Lagos’ “The Rising Cock”: Great Parties & An Even Greater Portuguese Culture

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Why Lagos is no less than a dream.

As the train departed the station I thought I was leaving the greatest city on earth. Immersed in color, flavor, and vibrancy that seeps into every meal, every dance, every beach, every building… alive is the only word I could assign to a city like Barcelona. So as the train crawled away carrying me further and further from the beating heart of the city which had just stolen my heart, I questioned my journey to Portugal.

Approximately ten hours and a number of espressos later, my travel partner and longtime friend, Katie and I found ourselves at a bus stop out of a 1950’s national geographic photo. Decaying wicker chairs were scattered across the ceramic tile floor, and black and white photographs of soccer games past lined the walls. A voice sounded over the static of an old radio, and a single bartender sipped at a glass of house made sangria. While our train had announced that we were no longer in Spain and had in fact reached Portugal, Katie and I turned to each other in speculation; rather than crossing geographic borders it felt as if we had crossed time; I had entered Spain in the 80’s, a country whose cultural roots were strong but who’s economy was midst recovery.

The Rising Cock. A bold name for a tiny little hostel nestled on one of the many cobble stone streets of Lagos. A hostel of raving reviews from travelers we had met on the train, proved easier to find than expected. Nearly everyone in Lagos seemed to have heard of the Rising Cock and its rowdy Australian clientele. More so, everyone in Portugal seemed to know of Mama; the infamous, loud spoken, yet warm hearted Portuguese woman who had dedicated her life to performing the vital art of the ‘care taking mother of hungover backpackers all over Portugal.’ After following many pointing fingers, Katie and I found ourselves faced with a tiny white door beneath a giant metal rooster suspended in the air. No other visible option, we knocked, hoping by some chance out unreserved-selves could find refuge. Within moments we were ushered in by a woman yelling. Later would we learn that this was Mama.

Placed in the ‘Princes Room’ Katie and I rallied for 4 days with our seven other roommates, a group of girls who were making their way from Australia to the Unites States together. Having already backpacked through South East Asia, India, the Middle East, and all of Eastern Europe, they were far more experienced than us, and Katie and I were happy to follow their lead.

Our days began with Mama’s special lemon tea, a magical yet top secret hangover cure, and house made crepes with jam. Revived from the night before and fueled for the day to come, Katie and I found ourselves wandering through artisanal shops, sampling the local farmers market and specialty Peri Peri Piri Piri hot sauce, sipping espresso, and of course soaking in the sun on the immaculate yellow sand. Lagos was a place where time felt infinite yet always passed quicker than you would have wished; the nights always seemed to catch up to Katie and I before we were ready. The hostel Pregame began around five, beer and card games out on the patio. Then around 8 we would hit the streets, a squad recognizable from a mile away, each one of us tagged with wristbands detailing our return address…just in case we were to get lost.

In all honesty, the nights, after the first bar in the pub crawl, have faded away into a mixture of laughter, music, bright lights and crashing waves. On our last I found myself swimming under the moonlight, through narrow beach arches and high surf. Thinking back on it now, I was lucky to have made it out having lost only my shoes and one diamond earring (I’m sorry Mom!) but the experience was one I would never take back.

On the morning of our departure from Lagos, two hours before our 6:00 a.m. train, I hiked back barefoot through the sand and the cobblestone streets. My last arrival at the Rising Cock, I was greeted with Mama’s relieved face that I had made it home safely. With one last cup of lemon tea in hand and all too many mojitos later, Lagos seemed no less than a dream. A town in which the desert met the sea and the great parties intertwined with an even greater culture, I was reluctant to leave the town that proved such a pleasant surprise.

Photos: Bella Braconi

Have you ever been to Lagos? Share with us in the comments.

Bella Braconi

Digital Marketing Intern, Contributor

Bella's love for traveling started with her mother who was a flight attendant for United Airlines. She loves music, art & is always in search of adventure!

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