Lisbon: we were having a ball. Different, amazing buildings; windy, cobbled lanes; tiny yellow trams squeezing through cramped mediaeval streets, shops with never-seen-before stuff that’s hard to resist. History at every turn. And here comes one of those delightful No 28 trams. Will we catch it? Absolutely. Where’s it going? Who cares!
We line up. Hmm, it’s packed with people thinking like us. Maybe there’s room… There is a rush to get on and we are dragged along. We get to the front step, still not sure whether to get on… Maybe we’ll wait for the next one. Then the rush gets a little firmer. Julie is carried on board. Some guy that obviously really wants to get on pushes in front of me, right up next to Julie. Some other guy thumps ungracefully into me and we have a double-decker human sandwich. I catch Julie’s eye and we decide to abandon ship. We reverse direction until we are standing once again on terra firma, while the tram slowly moves off, with arms, legs and bodies still protruding from the doorway.
Well, that was interesting. We decide to walk on, maybe we’ll find a less frenzied tram stop.
I do my usual every few minutes’ routine: tap left pocket: phone and passport – check; breast pocket – glasses and phosphate binders (pills) – check; right pocket – wallet – Wallet! No wallet!! What the … redo the routine, tapping and checking everywhere. But I already know. It’s GONE.
First the recriminations. How could I have been so dumb? Leaving my wallet bulging at the pocket of my jeans. Begging to be stolen. And why didn’t I feel the hand in my pocket. If only we’d stayed on the tram, and discovered the theft. I could have accused the thief, directly behind me, and recovered my wallet. Then again, maybe not. They work in pairs, so he would have passed it on well before I woke up to the loss.
Glumly, we spend 10 minutes calling banks and cancelling my credit cards, then we walk to the hotel and talk about it with the Receptionist. She insists we go to the Police and report it. The Police tourist station is only a few doors away, hidden inside a museum. So off we go.
We arrive at the tiny station where five police sit at five desks taking statements in a range of languages (we find out that almost all are for pickpocket cases). Julie pushes the English button and we take a number.
About half an hour later we go to the English-speaking desk and tell our story to an efficient and sympathetic policewoman. It takes about 30 minutes. I fill in a couple of forms, handover my passport and wait while she types up the report the lists where and when, what was taken, worth how much. I sign four copies and take two with me. We both feel a little better, maybe from just talking about it. We have no expectation of getting it back.
Back to the hotel. Drained. It’s nearly 6 O’clock. We go out for a light meal and come back to relax, read and maybe try to translate a Portuguese TV show (or maybe just look at the pictures). By 10 O’clock we are both in bed with the shadow of today’s adventure.
At 10:30 the phone rings. It’s the receptionist. The Police called: they’ve found my wallet. What? No. Really? Yes. Come to reception and they will give me the address of the Police Station where I can collect it. Tonight. Unbelievable!
We both snap awake and get dressed. Down to the Receptionist, who marks a map with an X and gives me a name to ask for. It’s about 10 minutes’ walk away, just down the road from the scene of the crime. We walk the cobbled footpaths of Reu ***, through shadows and mists, past the occasional stranger and thousand-year old church until we find it. We step inside, I ask for the name. Ah yes. Smiles all around. A uniformed constable appears with an envelope, tears it open and wallah, my wallet. He hands it to me with a small bow and disappears. The man at the desk shakes my hand. Many Obligados, smiles and nods and we step back out into the street.
The circle closes: we started our adventure around the corner and completed it here.
Check the wallet: everything in place except the money: credit cards, licence, health insurance, prized photo of Julie. Too bad we cancelled the credit cards, but that’s a small inconvenience. Back to the hotel and bed.
Later that night: perhaps it was all a dream, or perhaps we inadvertently stepped into a live show: thrills, excitement and high emotion, with a cast of hundreds and the City of Lisbon as the theatre. All for a measly €120.