The Ugly Traveller

We’ve all encountered *that* person. You know the one – grouchy and miserable. You wonder why they bothered to leave home in the first place because nothing seems to please them.

Well, I’m embarrassed to admit I was that person this week.

I’m in northern France right now and will be until the end of the month. I love France and this is my happy place, so why was I in such a miserable mood? The truth is, it’s rarely one big thing but usually a succession of petty irritations that build up to overflowing.

It’s hard to say what the original domino was that started the downward spiral, but I’m leaning toward the very moment we arrived at our destination for the day – Mont St-Michel.

Mont St-Michel is a fortress of a monastery built into the rock of a small island with a tiny town huddled around its base. Its history is ancient and can be traced back to the 8th century.

It has long been a destination for pilgrims, and is now a mecca for tourists.

I assumed a very chilly, windy day in April would keep the throngs away … but I was terribly wrong. It was crazy-town.

Even Joan of Arc wasn’t amused.

To make matters worse, upon arrival we discovered that we were about to be late for the only English tour of the day – at the top of the abbey.

Trying to dissuade Gilles from anything he considers a race is futile so we proceeded to sprint the very steep climb to the top. To be more accurate, Gilles sprinted, while I scurried along at my best version of a fast pace. In other words, not very fast.

… but did I mentioned the crowds? I don’t do people very well, especially large, noisy crowds moving sluggishly in tight narrow spaces. I think three-quarters of the European Union was there that day – plus a smattering of North Americans and a large contingent from China.

By the time Gilles finally managed to drag me to the top, I was dangerously close to the heart attack zone and my anxiety level was approaching nuclear meltdown. Thankfully we had pre-purchased our tickets online and could skip the ridiculously long queue.

We did manage to find our tour guide and I’m sure the tour was fascinating but I can’t really say. By that point I had started to retreat into an unhappy place with no chance of leaving it anytime soon.

In that mood, the Universe was more than obliging to send me plenty of irritations to fuel my misery.

By dinner time I was well beyond the rational stage when I speared a tomato on my plate that exploded all over the white shirt I was wearing. Subsequently forgetting my purse in the restaurant certainly didn’t improve my mood.

I wear my crown as a Drama Queen with considerable flair.

I sought refuge in a tiny chapel that was blissfully quiet. I could have stayed here a long time.

The bottom line is, I would add Mont St-Michel to my list of places that need a do-over some day, except I don’t expect those crowd conditions to improve over time. It would probably be best if I simply stayed away.

Since it is Thursday, I expect you are wondering when I’m going to give you doors. There was certainly no shortage of those within the walled city of Mont St-Michel. I hope you enjoy this small gallery of selected doors I captured along the way.

Β Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.


While I’m on this road trip across northern France, my computer time is severely limited. I hope to catch up with all of you as soon as I can.

Hopefully the grouchies will be long behind me by then.


  1. Hi there! Wanna come to Italy one day? We are an italian language school and offer different kind of courses. Take a look on our blog and don’t miss the chance for such an amazing time here in bella Firenze! πŸ™‚


  2. OMG. I hate to admit it but I laughed when the tomato exploded. Sorry. πŸ™‚ It’s nice to know that others have grouchy days. It wasn’t a problem when I used to travel alone, but now that I do more tours, there are days I wish that everyone else would just disappear. πŸ™‚


    • Thank you for laughing because in hindsight I can too. Sometimes I think the universe sends us a dash of the absurd just to remind us to maintain perspective. It takes me a while to get there but eventually I do πŸ˜‰

      … and yes! I wondered about those tours. I thought it was just me who would want to scream at all those “chattering heads” 😏


      • Well, I will return the favor and let you read about my most embarrassing moment ever, or one of the top two. And it happened in Paris. 😁😁


  3. Bushwa! Joanne… forget drama queen. You must be a saint to have endured all that without a meltdown of Chernobyl proportions. I wouldn’t have made it. And you tried — which is more than I would have done. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. Hugs on the wing.


  4. I guess that traveling these days will assuredly include crowds. People in general + selfieholics + cruise ships, etc. add up to uncomfortable encounters. I’ve always wanted to visit Mont St-Michel. I hope that, when I do, the throngs will magically disappear. I recently viewed a website that contrasted staged travel pictures (that you see in brochures) with the actual experience you will have as a tourist among tons of other tourists. It wasn’t pretty.


    • I’ve seen examples of that as well. Travel might have been glamorous once upon a time, but now throngs of people clamouring to a single point of attraction have just resulted in places where the tackiness seems to have superseded the originality of the place. Usually I can manage my expectations appropriately but I failed in this case.

      Liked by 1 person

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