Friday, October 26, 2012

Fun Facts about Slovenia with Incantato Tours

There are only about 2 million people that live in Slovenia. 

Slovenia is bordered by four countries: Austria, Italy, Croatia and Hungary

Slovenia has more churches per capital than almost any other country in Europe.  

Triglav National Park is one of the oldest parks in Europe, with the first efforts to protect the area dating back to 1906. This is just one part of the 1/3 of all of Slovenia that is protected. 

Almost half of the entire country is forest. This makes Slovenia the third most forested country in Europe. Slovenia is also one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.  

A hundred castles still stand in Slovenia, while only ruins of some five hundred more remain dotted throughout the countryside.

The city of Maribor was named a European Capital of Culture in 2012. 

Slovenia has lots of quirky food festivals, including the Salt Makers' Festival, Cabbage Festival, Chestnut Sunday and Bean Day, to name a few.

The official symbol of the capital city of Ljubljana is the dragon which was said to have been slayed by Jason and the Argonauts.

Some scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian were filmed in Slovenia's Soca Valley.

Slovenia has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps, as well as the Idrija Mercury Mine.

In 2010, Slovenia was added to the Destinations Rated list of the most beautiful locations and destinations in the world, as compiled by the National Geographic Society's Center for Sustainable Destinations.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Discover Slovenia with Incantato Tours

Tucked away between Austria and Italy, Slovenia is a country with a great deal of diversity, from a part of the Alps down to the Adriatic sea, which makes for a coastline of 29 miles. There is an abundance of contrast in landscape and cultures that are fit neatly into a small space. Forests have so many kinds of green, they look like a patchwork quilt. The movie Chronicles of Narnia  was filmed in one of Slovenia's many valleys. Slovenia's cuisine takes the best of Italian and the best of German and blends the two together.
The capital city of Ljubljana has a myriad of painted squares, twisty pedestrian alleys, offbeat museums, and a bustling cafe-lined river. With the Old Town and hilltop castle as a backdrop, you will find that many of Ljubljana's architecture has similarities to Venice, found in the fountains, street lanterns and the city's oldest bridge, which is a kind of Slovenian version of Venice's Rialto Bridge. With most of the cafes in the Old Town, this is probably where you will spend most of your time. Perhaps you will discover the primary colored riverside piazza of Preseren Square, named after Slovenia's favorite poet France Preseren. He gave a voice to Slovenian national identity in the 19th century. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Venice: an Incantato Favorite

Venice is one of the few cities in the world that can be truly described as unique. Surviving against all odds on a series of low mud banks in the Adriatic Sea, this northeastern Italian city has been called the gateway to the Orient - or, in the case of the San Marino Chamber Choir, a gateway to Slovenia, Croatia and your Performance Tour 2013.
Venice became an independent Byzantine providence in the 10th century and in 1204 it gained significant wealth and power through the trading routes between the East and the West. During the Middle Ages, the city was able to expand its influence throughout the Mediterranean all the way to present-day Istanbul. This immense wealth was celebrated in the art and architecture around the city that can still be seen today. 
The riches of St. Mark's alone demonstrate Venice's great position in the world from the 12th to the 14th centuries. However, the city finally fell to Napoleon in 1797 and joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.
In the last 200 years of Venice's history, little has been altered as so many of the historical sights are still admired today. 
One of the most famous sights is the Rialto Bridge, which offers beautiful views of the Canal Grande and marks the heart of the city. This area was one of the first in Venice to be inhabited and it remains one of the city's busiest and most bustling areas. Completed in 1591, this bridge was the only means of crosse the Grand Canal until 1854, when the Accademia bridge was built. 
Described by Napoleon as the most elegant drawing room in Europe, the other favorite in Venice is the Piazzo San Marco with two of the city's most important historic sights: the Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale. Founded in the 9th century, the Palazzo once served as the home to Venice's rulers and to the offices of State. The Basilica, once the doge's private chapel, was built on a Greek cross plan and crowned with five massive domes. Today, it is a magnificent example of an Eastern and Western architectural blend. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Incantato Destinations: Fun Facts about Croatia

Did you know..?

  • That in Croatia you can, within a span of only 62 miles, see the sea, forests, mountains and plains.
  • Croatia is one of the ecologically best preserved countries in Europe. It is one of the few countries on the old continent which supplies its citizens with drinking water from the public water supply system.
  • That Slavoljub Penkala (1871-1922) of Zagreb invented the mechanical pencil and fountain pen in 1906.
  • That St. Martin, a stone mason from the island of Rab who moved to the Italian Peninsula, founded the Republic of San Marino in the year 301!
  • That Istria has its own leaning tower - the 72 foot tall tower in Zavrsje. Its inclination is 16 inches to the north.
  • The scientist and physicist Nikola Tesla, a world-renowned inventor in the field of energy transfer telecommunications, was born in Croatia. His most valuable contribution was alternating current.
  • The Opatija Riviera was, next to the Cote D'Azur, the main destination of the Habsburg elite and it still carries the nickname "Nice of the Adriatic"
  • The Croats have their own script. It is called Glagolitic and originates from the 9th century. It was in regular use, together with Latin, until the 18th century!
  • The city of Zadar has the first sea organ in the world. It produces sounds using only the power of wind and sea waves.
  • The Republic of Dubrovnik was the first state to recognize the independence of the United States of America.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

SMCC homeward bound - Arrival in LAX may be delayed

Dear Family and Friends of the San Marino Chamber Choir travelers, just a quick note that the group's return, Turkish airlines flight TK 9, had a last minute schedule with the new departure being 12:45 pm local time, however then left with a delay as well. At the moment, this is the predication from the TK website, however we recommend you check again closer to their scheduled arrival.
Here is link to the website: then click on the third tab for Arrival/Departure and look up by flight (you just need to enter the number 9 after TK and today's date).
We wish everyone a safe and smooth return home

City / Airport
Aircraft TypeScheduledEstimatedActualStatus
Departure AirportIstanbul - AtaturkB77712:4513:0113:01DEPARTED
Arrival AirportLos Angeles - Los AngelesB77716:3017:38

More pictures from the 2012 San Marino Chamber Choir Tour: Istanbul, Turkey

Friday, April 6, 2012

Visiting Galatasaray High School on Friday, April 6

Here are some impressions from the famous soccer team's high school that SMCC will be visiting on Friday, April 6 for a meet and greet with students followed by your finale concert of the 2012 Performance Tour.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

San Marino Chamber Choir presents a join Highlight Concert at Bosphorus University on Thursday, April 5

Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Müzik Kulübü, Amerika'dan gelen misafirlerini Albert Long Hall'de ağırlıyor!
California merkezli Howard Cheung yönetimindeki San Marino Chamber Choir ve BÜMK Caz Korosu, 5 Nisan Perşembe akşamı saat 20 da en güzel şarkılarını Albert Long Hall sahnesinde seslendiriyor olacaklar.
Bu güzel konserde bizimle olun!
Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Müzik Kulübü
'Müziğin kalbinin attığı yer'

Boğaziçi University Music Club welcomes our guests from America at Albert Long Hall!
California based San Marino Chamber Choir conducted by Howard Cheung, and BUMC Jazz Choir will be singing you their nicest songs on Albert Long Hall's stage on Thursday night, April 5 at 20 pm.
Please be our guests at this wonderful concert! 

Merhaba from Istanbul - We made it and have a great day ahead

Just a quick note that all of us and even every single piece of luggage made it to Istanbul late last night. A buffet dinner with traditional Turkish specialities like Koefte and Lahmacun awaited the group from San Marino California at the Hotel Volley. On today's agenda is a first orientation tour of this fascinating city, followed by an exchange and highlight concert at Bosphorus University.

More SMCC Tour Impressions from Terry Fouché: Wieskirche, Germany

Sunday, April 1, 2012

SMCC sings in Munich: "Ave Maria" by Biebl

Munich audience loves SMCC: "You sound like angels!"

The San Marino Chamber Choir presented its very first concert in Germany to a small, but very appreciative audience at the stunning Markuskirche in Munich, Bavaria on April 1. Around 100 people were in attendance for the excellent performance under the direction of  Mr. Howard Cheung. Here are a first few impressions and hopefully a video will upload while we sleep. Gute Nacht aus Deutschland, Sandra from Incantato Tours

TODAY: First "Made in USA"-Concert by the San Marino Chamber Choir this Sunday in Munich

The San Marino Chamber Choir (SMCC) will be presenting the first concert of its 2012 International Performance Tour to Germany and Istanbul on Sunday, April 1 at 7 pm at Markuskirche in Munich. The 40 students from San Marino High School in the greater Los Angeles area in California bring a wide variety of choral literature along for the 11-day Konzerttournee starting with classics like Biebl's Ave Maria or Bach's "oh Come Sweet Death", but also present work from contemporary American composers like Eric Whitacre and Richard Burchard. Spirituals as well as folk songs from North America, Asia and Europe conclude the musical offerings. The concert is a benefit for the hosting church's own music program and the singers from the USA hope to engage in some form of exchange with youth from St. Markus as well as the audience after the performance. "It is life changing for our singers to perform internationally", explains director Mr. Howard Cheung: "We are honored to share the gift and joys of choral music with the people of Munich and its many visitors." The San Marino Chamber Choir travels abroad annually and has already performed in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Spain, Austria and Hungary - Stephansdom in Vienna, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome or the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona or only a few of the prestigious venues the singers performed at. In the USA they have presented concerts to full houses in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall in New York City; and the choir is regularly invited to high ranking festivals and competitions. This year's musical theme "Made in the USA" sums up where both the majority of the music as well as the students come from, but it is also meant to challenge the audience's expectations concerning the modern day make-up of American schools.  The San Marino Chamber Choir unites singers who origins origins represent many different nationalities, mostly Chinese and Taiwanese, but also Hispanic, Indian and last not least Arabic and German. 
The concert starts at 7 pm at Markuskirche on Gabelsbergerstr. 6 in Munich. The entrance is free, however seating is limited and thus early arrival highly recommended. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

SMCC Tour snapshots from Terry Fouché: Munich

First impressions from the SMCC 2012 Performance Tour: "Hallo aus Muenchen, Deutschland"

Happy faces and a great breakfast in Munich

Just wanted to let everyone at home know that the SMCC group has made it safely to Munich, and while we miss a few bags still, all are in a good mood after at least 6 hours of sleep and a great great breakfast feast. Pictures and more updates will come later today, warmest Sandra

Friday, March 30, 2012

Turkish Airlines Wait for SMCC

After much sweet talking by Incantato, Turkish Airlines agreed to hold the connecting flight for SMCC. A great big thank you goes out to one of the few great airlines out there.

Arrival delay in Istanbul - Updates to follow

Dear Parents and Friends of SMCC, due to the very late departure, it looks like the group will miss their connecting flight, however there is still a chance that Turkish Airlines will hold the plane for them. Just wanted to let you know that we are being in constant contact and if the group cannot continue to Germany today, they will be brought to a hotel near the airport in Istanbul and continue their journey the next morning. We will reschedule the activities in accordance. We are so sorry for the inconvenience. Auf Wiedersehen, Sandra

"Hallo Deutschland" - San Marino Chamber Choir is on its way to Munich, Bavaria

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Home away from home: Courtyard - Marriott Hotel, Munich

The four star hotel Courtyard by Marriott in Munich welcomes travelers from around the world.
The 230 air-conditioned rooms at the Courtyard will welcome you with stylish furniture and a flat screen TV. Other amenities include a complimentary tea/coffee station, a desk and a private bathroom with hairdryer, as well as air conditioning. WiFi is accessible in all areas of the hotel and a fitness room is available for use.The bright restaurant offers dishes from Germany and from all over the world. In good weather the travelers can dine on the garden terrace.

The Hotel is located just ten minutes from Munich's old town, and you reach the heart of a beautiful park located near the Maximilianeum after a 15-minute walk. From there the rest of the city is very accessible, including the English Garden with the Chinese Tower and other city highlights.
For more photos of the hotel and the surrounding city attractions, take a look at the photo gallery.

Home away from home: Schlosshotel Lisl, Bavaria

The Schlosshotel Lisl boasts a unique location right below the royal castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. If you look closely, you are able to distinguish the yellow castle of Hohenschwangau on the left sideand the white castle of Neuschwanstein in the top center of the photograph. The yellow arrow indicates the location of your hotel. 
The two large terraces near the hotel lobby offer a view of the castles, a sight which also can be enjoyed while enjoying breakfast from the buffet, if the weather permits. There is also the possibility of enjoying regional Bavarian and national foods in the hotel's restaurant or café. 
The hotel, housed in a 100-year old castle, offers 35 rooms equipped with a cable TV, radio, telephone, and private bathrooms. WiFi is also available in the hotel lobby and an elevator is available for guests to use. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Home away from home: Volley Hotel, Istanbul

While staying in Istanbul the travelers from the San Marino Chamber Choir will be experiencing traditional Turkish hospitality at the superior four star Volley Hotel in a district called Üsküdar Altunizade, also known as the pearl of the Asian side of Istanbul.
The Volley Hotel Istanbul is considered a special class hotel as it provides many amenities of a five star property. 

Mr. Howard Cheung had the opportunity to personally select this hotel for the 2012 SMCC Incantato Tour. Hotel Volley is in a residential area, but only a short drive away from great shopping, the shoreline and many typical restaurants. Unlike most of Istanbul's tourist hotels, the Volley is a hotel for mainly Turkish guests and thus the group from San Marino, California will be in an authentic ambiance while traveling abroad. One of the highlights during the stay will be the extensive breakfast buffet with lots of local specialties, but also American staples like cereal and eggs.

Volley Hotel has its own restaurant and café, 60 fully equipped modern and spacious guest rooms, which received very high reviews, and also has a spa facility with a traditional Turkish bath, as well as outdoor and indoor swimming pools and a fitness centre. 

For a 360 degree tour of this fine hotel, click here.