Various sites in Paris, March 2016

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Merry-go-round and river barges on River Seine

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Sculpture in Jardins of Trocadero (gardens)

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Arc du Carrousel, (1806-08), Corinthian architecture, is 63 ft high, 75 ft wide, topped by 8 soldiers of Empire, built to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories (above and below).

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Street walking in Saint Michel area of Paris

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One of the many metro (subway) stations in Paris

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The oldest acacia tree in Paris, named Robinier, after gentleman who planted it in 1602.

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One of the Seine bridges with locks attached to seal one’s love!

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Sacre’ Coeur (Sacred Heart) Basilica, tops Montmartre, Paris’ highest hill.  This was our view from the Eiffel Tower, as we did not visit the site itself.  Still impressive!

The Louvre, Paris, March 18 & 20, 2016

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The glass Pyramid in the central courtyard is one of the main entrances to the Louvre.

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The Louvre!  AWESOME and HUGE!!  Built in the 12th century, the buildings started as a fortress, became the residence of the Kings of France and the museum in 1793.  There are 4 floors, displaying over 30,000 works of Western Art, Middle Ages to 1848, ancient civilizations and the Islamic world.  We almost finished 1 floor and part of some of the sculptures.  Here are some of our favorites!

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Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Virgin and Child with St. Anne”, 1510.

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Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

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The Crown Jewels

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Winged Victory of Samothrace, 190 B.C., commemorates a naval victory.  The sculpture is known for its feeling of great energy and of motion.

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The Coronation of Napoleon, by Jacques-Louis David, (1806-07), is the largest canvas in the Louvre.  The story of this work, is that Napoleon has just crowned his empress, Josephine, on her knees at his feet.  To the left of Napoleon in gold is the pope, who journeyed from Rome to crown Napoleon, but at the last moment, Napoleon grabbed the crown, holds it up for all to see, then crowned himself, as no one else was worthy.  The artist also painted himself and Napoleon’s mother in the picture!

 

 

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Two of the many elaborate ceilings in the Louvre

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Egyptian art

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Venus de Milo, 2nd century B.C., from the Greek island of Melos, felt to be a harmonious balance of opposites, orbiting around a vertical axis.  The perfect goddess showing movement in her positioning.

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Human-headed Winged Bulls, about 4 meters high, were “protective genies”, used as guardians at gates and doorways, but also bore the weight of the arch.  They decorated Assyrian palaces about 700 B.C.  They make Steve look small!  DSC09198

 

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The Nativity scene

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“Lady Liberty”, by Eugene Delacroix, symbolizes the French Revolution, the uprising of the commoners leading to democracy,  and the motto of France which is “Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood” (Liberte’, Egalite’, Fraternite’) for all.

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Art above a walkway

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The spiral staircase at the entrance to the different floors and the popular meeting place to meet up with family and friends.  This was truly a wonderful cultural experience!

Trip to Paris, Hotel des Invalides, March 18, 2016

Day 2 in Paris!  We arrived at Hotel des Invalides, which houses the Musee de l’Armee (Army Museum) and Napoleon’s Tomb.  We learned a lot about the French Resistance and  the major impact of Charles de Gaulle in World War II.DSC08841

Entrance into Musee de l’Armee (above) and bronze cannons and tank below.

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The Cathedrale Saint-Louis des Invalides (above and following 3 pictures) was very elaborate!  Behind the glass partition at the altar and crucifix resides the mausoleum and Tomb of Napoleon (as seen in the 4th picture).

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Domed ceiling above over Napoleon’s Tomb and outside views of dome (below)DSC08785 DSC08790 DSC08849 Napoleon

 

 

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This is the rotunda overlooking the tomb of Napoleon below it.  MASSIVE!  And picture below is actual tomb.

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Statues guarding door to lower level of Tomb

 

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Napoleon’s Floor inscription in mausoleum.  Quite the historical monument!

 

Trip to Paris, Eiffel Tower, March 17, 2016

Being back in Portugal makes us appreciate the ability to see other countries close by, so Steve graciously offered to take me to Paris for a late birthday present!  Never thought I would get there, so I was delighted to finally see places I had only read and heard about!

We stayed near the Eiffel Tower, so that was our first attraction to visit!  The Eiffel Tower was built in 2 years, 2 months, as a showpiece for the 1889 World’s Fair by Gustave Eiffel (designed, built, and financed by him).  The Tower is massive, standing 1063 feet tall (77 stories), covering 3.5 acres and has 7300 tons of metal.  It is 360 stairs to first level, 360 stairs to second level, and elevator only to the top.  Of course, we walked to the 2nd level!! It is repainted every 7 years by hand, taking 25 full-time painters 18 months to apply 60 tons of paint.

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This is the view from the top, looking south over Parc du Champ de Mars.  At the distant end is the Ecole Militaire (Military School), the Y-shaped UNESCO building and the 689 foot Montparnasse Tower skyscraper.

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This view, looking north, shows the Seine River with cruising river barges and the Pont D’iena (bridge).  The bridge leads to Trocadero Gardens and a huge fountain.  The curved building on the right is Architecture and Monuments Museum, while on the left is the Maritime Museum.  Buildings of Paris are in the background.

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Steve with east view of Paris behind him, including Seine River.

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On uppermost level!  Paris is for romantics!

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Back at ground level, looking up into the Tower.

 

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Steve at ground level with one of massive pillars of Eiffel Tower behind him!

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One of the best parts of the trip!  More to follow!

Back in Portugal

After a little more than three months in the USA, we returned to Orontes about 1:00 AM Tuesday morning. The flight from DFW to London was an all-nighter – we left DFW at 10:00 pm and arrived in London at 1:00 in the afternoon. Our good friend from Aledo, Karen, is a flight attendant for American, but she was unable to change her schedule to make this flight with us. She did, however, have her friend Tina ensure that we were well taken care of. I enjoyed meeting her and talking to her during the flight.

We had a long layover in London, and had entertained the idea of taking the “Tube” (subway) into the city and sightseeing. However the weather was a very cool 30 degrees, so we stayed indoors and waited until our flight at 10:00 that night.

The flight to Lisbon was uneventful, and we cleared immigration and customs without a snag. Flying into the EU is much easier than flying into the US.

Let me talk about the immigration issue for a moment. Most of the EU countries subscribe to the Schengen Agreement, which is the legislation that essentially got rid of border passport checks between these countries. Once you clear in to Portugal, for example, you can go to any of these countries without having to check in at the border of each individual country. It is a great convenience for the citizens of these countries, and for those visiting on vacation. HOWEVER, the provision for most foreigners (citizens of the US included), is that you can only stay in these countries 90 days out of any 180 day period. In short, you can stay 90 days, and then you have to leave 90 days before you can reenter.

Our Christmas visit back to the US had taken 92 days (yes, we counted the days before booking our flight), so reentering Portugal was no problem.

We took a taxi to the boat, spoke to the guard at the gate of the boatyard and got him to let us in, and finally got home at 1:00 AM. We were whipped, but glad to be home.

It took us a few days to adjust to the time change of six hours, and also catch up on the sleep we were unable to get while sitting in the economy section of a 777. We had a lot of things to unpack and stow, and several things to do to the boat.

While we were gone, our freezer shut down, and we lost all of the meat we had stored. From what I can puzzle out, the electrical cord that supplies shore power to the boat was pulled out, and this shut down the battery charger. In winter the sun never gets to a high angle in the sky and the solar panels were not able to keep the freezer running. I believe once the battery voltage got to a low level, the unit just shut down. With the freezer gone, there was little load on the batteries and the solar panels recharged the batteries. What I do know is that when I arrived, the freezer was shut down, the batteries were at 98% charge, and the shore power cable was unplugged. The refrigerator had no problems, and was running when we arrived.

This was a mess to clean up. We threw the meat out and used a bulb syringe to suck out the bloody liquid at the bottom. This was real fun, and the smell was pretty rank. We finally got everything out, but it looks like we need to do some more work before we put anything back into it. Before leaving the US we had added several inches of insulation to the bottom of the freezer and covered it with a fiberglass panel. I caulked the edges with a marine sealant to make it watertight. Apparently, my sealant job wasn’t very good. It looks like the sealant bond broke free from the edges of the freezer, and bloody water leaked down into the area where I added insulation. I will need to remove all of this and clean it out before we turn the freezer back on. For now, the freezer lid is tightly closed to keep the remaining smell bottled up. This will be a project for next week.

We also had a leak in our plumbing system. We had shut down the water pressure while we were gone, so there was no damage from leaking water. However, when we returned we turned the water pump on, and a slow leak under our head sink soaked all of the things stowed underneath. We found it Wednesday after it had been dripping all night. Think of the cabinet under your bathroom sink, and whatever you have on those shelves – that is where our leak was. Fixing the leak took a couple of tries, but I fixed it Saturday before lunch. The fan is running now to dry out moisture before we stow everything again.

The boatyard had done a lot of the painting repair while we were gone, but they did not quite finish. The weather here is in the high 50’s and low 60’s during the day, so they were able to finish their painting this week. The boat is now rust-free again, and looks really sharp.

We met with a local company, Wavetech, on Thursday to discuss our replacement mast and rigging. We had a great discussion, and we now have a success path agreed on to get our mast ordered. Wavetech will provide a new quote with the changes we agreed on, and I will present this to insurance as soon as I get it. I think we are finally getting close to ordering the replacement mast.

So, we are getting used to being back in Portugal and things are going well. As much as we enjoyed being in Kentucky and Texas and spending time with family and friends, we are glad to be back on board and getting our boat ready for sea.