JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.


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I might have mentioned this previously, but when I was a little girl, I had one of those giant world relief maps hanging on my wall over my bed.  You know the kind – those huge plastic three dimensional maps that have all the elevations of the mountains in real touchable form.  I could run my hands over the Himalayas and the Rockies, or feel the smoothness of Antarctica.  (Speaking of Antarctica – it was right there over my head when I lay in bed every night, and I got very familiar with the different areas and seas around the continent.)  I could stare at that map every day and never get tired of it.


This!  Just like this one here - this was my map!

This! Just like this one here – THIS WAS MY MAP! 🙂


(I found more than one pic of my vintage map…)



Someone else also had the same old map that I did!

Someone else also had the same old map that I did!


I’ve come to realize throughout the years, that my fondness for maps has never ceased.   I just freakin’ love looking at maps!  They suck me in every time.  By using my imagination, I feel myself getting lost in amazing far away places.  Places I’ve never been (and places I want to revisit.)  Wondering what it looks like in that random far away land right at that very moment.  Would I be standing on a hill over a lush valley as rain fell on my head?   Would I be walking amongst great stone ruins left behind by ancient civilizations?  What kind of music is playing in this place, what kind of art is hanging on these walls?  What do the roads look like there, if there even are any.  Do they have tall trees there, or vast sprawling grasslands?  How dark are their forests, how pristine are their shores?  Do many people live there?

I’m the same way with fictional maps.  As an avid reader of the fantasy genre, I love how each series comes equipped with a map to accompany the reading.  I like to KNOW where the characters are.  I like to see in my head where their adventures take them.  When a new location is introduced in one of these stories, I’m immediately paging back to the front of the book to reference it on the map.  It makes the fictional land feel all the more real.  To me, it has that same allure of mystery that seeing a far off country on a map of the Earth has.

As a Lord of the Rings super-fan (I’m not embarrassed to be a nerd girl), I’ve not only enjoyed following along with the journeys of Bilbo or Frodo and their fellow adventurers, but also thinking of the places I would visit in Middle Earth if such a fantastical place existed.  (Therein lies the pure genius of Tolkien – he created such a vivid world for his readers, that as you read, you can actually see it clear as day in your mind’s eye.)

I thought this map of Middle Earth was rather good…

Map of Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings / Hobbit)

Map of Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings / Hobbit)


And don’t even get me started on historical maps – SO awesome!


(Check out this map of Europe around the year 1500!)


Europe around the year 1500.

Europe around the year 1500.



I don’t know if it’s because of my life long map obsession, but I’ve also been blessed with a relatively good sense of direction.  Where ever I am, I can sort of see the map of my location in my head – always being aware of my compass points.  It helps me when I’m back-tracking routes I might have taken, or just when I’m exploring a new place.  When I travel, I always like to look up maps of my destination and do a general basic memorization of the area before I even get there.  I also like to input maps into my iPhone for destinations as well – just in case I happen to get a bit turned around.

I’ll be eagerly doing some map memorization (and historical research) of the towns Miloš and I will be visiting in Croatia later this summer.  (You know I’ll bring you some of that cool historical info right here!)  In the meantime, here are some more maps!


The World!

The World!





The best state - MY state!  Pennsylvania!

The best state – MY state! Pennsylvania!


Croatia map!

Croatia map!








Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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