Monday, March 11, 2013

Confirmed Venue: Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

Photo courtesy of
The La Canada Choral Artists will be performing their first concert of the 2013 performance tour river cruise in Budapest. The concert will take place on Saturday, March 30th at 4 pm at the stunning National Gallery of the Royal Palace.
The Hungarian National Gallery is located inside the Royal Palace complex in Hungary's capital city of Budapest. Located in the Budapest Castle District on the southwestern side of the Danube on the Buda Hills, the Royal Palace was the residence of Hungarian kings. It was built in the 18th century under the reign of Maria Theresa at the sitte of an earlier, Gothic palace. 
The Hungarian National Gallery, or Magyar Nemzeti Galéria in Hungarian, occupies the central wing of the palace and is the national art museum. Below the imposing dome it houses is the largest public collection documenting and presenting the rise and development of the fine arts in Hungary. The permanent collection also represents the past five hundred years of art in Hungary. The National Gallery has operated as an independent institution since 1957 and moved to its present location, the former Royal Palace, in 1975.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Confirmed Venue: St. Peter's Church, Vienna

After their performance at the Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna, a second performance opportunity awaits the La Canada Choral Artists in Austria's capital city. On Monday, April 1 at 3 pm there will be a concert in the St. Peter's Church, or Peterskirche in German, a baroque Roman Catholic parish church located in downtown Vienna. 

The church it thought to occupy the oldest Christian sacred site in Vienna, as a church has stood here since the second half of the 4th century. A church of Saint Peter in Vienna was first mentioned in 1137. However, construction on the current building began around the year 1701, with the design having been inspired by St. Peter's Basilica of the Vatican in Rome. By 1722, most of the St. Peter's Church was finished and in 1733 it was consecrated to the Holy Trinity. 

Due to the confinement of available space, the church was built in a very compact form, with its oval interior housing a surprising amount of space. As the first domed structure in baroque Vienna, the dome of St. Peter's Church is 177 feet high and measured 98 feet in diameter. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Confirmed Venue: the Franciscan Church in Bratislava

On Sunday, March 31st, the La Canada Choral Artists will perform in the Franciscan Church in Slovakia's capital city of Bratislava. The oldest religious (sacral) building in the Old Town of Bratislava, the Franciscan Church, or Františkánsky kostol in Slovak, was constructed between the years 1280 and 1297 in a Gothic style. The church was consecrated on March 24th, 1297 in the presence of King Andrew III of Hungary. 
In 1525, Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, was elected here to become the King of Hungary. 

The side altars, both dating back to 1720-1730, are dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi and Saint Anthony of Padua. In the 17th century, the Franciscan Church was turned into a Renaissance church and into a Baroque church in the 18th century.Even though only small parts of the original form of the church are preserved due to several fires and earthquakes, the adjacent Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist with a crypt, built in the second half of the 14th century, is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the city.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Travel Tips: What to Pack and Luggage Regulation

Dear travelers of  La Canada High School Choral Artists with Friends and Family,
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 28, 2013

Confirmed Venue: Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Photos courtesy of Schönbrunn Facebook page
On Monday, April 1 the La Canada High School Choral Artists are confirmed to perform in front of the Schönbrunn Palace as part of the Vienna Tourist Board Voices of the World initiate. 
As Austria's City of Music, the capital city of Vienna is able to boast with composers such as Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and more, all of whom have worked here. In light of this rich musical history, the Vienna tourist board has launched a special initiative called Voices of the World for music groups from around the world. 
It is inviting choirs, bands, orchestras and other musical groups from all parts of the world to Vienna and is offering the opportunity to perform in at one of the city's most stunning and most popular sights: the baroque Schönbrunn Palace. Aside from the unique atmosphere, the groups will also be experiencing open-air performances as they perform in front of the Palace, at the foot of the sweeping staircase. 
Last year, over 100 musical groups from around the world were invited to particpate in this unique initiative.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

La Canada Flight Schedules

GROUP 1 - Lufthansa
Departure for Europe
Wednesday, March 27 2013
Lufthansa flight LH 453 leaves Los Angeles (LAX) for Munich (MUC)), Germany at 10:15 pm local time, arrival in Europe is on Thursday, March 28 at 5:35 pm local time.

Return to the USA
Saturday, April 6
Lufthansa flight LH 1403 departs Prague (PRG) at 6:00 am local time for Frankfurt (FRA), Germany to arrive at 7:20 am.
The group then connects from Frankfurt (FRA) at 10:00 am with Lufthansa flight LH 456 to Los Angeles (LAX) with an arrival time of 12:40 pm local time in California on the same day. 

GROUP 2 - British Airways
Departure for Europe
Wednesday, March 27 2013
British Airways flight BA 282 leaves Los Angeles (LAX) for London (LHR) at 5:25 pm local time, arrival in Europe is on Thursday, March 28 at 10:40 am local time.
The group then connects from London (LHR) at 1:55 pm with British Airways flight BA 954 to Munich (MUC) with an arrival time of 4:45 pm local time.

Return to the USA
Saturday, April 6
British Airways flight BA 853 departs Prague (PRG) at 8:30 am local time for London (LHR) to arrive at 9:35 am. 
The group then connects from London (LHR) at 12:05 pm with British Airways flight BA 283 to Los Angeles (LAX) with an arrival time of 3:10 pm local time in California on the same day. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Home away from home: the NH Hotel, Prague

Located in the district of Andel, which borders the historic center of the city of Prague, the four-star NH Prague hotel will be the home away from home for the La Canada group on April 5 & 6, 2013. 

The hotel features 439 rooms equipped with a desk, radio, phone, TV, in-room safe, hairdryer, coffee and tea station, as well as air-conditioning. 

Breakfast and free internet are also included. In addition, the hotel features a health center including a sauna, steam bath, and a fitness enter, as well as two hotel restaurants serving international and local cuisine. Be sure to check out more pictures and information of the hotel on the website.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Incantato Tours proudly presents the La Canada HS Choral Artists at St. Ignatius in Prague

While visiting the Czech Republic’s capital city of Prague, the La Canada High School Choirs are scheduled to perform at the Church of St. Ignatius on Friday, April 5, 2013.

This decorated Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius is one of the earliest Baroque buildings of Prague and is considered the third largest Jesuit complex in Europe. It was founded in the second half of the 17th century, as construction on the site began in 1665.  Originally intended to be a basilica, the church was built in place of 23 demolished medieval houses alongside Charles Square and was completed in 1671. 

This early Baroque church was dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint and founder of the Jesuit order. The Society of Jesus, the members of which are known as Jesuits, is the largest Christian religious order of the Catholic Church. 
At the top of the facade is a statue of the patron saint himself, which is somewhat of a local attraction. There is a halo that surrounds the entire figure, something which was regarded as an outrage when initially unveiled.

The church’s other many sculptural decorations were done by Matej Vaclav Jackel, whose works are mainly known in reference to the famous Charles Bridge in the heart of Prague. The interior is decorated with stucco-work and statues of Jesuit and Czech Saints. The church is still active and run by Jesuit monks today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Protecting yourself and your investment: Travel Insurance

Incantato Tours requires getting travel insurance for your upcoming journey.
Not only are you covered medically should anything happen when traveling, but with a company of your choice or with our preferred supplier and TravelGuard's policies, you also protect your investment should you have to cancel or interrupt the trip. Last but not least, there is also coverage for delayed and lost luggage, etc.
Here is a direct line to purchase travel insurance online, and you can 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 & Dismemberment coverage will be added.

Car Rental Collision Coverage – $35,000 in primary coverage. Covers cost of repairs for covered collision damage to a rental car for which the car rental contract holds you responsible. Subject to $250 deductible.

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meet your vessel: the magnificent MS Mozart

The majesty of the Danube river certainly demanded something special: a vessel with a classical style, extensive dimensions and facilities worthy of an ocean liner rather than the ubiquitous river cruiser. In 1987, the designers arose to the challenge and presented the magnificent MS Mozart. 
Built in Germany, the MS Mozart is the largest river cruise vessel in Europe. With luxurious interiors, largest cabins and suites on the European rivers, a multitude of public spaces lavishly decorated with original artwork throughout, and a rapturous staircase leading to the stunning restaurant. Since 1987 the MS Mozart has been constantly updated, the latest renovation was in 2010. 
The moment you walk onboard the MS Mozart, the interested traveler is immediately presented with spacious and sumptuous public areas, the most impressive of which is the sweeping staircase that steers guests ever upwards towards the delightful lounges above, from where they may enjoy the magnificent the scenery as it glides by.
With generous use of classical hardwood finishes throughout, the vessel most definitely has the feel and atmosphere of a hotel rather than that of a river vessel. Take for example the wood paneled library with its comfortable seating and the original artwork on the walls, which must have taken a lifetime to collect. Or perhaps you rather relax in Don Giovanni panorama lounge, the Cafe Amadeus or shop at the well-stocked Boutique. For the more energetic travelers, the swimming pool and the spa might be more enticing, while for those whose idea is to just unwind, relax and simply soak up the scenery the Observation Deck is probably the place to be.
In the delightful restaurant, the brigade of onboard chefs perform to the peak of their profession, presenting cuisine that is as pleasing to the palette as it may be to the eye.
The generous dimensions of the State Cabin accommodations onboard the MS Mozart are most certainly the envy of most other vessels and are spread over two decks each presenting guests with facilities that might ordinarily be expected in a five star hotel including: en suite facilities, mini-bar, satellite TV, radio, hairdryer and WIFI. 

Discover Slovakia's Capital of Bratislava with Incantato Tours!

It might be Europe's most relaxed capital, because what this city does have is old-town charm, sophisticated restaurants, traditional pubs, good music ranging from jazz to opera, stylish people, and a human scale which means that as a visitor, you will not spend half your day trekking in and out of underground stations. Known as Pressburg to German-speakers or Pozsony to Hungarian-speakers, Bratislava got its present name only 90 years ago. Nevertheless, the city has a long and proud history that dates back to pre-Roman times. In the city itself there is plenty to see and do. Bratislava's long history - as home to Celts, Romans, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, and of course Slovaks - means there is an impressive range of architecture, languages and cuisine. The handsome homes of the Austro-Hungarian noble families who built palaces here dot the city, and many of them are now open to the public as museums and galleries. The castle, with its long and checkered history (it was destroyed more than once), is now undergoing a major restoration. There are great views over the mediaeval old town and the Danube valley from its fortifications. Bratislava was once one of the most important centres of Jewish learning in Europe.  A unique memorial to its most renowned rabbi, the Chatam Sofer, and the city's Museum of Jewish Culture celebrate this heritage. Communism too left its mark: across the river, the unmistakable ranks of concrete housing blocks - paneláky in Slovak - line the horizon, with the unique UFO-style New Bridge in the foreground. The Danube River itself is, of course, one of the city's main assets. There are several cafes along its banks, within walking distance of the center. The pedestrian decks of the New and Old Bridges are good places to watch the river traffic, including huge Danube barges, glide past.  
Fun Fact: It’s not technically Bratislava but it’s worth mentioning anyway because it’s something not very people know. The famous American pop artist Andy Warhol made Slovakia famous for more than 15 minutes because his parents were originally from Miková, which is on the very opposite side of the country to the capital.

But now, what about this Cumil and his friends? As Bratislava looked to shed the greyness of the Communist era, many buildings were repainted. In an attempt to liven-up the city center, a few quirky statues were installed. Their popularity with tourists led to new statues, filling the center of Bratislava with funny and quirky installations.
Cumil - This guy, residing in the Old Town, dates back only to 1997, but Bratislavians and tourists love him. Children like to abuse him by sitting on his head. More than once has he been damaged car drivers. Heated discussions have taken place as to what the man is actually up to - you have to decide whether he is simply resting or just cleaned the sewer...
Schone Naci - The stuff of Bratislava legends, Schone Naci was a well known figure in the early 20th century. A poor and mentally ill man, he paraded the streets of Bratislava in old, but elegant attire - a velvet frock, greeting passers-by with his top-hat and bowing courteously to ladies passing by.
Paparazzi - An even more recent addition adorning the eponymous restaurant in the Old Town, just round the corner from the Main Square.
Hans Christian Andersen - On the Hviezdoslav square there is a statue of famous fairy tale author. About Bratislava he said: If you want a fairy tale, your city is a fairy tale itself. After his visit he produced some of his masterpieces such as The Little Match Girl. Now, have fun looking for Cumil and his friends while strolling through beautiful Bratislava!