Livin’ large in Lagos

Sometimes in life all you want is your mummy. For some comfort, whether in that moment you are sad, lost, homesick or even hungover if your mum is the thoroughly understanding and sympathetic type. Now you wouldn’t pick it, but that big and warm metaphorical hug is waiting for you at one of Europe’s top party hostels.

We cruise into The Rising Cock in Lagos, Portugal at the inappropriate hour of 2:30 in the morning. And by cruise I mean dodging struggle street by napping at every opportunity and every awkward position on two flights and a Lisbon stopover. I think I even nod off standing up on the Aerobus.

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My travel partner for the week scores a double bed in the girls only Princess Room. I try to quietly sneak into my six bed dorm which for the remainder of my stay appears to be a boys only room, except for me and my girl bits. Although on my second night there is a girl in there for a total of five passionate minutes, if I’m being nice to the guy.

But you know what makes this okay…Remember that maternal warm embrace you were looking for? That comes in the form of Mama.

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She is the doting mother of the two Portuguese-American brothers who started up Lagos’ first authentic party hostel, The Rising Cock who recently celebrated 10 well deserved years.

She turns not a blind eye to the activities that happen under her roof but more an un-blinkable vision where nothing could shock or bother her.. “Oh my boys! Oh party girls! You want a crepe?” I ask Mama how she does what she does. “It keeps me young,” she responds. “I love people.” It’s a simple philosophy. But one that keeps people coming back and walking away content and reassured they did what they were meant to do in Lagos.

Mama would have to love people to put up with the rascally ratbags that pay visit. She says everyone is like her kids. Well hats off to you Mama, you’ve got so much patience and smiles that I dub you the Mother Teresa of the hostel world.

Party as hard as you like. This Mama won’t ground you, but instead nurse you back to health with crepes and Tika Tika tea.

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I awake each morning to the stench that only five male bodies pickled in beer can bring, enjoy a long warm shower and escape to the fresh air and beautiful day that Lagos continually provides.

This is my kind of place. A town whose specialities include chilled vibes and praia after praia. Cobbled winding lanes take you the dotted surf stores, bars, restaurants and of course the beaches. Some sandy stretches are easier to get to and some are worth the extra hike to reach. Praia Dona Ana is listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We were very excited to go on a hike one day but found some friends on this beach and never made it past. I guess that’s how nice it is.

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The grottos, cliff faces and beaches around the coast have to be explored. That’s a given. The decision part is how are you going to make that happen. Kayaking is a very popular choice. And not too hard for those who did go hard the night before.

The Rising Cock boat party is your standard booze cruise offering of unlimited beer and sangria, boobs, body shots, bronzed bodies, bumping and grinding but with one special oh so pretty addition. Tear yourself away from that body that just won’t quit for 10 minutes and jump on the dinghy to tour the grottos. If you’re lucky your driver will steer around like a madman providing appropriate squeals and eeks. But the biggest squeals will be when you ohmygawd the turquoise water, sunshine dappling on the rocks and the way the bright blue sky peeks through the rock holes.

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Return home and if you’re still upright you’re ready for the the nightly pub crawl. For me, Lagos wasn’t a cultural experience. To be honest if I zoned out for a second I couldn’t tell you which beautiful beachside village I was in. But what it lacks in apparent culture it makes up for in party currency. You’re guaranteed to wake up asking yourself did that really happen? Did I really chalk up five beer bongs to Australia in Three Monkeys? Did I really dance for five hours straight in Inside Out? How many black vodka shots did I have at Nah Nah Bar? What was the name of that cute bartender again? Did that group of Australian guys really get arrested? You got what tattooed? How many people were doing what under my bed last night? Have I missed breakfast? Well to this one, you’d want the answer to be no, possibly more so than the others. Included in your room at the Cock is Mama’s famous crepes. Each morning she prepares as many crepes as guests fragile bellies can handle. And remember, “You gotta plate, you gotta crepe.” i.e. if you are full, exit swiftly or more crepes are coming your way until the end of time. Hot tip, ask Mama for a cheese package. On top of this is Tika Tika tea. Another enchanting concoction by Mama that will both magically change colour before your eyes and cure your previous night’s ailments.

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Feeling really energetic and want to work off those 10 crepes you knocked back? Head out for a surf. Hire a board and jump on a bus or join a day tour. Jah Shakah organised me a day consisting of board, wetsuit, transport, friendly instructors, and an amazing lunch to refuel. It had been awhile since I’d hit the surf but I was glad I finally plucked my chicken feathers and paddled out. I’d wanted to surf in Portugal since I started travelling Europe and while it’s debatable whether you can classify what I did as surfing, I feel a lot more ready for my month at San Sebastian Surf Camp. At least I slept well that night.

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As per usual I gave eating in Lagos a good nudge. I was pretty impressed at what they offered up.

Nah Nah Bar is across the road from the Cock and is owned by the same family. Its burgers have some solid accolades and they are deserved. The patties are made fresh daily and my Toucan Burger was flawless. I also highly recommend the fish tacos and arancini.

Get involved in Monday night family dinner’s at the Cock. Traditional Portuguese fare prepared by Mama with a side of unlimited beer and sangria. You can’t go wrong.

Cafe Odeon is obviously a backpacker’s oasis. Seek it out for cheap eats, hearty English breakfast, and fresh wraps.

I always tend to end up eating Mexican in most cities I visit. I can’t help it. The Green Room in town is typical TexMex fare but worth it. Great cocktails, hot staff and tasty fresh food. You’ll walk away with both a full belly and a smile.

Some may argue the notions of ‘Family’ and ‘Party’ could be polar opposites. But at the Rising Cock their argument would be shot down in a blaze of glory. It’s not quite like getting drunk with your folks and it’s not exactly like a massive Portuguese family BBQ of sangria, second cousins and steak, but it’s a very perfect place in between.

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