Gulp. Silence. Sick-to-our-stomach feeling. Hard-earned money gone. Thieves. Bandits. Scumbags.
All these epithets and more spring to mind as we listen dumbfounded to our hostess. She continues.... “we deal with this company and we know you never send money. (We did.) Use only credit cards (we transferred cash). Never share your personal email (we did)...Use the company as a filter. A go-between (we didn’t).” We were cleverly led astray by a bogus look-a-like.
Here we are in Lisbon looking for a rental apartment for one month and now we are certain we’re scammed. The advertised apartment on-line did look almost too good to be true. It was.
All we want to do now is leave, return to the safety and security of our Canadian home.
The apartment we eventually rent, half way up a narrow steep hill on the first floor of a traditional stone building, sits in a working class/student section of the city. Laundry hangs from clothes lines strung out back and front. This is November; Lisbon is sometimes warm enough for only a tee-shirt, sometimes not. Inclement weather brings forth residents who scurry up and down vertical cobblestone streets with warm scarves wrapped around necks, umbrellas clutched in case threatening clouds burst. In contrast, colourful graffiti and weird artful figures swirl and sweep like wallpaper across nearby exterior walls.
Climbing the dozen worn-in-the-middle wooden steps to a shabby landing leading to our apartamento dark door, we open the door to....a red and white IKEA décor!
What a shock....our DIY furniture in this small space does not match or complement this centuries-old neighbourhood. We cannot complain, though, as there are modern amenities, including internet. But there is an offensive sewage odour coming from the kitchen sink we never resolve.
After many mistakes, wrong turns, curses and blame, we begin to learn the intricacies of this amazing city reputedly the second oldest in Europe after Athens. Vibrant, friendly, so wonderfully European, Lisbon buzzes with heavenly pastelerias, excellent vinho do porto, and delicious local cuisine like seafood at Ramiro’s across the square from our apartamento.
This is only the beginning of our five week stay in Portugal.
And to think we almost gave up and flew home.