When we arrived at the airport in Lisbon, we stopped by the tourist information desk and inquired about hotels. They recommended a quaint little inn called the "Hotel Americano," in the heart of the city, an area called the "Rossio." The "Hotel Americano" is a little hard to find, because it is wedged between the entrances to a grocery store and it's facade is adorned with the flags of many nations and a few very small American flags. The best way to describe it is to say that it looks like it was built in Havana just prior to the Revolution and left untouched since then. I am sure that it was a grand little hotel in it's day, but the art deco ceilings and walls have started to crack and the original furniture is looking a tad old.
Our little room was very romantic, with a cool view up the side of a hill, which was teeming with activity starting every morning. I spent a great deal of time watching people walk up and down the stairs there, looking like participants in an M. C. Escher print which had come to life.
The second day in the hotel, the radiator in our room sprang a leak, which especially sucked because it had been raining outside for two days, which limited our sightseeing. We stuck the wastebasket under the leak, and had to empty the wastebasket about once per hour, so that it would not overflow and flood the grocery store underneath the room. I went to the reception desk four times that day to inquire about when it would be fixed, and was told each time: "Oh, yeah, the plumber is on his way." The next day, when it was still leaking, I went down to the reception desk again and spoke to the guy on duty. I asked when the plumber was coming and he gave me a blank stare, no doubt in an effort to flaunt his complete and utter lack of English language skills. I made him come with me up to the room, where I showed him exactly what was wrong. I informed him that we had been trapped in the room the entire previous day, because the plumber was "on his way," and explained that we were going to leave the room for about five hours, to watch a movie and have some dinner, and, as we were not going to be there to empty the wastebasket every hour on the hour, it would flood the grocery store underneath the room. He came up with the perfect solution: "You stay!"
I hated to break the news to him that we were NOT going to stay, as we were on vacation and that I really did not give a damn about the problems he would have with the flooding of the grocery store. About an hour later, a plumber showed up and fixed the leak.