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Legendary Tahiti, isle of love, has long been the vision of "la Nouvelle Cythère," the earthly paradise. Explorers Wallis, Bougainville, and Cook all told of a land of spellbinding beauty and enchantment, where the climate was delightful, hazardous insects and diseases unknown, and the islanders, especially the women, among the handsomest ever seen. Rousseau's "noble savage" had been found! A few years later, Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh acted out their drama of sin and retribution here. The list of famous authors who traveled to Tahiti and wrote about the island reads like a high-school literature course: Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Pierre Loti, Rupert Brooke, Jack London, W. Somerset Maugham, Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (the Americans who wrote Mutiny on the Bounty), among others. Exotic images of uninhibited dancers, fragrant flowers, and pagan gods fill the pages. Here, at least, life was meant to be enjoyed. The most unlikely PR man of them all was a once-obscure French painter named Paul Gauguin, who transformed the primitive color of Tahiti and the Marquesas into powerful visual images seen around the world. When WW II shook the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal, rather than bloodcurdling banzais and saturation bombings, French Polynesia got a U.S. serviceman named James A. Michener, who added Bora Bora to the legend. Marlon Brando arrived in 1961 on one of the first jets to land on Tahiti and his Bounty film attracted thousands of other travelers and adventurers to also make the trip.

French Polynesia consists of five great archipelagos, the Society, Austral, Tuamotu, Gambier, and Marquesas islands, arrayed in chains running from northwest to southeast. The Society Islands are subdivided into the Windwards, or Îles du Vent (Tahiti, Moorea, Maiao, Tetiaroa, and Mehetia), and the Leewards, or Îles Sous-le-Vent (Huahine, Raiatea, Taha'a, Bora Bora, Maupiti, Tupai, Maupihaa/Mopelia, Manuae/Scilly, and Motu One/Bellingshausen).
Together the 35 islands and 83 atolls of French Polynesia total only 3,543 square km in land area, yet they're scattered over a vast area of the southeastern Pacific Ocean, between 7° and 28° south latitude and 131° and 156° west longitude. The capital Papeete (149° west longitude) is actually eight degrees east of Honolulu (157° west longitude). Though Tahiti is only half the size of Corsica in land area, if Papeete were Paris then the Gambiers would be in Romania and the Marquesas near Stockholm. At 5,030,000 square km the territory's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone is by far the largest in the Pacific islands.
There's a wonderful geological diversity to these islands midway between Australia and South America--from the dramatic, jagged volcanic outlines of the Society and Marquesas islands, to the 400-meter-high hills of the Australs and Gambiers, to the low coral atolls of the Tuamotus. All of the Marquesas are volcanic islands, while the Tuamotus are all coral islands or atolls. The Societies and Gambiers include both volcanic and coral types.

Tahiti and French Polynesia abound in things to see and do, including many in the "not to be missed" category. Papeete's colorful morning market and captivating waterfront welcome you to Tahiti, the territory's largest island by far. The 117-km road around Tahiti passes historic monuments, museums, temple ruins, beaches, waterfalls, cliffs, gardens and countless scenic views. Travelers should not pass up the opportunity to take the ferry ride to Moorea and see the island's stunning Opunohu Valley, replete with splendid scenery, lush vegetation, and fascinating archaeological sites. Moorea has the long white beach and brilliant reefs Tahiti lacks, and accommodations are abundant in all price ranges.
Farther afield, an even greater concentration of old Polynesian marae (temples) awaits visitors to Maeva on the enchanting island of Huahine. Visible to the west are the large islands of Raiatea and Taha'a which share a single lagoon well favored by yachties. Raiatea boasts the most sacred Polynesian temple in the Society Islands.
The soaring peaks and blue-green lagoon at Bora Bora have been applauded many times, and neighboring Maupiti offers more of the same, though its pleasures are less well known. All of these islands are easily accessible from Tahiti by boat or plane, a traveler's paradise.
French Polynesia's most spectacular atoll may be Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Islands, where the Avatoru and Tiputa passes offer exciting snorkel rides on the tide flows. The shark feeding and manta ray viewing on Rangiroa, Bora Bora, and other islands, and dolphin encounters on Moorea, are all memorable experiences.
Far to the northeast are the remote Marquesas Islands where the ocean crashes onto unprotected shores. Paul Gauguin sought to escape civilization of the island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas and the filming of the TV series Survivor on Nuku Hiva in 2002 again brought the group to the attention of the world.

As elsewhere in the South Pacific, scuba diving is the most popular sport among visitors. The best coral and marinelife viewing by far is available in the Tuamotus and serious divers won't go wrong by choosing Rangiroa, the shark- viewing capital of Polynesia. In the warm waters of Polynesia wetsuits are not required.
There's good surfing around Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, and Raiatea, usually hurricane swells on the north shores from October to March (summer) and Antarctic swells on the south shores from April to September (winter). The summer swells are the same ones that hit Hawaii three or four days earlier and the reef breaks off the north shore of Moorea work better than Tahiti's beach breaks. The most powerful, hollow waves are in winter.
Excellent, easily accessible hiking areas exist on Tahiti, Moorea, and Nuku Hiva. Horseback riding is readily available on Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, and in the Marquesas with the Huahine and Raiatea operations especially recommended. The Society Islands are a sailor's paradise with numerous protected anchorages and excellent sailing weather, which is why most of French Polynesia's charter yacht operations are concentrated on Raiatea.

The big event of the year is the two-week-long Heiva i Tahiti, which runs from the end of June to Bastille Day (14 July). Formerly known as La Fête du Juillet or the Tiurai Festival (the Tahitian word tiurai comes from the English July), the Heiva originated way back in 1882. Today contestants and participants from all over the territory travel to Tahiti to take part in elaborate processions, competitive dancing and singing, feasting, and partying. There are bicycle, car, horse, and outrigger-canoe races, petanque, archery, and javelin-throwing contests, fire walking, sidewalk bazaars, arts and crafts exhibitions, tattooing, games, and joyous carnivals. Bastille Day itself, which marks the fall of the Bastille in Paris on 14 July 1789 at the height of the French Revolution, features a military parade in the capital. You'll see historical reenactments at Marae Arahurahu, a canoe race along the Papeete waterfront, horse racing at the Pirae track, and traditional dance competitions.
The Moorea Blue Marathon has been held every February since 1988. A traditional Maohi sports festival in late April features javelin throwing, rock lifting, coconut tree climbing, coconut husking, races while carrying loads of fruit, etc. The Te Aito individual outrigger canoe race is held on Tahiti around the end of July. The Hawaiki Nui Va'a outrigger canoe race in early November is a stirring three-day event with canoe teams crossing from Huahine to Raiatea the first day, Raiatea to Taha'a the second, and Taha'a to Bora Bora the third.

Everyone other than French citizens needs a passport to travel to French Polynesia. Citizens of the European Union countries, Norway, Switzerland and Australia get three months without a visa. Citizens of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and 13 other countries are granted a one-month stay free upon arrival on Tahiti. Most others must apply at a French diplomatic mission for a visa, but it's usually issued without delay.

The French Pacific franc or Cour de Franc Pacifique (CFP) is legal tender in Tahiti. The value of the CFP is linked to the Euro, so it's a stable currency. A rough way to convert CFP into U.S. dollars would be simply to divide by 100, so CFP 1,000 is US$10, etc.
All banks levy a stiff commission on foreign currency transactions but traveler's checks attract a rate of exchange about 1.5% higher than cash. An alternative are the ATM machines which give a rate slightly better than traveler's checks. Ask your own bank what fees you'll be charged to use ATMs abroad. There have been software problems with the ATMs on Tahiti and it's unwise to be dependent on them.
The domestic air carrier, Air Tahiti, flies to 37 airstrips in every corner of French Polynesia, with important hubs at Papeete (Windward Islands), Bora Bora (Leeward Islands), Rangiroa (western Tuamotus), Hao (eastern Tuamotus), and Nuku Hiva (Marquesas).
To save money, many travelers tour French Polynesia by boat. Ships leave Papeete regularly for the different island groups. The Moorea ferries operate five or six times a day. The cruise to the Marquesas on the passenger-carrying freighter Aranui is highly recommended.
French Polynesia's folkloric le truck provides an entertaining unscheduled passenger service on Tahiti, Huahine, and Raiatea. Passengers sit on long wooden benches in back and there's no problem with luggage. Taxis are overpriced throughout French Polynesia. If you must take one, always verify the fare before getting in. The hitching is still fairly good in French Polynesia.

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Legend of King Arthur

King Arthur, who was he? was King Arthur a real person or a folk tale? Depending on the source he might be a late Roman, a Celt; a king, a general, or a guerilla warrior fighting the Saxons, the Romans, or even the Picts in the north of England.
King Arthur may have fought a number of battles from Badon to his death perhaps at Camlann. The battles of King Arthur section details an extensive list of battles that may be attributed to him by Nennius. Nennius wrote around 800 AD, which would have been 200 years after the events that he was chronicling
The King Arthur of legend probably would have lived in post-Roman Britain. At a time when there was a power vacuum in Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries, the British had to defend themselves against several invasions. The most worrying of these invaders were the Angles and Saxons from northern Europe. It is during this fight for the control of Britain that the historical figure is thought to have lived.
Any battles King Arthur fought would probably have been against the Saxon invader, who had established themselves in the south east corner of England, and were expanding their territory both north and west. At the same time, their appear to have been Pict incursions into England from Scotland.
The soldiers of this period were not "knight in shining armour" of romance. Their main weapon was a spear and not a of a sword, and you would have been unlikely to have seen them wearing a suit of armour. Battles were generally fought to gain land, and it was not until Badon, where a British defeat of the Saxons resulted in a generation of peace.
King Arthur as a knight, in armour, on horseback, is a creation of Chretien de Troyes , written around 1170 AD and purely romantic. In other words Camelot was not presented as an historical, but as a fictional location, using as inspiration that earlier writers had written, and he certainly was not presenting his work as original "scholarship". Chretien de Troyes is the man that created Camelot, Lancelot, and the Holy Grail.
In the era of King Arthur, life for the people was in barter-based economy, based on agriculture. There was only a small amount of trade with continental Europe, but items, such as clothing, were manufactured in Britain. The typical dress of native Britons was a tunic and trousers. Houses were of wood and thatch, with a central hall that was the social centre of the community.
King Arthur almost certainly was idealised, a myth, a legend not a historical fact. The historical facts that might point to a "real" figure are few and far between, but it does not stop you admiring " the once and future king".

The Legend of King Arthur was made popular by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain written in 1135 AD. Chretien de Troyes and Malory later embellished Geoffrey of Monouth's story. These authors drew upon earlier histories including History of the Britons by Nennius, the Annales Cambriae, and the Complaining Book of Gildas, a Welsh monk from the 6th century, as well as local histories, poetry, Celtic mythology and traditions.
There are many versions of the Arthur legend. The following is a brief overview of some of the common elements of the legend. The bolded words are discussed below and go with the slides.
The Romans pulled their troops out of Britain in AD 410. With the loss of the Roman authority, local chieftans and kings competed for land. In 449 AD King Vortigern invited the Angles and Saxons to settle in Kent to help him to fight the Picts and the Scots. But the Angles and Saxons betrayed Vortigern at a peace council where they drew their knives and killed 460 British chiefs. The massacre was called the Night of the Long Knives and according to Geoffrey of Monmouth occurred at a monastery on the Salisbury Plain.
Ambrosius Aurelianus became King and consulted the wizard Merlin to help him select an appropriate monument to raise to the dead chieftains. Merlin suggested that the King's Ring from Mount Killarus in Ireland be dismantled and brought to England. The king's brother and Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, leads an expedition of soldiers to bring the stones from Ireland to England. Merlin magically reconstructs the stones as Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain around the burials of the dead British chieftains in the monastery cemetery.
Later, Uther Pendragon becomes King of England and at an Easter feast, falls in love with Igraine, the wife of the Duke of Cornwall. Uther Pendragon makes a pact with Merlin. If Merlin assists him in winning Igraine, Uther will give the wizard their first born child. That child was Arthur. Arthur is said to have been born at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall and was taken by Merlin to be raised by Sir Ector. Shortly thereafter civil war broke out in England and Uther Pendragon was killed.
When Arthur was a young boy he drew a sword called Caliburn from a stone. One version of the legend states that the sword was made at Avalon from a sarsen stone from Avebury or Stonehenge. Whoever drew the sword from the stone was the true King of England. Arthur was coronated in the ruins of the Roman fort at Caerleon in Wales.
In another version, King Ambrosius Aurelianus led a battle against the Saxons at Badon Hill. Aurelianus is killed and his nephew, Arthur, takes control of the soldiers and wins the battle. Later Arthur lost Caliburn in a fight with Sir Pellinore. Arthur was saved by Merlin's magic. Arthur receives a new sword (Excalibur) and a scabbard from Nimue, the Lady in the Lake at Avalon. The scabbard was magical and as long as Arthur wore it, he could not die.
Arthur had three half-sisters who are sometimes referred to as sorceresses. Arthur falls in love with Mordred, not knowing that she is his half-sister. They have a son Mordred. Arthur is horrified when he finds out the truth. He orders all baby boys born at the same time as his son to be brought to Caerleon. The babies are put onto an unattended ship and set out to sea. The ship crashes on the rocks, but Mordred is found by a man walking on the shore and who takes the baby home and saving his life.
Arthur again falls in love, and marries Guinevere, daughter of King Lodegrance of Camylarde. Guinevere's dowry included a round table and many knights. Arthur establishes his court at Camelot. The round table is a symbol of equality amongst his knights, for no knight was seated in a position superior to another. A rule at the table was that no one could eat until they told a story of daring.
At Camelot, the knights practiced chivalry and feats of heroism. They also organized a quest for the Holy Grail, the chalice from Christ's Last Supper and held the blood of Christ.
Unfortunately, Guinevere betrays Arthur with his knight Sir Lancelot. Arthur's son, Mordred, discovers Guinevere and Lancelot and brings the news to his father. Arthur must condemn Guinevere to death, but at the last minute Sir Lancelot saves her. Arthur chases them to France, and in the interim Mordred claims Arthur's throne.
Arthur and Mordred eventually meet in the Battle of Camlann that takes place circa 537. When the battle ends only Mordred, Arthur and Sir Bedivere remain. They fought until Mordred died and Arthur was fatally wounded. Arther asks Sir Bedivere to throw his sword, Excalibur, into a lake. Arthur is taken to Avalon, an island in a lake inhabited by sorceresses, where he dies...

It is hard to unravel the legend because Arthur is credited with more heroic acts and battles than is humanly possible.
The legend of Arthur probably is a composite of several people who lived in the first half of the 5th century AD. This is the period following the Roman occupation when Britons were left to hold off the Saxon invasions on there own. This is the period called the Dark Ages because there is little known about this time. If Arthur is a real individual, then he was not a titled king but a nobleman of mixed Roman-Briton heritage who rose to prominence as a skilled war leader. He is never referred to as a king or a chieftan in early histories.
Some historians argue that he was knowledgeable of Roman warfare and used cavalry rather than infantry to fend off the Saxons. He may have united the tribes briefly during the 5th century AD. Most of Arthur's activities are concentrated in the Celtic strongholds of Britain: Wessex, Cornwall and Wales. Merlin is also the legendary and was probably a Welsh bard or magician. In the legend of Merlin, the wizard is eventually seduced by the Lady in the Lake, who seals him into a cave where he is said to lie sleeping. The location of the cave is uncertain, but several locations are suggested for Wales and Cornwall. Unfortunately the historic records do not place Arthur and Merlin in the same time period.
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Man in the Iron Mask

An unknown prisoner, of height above the ordinary, young, and of an extremely handsome and noble figure, was conveyed under the greatest secrecy to the castle of the island of Sainte-Marguerite, lying in the Mediterranean, off Provence. On the journey the prisoner wore a mask, the chin-piece of which had steel springs to enable him to eat while still wearing it, and his guards had orders to kill him if he uncovered his face. He remained on the island until an officer of the secret service by name Saint-Mars, warden of Pignerol [a fortress at the foot of the Alps, now in Italy and called Pinerolo], who was made warden of the Bastille in 1690, went in that year to Sainte-Marguerite, and brought him to the Bastille still wearing his mask. The Marquis de Louvois [Louis' minister of war] visited him on the island before his removal, and remained standing while speaking to him, evidently regarding him with respect. The unknown prisoner was conducted to the Bastille, where he was accommodated as well as was possible in that citadel, being refused nothing that he asked for, ... The unknown man died in 1703 and was buried by night in the parish church of Saint Paul. What is doubly astonishing is that when he was sent to the Island of Sainte-Marguerite no man of any consequence in Europe disappeared. Yet such the prisoner was without doubt, for during the first few days that he was on the island, the governor himself put the dishes on the table and then withdrew, locking the door after him. . . .
M. de Chamillart was the last minister to be acquainted with the strange secret. His son-in-law, the second Marshal La Feuillade, told me that when his father-in-law lay dying, he implored him on his knees to tell him the name of this man, who had been known simply as the man in the iron mask, Chamillart replied that it was a state secret and that he had sworn never to reveal it.
The mystery grew. Historians have asserted variously that the masked prisoner was the illegitimate son of Anne of Austria, queen to Louis XIII, and hence a bastard elder half brother of Louis XIV, the Sun King, or the second-born identical twin of the future Louis XIV, or the count of Vermandois, or the duke of Monmouth, or Francois de Beaufort, or Nicolas Fouquet, or Count Mattioli, or, finally, Eustache Dauger, a valet. And less scholarly writers have spawned a vast literature.
In the early 1890s, the great French cryptologist Commandant Etienne Bazeries joined the crowd of sleuths with a new theory. His was based on cryptology, which had never before been invoked to solve the mystery. It began when a fellow officer who was studying the campaigns of one of Louis XIVs greatest marshals, Nicolas de Catinat, found a number of Catinat's coded messages in the French military archives, He asked Bazeries to solve them. In doing so, Bazeries read a message of Louis to Catinat dated 24 August 1691. It stated that the king was displeased at the raising of the siege of the Italian town of Coni by one of his generals, Vivian Labbé, seigneur de Bulonde (sometimes Bullonde), and directed Catinat that "His Majesty desires that you immediately arrest General Bulonde and cause him to be conducted to the fortress of Pignerol, where he will be locked in a cell under guard at night and permitted to walk on the battlements during the day with a 330 309." Those two codegroups occurred only that one time in the Catinat correspondence, which totaled 11,125 groups. Their solution could therefore not be confirmed by other appearances. But Bazeries verified that Bulonde's conduct in raising the siege had been cowardly and that he never again held a command in the royal army. He therefore concluded that 330 stood for masque and 309 for a full stop. In 1893, he published Le Masque de fer, declaring that General Bulonde was the man in the Iron Mask.
Other writers criticized it. As Fletcher Pratt put it in his 1939 secret and Urgent, another historian, wishing to disprove other theories before offering his own, demonstrated that Bulonde had been alive and at liberty two years after the death of the mysterious prisoner. And indeed the Dictionnaire de Biographie Française states that, while Louis had ordered Bulonde arrested, jailed at Pignerol and then at the Bastille, he was still alive in 1708. (Louis died in 1715.) But the bibliography of cryptology records no reference to any cryptologist's going back to the original nomenclator to see whether Bazeries's hypothesis stood up.

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Bora Bora

Bora Bora is in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. The island covers an area of approximately 39 square km, is located about 230 km northwest of Papeete and is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volvano rising to two peaks.

Under a one hour flight from the island of Tahiti or Moorea, the island of Bora Bora, with a lagoon resembling an artist's palette of blues and greens, is love at first sight.
Romantics from around the world have laid claim to this island where the castle-like Mount Otemanu pierces the sky. Lush tropical slopes and valleys blossom with hibiscus, while palm-covered motu circle the illuminated lagoon like a delicate necklace. Perfect white-sand beaches give way to emerald waters where colored fish animate the coral gardens as they greet the giant manta rays. This could be easily be described as the center of the romantic universe, where luxury resorts and spas dot the island with overwater bungalows, thatchedroof villas, and fabled ambience.

Pora Pora - the ancient name, meaning "first born," came from legends describing this as the first island to rise when Taaroa,
the supreme god, fished it out of the waters after the mythical creation of Havai'i, now known as Raiatea. Although the first letter "B" does not exist in the Tahitian language, when Captain Cook first heard the name he mistook the softened sound of the Tahitian "P" for "B" and called the island Bola Bola.

Truly, the most romantic island in the world. From the dramatic scenery to the privacy and amenities of the overwater bungalows, everything in Bora Bora equals a 10 on the romance scale.
Resorts have been welcoming couples for over 40 years and their special amenities have been fine tuned to perfection. From sunrise to sunset, each resort has designed their own blend of unique romantic experiences for their guests to choose from.

- Enchantment from the neon-lit turquoise lagoon waters with unending days of exploration through snorkeling and diving.
- Excitement above the lagoon by outrigger canoe, Boston Whaler, wave runner, jet ski, and dramatic sunset cruises aboard a catamaran sailboat.
- Exploration of the panoramic overlooks found by hike or 4x4 accompanied by entertaining local guides.
- Discovery of the world-renowned shopping for local and international original art, Tahitian pearls, perfumes and oils, and precious wood handcrafts.

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