JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.


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The View From Above

Yesterday, we flew back to the States for a work seminar, which starts tomorrow.  Fortunately, we were able go back a day early so I could grab my car from Pennsylvania; to be able to drive it up to Connecticut for the seminar.

The route our plane took us gave us some breathtaking views, with the sky still alight during the nautical twilight.  The first noteworthy portion highlighted some beautiful clouds and cloud patterns below us.

Then we flew over the bottom of Greenland: the coastline speckled with little icebergs, which contrasted with the majestic fjords jutting up from the water’s edge.  Seriously stunning.  I did a tad bit of research, and even though most of Greenland is flat, there is a narrow area of rocky mountainous coastline along the eastern shore.  These peaks and cliffs are called the Watkins Range, with the highest mountain being Gunnbjorn’s Fjeld, which is the highest point in the Arctic at 3,694 meters (12,119 ft).

I took a ton of pics and wanted to share some with you.  I do LOTS of flying for work, but this was one of the most picturesque flights I’d ever taken.

I hope you enjoy my photos!  (You can click on the individual photos to see them enlarged.)

 

The first few photos are of the gorgeous cloud patterns over the ocean:

 

 

Next, we have Greenland!  How amazing!  We were at full cruising altitude, which means these mountains must be huge!

 

Then, we came in over Canada, always chasing the twilight side of sunset.

 

 

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Please subscribe to our Youtube Channel!

Hi Dear Readers!

 

First, I’d like to apologize for not writing as much lately.  Time has gotten away from us!  Also, in 2017, we found a new outlet to show all the great places we travel: Youtube!

We thought it was a more interactive way to share some of our crazy adventures all around the world.  It didn’t take us long to reach 10,000 views, and we joined Youtube’s partner program; which allows creators to make some money for posting videos.

We were making slow but steady progress.  (I think we were up to twenty-something dollars! Haha!)

But Youtube has informed us that since we don’t have 1,000 subscribers to our channel, we are being dropped from the partner program due to their new rules.

So we have to try to get to 1,000 subscribers by February 15th, or that’s it!

Please help us out!  Subscribe to our channel!  It’s totally free!

We promise to keep bringing you helpful and informative videos of places all around the world!  (And I’m always open to suggestions, in case anyone would like to make requests – as long as it’s within our means!)

Here’s a link to our page:

 

PS: Update!  Happy to report that we made our goal and remained a part of the Youtube partner program!  But please check out our page and become a subscriber! We’d greatly appreciate it!

Please subscribe!

Thanks to all of you!

xoxo Jen


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Home in PA – Scenes From a Winter’s Day

Caroling season is over, we took our annual Disney trip, and it’s almost time to head back to Europe.  It always feels like the time flies by way too quickly.  Perhaps it’s always going to be that way when I’m “home.”

 

We had some snow overnight, and after taking care of some afternoon chores, my dad and I went for a walk in our woods and around the Graf Pond.

 

I know some folks hate the snow, but maybe because I was born in late January, it’s kind of in my blood.  (I do hate it if I have to drive off to a caroling gig, but this time of year, it doesn’t bother me one bit!)   Being out in nature after a fresh snowfall is one of the most beautiful things.

 

I thought I’d share some of my photos with you….

 

 

I call this next set, “Daddy in the Forest”

 

 

And finishing the day as the sun goes down…

 


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In memory of a wonderful teacher… Dr. David Sprenkle

 

(I’m waiting to publish this post until an official obituary is released, as I don’t want to put anything out there before the family does…  And the obituary is now posted. CLICK HERE to read.)

 

I just found out this morning that a beloved professor/choir director from undergrad just passed away last night: Dr. David Sprenkle.

I’ve had other favorite professors pass away in recent years – Mr. Pearson (my voice teacher at NEC), Dr. Schmidt (my music history teacher at WCU.) But today’s news of Dr. Sprenkle’s passing intensely effected me – so much so, that I felt I needed to share some thoughts here.

I spent four years singing in the Renaissance Chamber Choir at West Chester University, and three of those years were under Dr. Sprenkle’s leadership.  He was also my professor for my first semester of choral conducting class, was my advisor for part of my time at WCU, and was probably a teacher of mine for another class/seminar or two that I’m forgetting about right now.  (It has been a long time since I finished my Bachelor’s degree; one does forget a detail here and there.)

Chamber Choir was life-changing for me. I had already had an interest in “early music” before participating in the choir, but through Doc Sprenkle, I learned so much music from the Renaissance period – and it became a true musical passion of mine.  It still remains probably my favorite period of time in music history. Chamber Choir was the perfect combination of creating beautiful music, learning the style and history, AND having fun.  So many rehearsals ended with English country dances, where the entire choir danced, and laughed, and sang. (“Gathering Peascods” anyone?)

We put on Madrigal Feasts and organized Renaissance Faires.  We sang in traditional concerts in Swope Hall.  And we performed in beautiful Renaissance costumes!   We were often joined by the Collegium Musicum, which was the Renaissance instrumental ensemble at WCU.  It’s where I first learned (and heard) what crumhorns and sackbuts were!  (Still love that sound!)

In Chamber Choir, I got to hone my leadership skills and grow as an individual and team member.  (During my senior year, I was president of the choir, and I couldn’t have been prouder!)

I made amazing friends, and got to sing with them a few days every week! I learned motets, madrigals, and songs that I’d later go on to perform and/or record as a professional singer.  All because of Doc Sprenkle.

I often thought of Dr. Sprenkle as the years went on.  When I recorded my Early Music Christmas CD (“Echoes of Christmas Past”) back in 2009, a good deal of it was influenced in part from what I learned from Doc.  He had a direct influence on so much of the music I made in my life after WCU.

David Sprenkle was kind, infinitely patient, knowledgable, and always had a smile on his face.  I can only imagine the countless other students that he also impacted – just like myself.

He will be truly missed and remembered for the wonderful teacher and person that he was.  My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends, and everyone else that was touched and inspired by him.

 

Here are some photos I’ve been able to put together.  I’ll add additional pics if I (or former classmates) can find more.  (Thanks to Steph Buchert for sharing these photos.)

 

 

 

 


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Adventures in Kindness

 

Yesterday, I encountered another series of delayed flights in my efforts to get home between tours for some much-needed rest and relaxation.  (The way airlines are scheduling flights nowadays with hardly ANY layover time is ridiculous, but that’s a discussion for another day…) Anyway, after two delayed flights, it was quite clear that I was going to miss the direct shuttle from the Zagreb airport to Rijeka.  Which would mean shuttles to the bus station, long bus rides, needing to schlep heavy luggage all over the place. I was not looking forward to all of that while already so exhausted.

We were still in the plane waiting to disembark, when three of us women at the front of the plane began to talk.

One woman was from Croatia coming home, one woman was from Saudi Arabia here on vacation, and then there was me – the American who lives in Croatia, but who’s usually all over central Europe most of the time.

Arwa from Saudi Arabia was headed to the island of Krk to meet her children who were already there.  Krk is the island just across the water from where Miloš and I live.  She offered to take me along with her – she just needed to hire a car.  The third woman looked at the address where Arwa was headed, and indeed, I could easily be dropped off along the way.  As we waited for our luggage, we all chatted about our lives and why we were there.  The third woman (who’s name I couldn’t remember, but who I later found online, as she’s a successful tennis umpire) was heading home. She was really inspirational and gave me a lot of hope about some things going on in my life.  I was really glad to have met her –  even for a very short time.

And Arwa insisted on taking me along with her, so we went up to find a car.  Alas, she needed more of a car service kind of thing, not a rental car. BUT the woman at the rental car desk said she knew someone who might be able drive us! She called her childhood friend who was available and would be able to charge a good price. We experienced such generosity from the woman at the rental counter AND her friend who drove us.

As a result, I was able to get home quicker than the bus, and I met some lovely inspirational people.  Arwa would not accept any money for the ride, and let me know that in her culture, it is a true honor to help someone when they need it. How refreshing on such an exhausting day to encounter kindness after kindness after kindness.  Every person was a blessing.

Some people think life is a series of coincidental chances, events just being thrown around in random chaos.  However, I believe that nothing happens by chance – it’s all meant to be and has it’s own reason for happening.  When we meet people, they are there to impact our lives in some way – maybe a big way, maybe a small way, but they all have a reason for joining us on our journey.

From the way I met my Croatian husband while on vacation, to meeting someone who would become a best friend (who also happened to be an American opera singer) at a random Vienna Starbucks, to my most recent tale of getting home from the airport yesterday – there is no such thing as coincidence!

Wishing all of you , dear readers, good fortune and kindness on your own journeys!


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Art Nouveau Magnificence at the Municipal House – Prague

The Municipal House in Prague is a quintessential example of the height of the Art Nouveau movement in Central Europe.

It’s located next to the old Powder Tower in the former location of the Royal Court Palace, and is the home of Smetana Hall.  The building serves primarily as a concert venue and a place to hold special events. There is a large traditional Czech restaurant inside on the basement level, serving delicious and filling Czech specialties.  Many rooms in the building are only accessible by private tour, and are truly worth seeing!

For those not familiar, Art Nouveau was a popular movement that made its way throughout all of central Europe at the turn of the twentieth century.  The movement believed that art should be a part of everyday life, and it became infused in architecture, textiles, paintings, furniture, clothes, and jewelry.  It was characterized by flower and leaf motifs, along with curving flowy lines and lovely ladies.  Prague’s Art Nouveau master was Mucha, whose Sarah Bernhardt posters became famous world-wide.

I recently had the opportunity to tour the Municipal House in Prague and wanted to share some photos with you of some of its gorgeousness!

 

Enjoy!


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My NEW Youtube Travel Channel!

Hi there everyone!

 

I’m super excited to announce that I’ve created a brand new Youtube channel dedicated to all my travels and adventures.  I’ll keep posting new videos from all over and everywhere, so I hope that you’ll subscribe and travel along with me!

 

You’ll still be able to read all about our adventures here, but now you’ll have a way to actually WATCH them and feel more like you’re there!

 

Just click the pic below to see our first big project – Croatia: Facts and Fun Stuff.

(And again, please remember to subscribe to the channel!)