Tuesday, September 17, 2013

News from Madrid, presented by Incantato Tours

In the past, Madrid has often been considered the stately, classical cousin to the cooler, hipper Barcelona. However, the ambiance of Spain's capital is changing and it is evolving into a trendy destination in its own right.

One of the main contributors to this transformation has been the emerging and contemporary art exhibitions and there has also been a spike in shopping venues opened with international visitors in mind. 
One of the events to watch is the fourth annual Apertura contemporary art exhibition, presented by the ARTE Madrid Association of Art Galleries. The festival features simultaneous activities at museums and some 50 galleries city-wide.  

There will also be the first ever Summa, a fair hosted by the Matadero Madrid cultural center, that will showcase everything from emerging art and photography to gastronomy. The Matadero center itself is also a happening venue, with year-round events and exhibitions. Located in the previously less touristed Arganzueal district, the center has revitalized that part of the city. 
If shopping is more of interest to you than art, be sure to watch out for the Las Rozas Village. It is a large complex that acts not only as a tourist draw, but is also set to help revive the country's down economy. Close to Gran Via is also TriBail, featuring young designers, appealing shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques. 
An addition to the thriving shopping and art scene, the San Anton Market has also been a valuable addition to what Madrid has to offer. Situated in the popular neighborhood of Chueco, which is a hub of welcoming restaurants, this modern, refurbished market offers visitors typical season Spanish products in a three-story building. The building originally dates back to the 19th century, but it was modernized in 2002 and finally opened in 2011. San Anton is not a market in the traditional sense, but a combination between market, show cooking and restaurant. 

On the first floor, vendors present stands of food from hamburgers to a selection of more than 60 types of bread, vegetables and fruit. On the second floor, there is a tasting area, as well as the opportunity to purchase Spanish and international cuisine to go. A restaurant is located on the third floor where typical products form the market below are cooked. It also features a terrace lounge with a view.

For more news from Travel Weekly, please click here. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Incantato Update: Lisbon

Lisbon was voted top city destination in Europe!
Portugal’s cosmopolitan and intriguing capital has been named Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2013 at the World Travel Awards, considered to be the “Oscars” of tourism.
This win is the third time Lisbon has been recognized as Europe’s Leading City Break Destination over the last five years. Known for its year-round pleasant climate, rich culture and beaches located just 20 minutes from the city center, Lisbon also has a price-quality ratio unrivaled anywhere else in Europe.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SMCC 2014 Incantato Tour Hotel: Your hotel in Oviedo, Spain

The Silken Monumental Naranco, a 4-star hotel in Oviedo, has 62 rooms and 2 junior suites. In addition to a restaurant service, it also has 4 adaptable function rooms for different events, an indoor heated pool and a fitness area with a sauna, which will make the leisure time very pleasant.

The rooms are comfortable and fully soundproofed. Equipped with either double bed or twin beds, large work desk with internet connection, LCD screen TV and Satellite TV, piped music and radio, central heating and air-conditioning, minibar, phone and safe deposit box. It also offers marble bathrooms equipped with a bathtub, hair drier, phone line, mirror and refreshing green tea amenities.

Lovers of culture will find at the Monumental Naranco Hotel the best option for visiting the main Pre-Romanesque monuments of the city, the churches of Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo, located on the skirts of Monte Naranco, just five minutes from the hotel. Oviedo’s Gothic Cathedral is a must-see, as are the streets of the old town.

SMCC 2014 Incantato Tour Hotel: Your home away from home in Madrid

The Hotel Husa Paseo del Arte, is a 4 star hotel located in the city center of Madrid, Spain, close to the privileged surroundings of the "Art Triangle", the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia Centre of Art.

It has 260 rooms equipped with the latest facilities and new technologies. The rooms have twin or double beds, desk, minibar, free safety deposit box, satellite and digital TV, laundry service, room service and Wi-Fi.

The hotel has a breakfast room, the “Atocha 1,2,3” cafeteria, the Trazos restaurant, a fitness room and solarium on the top floor, Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, room service and a spacious car park.

SMCC 2014 Incantato Tour Hotel: Your home away from home in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

The NH Obradoiro Hotel in Santiago de Compostela with its 159 rooms delivers modern luxury in a timeless setting. Located just minutes from the historic Plaza del Obradoiro, the monumental heart of the city, centuries of charm wait just outside your door.
The hotel offers an array of amenities and facilities for its guests such as state-of-the-art gym, Turkish bath, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, dry cleaning service and fully equipped meeting rooms. It also has a sauna and offers traditional Galician dishes at their restaurant "Azabache" (Spanish for "jet").

The standard rooms at NH Obradoiro are anything but ordinary, offering modern amenities such as a flat-screen TV, free WiFi, free credit card access calls, air conditioning and personal minibar. The rooms are also equipped with your choice of pillows, alarm clock, desk and hairdryer.

SMCC 2014 Incantato Tour Hotel: Your last home away from home in Lisbon, Portugal

The 5-star hotel Tiara Park Atlantic Lisboa, is located in the heart of Portugal's capital city.

The contemporary luxury hotel is near Lisbon's historic center, the metro, and shopping areas, catering to both business and leisure guests. The Gulbenkian Gardens and Center of Modern Art are also nearby.

The hotel offers free wifi and the rooms are equipped with climate control air conditioning, minibar, ironing board (on request), hypo-allergenic bedding, safe, 23-inch LCD TV, Cable TV channels and room service. The Tiara Park Atlantic Lisboa was elected "Travelers' Choice® 2013 Luxury Winner" on Tripadvisor. 

SMCC 2014 Incantato Tour Hotel: Your hotel in Porto, Portugal

On the Avenida da Boavista, in the heart of Porto's business and cultural district, this modern 5-star hotel exudes luxury and comfort. Only a few miles from Porto’s beaches, Hotel Tiara Park Atlantic Porto has a great location. Enjoy the view from your spacious room or venture out into the city.

The front desk offers a 24 hours service and will do its best to ensure a relaxing stay.

The hotel has 232 rooms of which 42 are suites. There are a lot of services at your disposal at the Tiara Park Atlantic Lisboa such as 24-hour room service, concierge, currency exchange, fitness center, free WiFi and high speed internet in your room, laundry service and room safe.

Here you can have a look at the hotel brochure.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Upcoming SMCC 2014 tour - Flight information

Departure for Europe

Friday, March 28, 2014:
Lufthansa flight LH457 leaves Los Angeles (LAX) for Frankfurt (FRA), Germany, at 04:10 pm local time, arrival in Europe is on Saturday, March 29 at 11:00 am pm local time. The group then connects from Frankfurt (FRA) at 01:10 PM pm with Lufthansa flight LH1114 to Madrid (MAD), Spain, with an arrival time of 03:45 pm.

Return to the US

Sunday, April 6, 2014:
Lufthansa flight LH1793 departs Lisbon (LIS), Portugal, at 06:15 am local time for Munich (MUC), Germany, to arrive at 10:15 am. The group then connects from Munich (MUC) at 11:55 am with Lufthansa flight LH452 to Los Angeles (LAX) with an arrival time of 03:15 pm local.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Upcoming SMCC 2014 tour - Spanish cuisine

The Spanish food tradition has varied ancestry, though most Spanish dishes have rather humble origins and are the result of ingredients put together by farmers or shepherd families - many times using leftovers, or at the very least products from their own farms and orchards.
Mountains run through Spain in several directions, acting as natural barriers to communication and making transportation difficult until the last half of the 20th century. This is one of the reasons why cooking differs so much from region to region. Many times the only common ingredients are olive oil and garlic, the two basic ingredients of Spanish food!
Many dishes are prepared today using the same cooking methods and ingredients as they were two or three hundred years ago. Other dishes sprung up from European and American influences and were adapted to the Spanish taste. One thing is for sure, food in Spain is fresh, abundant and full of taste and the Spanish love their food dearly.

Unquestionably pork is par excellence the most favorite Spanish meat:
the Spanish like to make use of all of the ingredients they can and often include a number of different meats in the same dish.
Of course there are many other meats served in Spanish tables including lamb, beef and chicken. But Spaniards are not exclusively carnivorous, there are many vegetarian stews and other dishes that are enjoyed from North to South, from East to West. Vegetables are grown throughout the country, and the varied climates and terrains in Spain mean that a variety of different vegetables are grown. As a result, the vegetable dishes in Spain tend to also vary from place to place.

But what makes Spanish food so popular? The answer is simple it is the quality and variety of the ingredients used. For instance, it was the Romans that imported rice to Spain, giving way to the creation of the Valencian paella and many other rice dishes. Since then, these dishes have come to form part of the typical dishes of Spain and are a definite must for any travelers who are planning on visiting Spain and doing a bit of gastronomic tourism.

There is also a great variety of seafood, including fish and crustaceans from the coast areas, which are used in the preparation of many delicious dishes. The fish industry in Spain is extremely important and forms part of the livelihood of many of the population. Furthermore, Spain is a country that is blessed with such a large and varied coastline, including the Bay of Biscay, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This gives rise to a whole manner of different species of fish and seafood being available for Spanish chefs. Therefore the range of Spanish seafood dishes is endless!

When it comes to sweet things, Spain has a very rich dessert tradition. On one hand it was also influenced by the Moors, and on the other many of them are centuries old creations from nun convents.
If you have a sweet tooth we recommend you to sample some of the many deserts Spain has to offer for a example Churros, Spain’s answer to a donut, a crunchy, deep-fried sweet snack that resembles the horns of the churro sheep. It is mostly served with hot chocolate to dip it in.

¡Buen provecho!

Source: http://www.spanish-food.org

Upcoming SMCC 2014 tour - Portuguese cuisine

Food plays an important role in Portuguese culture. Traditional Portuguese dishes are often made from simple ingredients, based on regional products with an emphasis on fish.
The former colonies in Africa, India and the Far East have influenced Portuguese cuisine making it very different from the nearby Mediterranean countries. Many herbs and spices such as pepper, saffron, ginger and coriander were introduced into Europe by the Portuguese, as were coffee, pineapples, potatoes and rice amongst other ingredients.

Breakfast (Portuguese: pequeno-almoço) consists mainly of milk, coffee, bread rolls or toast, butter and jam. Lunch (Portuguese: almoço) is the main meal of the day and can be a leisurely affair, while dinner (Portuguese: jantar) is usually served late in the evening.

Portuguese recipes are characterized by their use of a wide variety of spices, for example, piri piri (a spicy chilli pepper), vanilla, cinnamon and saffron. Southern Portuguese cuisine has Arab and Moorish influences and an old tradition of almond and fig sweets.

Many of Portugal's dishes are fish-based due to the country's situation on the Atlantic. The most famous fish dish is salted cod, bacalhau, which it is said can be cooked in 365 different ways. Each region has its own bacalhau speciality, for example bacalhau à Gomes de Sã from Porto (salted cod, potatoes and onions topped with eggs and onions) or bacalhau à bras from Estremadura (salt cod, potato, onion and scrambled eggs).
Other popular fish include sardines, especially grilled (sardinhas assadas), sea bass, octopus, squid (often stuffed), anchovies and swordfish. Shellfish such as mussels, prawns, oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams are also very popular.

One of the most popular meats in Portugal is pork, which can be cooked in a variety of ways. Roast suckling pig (leitão assado) is a delicacy of Central Portugal. Another popular pork dish is the carne de porco à Alentajana, which consists of pork marinated in wine and is garnished with clams.
A common meat dish is the cozido à Portuguesa, a sort of hotpot of beef, sausages, potatoes, vegetables and rice. Grilled skewers of beef with garlic (espetada) are often served, as is aromatic grilled chicken (frango grelhado), seasoned with piri piri, garlic and olive oil. Feijoada, a meat stew with kidney or butter beans, is a dish popular throughout Portugal.

Soup is served at most meals. Seasonal vegetables, fish and meat are used to make a variety of soups. One of the most famous Portuguese soups from Minho is the caldo verde, which consists of a mashed potato base, green Galician cabbage, olive oil and black pudding (tora) or slices of sausage, such as chouriço and salpicão. Bread soups (açordas) where shellfish and vegetables are added to thick slices of bread are found in all regions.
In the south, gaspacho, a soup of tomatoes, cucumber, onions, garlic, chillies and vinegar, is popular. Caldeirada is a fish soup made of water, tomatoes, onions and garlic and other ingredients that traditionally will depend on the fisherman's catch.

Many of the desserts in Portugal are rich egg-based specialities, often seasoned with spices such as cinnamon and vanilla. A popular dessert is the arroz doce, a rice pudding flavored with cinnamon and lemon. The Portuguese have a variety of cakes and other delicacies that can be found in a pasteleria or confeitaria.
Northern delicacies are rich, very sugary and often flavored with cinnamon, whereas in the south the sweetmeats reflect the local harvest of figs and almonds.
Throughout Portugal variations of the pão de Ló can found; this rich sponge cake can be flavored with lemon, port wine, cinnamon or orange juice.

Bom apetite!

Source: http://portugal.angloinfo.com

Monday, June 10, 2013

Upcoming SMCC 2014 tour - Welcome to Spain!

¡Damas y caballeros, bienvenidas y bienvenidos a España!

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a member state of the European Union since 1986 and is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula.

Its mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar; to the north by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the northwest and west by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco.

With an area of 505,955 km², Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union after France and is amongst the fifty largest countries in the world. Since January 1, 2010, Spain has held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Because of its location, the territory of Spain was subject to many external influences, often simultaneously, since prehistoric times and through the dawn of Spain as a country. Conversely, the country itself has been an important source of influence to other regions, chiefly during the Modern Era, when it became a global empire that has left a legacy of over 400 million Spanish speakers today, making it the world's second most spoken language by native speakers. Spain is a democracy organized in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy.

The Spanish population stands at over 47 million, with an average density of just 93.4 inhabitants per square kilometer.
The life expectancy in Spain is one of the highest in the world (approximately 82,1 years). Life expectancy for Spanish women, at 85 years, is also one of the highest in the European Union. Around 15% of the Spanish population is under 16 years old, while approximately 15% are over 65. Nevertheless, Spain's population is still quite young in comparison to that of other European countries.

Since Spain has still a monarchy the members of the Spanish royal family enjoy the affection and respect of the Spanish people. The royal family is made up of H.M. the King Juan Carlos, H.M. the Queen Sofía, the Prince and Princess of Asturias, Felipe and Letizia, and their daughters, Leonor and Sofía.

Spain, is one of the warmest countries in Europe and has a predominantly warm Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and winters with balanced temperatures. Here you can enjoy more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. It is no surprise, then, that this is also one of the warmest parts of Europe.
When talking of weather, special mention should be made of the Canary Islands. Their special location, facing the coast of Africa, gives them a benign climate with mild temperatures with only small temperature differences between day and night, whatever the season.

The currency in Spain is the Euro, as in other European Union countries. The Euro is divided into 100 cents.
• There are eight different coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent, and 1 and 2 Euro.
• And seven different bank notes, for the following amounts: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euro.

Flag photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Upcoming SMCC 2014 tour - Fun and interesting facts about Lisbon (Portugal)

Lisbon is full of beauty and charm. However, don't scrape the surface thinking it's just like any other place in the world. Lisbon has a list of interesting secrets as you see below:

  1. In Lisbon, the streets are pretty much all black and white. People say the reason for this centers around the patron Saint of Lisbon; Saint Vincent. It's said that the black represents the attire worn by Saint Vincent whereas the white represents the white outfit of the Christian Crusaders who vanquished the Moors.
  2. The main river basin of the Tagus Estuary in Lisbon stretches up to 14 km (8.7 m) across and is said to be large enough to contain all the warships in the world.
  3. Beneath the streets of Lisbon's downtown shopping area lies a hidden Roman Underworld with chambers, rooms, bridges and corridors. The entrance to this fascinating world is marked by a block of metal at the top of Rua da Conceicao which is only open to the public two days a year due to the dangerous conditions lurking below.
  4. Lisbon was practically destroyed on 1st November 1755 as a massive earthquake tipping the scales at 8.9 took the lives of 40,000 people and could be felt as far away as Scotland and Norway.
  5. Visit on of Lisbon's favorite attractions; the Torre de Belem. The tower's first purpose was to safeguard the harbor but from the late 16th century up till the 19th, the tower served as a prison. Today however, it serves as a monument to Portugal's Age of Discovery and it provides a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
  6. Lisbon is also known as "the town of seven hills" which are compromised of the seven hills: Castelo, Graca, Monte, Penha de Franca, S.Pedro de Alcantara, Santa Catarina and Estrela.
  7. Instead of hiking, why not take a one of a kind the Ascensor de Santa Justa (street elevator). This is another beloved landmark which takes passengers 45 meters (147f) from the Baxia elevator to the Chiado district.
  8. A very large statue of Cristo Rei (Christ the King) stands on the left bank of the river. This statue was erected to commemorate Portugal's survival of World War II without its direct involvement.
  9. Ironically, The Alfama, which is the oldest section of Lisbon, was spared by the 1755 earthquake and is one of the places to visit if you want to see that Lisbon is full of history.
  10. The Santa Engrácia church is in the Guinness Book of Records. Why? It has had the longest construction time of all churches in the world - it started in the 17th century and in 1966 was the last dome completed.
  11. Lisbon’s Vasco da Gama Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe. The world record for the largest dining table was set when some 15,000 people were served lunch on the bridge as part of the inauguration celebrations.
  12. The Lisbon Half Marathon, held every year in March, is one of the most attended events of its kind in the world.
  13. Lisbon is home to the Stadium of Light, one of Europe's biggest and famous soccer venues in which the main sporting team Benfica play their home game at.
  14. Speaking about Benfica - the football club is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for having the largest number of fans (an estimated total of 14 million worldwide and over 170,000 registered paying supporters).
  15. The first passenger streetcars were built and introduced in the U.S. in the 19th Century (New York and New Orleans). The rails are called “carris” in Portuguese and this is the name given to Lisbon’s public transport company that operates the trams today. Due to their origins, Lisbon’s trams were originally called “americanos” and the first operational route was inaugurated on 17th November, 1873.

Upcoming SMCC 2014 tour - Introducing Lisbon (Portugal)

Lisbon, (Portuguese: Lisboa) the capital and largest city of Portugal, is the twelfth most populated urban area in the European Union.

It is the westernmost capital city in Europe, lying on the western Iberian Peninsula along the Atlantic Ocean and Tagus River, less than 200 miles northwest of Cape Spartel, Africa.
Like Istanbul, Amman, Rome, San Francisco and Bergen, Lisbon is built on seven hills

Lisbon is recognized as an alpha city due to its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education, and tourism.
It is also the world’s 25th most livable city, according to the lifestyle magazine Monocle, and the sixth most visited city in Southern Europe with more than two million tourists annually.
As with the rest of Portugal, Portuguese is the main language in Lisbon. However, most younger people know enough English for basic communication and it is possible to get by speaking only English. Spanish is widely understood, though few are fluent in it, and many locals will respond more readily to English than to Spanish. Nevertheless, any attempt to speak Portuguese is always appreciated, and even simple things like basic greetings will often draw smiles and encouragement from locals.

Lisbon reigns as one of the world’s oldest cities. Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon’s status as the capital of Portugal has never been confirmed or granted officially - neither by statute nor written form.
Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal.

The city boasts two registered UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Belem Tower constructed during the maritime exploration, and the Manueline-style Jeronimos Monastery. It was honored in 1994 as the European Capital of Culture.

The Portuguese capital enjoys subtropical-Mediterranean climate. Among all of Europe’s metropolises, Lisbon experiences the warmest winters with average temperatures of 59 degrees from December through February. Snow and frost are very rare.
The typical summer season lasts approximately six months, from May through October, however November, March and April often also experience temperatures upwards of 68 degrees. Rain occurs mainly in winter, the summer is very dry.
Lisbon is very close to the Atlantic ocean and that brings windy and fast-changing weather, so you'd better bring an extra pair of underwear or an umbrella with you, at least in winter, spring and autumn.

While in Lisbon, why not explore the city by riding the famous street cars or enjoy watching people strolling by at one of the beautiful plazas?

Upcoming SMCC 2014 tour - Welcome to Portugal!

Bem-Vindo a Portugal!

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a fascinating country with a proud history that can be felt all throughout the country. It lies in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. The westernmost country in Europe, Portugal is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and Spain to the north and east.

Although originally settled in prehistoric times, Portugal did not become an established nation-state until 1143 during the Christian Reconquista. The country is the self-proclaimed oldest European nation-state.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, as a result of the maritime exploration, Portugal established a global empire that included property possessions in Africa, Asia, and South America, thus becoming the world’s prime economic, political and military power of the time. The Portuguese Empire was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, spanning almost 600 years, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau in 1999 and granting of sovereignty to East Timor in 2002.
Portugal's international status was reduced during the 19th century, especially following the Independence of Brazil - the largest colony.

Portugal is a developed country with the world's 27th highest quality of life as of 2010 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the 25th in Bloomberg's Global Innovation Index. It is the 13th most peaceful and 8th most globalized country in the world and a member of the European Union and the United Nations, and a founding member of the Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, OECD, NATO, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the eurozone and the Schengen Agreement.

Portugal is defined as a Mediterranean climate, and is one of the warmest European countries: the annual average temperature in mainland Portugal varies from 53.6 °F in the mountainous interior north to over     64.4 °F in the south. The Algarve, separated from the Alentejo region by mountains reaching up to 3,000 ft in Pico da Foia, has a climate similar to that of the southern coastal areas of Spain or Southern California.

Portuguese music encompasses a wide variety of genres. The most renowned is fado, a melancholy urban music normally associated with Portuguese guitar and themes of longing. Fandango is one of the most popular regional dances, a lively Andalusian folk dance performed in triple-meter. Internationally notable performers include Amália Rodrigues, Carlos Paredes, José Afonso and Madredeus.
Here you can watch a traditional Fandango dancer perform to the live accompaniment of authentic Portuguese guitarists.

If you want to learn more about Portugal - here are some interesting facts:

Did you know that...

  1. ...Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries in the world?
    Over 236 million people world-wide are native Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea. Portuguese is also spoken in Goa (India), Macau and East Timor.
  2. ...Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world?
    Portugal produces 70% of the world's cork exports. Main importers of Portuguese cork are: Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. The country also has the largest cork forest.
  3. ...the longest bridge in Europe is in Portugal?
    The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is 10.5 miles long, which makes it the longest in Europe.
  4. ...Portugal is one of the world's top surf-sports?
    Portugal has a coastline that spans 497 miles and is known to have 364 days of surf.
  5. ...one of Europe's oldest universities is in Portugal?
    The University of Coimbra was established in 1290, making it one of the oldest universities on the European continent.

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gentle Reminder: Travel Insurance

Dear San Marino Travelers, 
As indicated on your registration form, it is mandatory for all tour participants to obtain travel insurance to protect your investment in case you have to cancel for a medical situation, loss of luggage or various other reasons.
Our recommended insurance option is described below along with an online link to Travel Guard. We highly recommend this company based on a long and excellent relationship. 
TravelGuard has a variety of policies including a family plan.
In order for us to keep track of travel insurance for your group, please sign up through these links connected with Incantato Tours.
Click here to get a Travel Guard Insurance quote.

Travel Insurance

Incantato Tours strongly recommends getting Travel Guard travel insurance for your upcoming journey as they have been a very reliable partner and provide excellent services, but we also know that you may have a different preferred supplier or are already covered under another policy. Again, travel insurance with trip cancellation coverage is mandatory for all Incantato Tours travelers. 
Not only are you covered medically should anything happen when traveling, but with TravelGuard's policies, you also protect your investment should you have to cancel or interrupt the trip.There is also coverage for delayed and lost luggage etc.
Here is a direct line to purchase travel insurance online and can you do so with your credit cards and also select the option that is best for you.

In the meantime, have a look at the most comprehensive coverage option The Protect Assist Gold below.

Protect Assist (Gold) -
Comprehensive Travel Protection for the World Traveler
  • Trip Cancellation
  • JUST ADDED! - Trip Cancellation due to employment loss or layoff
    if employed with the same employer 1 year or longer
  • Trip Interruption and Travel Delay
  • Emergency Medical and Emergency Medical Transportation
  • Baggage and Travel Document Protection
  • Baggage Delay and Lost Baggage Tracking
  • NEW - Cancel For Any Reason option now available
  • NEW - Cancel For Work Reasons option now available
  • NEW - Children age 17 and under covered at no additional cost
  • IMPROVED -Trip Cancellation limit increased to $100,000 (from $15,000), 
  • IMPROVED - Trip Interruption coverage increased to 150% of Trip Cost
  • IMPROVED - Travel Delay required hours reduced to 5 hours (from 12)

ProtectAssist special features:
  • Best coverage for Weather Related Cancellations
  • Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Waiver*
  • Default/Bankruptcy Protection*
  • $50,000 Flight Accident Insurance*
  • 24-Hour "LiveTravel" Travel Agency
  • Emergency Cash Transfers
  • Identity Theft Restoration

* These additional benefits apply If you are purchasing within 15 days of making your initial trip deposit or payment, however, coverage may still be purchased at any time up to 24 hours prior to departure.
Increase your coverage with these valuable additions to your Protect Assist Plan:
Cancel For Any Reason – 50% 
reimbursement of nonrefundable expenses if you cancel your trip for any reason, up to 48 hours prior to your departure. Only available when this plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.

Cancel For Work Reasons – 
Offers additional work-related reasons for cancellation or interruption. Also includes our exclusive “Business Assistant” services if you have work obligations during your travels. Only available when this plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.

Umbrella Package – Medical Expense limits are doubled and coverage is upgraded to primary. Emergency Medical Transportation limits are doubled and benefits upgraded to take you home or to the hospital of your choice. $25,000 Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage will be added

Optional coverages cannot be purchased separately. Must be purchased with base ProtectAssist plan.

Comprehensive non-insurance travel services* automatically included with plan!With the ProtectAssist plan, every customer also has access to these valuable travel services when they travel:
· Arrangements for last-minute flight changes
· Hotel finder and reservations
· Rental car reservations
· Emergency medical assistance
· BagTrak® -- lost baggage tracking
· Pre-trip health and safety advisories
· Live e-mail and phone messaging to family and friends
· Cash transfers
· Airport transportation
· Golf course reservations
· Event ticketing
· Floral services
· Identity Theft restoration

Business Assistant* (available when Optional Cancel for Work Reasons coverage is purchased)

*Non-Insurance services are provided by AIG Travel Assist.

Citizenship: All Nationalities
Residency: United States
New York, Oregon, and Washington residence please call to purchase
Some rider options are not available and other restrictions may apply
Destination: Worldwide
Ages: All Ages
Max Trip Length: 365 Days

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Remember the Incantato Tours Facebook Page

Dear Friends and Family of the SMCC travelers, 
If you are eager for updates and pictures from the SMCC Concert Tour 2013 trough Slovenia, Croatia and Italy, remember that the Incantato Concert Tours Facebook page is continually updated with pictures and information from the tour.
If you are also interested in other exciting things happening at Incantato Tours, be sure to check out the European River Cruises Facebook page, where Incantato is currently featuring the performance tour of the La Canada High School Choral Artists sailing on the Danube river. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

SMCC highlight Concert at the Croatian Music Institute in Zagreb on Easter Monday, April 1 at 6 pm

The San Marino Chamber Choir will have a special evening performance opportunity on Easter Monday, April 1, in the Croatian Music Institute in Zagreb, Croatia. 
The oldest musical institution in Croatia, the Croatian Music Institute was founded in 1827 under the title of Musikverein (Music Society) as a society of friends of music. Featuring the second most important concert hall in Zagreb, the Music Institute has be an originator of many forms of musical life in Zagreb and has had various purposes over the years. These include the organization of concerts in its concert hall and founding of a music school, which is known today as the Zagreb Academy of Music. 
The Music Institute has also edited and published works by Croatian composers and authors, which have led to a permanent collection of materials for the music library and archives. Some of the most famous artists who have performed here include Franz Liszt, Sviatoslav Richter, David Oistrakh, and Mstislav Rostropovich.
Today, the Music Institute serves mainly for solo and chamber music concerts, especially since it is known for its outstandingly rich acoustics. It is home to several ensembles, include the Community Orchestra, a Big Band, Social Chamber Ensemble and Community Choir. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Incantato Presents: Packing Tips and Luggage Regulations

Dear travelers of  the San Marino Chamber Choir,
As your departure for your 2013 performance tour draws closer and closer, Incantato Tours would like to provide you with some travel tips to make it easier for you to get ready for your journey:

For most people, packing for a trip 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."
The major factor is that you should bring only 1 suitcase, no heavier than 50 pounds!

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 or shawl is a good solution in this case. And shorts or skirts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents).

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 (maximum 50 pounds) and a small carry-on such as a bagpack. Here a sample packing list (just a suggestion!):

* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* Gloves, scarf, hat.. if you tend to feel chilly
* 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 (or three)
* 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 at all times)
* 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: Transportation Security Administration 3-1-1 on Air Travel 
* All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounces. 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 shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Incantato Concert Tours proudly present the San Marino Chamber Choir at the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec

The Euphrasian Basilica in Porec on the Croatian Coast is one of the most preserved cathedral complexes in the region. This means that the basic components - church, memorial chapel, atrium, bapistry and episcopal palace - are preserved. The Basilica is an example of Byzantine architecture which is a characteristic example of 5th and 6th century religious architecture.

At least four churches were built in succession and only the last, the Basilica of Euphrasius has survived.  The present church was built in the mid-6th century to the orders of the bishop whose name it retains, Euphrasius. All the buildings are richly ornamented with mosaics, alabaster, marble, mother-of-pearl, and stucco. The central feature inside the dome is a representation of the Virgin Mary, holding the Christ Child and flanked by angels, local martyrs and Bishop Euphrasius. Because of its exceptional value, it has been inscribed on the  UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997.

Monday, February 18, 2013

San Marino Chamber Choir the featured guest singers for Mass at the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padova,Italy

The San Marino Chamber Choir will be singing twice in Italy. Once at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice and also in the Basilica Pontificia di Sant'Antonio di Padova at 11 am on Friday, April 5. The Basilica of St. Anthony, as it is called in English, is a Roman Catholic church and basilica in Padua, northern Italy. 
Construction began in 1232, one year after the death of St. Anthony, and completed in 1310. 
The Basilica is the result of different constructions which took place between 1238-1310. The church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, which is the original burial site of St. Anthony, was integrated into the Basilica and what is now the Chapel of the Black Madonna. The second construction is that of the Friary, dating back to 1229 and likely founded by St. Anthony himself, who died in 1231 in Arcella, northern Italy. 
The Chapel where the tomb of St. Anthony lies has been called the "Ark" from the beginning. While the tomb is in the altar in this chapel, it was temporarily located in the center of the Basilica from 1236-1310, although it has remained in its current location since 1350. 

Confirmed Venue: St. Mark's Basilica, Venice

On Saturday, April 6, the San Marino Chamber Choir will be the featured guest choir for the prominent Saturday Mass at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice. 
St. Mark's is a cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice and one of the most famous of the city's churches. 
The Basilica dates back to 828 when it was first a temporary building in the Doge's Palace when Venetian merchants stole the supposed relics of Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria. It was replaced with its own building on the present site in 832. 
This monument was made unique by a combination of wealth of history and striking facade and interior, marked by a Byzantine character. Over the centuries, the Venetians embellished the Basilica with precious objects and works of art, creating a grand, compact monument in Venice. The famous Mosaics in the interior illustrate St. Marco's tales, as well as scenes from the Old and New Testaments. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Incantato Welcomes you to Istria!

Istria is the largest peninsula in Croatia and known for its colors: blue seas, white stone and green interior. In this small area, you will come across a wide variety, from an ancient heritage and green, rolling hills to the Adriatic coastline. The peninsula is dotted with tiny towns, some old fishing villages, and other fortified medieval towns in between a hilly landscape. Almost every hill in Istria has a town or village perched on top and each has its own characteristic streets, squares, and churches. Enjoy the local cuisine and savor the famous locally produced olive oil, honey or delicacies from the sea. 

Discover the marks left throughout history by the Celts, Romans, Venetians and all the way up to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. See examples of architecture of Antiquity in Pula, a city that has existed for three thousand years and is Istria's largest urban center. Just like Rome, the town lies on seven hills. Be sure to visit the Amphitheater, a monument dating back to the 1st century AD and initially designed for fighting gladiators. Today, it is a world-famous concert and festival venue.
As the jewel of Istria's unspoiled nature, the Brijuni National Park is a group of 14 islands strung along the coast. This monument of cultural and historical heritage and a veritable treasure trove of nature can be reached by boat from the town of Fazana. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Discover the city of Pula, Croatia with Incantato Tours

Pula, the largest town on the Istrian peninsula, is well-known for its magnificent monuments from the Roman era. In Roman times, Pula was a colony known as Pietas Julia. In 425, the town became an episcopal seat and still features the foundations of some 5th-century religious buildings today. 

In the course of Pula's three thousand year old history, several landmarks and monuments have emerged. These include:
Triumphal Arch of the Sergi from the 1st century B.C. It was built for three brothers who held important positions in the Roman Empire.
Twin Gates, dating back to the 2nd-3rd centuries, and Hercule's Gate, built in the 1st century B.C., the oldest and best preserved Roman monument in the city. 

Temple of Augustus, which stands in the square that was once the site of the Roman forum. A very good example of Roman architecture, the temple dates back to the 1st century.

The most famous monument, however, is the Roman amphitheater, popularly known as the Arena of Pula. The arena is one of the six largest Roman amphitheaters still in existance today. The first two floors have 72 arches and the third has 64 large rectangluar openings. Built in the 1st century AD and enlarged in 79 AD for gladiator fights, the amphitheater could hold 23,000 people. It remained intact until the 15th century. Recently, it has been restored and was adatped for musical events.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 San Marino Chamber Choir Tour Route

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Home away from home: NH Laguna Palace, Venice

 The grand finale of the 2013 SMCC tour will be in Venice, Italy, where the group is staying at the NH Laguna Palace Hotel for three nights from Thursday, April 4 to Saturday, April 6.
One of the largest covered structures in Europe, this four-star hotel features free WiFi, phone, radio, air conditioning, coffee/tea station, hairdryer as well as a refrigerator in the rooms. Breakfast is served buffe-style and the Laguna hotel restaurant serves international and Italian dishes. 

Home away from home: Hotel Bristol, Opatija


Founded in 1906, the Bristol Hotel in Opatija, Croatia, will be the San Marino traveling group's home away from home on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.

The renovated, four-star hotel has a total of 78 rooms which all feature a TV, phone, in-room safe, as well as WiFi and climate control. 

There is also a spa & beauty area that includes a whirlpool, sauna, steam bath, fitness area, and massages. 

Aside from the restaurant, which serves local and international fare, the hotel also offers its own coffeehouse, the Cafe Palme, which serves Croatian specialties and coffees.   


Home away from home: Hotel International, Zagreb

The journey continues for the travelers of SMCC, as the group goes from one capital city to the next. After Ljubljana, Slovenia, the next stop is Croatia's capital city of Zagreb. The four-star Hotel International will be the group's home away from home for two nights on Sunday, March 31 and Monday, April 1, 2013. 
The four-star Hotel International has a total of 205 rooms, all equipped with a coffee/tea station, phone, TV, hairdryer, and air conditioning. The internet is also free of charge. Breakfast is served buffet-style in the mornings in the hotel restaurant. 
If you are interested, click here for further information and pictures

Home away from home: Austria Trend Hotel, Ljubljana


The first home away from home for the San Marino Chamber Choir and family & friends will be in Slovenia. The group is staying at the Austria Trend Hotel in the country's capital city of Ljubljana for two nights on Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30. 

Any of the 214 rooms feature a hairdryer, safe, TV, as well as air conditioning as part of their standard amenities. The hotel also offers free wireless internet. The hotel restaurant, where breakfast is also served in the mornings, offers domestic specialties, as well as international fare. The Wellness Club features massages, a sauna, and a whirlpool. For more impressions of the Austria Trend Hotel, be sure to check out the Gallery on the website