Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Meet the San Marino Chamber Choir members: What are you looking forward to?

And here is a video of the San Marino Chamber Singers taken at the Chapman University Festival: Make our Garden Grow by Leonard Bernstein

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Meet the San Marino Choir Tour Bloggers: Natalia and Andy

Dear Singers, Family and Friends of the SMCC, we sure hope you enjoy the blog and recommend that you become a follower by clicking on the respective option in the right side bar of this webpage. As a follower, you will never miss an update and once the groups heads over to Spain there should be lots of news coming your way. For SMCC the students Andy Link and Natalia Youssef are going to blog about their experience abroad and upload pictures and videos during their time in Spain.

Andy Link is a senior at San Marino High School and Baritone Section Leader for the San Marino High School Chamber Singers. Outside of school, he enjoys spending time with his friends and family, singing with the barbershop quartet, The Four Chords, and volunteering his time to the community. Andy about the tour: "I have always wanted to visit Spain, and I am very excited that I finally get to go with such an amazing group of people!"

Natalia Youssef is currently a senior at San Marino High School and the soprano section leader of the San Marino Chamber Choir. "Music is my life and without it I would be extremely lost. I'm in love with photography and I hope I can travel and capture the entire world. I cannot wait to travel to Spain for my last year in SMCC and document our unforgettable journey along the way", she says. Natalia will do video blogs and upload videos of the performances for the parents at home to watch along with daily photography.

SMCC Spain Tour - Updated Itinerary

Dear Travelers,
Incantato Tours proudly presents your new itinerary. There are just a few days left till your tour starts. Enjoy!

DAY 1 Friday, April 2, 2010
Overnight flight to Spain at 9.15 AM with Lufthansa LH 453 and 4428 flights via Munich. Please make sure you arrive at the airport at least 2,5 hours in advance for check-in. Seats are pre-assigned by Lufthansa, but once aboard you can swap among each other easily. You will be served at least two warm meals and get to see movies. But you do get some rest as well.

DAY 2 Saturday, April 3
Bienvenidos to Madrid: Welcome dinner and overnight at your Incantato Tour hotel Eurostar Gran Madrid.

DAY 3 Sunday, April 4
Madrid in-depth & Concert:
You explore Madrid’s highlights with a local guide, then get ready for your concert at the Iglesia San Ginés at 6 pm.

DAY 4 Monday, April 5
To Toledo - Concert
Depart for Toledo which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures. Enjoy a guided tour and perform during the high mass at the Cathedral at 6.30 pm.

DAY 5 Tuesday, April 6
To Cuenca & Concert
There is lots to see and do today as you explore the hilltop town of Cuenca in the La Mancha province. Get ready for your third concert at the Iglesia de San Pedro.

DAY 6 Wednesday, April 7
Valencia in-depth
Known as the city of Arts and Sciences, Valencia is a haven for musicians. Have fun on a guided tour to all the sights.

DAY 7 Thursday, April 8
Torrevieja - Beach Time & Festival
You deserve to get a little break before participating in the Encuentro Festival and the coast by Torrevieja is just the place to be for times at the beach. Your festival prelude concert starts at 9 pm.

DAY 8 Friday, April 9
Encuentro Torrevieja
You are in for a special treat today as SMCC is feature in the GALA opening ceremony at 9 pm. At noon a special reception at the townhall takes place.

DAY 9 Saturday, April 10
To Barcelona
Drive to beautiful Barcelona and take in the first sights as part of your orientation tour. Enjoy shopping and exploring under the guidance of your Tour Manager.

DAY 10 Sunday, April 11
Sightseeing, Concert & Farewell
Enjoy a guided tour of Barcelona’s many highlights including a visit to La Sagrada Familia. Perform at the Palau de la Musica followed by a surprise farewell dinner with local specialties.

DAY 11 Monday, April 12
Return Flight to USA with Lufthansa LH 4475 and 452 flights via Munich. Departure takes place at noon. Return home with memories to last a lifetime.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Your Personal Incantato Weather Forecast for Madrid on April 3 & 4

As the San Marino tour to Spain will start in a few days, Incantato Tours had a look at the weather forecast. On Saturday, April 3, Madrid will welcome you with a cloudy sky. The highest temperature will be around 62° F. The clouds will not disappear on Sunday, but you'll catch a glimpse of the sun every now and then (61° F).

Websites Related to the San Marino Chamber Choir Concerts

Dear members of the San Marino Chamber Choir,
to get you even a little bit more excited about your trip, check out these links to websites that are related to your concert venues and destinations. Have fun!

About Torrevieja, the festival, and your concert:

Check out this news story about the Festival

The San Marino Chamber Singers are surely traveling the longest distance to the 24th Encuentro Coral Internacional Cuidad de Torrevieja and as special guests are given the prime performance spot on Friday night. For more information about the event (in Spanish), have a look at this website.

SMCC Incantato Tour Poster

Incantato proudly presents the concert posters for the 2010 San Marino Spain Performance Tour.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wi-Fi Availability in Tour Hotels

Dear San Marino Travellers,
When you are on tour you may want to stay connected with your friends and family via the internet. Incantato Tours researched and found out about the Wi-Fi availability in your hotels:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Four Chords - Repertoire in Spanish

The Four Chords - Barbershop Quartet
Cuarteto vocal armónico de hombres con un repertorio sentimental de los años 20 y 30


Yes Sir That's My Baby
by W. Donaldson. arranged by J. Ham and The Four Chords

What? No Women?!
by Meskill, Ness & Bloom Amazing Grace, arranged by Jay Althouse

Star Wars

What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor
arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw

Andrew Lu: Solo de piano:
Rapsodia Húngara Nº 12 (S.379), Franz Liszt

Monday, March 22, 2010

Incantato proudly presents: The San Marino Chamber Choir Cuenca Poster

Here is the first concert poster for the San Marino Chamber Choir 2010 Performance Tour! This poster will be hang up in the Iglesia de San Pedro in Cuenca for your performance on April 6. Incantato Tours takes great pride in professionally promoting the fine choirs that travel with us abroad and we hope you like the design too!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Incantato Tour Blogging Scholarship

Are you a member of SMCC or a sister, brother traveling along? Do you like to take pictures, write and are computer savy? Then you are the right fit for the Incantato Tour Blogger Scholarship. Email us with ideas about how you can make the blog more exciting now before you leave and once you are overseas. Great way to make some extra pocket money. Email us to subject line: SMCC tour blogger. We will review all applications with Mr. Cheung and get back to you shortly.

Travel Tips: What to pack?

Dear Travelers, please find below a link to very detailed information on the baggage allowance for your upcoming flight with Lufthansa. There is no charge for ONE checked bags on international flights as long as your suitcase is within the weight limit of 44 pounds. Remember, you are only allowed ONE checked suitcase per person coming on your Incantato Tour plus ONE small/normal size carry-on as luggage capacity on the bus is limited. Please go to the Lufthansa website for detailed information on what is considered a carry-on and a checked bag, but please keep in mind that we can only fit ONE checked bag per person on the coach.
For most people, packing is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it: "You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" Her advice: "Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle."

Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents). Incantato also plans a farewell dinner for the tour groups, so bring something comfortable and dressy.
Here are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, we allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on such as a bag pack or small duffel. Yes Ladies, you may have a small purse in addition, gents a camera case is fine too, but again, you will be the one carrying it all from the bus to the hotel and vice versa, so better test if you can move all your travel belongings without needing to make two trips or help from someone else.

A sample packing list (just a suggestion!)

* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* An adapter plug/converter (if bringing electronic devices)
* Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
* At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses too
* a sweater or two
* Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
* Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
* A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables)
* Choir music and attire
* Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
* Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules.
* All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounzes. Bring enough contact lense solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip.

If you forget anything there are plenty of little "pharmacies" where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Travel Tips: Money Matters

Dear Travelers, Money is a delicate subject. The exchange rate at the moment is better than it was a few months ago. Currently it's around 1 Euro = $ 1,37. The best way to use your money is to have a debit card; this allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. The debit cards given by the bank has the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, however, Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. Most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water and a fee for restroom use (between 30 to 70 Euro cent). Last not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 15 to 20 Euro per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses such as:
· Most restaurants have menus outside so you can check their price range.
· Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and better prices.
· Bring your own water bottle. Most places have good and safe tap water to fill up with.
· Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
· Shop around for souvenirs; many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.

Last not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices.

Travel Tips: Voltage and Converters

Voltage differences in the world are not so shocking!
Voltage in the world differs for each country 220 volt or 110 volts. Plug shapes, plug holes and plug sizes are also different in each country. Some countries like USA and Canada run on 120 volt 60 cycles (60hz) and most of the worlds run on 220/240 volt 50 cycles (50hz). This difference in the voltage can be solved by using an appropriate voltage converter. These converter devices are usually available at superstores and over the internet. While you can also buy them overseas, we recommend purchasing them before you leave if you need them - some items such as ipods, laptops, cameras may only need a two or three round prong adapter plug (pictured on the left, the middle plug is not essential).

Travel Q&A's

Questions & Answers for the San Marino Chamber Choir Tour:

What should everyone carry at all times, real passport or a photo copy?

Ideally, your passport should be on your person at all times. Please be “street-smart” and don’t wave it around for all to see. Photocopies of the passport should be packed in your suitcase, available in your e-mail and also your parents should have a copy too AND your school plus Incantato should have a copy as well.

Is the tap water safe to drink?

The tab water is potable in many areas, although many travellers do choose to buy bottled water instead because they are unaccustomed to the taste or constitution of Spanish water.

Do you have recommendations or suggestions on the type of power adapter needed and what wattage?

Electricity in Spain, as in the rest of Europe, comes out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at a 50 cycles per second. In the US, electricity comes out of the wall socket at 110 volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second. Not only the voltages and frequencies, but the sockets themselves are different. Adapters and converters may be found at Target, Walmart and radio shack etc.

What is the average meal cost? How much money should students bring?

As long as the students are wise about their choices, meals can easily be 15 Euro or less. They don’t have to go to sit down restaurants to get decent food. But when they do want to sit down, they should check the menu outside to see if they have a “menu special”- you can get an entrée, dessert and a drink for a set price.

What is the weight limit for check-in baggage?

1 suitcase weighing 44lbs.

Check the Lufthansa website.

What the size limit and number of items is for carry on?

You may have 1 carry-on bag – it must be able to fit either under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. We recommend a backpack.

What are the airline carryon container regulations?

No containers holding more that 3ozs of liquid or (100g for toothpaste) is allowed in the carryon luggage. They also must be in a plastic zip-lock bag.

What has the best exchange rate, using a debit card to pull money out or exchanging US currency?

By far the best way is to use your debit card. Most banks only charge around $2 per withdraw and they also take care of the exchange rate for you. You do need a 4 digit pin and also let your bank know that you are travelling abroad. DO NOT BRING TRAVELLERS' CHEQUES!

What is the approximate exchange rate right now?

It’s about $1.37 to 1 EUR.

What happens if someone gets injured while in tour? Medical care and cost wise? Do they need a medical consent form for treatment?

We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance. You find a link to our recommended partner on this blog.

If needed, is there laundry service?

It’s really expensive to do laundry overseas as it is dry-cleaning only. There are no irons in the hotel room.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fun Facts about Madrid

  • Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. It is the third-most populous municipality in the European Union after Greater London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-most populous in the European Union after Paris and London.
  • Its sister city in the USA is New York City.
  • Madrid is home to Real Madrid, who plays in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Real Madrid is one of the most prestigious soccer clubs in the world, having won a record 9 European Soccer Cups.
  • The city bid to host the 1972 Summer Olympics, the 2012 Summer Olympics, and the 2016 Summer Olympics, which were lost to Munich, London, and Rio de Janeiro respectively.
  • Madrid hosts the largest Plaza de Toros (bullring) in Spain, Las Ventas, established in 1929. Las Ventas is considered by many to be the world centre of bullfighting and has a seating capacity of almost 25,000.
  • The Auditorio Nacional de Música is the main venue for classical music concerts in Madrid, is home to the Spanish National Orchestra, the Chamartín Symphony Orchestra and the venue for the symphonic concerts of the Community of Madrid Orchestra and the Madrid Symphony Orchestra.
  • The Royal Botanic Garden or Real Jardin Botanico was an 18th century creation. It was used as a base for the plant species being collected across the globe. There is an important research facility that started life as a base to develop herbal remedies and to house the species collected from the new-world trips, today it is dedicated to maintaining Europe’s ecosystem.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fun Facts about Barcelona

  • Barcelona is the capital and the most populous city of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain.
  • The city is twinned with Boston, USA.
  • In 2007 Barcelona's City Council started the Bicing service, a bicycle service understood as a public transport. Once the user has their user card, they can take a bicycle from any of the 100 stations spread around the city, use it, and then leave it at another station.
  • The Port Vell area houses Europe's largest aquarium, containing 8,000 fish and 11 sharks contained in 22 basins filled with 6 million litres of sea water.
  • Barcelona has a long sporting tradition and hosted the successful 1992 Summer Olympics as well as several matches during the 1982 FIFA World Cup.
  • Barcelona has many venues for live music and theatre, including the world-renowned Gran Teatre del Liceu opera theatre, the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, the Teatre Lliure and the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall. Barcelona also is home to the Barcelona and Catalonia National Symphonic Orchestra, the largest symphonic orchestra in Catalonia.
  • Snowfalls and night frosts occur almost every year. Snowfalls seldom cause any disruption to traffic. Nonetheless, the city has experienced its share of heavy snowfalls, as for example at Christmas 1962, when a true blizzard affected the city.