Anticlimactic Adventures

We’ve all been there: you plan a trip and read up on the fantastic must-do sights. You locate the best trails, the most beautiful scenery, and the famous historical landmarks that you studied in history books.

But what happens when you arrive and realize the crème de la crème is a disappointment?!


Iceland is still one of my all-time favorite pleasant surprises!

A Facebook friend shared this link this morning and it made me laugh. Apparently there are some people out there who are seriously disappointed with our country’s national parks! My favorite was the person who referred to the Grand Canyon as a boring hole in the ground. I mean, really?!

It got me thinking about my major disappointments while adventure traveling. Fortunately, the list is very small. In fact, I could only think of one anticlimactic site in all of my travels: The Mona Lisa.

Look, I get it: her cryptic smile has perplexed us for ages and I realize there is an entire line of study behind her mystical face. But you know what? The painting was not that cool! I remember finally locating the Mona Lisa’s room in The Louvre and eagerly searching the walls for the notorious painting. In the end, I didn’t have to look very hard considering there were at least 100 people crammed around the iconic image.

And did I mention that it is super small?! For some reason, I imagined that the painting’s size matched its reputation. Instead, the frame is roughly 30”x20” – definitely not as grand as I built it up to be in my mind!


The kiddos in Haiti exceeded my expectations too. So adorable!

Looking back on this years later, it makes me laugh. I made grand assumptions about the Mona Lisa simply because I believed everything I read and heard. How often does that happen to you?


What is the most anticlimactic experience you’ve ever had while traveling?



  • Reply Sarah C. at

    Hilarious – I wonder if those “one star reviews” were written as jokes? They certainly sound like them to me!

    I TOTALLY agree with you about the Mona Lisa being a let-down. You can’t even get close because there’s a million people crowding around, all snapping pictures of it, and I don’t get why it’s all that great of a painting anyway. The Louvre is filled with more moving and glorious art work than that little thing! (I stood in front of the Winged Victory and literally wept because of its beauty).

    • Reply heather at

      I’m not an art person by any means but I love the actual Louvre itself- the building is so beautiful inside!

  • Reply Lynn at

    I love the one star national park reviews! My favorite is the one about how the Grand Canyon isn’t a good choice for young, single women.

    Not exactly the same, but related: my dad was SURPRISED by how impressed he was by the Grand Canyon. Actual quote, “I can’t believe that after 20 minutes, I’m still so amazed.” I love my dad, but he is kind of a weirdo!

    • Reply heather at

      Haha I didn’t see that one! Did they say why it wasn’t a good choice? That makes me laugh!

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    Note to self…pass on Mona Lisa. =) Our biggest let down was Hawaii. Just one bad experience after the next….and nothing close to paradise I envisioned growing up. Everyone says we need to return for a do-over but so hard to bring ourselves to try. Maybe someday….and we’d probably go to a different island!

    • Reply heather at

      Truthfully I know more people that have been disappointed by the Mona Lisa than have been impressed BUT don’t let that keep you from seeing it! As for Hawaii– I see both sides. Having visited my sister so many times, it’s definitely not the tropical paradise the mainland cracks it up to be. It’s just another state! However, there are some insanely beautiful areas and some of the beaches are stunning. I’d say definitely check it out again! I’m hoping to hike the Na’Pali coast in the near future so maybe you can join!

  • Reply Joan Sommerfield at

    I can relate to your experience with the Mona Lisa because I was excited to finally see the Monet exhibit in a large Mid Western Gallery as it traveled all around the country.After waiting in line for hours and then finally getting to see famed works of Water Lilies, etc. , like you, I was so disappointed to find that it was so very small. I had envisioned something like 5 by 6 feet ….. such a let down.

    But when it comes to nature I have Never felt disappointed or let down. Whether it is a grove of lodge pole pines, a bird on the wing, a wild bunny munching on a dandelion, a small creek in a canyon, a deer and her fawns or just driving across the western plains as they turn into foothills and then into mountains…..nature never disappoints.

  • Reply Kovas - Midwest Multisport Life at

    The one-star reviews are great. I’ve never been disappointed traveling – things don’t always go the way you want them to, but if you look for a silver lining you’re bound to find one, right? 🙂

  • Reply Alyssa at

    You finally mentioned a place I’ve been! I thought the Grand Canyon was awesome but my grandma was underwhelmed with it, it was always a funny story in our family. My biggest disappointment was my friend’s bachlorette party at an Asian drag bar in Manhattan (yes this exists). It should have been so awesome but it let me down for various reasons.

  • Reply Jerry E. Beuterbaugh at

    Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

  • Reply TriGirl at

    Oh my gosh, YES about the Mona Lisa!! Seriously, it was soooo disappointing! Tiny, you can’t get anywhere near it. I recently saw a photo online of Jay-Z and Beyonce standing right in front of it and I got all bent out of shape because they got to go beyond the rope. Really, with all the bullet-proof glass in front of it, why can’t we all be as special as them?
    Anyway, Hawaii for me was a bit disappointing too, but I think it’s because we didn’t venture into the forests to see the lush vegetation I expected everywhere…and we didn’t get leis everywhere we went 😉 But the beaches were good!

  • Reply Erin @ Her Heartland Soul at

    I’ve heard that a lot about the Mona Lisa!

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