Category Archives: backpacking

LisVegas: The Six Coolest Things About Lisbon

1. I FORTE THE LAW

Lisbon doesn’t have a spectacular harbour like Sydney, Hong Kong or Woy Woy, but it is on the water, and has a few things to offer those who are after a stroll along the agua. The 25 de Abril bridge looks a bit like that one in San Francisco, but hopefully not as many people commit suicide by jumping off it. Maybe it’s because the bridge is next to Santuário de Cristo Rei, a statue of Jesus that looks just like the one in Rio. I like to think the big fella has a quiet word with anyone feeling blue enough to end it all.

A short powerwalk along the Tagus River reveals the enormous Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a 52-metre-high monument to Portugal’s history of exploration. It was finished in 1960 and boasts 33 statues of famous Portuguese explorers, all of whom have funny names. It costs five Euros to climb to the top, but I didn’t because I got distracted by a chick with big tits and forgot to.

The best thing to see along the waterfront is the 500-year-old Belém Tower, which was originally built defend the city before being converted into a place to imprison homosexuals. Once it became obvious that the homosexuals quite enjoyed being locked up in a dungeon with dozens of like-minded individuals, they were all drowned in the river and it was converted into a regular prison, with only a three percent drop in the amount of gay sex.

2. BOUND FOR GLORIA

Lisbon is really hilly and the Portuguese only have little legs, so they built a bunch of funicular railways to carry them home after loading up on bacalhau and vinho verde. The most famous of the three remaining funiculars is the Elevador da Glória, which was handily located just around the corner from my hostel (which was very handy for getting home after drinking my body weight in cheap supermarket beer).

Gloria was opened in 1885 and rolls a few hundred metres from Baixa up to Bairro Alto. It costs three Euros to head up or down, so it’s best to buy a transport day pass for six Euros and ride the bloody thing all day long. The best part is that when you get off at the top, you can dance around like you’re in the opening of Full House.

3. BLISTER IN THE SUNSET

There are few things more enjoyable than smashing ice-cold beers while watching a glorious sunset in an exotic city. Alright, maybe watching the Raiders beat Manly 50-0 in the grand final with an endless supply of free beer and meat pies at hand would top it, but you get the point. Lisbon is an ace place for watching the sun go down because it faces west over the ocean and has heaps of stunning lookouts.

Miradouro de Santa Catarina and Miradouro Santa Luzia are great spots, but the best I found was the snappily-titled Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte. The name means ‘Our Lady of the Hill’, and it’s easily accessible by wandering through the Graca district’s labyrinthine alleyways until you either stumble upon it or die of starvation. Situated in the grounds of an ancient church, the view is tops, but the best thing is that there’s a bar serving nice big jugs of Sagres (and some overpriced food, so bring a bag of chips). By the time the sun finally disappears, you’ll be so smashed they’ll have to roll you back down the hill!

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Livin’ la vida, LAGOS!

Lagos is a disgraceful Nigerian city where the kids walk around with AK-47S, the prostitutes are overflowing with AIDS, and every second person is an internet scam artist (hi, Prince Bobongi). So rather than risking my life by going to that Lagos, I went to the Portuguese version, which turned out to be a particularly pleasant place to spend a week.

Lagos is one of the major destinations in the world famous Algarve region, and more than 5 million sunseekers from around the world descend upon its glorious beaches every year (alright, I made that number up because I couldn’t find any figures on Wikipedia). Sun, sand, surf and sandwiches are all available in this Portuguese paradise.

I stayed a bit out of town at the Ocean View Hostel, which I liked because it’s cheap, has a nice pool, and serves cold drinks. It’s also located close to Praiha Porto de Mos’s blue waters and the spectacular cliff walk that leads up from the sand. Unless you’ve got money for a helicopter or something (and I barely have money to wipe my arse) this is the best way to see the Algarve’s rugged coast.

The town centre is grouse if you’re the sort of person who likes to drink good food and eat good beer while watching stunning Euro ladies saunter past wearing next to nothing. If you’re the sort of person who prefers to slam your cock in a mouse trap or lip sync to Milli Vanilla in front of the bathroom mirror, you might want to try somewhere else. Lots of the bars are aimed at visiting Poms (and priced as such), but there’s a great party vibe pretty much every night of the week. I got so hammered on Sagres and cheap Portuguese boxed wine that I stripped down to my boxer shorts and got caught drink driving. I’m a bloody idiot.

Being a seaside resort town, there’s a pleasant waterfront area that looks out over about a billion dollars worth of yachts. About the closest I’ve been to riding a yacht was when I dry humped a yak while I was in India (he never accepted my Facebook friend request, by the way) but the waterfront is still a cool place to stroll along. There’s even a little stretch of sand called Praiha Batata, which means Potato Beach, and is the best name this side of Eggs and Bacon Bay.

Forte da Ponta da Bandeira was built in the late 1600s to protect the city from sea snakes, and it’s still in pretty good shape. There’s a museum inside that has all sorts of information on Portugal’s marine history, but that sounds boring so I didn’t check it out. Apparently it’s still used to imprison local sex pests, perverts and rapists, so I made sure to go easy on the nude selfies whilst in Lagos (that noise you hear is about 50 girls from Tinder calling, “Bullshit!”).

Being a touristy sort of place, there are shitloads of activities to do, but I didn’t bother with any of them because I was either too drunk or too hungover all the time. But here are some delightful photos of other idiots having fun in Lagos. Look how much fun they’re having!

The fella in that last foto is Dewey, a loudmouthed Yank who I had the extreme misfortune to share a room with. As well as masturbating regularly and enthusiastically, he jabbered non-stop about shit I couldn’t care less about. The only thing I remember him saying is, “It’s funny they call this place Lagos, because I have the lagos dick in town!” I hope he ended his trip in the rape fort.

I Go To Rio

Travel blog-writing wankers with sticks up their arses will tell you that you can’t experience everything Rio de Janeiro has to offer in just five hours, but they’re wrong – very fucking wrong. With my bus from Floripa taking six hours longer than it should have, and a flight to the northeast of Brazil booked for the same night I arrived, I had barely any time in Cidade Maravilhosa (roughly translated as… I dunno, something about cicadas), but I saw it all. Every last bit of it.

So bloody well take that.

Yes, just like dancing gay champion Peter Allen did several decades ago, I gave in to the rhythm and let my feet follow the beat of my heart as I strutted down the streets of one of the world’s biggest cities. Unlike poor old Pete, I didn’t go around shaking other blokes’ maracas, so I might escape his tragic fate.

Here’s some of the cliche sights I saw during those 300 minutes. Big-arsed sheilas in tiny bikinis:

Some dude taking a shit in the street:

Dickheads dancing the Macarena:

A street- wise youth gang busting a groove in a favella:

I even visited the world famous Copacabana Beach, and thought it was a pretty bloody nice place indeed:

All of that stuff was great, but while in Rio I really wanted to see the city’s Big Thing. Coffs Harbour has the Big Banana, Nambour has the Big Pineapple, and Rio has the Big Christian. I knew he was on top of a hill that could be reached by cable car, so when I saw one, I hopped on. The ride to the top of the Sugar Loaf (if there’s a better name for a hill anywhere, I’ll eat my undies) is truly spectacular, and Rio is one of the most incredible and unique cities around. Massive mountains climb out of the rambling buildings, with golden beaches providing breathtaking decoration.

When I got to the top, I eagerly looked around for the Big Christian, but couldn’t find him anywhere. He’s 30m tall, so it’s not like he was hidden behind a palm tree or something, so I asked a little bloke who works there where the statue was.

“Estúpido gringo,” he laughed. “You’ve come to the incorrect hill. Christ the Redeemer stands proudly atop Corcovado, several kilometres from here. If you look behind you, you’ll see him. He is quite majestic.” And then he shoved an empanada in his gob and sauntered off.

But when I looked around, the Big Christian wasn’t where he was supposed to be. There were just clouds. The weather had fucked me again! I was devastated, and lined up with hundreds of other to take a selfie in front of a whole lot of nothin’.

While I was doing that, some self-obsessed creep who was hoping for the perfect Instagram snap started going berserk, ranting about the weather and knocking food off people’s tables. He was so enraged that he almost stepped on a marmoset! He was coming my way, waving his selfie stick around carrying on like a pork chop, but as I turned to run I slipped on a banana peel and went sprawling on the ground. I scraped my knee and started crying, when a fat little brown bloke with a gap-toothed smile and a goofy haircut trotted over to me.

“Such grace! Such courage! Such ability to fall over for no reason and pretend you’re hurt! You’re exactly what the Brazilian soccer team needs to win the next World Cup! Are you available over the next two months or so?”

“Who the fuck are you?”

“Why… I’m Ronaldo! The world’s greatest soccer man! I’m famous!”

“Yeah, yeah, maybe in Brazil. But in Australia people would walk right past you to get an autograph off Super Hubert. Look, I don’t have time to join your pub soccer team. You’ll just have to go and win your World Cup thingie without me.

Floripa Madness!

There are certain places on this big fuck-off blue ball called Earth that I truly believe I was drawn to. Whether to meet someone who would touch my soul or to experience something that would change my life, I didn’t choose to visit these destinations – they chose me. Florianopolis, in the south of Brazil, is one of those very special places. I stumbled in for what I thought would be three nights and now I’m regretfully stumbling out 15 days later, feeling as though I’ve experienced a lifetime in a single fortnight. Yeah, Floripa is a pretty damn cool place.

It was by pure chance that I ended up visiting the island. As well as boasting some of the greatest surf breaks and paragliding sites on the planet, Florianopolis was also at the centre of a major international drug smuggling ring for many years. The story of drug runners and millionaire kingpins was told in Kathryn Bonella’s fantastic book Operation Playboy, which my old man read a few months ago. He told me to read it, I did, and the picture painted of Florianopolis meant that I had to include it on my trip through South America. And they say drugs aren’t good for anyone!

The actual city of Floripa is nice enough, straddling the coast of Santa Catarina and the edge of Ilha de Santa Catarina, but the true beauty comes from some of the further flung spots. There are 42 beaches on the island, and most of them are spectacular. I set up camp in the hills overlooking Barra da Lagoa, a fishing village lined with palm trees and golden sand. It’s a peaceful place that reminds me of Bali, with monkeys swinging from the trees, bamboo houses, open-air bars and restaurants, and a good vibe. As I walked down the beach for the first time, with emerald hills rising above me and the azure waves crashing at my feet, I already knew that three nights wouldn’t be enough.

People check out Drunk and Jobless for the naked photos of me humping statues and wild stories of alcohol-fuelled debauchery, so I’m not going to post an entry that reads like a teenager’s diary, but I was fortunate enough to meet someone wonderful on that mystical island off the coast of South America. Someone who showed me the beauty of Brazilian culture, taught me that beer belongs in the freezer even when it’s cold out, didn’t judge me for wearing skin-tight womens leggings in public, and introduced me to the magic of caipirinha and the kilo lunch. We spent enough time together that I now wear thongs inside and wash my underpants in the shower, like a true Brazilian. Floripa is a place anyone would enjoy, but one person made it truly incredible for me.

Right, the mushy stuff’s over, somoving on. Florianopolis is a magical island, and if you’re drawn there, don’t fight it. Go snorkelling, hike up mountains, drink cheap beer in great bars by the water, sit in the sun and smile, perve on stunning women wearing G-bangers, wear a G-banger yourself and not feel like you’re being judged for doing so, lie in a hammock and watch the world roll past, gorge yourself on pizza for three meals a day, enjoy strolling through the crime-free streets, visit the nudist beach, get caught in a Brazilian truckers strike and not be able to go anywhere because there’s no petrol, swim in crystal clear waters, kayak past the most incredible waterfront houses you’ll ever see, dance the samba with locals, end up with lots of useless change in your pocket, and watch the sun set over the water with a good bottle of cheap wine. Fifteen years wouldn’t be enough time there, let alone 15 days, so there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be back. Put the Brahma in the fridge!