There was a certain Lord of the Rings quality to Mont Saint-Michel today, I half-expected the whole cast, swords raised, to come crashing through one of the rooms at some point.
Almost nine years later I’m back in fog-masked Mont Saint-Michel, this time with Teko who’s seeing it for the first time. Some things have changed – there’s now a conveyor bus system of sorts from a communal parking lot, much more organized compared to my previous time, and more hotels in the far perimeter that I was reminded of the road to Lake Tahoe. On the other hand the monastery structure itself appears to have changed nothing at all. The busy Main Street is still buzzing as any tourist town does, the siteseeing guides still doing good business, and the medieval walls still looking reliably impenetrable and time-worn. Seeing as we got there at 830 am when the commercial shops were still getting ready, there weren’t that many ‘pilgrims’ to ruin the mood, though the local workers busily setting up were just too unnecessarily loud it made the entire monastic experience fade at the onset very quickly. We had an easy time walking through the drawbridge entry and grabbed a hearty, quick breakfast at one of the few places open. Getting tickets was completely trouble-free and at no point had to line up for anything at all. Since we were traveling independently we weren’t bogged down by being part of a tour group and after a quick-paced run through of the abbey, we were done in less than two hours, enough time to avoid the incoming deluge of tourists.
The cold, foggy weather did give a bit of an ethereal allure to the visit and thankfully it didn’t rain as that would have surely ruined the experience for me, but it looks like Teko wasn’t entirely impressed as I was the first time I saw it. This second round though gave me back fond memories of traveling with my friend, Anthony, at a time when I was still trying to find my place in Europe. Tough times but with plenty of silver linings that made up for quite a lot. Mont Saint-Michel is a personal reminder of how powerful good friends and memories can be and for that will remain a special place, at least for as long as the walls stand.