When we booked the plane to Portugal, we never thought we would right this review. We where suppose to stay in my Uncle’s apartment located in Praia do Pedrógão. It’s 180km from Porto and 160km from Lisbon. Quite frankly it’s in the middle of nowhere but that wasn’t such a big problem since after a year of hard work Me and Mrs. Strawberry could really use some time off.
We rented a car from http://rentalcars.com and it was waiting for us near Porto’s airport. You had to bring a VISA under the name of the main driver but because we went to some music festivals in the weeks before our trip to Portugal I left my VISA card at home. As a result we where unable to get a rental car because Interrent, a rental car company that later turned out to scam most of their customers out of hundreds and sometimes even thousands of EUR would not deliver a car without a proper VISA and being stuck in Porto without accommodation.
Make sure you never use rentalcars.com or book directly from Interrent or Gold Cars. Rentalcars.com is just a intermediator who books a car from a local agent and you only know a few weeks in advance where they booked your car. Interrent and Gold Cars (when bringing a proper VISA) will block a large amount of money from your credit card in case you damage the car. In our case it would have been 1800 EUR! When you bring back your car then seem to always find reasons to take this money because even the tiniest scratch (that they knew was their all the time, even before you rented it) is a reason to take your money. You can read hundreds of horror stories on Tripadvisor and Trustpilot so I was rather lucky having to cancel my booking.
Warning!This scam is being ran by most of the rental car companies near Porto airport. Do a lot of research before you book a car!
On our way back to the airport, one of their employees told me about a “magic solution” to all of my problems… He knew a taxi driver who rented out cars on the side without contract and for a rather cheap price. They told me it would be hard to communicate with him since he only spoke Portugese and French. I would get the car for 300 EUR plus a 200 EUR bond. When he showed me the car, he accidentally broke of the mirror of his so called “luxury Mercedes” which made me a little sceptical about his will to help me.
I already knew I would never see my 200 EUR bond back since there wasn’t a contract and nothing was written in ink. He really failed when I asked him a few things in French he couldn’t reply because, guess what, he didn’t speak any French. I assume he didn’t do his research because most people in Belgium speak Dutch, French and English quite well.
Long story short I demanded that he brought me back to the airport where I would have free WIFI and where I could research alternative solutions. Because I promised I’d call him back in 30 minutes and most likely still take his silly car he did this all for free so we actually scammed the scammers, even if it wasn’t for more then 20 EUR.
They attempted to steal my money one more time by assuring me that I wouldn’t be able to get a hotel in Porto since it was the busy season and I would be sleeping at the airport or on the street… At the airport I was able to book a five star hotel in the Centre of porto (Infante de Sagres) for 130 EUR/night at a discount price. Weird, when all the hotels supposedly wouldn’t have rooms available…
At about 19:00 (after being in hell for more then 4 hours) a very honest cab driver dropped us of for about 25 EUR. On the 30 minute drive to the hotel he told us all about Porto, local cuisine, wine, and things to do… This man was really passionate about his city and after staying their for a week we had to agree with him that Porto is one of the greatest places in the world. To be continued…
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