from all over the place, and the hostel staff took us to the bar district that night. Sevilla still has weird COVID rules where some bars are limited capacity, sadly. While we were sitting in one such bar, I convinced a guy from the hostel that I was going to Afghanistan next. There are flights available if anyone wants to check out Kabul. I hear there’s a lot going on over there this time of year.

I met some students from the University of Sevilla, and I ended up hanging out with them for a couple of hours. Only two of them spoke English, so it gave me a chance to whip out the Spanish chops again. My Spanish is so trash right now.

Thursday, September 16th

I spent most of the day walking around site-seeing. I wanted to go to the top of a hotel/tower overlooking the city, but the roof was under construction. Around sunset I found a cool rooftop bar/restaurant, and I grubbed on some cheese and wine before heading back to the hostel.

On the way back to the hostel, I realized I was only 10 minutes away from the “Long Island” bar. Back when I studied in Sevilla, this bar was our favorite hang out spot. $1 sangria on week nights and a number of drinking challenges named after the US made it a popular spot for Americans. It had a map of the US with a shot for every state, and you got a free T-shirt if you did all 50 (not in one night, just in general).

The bar also had a Highway 66 challenge, where taking 8 shots (each one representing a state on a cross country highway) in under a minute would get your picture on a wall, and under 10 seconds would make them free.

Back at the hostel, I told my friends that I was going to check out the Long Island bar for like 20 minutes. When I rolled up, I heard some guys talking about a shot challenge. There were 25 seniors from Bryant University studying there, and one of them, a guy named Alfredo, did the challenge the night before.

I started chatting with them, and he told me that the bar kept a photo album going back to 2013. I found my old picture along with my friend Bradley Ford’s. (Bradley did it in 13 seconds. Legend.)

The problem with this challenge was the two middle shots: red and black absinthe. That stuff hit different, and going tequila, whiskey, vodka, absinthe, absinthe, gin, rum, jaeger just doesn’t sit well. In 2018 I finished it, but I yakked everywhere afterwards. The college kids convinced me to run it back in 2021, and I smoked my time puke-free.

My “20 minute” trip quickly turned into two hours hanging out with those guys, and Alfredo was a homie. He had made friends with a lot of locals, and he took me and some of his university friends to another local bar (unfortunately, I can’t remember the name). This new place stayed open til like 4 AM, and it couldn’t care less about COVID restrictions. I ended up staying out with Alfredo and company til 3:30. When I got back to the hostel, the girl working the front desk said “20 minutes huh?” I laughed and said, “Something like that.”

Friday, September 17th

Last night quickly went from “10 minutes checking out my old Sevilla bar” to “Up to 4 AM with a bunch of Americans”. Ain’t it fun? Anyways, I woke up around 9:00 to catch my 10:00 bus to Lagos, Portugal. It was a four hour ride with a time change in the middle, and I got to the coastal beach town around 1:00.

If you’ve never been to Lagos (or anywhere in southern Portugal), let me tell you something: it’s beautiful. Some of the best beaches in the world. The cliffs and caves, sunrises and sunsets, cobblestone streets, white-washed walls, and aqua-blue roofs. Lagos rocks.

I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and I passed an irresistible Italian place on the way to my hostel. I grabbed a table and ate the world’s best shrimp and octopus pizza. *Chef’s kiss* 🤌🏼. When I got my hostel, the Rising Cock (LOL), I met “Mama”. Mama is a Portuguese woman who lives at the hostel, and she cleans and cooks for guests. She makes homemade crepes and a special hangover cure drink called tika tika, and her cooking is fantastic. Ricky Bobby was wrong, there’s nothing better than a good crepe.

I was the only person in my room on night 1 (thank God, it was so nice getting a good night’s sleep for once). When I checked in to hostel, I met another guest named Mike. Mike is a Canadian around my age, and he is straight up gaming the work from home system. He’s working “in” Toronto, but he booked an Airbnb in Lisbon for a month without telling his company. Dude is out here working 2-10 everyday from the other side of the world.

I took a nap for an hour or so before setting out to see the beaches. The beaches here are awesome because 1) they are covered in silky-smooth sand with few rocks, as any good beach should be. 2) There are a dozen different beaches separated by cliffs, rocks, and tunnels. The aesthetics are awesome. 3) There are miles of beaches to explore by walking, swimming, and kayaking. Lagos has dozens of awesome coves and rock formations.

As the sun began to set, I grabbed a burrito and headed back to the hostel for the bar crawl. I met up with Mike and his friends Daniel and Max. While Mike was working in Portugal, the other two were visiting on a 10 day vacation. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the most fun part of traveling is hitting it off with some strangers and getting after it for 72 hours. The Canadian guys were instant homies.

There were so many cool people in our hostel group: Canadians, Americans, Brits, Australians, Romanians, Germans, and a white guy named Darrel from Zimbabwe who dropped out of high school 10 years ago, and never stopped traveling.

Darrel’s story was nuts. He hasn’t stopped traveling in a decade. When he runs out of money, he finds a job wherever he is and works until he can afford to travel again. The man has worked everywhere from dairy farms to bars, and he has no plans to stop anytime soon.

After a round of drinking games, we head out for the night. Lagos is the quintessential beach town packed with dozens of bars, pubs, and clubs. Unfortunately, everything closes at 2. Fortunately, the party keeps going on the beach til sunrise.

At one of the last bars, we met a couple of British girls who wanted go to the beach. We end up on the Atlantic coast at 3 AM with a thousand other beach goers, and one of the girls says “We should jump in the ocean!”

Now it was windy and cold on the beach at 3:30 AM, but we all know that a few too many adult beverages is the precursor to any bold impulsive decision. So yeah, I dove right in. Haven’t felt cold like that since my football ice baths in college. The worst part wasn’t the cold though, it was putting my sandy-ass clothes back on while I was still half wet afterwards. 4/10, probably wouldn’t do again. I left a trail of sand from the beach back to my hostel, and I passed out around 4:30.

Saturday, September 18th

First time I’d had a room to myself since I got to Europe, and I couldn’t be happier. I woke up to the sweet, sweet aroma of fresh crepes in the kitchen around 10. I walked in and saw the Canadian boys, and we were all looking rough. Luckily, Mama had a jug of tika tika and some fresh crepes ready for us.

Tika tika is a warm lemon-tea made by boiling lemon skins. Hangovers didn’t stand a chance.

After filling my stomach with nutella and cinnamon-covered crepes, I passed back out for a couple of hours.

I woke up around 1 and grabbed a small lunch from a breakfast place down the road. The owner was a Nepalese immigrant, and we chatted about life in Nepal for a while. I met Mike, Daniel, and Max at the beach afterwards, and we hung out there for most of the day. The weather was literal perfection. Sunny, 80 degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. Daniel and Max had to get COVID tests to fly back to Canada on Tuesday, but we all met up again at a tapas place afterwards for some fine wine and seafood. Highly recommend seafood in Portugal, the mussels slapped.

I had a couple of British roommates when I got back: Alex and Elliot, a couple of good lads. Like the night before, our hostel hopped around to five different bars in town before heading to the beach. I ran into the other British girl from the night before when I overheard her tell someone, “I just hate all Americans.”

Well as you may know, I’m an American myself, and I thought that was a pretty stupid statement. They say God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers, so like the patriots from generations ago, I felt compelled to defend my country against British imperialism.

Long story short, she’d had a couple of bad experiences with some Americanos and decided that all Americans are obnoxious, disrespectful, racist, and ignorant to the rest of the world. I think it takes an elite level of cognitive dissonance to not realize how ignorant you are calling an entire group of people ignorant, but it is what it is.

The laziest arguments in the world follow this format: All ______ (Americans, Europeans, Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Atheists, etc.) are ______. If that’s the foundation of your opinion on literally anything, go kick rocks. People use these broad generalizations as simple narratives to understand the world, even though they’re rarely true.

For all of its problems, America is a fantastic place. The world is full of homogenous populations in almost all of its countries. Native residents of Norway, Russia, India, Iran, and China all largely look like each other. America is the only country where a white guy, black guy, yellow guy, and brown guy can break bread together as red blooded “Americans”, and that’s freaking awesome.

I ended up meeting an FSU grad living in London on the beach that night, and we chatted quite a bit about European opinions of Americans. Most Europeans are friendly to Americans (and I would say reverse is true as well), but there’s always going to be someone who looks for the negatives. Ah well.

Another night on the beach, another night in bed after 5 AM. Viva Lagos.

Sunday, September 19th

I unfortunately slept through Mama’s crepes this morning. At 2:00ish, Mike, Max, Daniel, and I walked back to the beach and signed up for a kayaking tour. The tour started at 3, so we took some time to explore other areas of the beach. Some of the resorts half a mile up the road were awesome: equipped with gorgeous views of the coastal cliffs and beautiful hidden-away beaches. We walked back to the kayak station at 3:00 and met our guide, John.

Mike and I shared a kayak, while Max and Daniel were in the other. If you go to Lagos, you have to do the kayak tour. We paddled in and out of caves, and we traversed miles of coastline. The southwest corner of the Lagos coastline feels like the edge of the world: a steep, rocky cliff that drops off into an endless expanse of ocean. 700 years ago, it was the edge of the world. Three months ago, I was swimming on ocean’s western border in Charleston, SC.

After kayaking for hours we hit up a burger place, Nah Nah Bah’s, near the hostel for dinner. Three years ago, I sat down in the same restaurant for an eating challenge: a $50 meal consisting of a 2.2 lb burger with 15 slices of bacon (among other things) and a massive bowl of sauce-covered fries. Finish in an hour, and you receive free t-shirt with the meal on the house. I got bodied by that burger and had to cough up $50.

This time I got a normal burger and beer. Much more enjoyable experience. Mike had to leave after dinner; he had a bus back to Lisbon before work tomorrow. The other three of us grabbed some beers and headed back to the beach. I had noticed a lighthouse on the corner of town during our kayaking tour, and I wanted to check it out around sunset.

Best decision I’ve made all trip. The corner of Lagos looked cool from the water that afternoon, but the view from the top of the cliff was unbelievable. We were surrounded by beautiful rock formations that gave way to cream-colored beaches, and the sunset cast everything in a light-orange aura. Pictures (at least on an iPhone 11) can’t capture moments like this. You really just have to see them. We sat down on the edge of the world and downed a six pack of cervezas. Not a bad way to spend my last night in Portugal.

When we got back to the hostel, I threw on my Mike Vick Falcons jersey just to watch the squad get wrecked by Tom Brady once again. We went to a couple of bars, and I started chatting with another guy from our hostel: Simon. Simon was a fellow Americano from Kentucky, and he had been living out west in Cali. He was in his early-mid 30s, and we chatted a lot about careers, life, and all the sort. He said one thing to me that stuck out, “You don’t get your youth back, be intentional with how you spend it.” He spent his 20s grinding his ass off at work, and now he was burnt out and quit his job to travel a bit.

It’s funny, in college I thought 24 was “old”. I tried to make myself grow up a bit too fast, and I took life a bit too serious at times. I always pictured myself climbing the corporate ladder through my 20s, because that’s what “success” looks like after all.

That definition has changed a bit for me since then. Success is living life on my own terms. A lot of people do a great job of “succeeding” at someone else’s plan for their lives, and that terrifies me.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but the more people I talk to, the more certain I am that this trip around the world is one of my wisest decisions. If you’re my age and reading this, I hope you take some time to think about what you want to pursue. Play your own game, and chase your goals. Don’t waste your finite time on someone else’s ambitions. There’s more to life than pursuing a cool job title and a pay raise. I’d rather play career catch up in my 30s after balling out in my 20s than grind away in my 20s and retroactively chase youthful exuberance in my 30s.

The late Norm Macdonald once said, “The only thing an old man can tell a young man is that it goes fast, real fast, and if you’re not careful it’s too late. Of course, the young man will never understand this truth.”

I count myself fortunate that I figured this out when I did.

Anyways, I headed home around 12:30 to catch some shut eye. Back to back late nights had me worn out.

Monday, September 20th

The next morning, I found out Daniel’s night went a bit different. He ended up on the beach at 3 AM and met a group of Germans. They hit it off, and he ended up at their resort on the crest of the city around 5 AM. Homie was chugging wine and watching German Spongebob with these guys, and they caught the sunrise over the ocean. He was just about delirious at lunch time, because he still hadn’t slept.

We all grabbed lunch at a local Italian place with George (Romanian guy from the hostel) and Anna (Norwegian law student also in our hostel), before heading our separate ways. Max and Daniel are headed to Lisbon to fly home, and I’m on the way back to Sevilla to spend some more time in Spain. Mike is going to be in Europe for a while, and it looks like he’s going to come with me to meet up with Rylan and Tanner in Croatia soon. Just might be the most ambitious cross over since the Jimmy Neutron - Timmy Turner power hour. Stay tuned 🤝

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