June 19, 2021

All the world’s an island: Correspondent Carol-Ann covers the Globe with only a back pack

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Carol Ann RudyBy Carol-Ann Rudy

Alone. At my age (nope, not tellin’)!

Okay, I actually covered about 7 percent of the globe, plus the 16,000 mile round-trip flight across the Atlantic. I traveled mostly by train on my Eurail Global Pass through seven European countries: France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany in a total of 24 days.

It started with a wish to get back to singing, which led me to join the Spartanburg Festival Chorus of Spartanburg, SC. The Chorus’ program for the year culminated in participation in the Paris Choral Festival taking place in Paris, France on July 4. The event, consisting of 470 singers from 19 choral groups from 13 states, commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the Allied Invasion of D-Day at Normandy Beach. There were several hundred family members and friends who came along on the trip in addition to this massed choir. About forty-one were members of the Spartanburg Festival Chorus.

Lunch in Paris with CarolAnn Paul and JeromeThis first leg of my journey began June 29 in South Carolina and lasted six days of my 24-day journey. We arrived at 7:30 a.m. at Charles de Gaulle airport and boarded a bus for an exhaustive blitz-on-a-bus trip through the city of Paris. Wonderful weather, fantastic sights, and great My Paris Taxicommentary by our tour guide. It was 7:00 p.m. European time before our group got to the hotel, checked in, and fell into our beds. I’ve read that the best cure for jet-lag is daylight; if that’s the case, then it worked. As tired as we all were that first night, everyone appeared to have made the time adjustment by the next morning. The week progressed with several rehearsals. There was little time for sight-seeing, but I had the distinct pleasure of having coffee and later lunch with two members of an international association of which I’m a member. I had been chatting with one of them, Paul, in French and English on Skype for the past six months. I also met with another French language partner, a retired former officer in the French equivalent of the FBI and his wife, as well.

PL’Eglise de La Madeleine, a famous 100-year-old landmark in Paris with a soaring ceiling and fabulous acoustics, was the setting for the choral group’s program. It opened with the European premier of Jennifer Higdon’s “The Singing Rooms”, followed by Gabriel Faure’s “Requiem”, “America the Beautiful”, “Hymn to the Fallen”, and concluding with “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. But the pièce de resistance for all of us took place the next day. We traveled by bus for three hours to the American Cemetery at Normandy Beach. There we sang “The Star-Spangled Banner”, and again the patriotic pieces of the night before. By its conclusion, there was audible sobbing—the events of both days I am sure many of us will long remember as two of the most moving of our lives.

Saturday, July 5 came too soon. Most of the SFC chorus returned home; a few stayed on to enjoy France for a day or two longer. It is one of my few regrets that I had not planned to stay in Paris two or three extra days; my friend Paul had enthusiastically offered to show me the Paris he knows and loves. Instead, armed with regret and my reservations made and paid for ahead of time with my Eurail Global Pass, I set off for Granada, Spain—and The Alhambra.

IMAGE above taken in L’Eglise de la Madeleine:  CREDIT: “Paris Choral Festival. Event Photography by Anibas Photography for Music Celebrations International”

All other photos: Carol-Ann Rudy

Next: Two Days—and a Lifetime—to Granada

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  1. Laurie. Prescott says

    Was great. Your Dad was there at the invasion of France

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