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1.07.2007 - 40 comments 

Playing many roles, Tahiti is French Polynesia's largest and most glamorous tropical island and home to its unique capital city of Papeete (pronounced Pa pa ate tay). Tahiti is sometimes called the Island of Love. Tahiti is shrouded in legend and the central character in many stories of travel, intrigue and romance. Not all these stories are grounded in fact. Most notable is the common referral of the word "Tahiti" to represent all the islands of French Polynesia.

This is incorrect. I think for most folks, the Island of Tahiti is quite literally an existing legend, but frankly Tahiti is in fact the largest and most populated island of the 118 islands and atolls that comprise Tahiti Polynesia and of course it is the most famous. I only wish we could have had enough time to visit all 118 of them, but alas that was NOT the case. People who have been there also extol the virtues of Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine and Raiatea or Tahaa islands.

Even though this shot was taken from Papeete, there is so much else going on in French Polynesia, that it is hard just to stay in one area. Even though that was our case, but we really were not sure what all there was to do there and we certainly did not plan enough time in French Polynesia to really check it all out, (but truly... even months) more than likely would not have been enough.

There is a market in Papeete locally known as "Le Marche", is in a sense, "the heart of the city". It has become a tourist and traveler's sightseeing favorite due to its brightly colored vendors and attractive Tahitian products. Wander among the many stands and displays to find such products as luscious ripe fruits and vegetables, monoi oils and scented soaps, vanilla beans, cakes and pies, fruit preserves, dancing costumes and clothing, woven hats and bags and shell necklaces. 2 floors worth of vendors, including the finest display of floral arrangements of orchids, and anthuriums, marigolds and daisies and other flowers you will ever see. Located in the heart of Papeete, just one block inland from the center of the waterfront, it's not hard to find, in fact it is hard to miss.

This is one of the most beautiful and colorful islands I have even seen anywhere, but as nice as it was, I would have trouble finding any more genuine first class service as we did on the Air Tahiti Nui flight we had on from Papeete back to Los Angeles, California. It was truly world class. And the planes and flight crews were as attentive and as any I have ever seen in ANY First Class service including that of Qantas. The had very colorful tailored uniforms as we entered the plane and as soon as we were in the air over the islands, they changed into what I would consider traditional Polynesian wardrobe.

The fact that it is a FRENCH Polynesian airline, made me wish I had picked up the French language somewhere along my educational travels over the years. Let me tell you, their English was much better than my French. On the flight back to the states, I kept thinking, when will I even get a chance to get back to this beautiful part of the world? I think the flight alone was only 4-5 hours shorter than the flight to Sydney, which seemed to take forever, (really it must have been close to 18 hours). But REALLY... you can't just go to your backyard and see this kind of beauty (well... unless... ) you happen to live in Papeete, Tahiti.

"He won't fly on the Balinese airline, Garuda, because he won't fly on any airline where the pilots believe in reincarnation." -Spalding Gray Posted by Picasa