Our quest this time was gemstones from the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique. We were especially interested in the flawless large green tourmaline crystals to be found in that East African nation where our friends had lived for most of their lives. They left in 1975 when Mozambique achieved independence and the country erupted in civil war.
We flew 4,007 miles to get from Kenya to Portugal, with a very brief layover in Rome. We could sense the excitement of that city, but there was no time to experience it first hand. Rome would have to wait. We were heading for romantic, mysterious Lisbon, city of international intrigue, llse’s neutral haven in the film Casablanca, and her destination when she tearfully left Rick at the airport. Well, here’s looking at you, Lisbon!
We set down at Lisboa International Airport and found ourselves in one of the most glorious seaport cities in the world. Our itinerary called for a two-day stay before heading for Switzerland. Lisbon wears many hats. It is Portugal’s capital, chief port, major commercial hub and the country’s biggest tourist attraction.
The population is, for the most part, cosmopolitan and multi-cultural, with residents from Europe, Africa and Asia. People are drawn to this charismatic city on the Tagus River, which weaves in and out of Lisbon. The climate is humid and mild, averaging 63 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. Built on terraces along the sides of a series of low hills, Lisbon overlooks a natural harbor, considered to be among the most beautiful in the world.
Ancient records indicate that Lisbon was founded by the Phoenicians. Some sources, however, give credit to Ulysses, the world traveler of Homer’s The Odyssey. The city was occupied by the Romans in the second century and was later ruled by the Visigoths and the Moors. It reverted back to the Portuguese in the middle of the 12th century and was made the capital some 100 years later.