Friday, September 13, 2013

Incantato Update: Have you downloaded our new App?

Incantato Tours is proud to present our Incantato App, now available for the Apple and Android systems. 

Based on our motto "Be a traveler, not a tourist", this App is designed to provide you with all the vital information prior to your journey to Europe. Currently, the App presents all of the group tours traveling in 2014. 

Under each tour, you will find:

Tour Info
Included in this section are all the necessary documents, such as your flight information, registration form, tour information, as well as Incantato's Terms and Conditions.

Connect
Once other participants traveling with you have signed up, you are able to connect with them, exchange information, travel tips, etc or just find out who else is going on the journey with you!

Photos
In order to give you some first impressions of your destinations, this section includes pictures of the cities you will be traveling to, as well as of their most famous sights. There are also first previews of the hotels you will be staying at, as well as the venues you are performing in. Each group also always has their own picture album on our Facebook page, which is updated frequently, especially while you are on tour!

Itinerary
Here you find a break-down of your day-to-day activities, where you will be when and a first idea of what you might be doing on any given day. First confirmed performances are also included here.

Brochure 
In case you need another look at your tour brochure, which includes information such as tour pricing and other tour details, you can access it anywhere you go through this section of the App.

FAQ
Believe it or not, we receive a lot of similar questions. We have compiled the most common ones here so that you can gather information and the basics regarding your tour. Should you have more detailed or specific questions, always feel free to email us. 

In addition to the tour-specific information, there is also a general section, including information about us as a company, how to best contact us, as well as some information about our favorite destinations and personal highlights. 

So if you are traveling with Incantato Tours in the future, or if you are interested in more information about what we do, download our App today!

Click here for the App from the Apple iPhone Store
Click here for the Google Play Store for Android devices

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

St. Boniface Choir Tour Materials


Dear St. Boniface Travelers,

Your most important tour information can be found in your tour brochure. In order to sign up for the tour, you must fill out and submit the original registration form to Incantato Tours (our mailing address is located on your registration form).

If you would like to download any of the tour materials, we have made both of these available to you as PDFs from our Dropbox account:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Incantato Destinations: Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech name „Praha“, or „Praga“ in Old Czech, actually means threshold or doorstep. The oldest records do not mention any place with this name, but rather, they mention a settlement along the river described as „Mezigrady“, meaning „between the castles“. From the 10th to the 12th centuries, the name Prague referred only to the Castle. The name later  came to be used for the settlements on both sides of the river Vltava. People originally used the term Prague Village, then Prague City and later simply Prague. The capital of the Czech Republic has always played an important role in the history of the  country and Europe. Since the Middle Ages Prague has been famous as one of the most beautiful cities of the world and has been attributed adjectives such as “golden“, “hundred-spired“,  “the crown of the world“. The unique character of the city is also partly a consequence of its natural environment: Prague, similar to Rome built on seven hills, was built on nine hills along the Vltava river. The dominant features of the city architecture are reflected in the river: towers, church spires and cupolas, palaces and town houses, along with the greenery of gardens, parks and islands. 
Prague's top monuments are: The Prague Castle: National cultural monument, the symbol of more than millennial development of the Czech state. Since its foundation in the last quarter of the 9th century it has been developing uninterruptedly throughout the past eleven centuries. 
Charles Bridge: The oldest Prague bridge built in the place of the Judita's Bridge that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. The Stone or Prague Bridge has been called Charles Bridge since 1870 was founded by Charles IV in the year 1357. 
Old Town Hall with Astronomical Clock: Established in 1338 as the seat of the Old Town authorities. The oldest Gothic part of the complex which includes a tower and an oriel chapel is richly decorated with coats of arms. It was built in the latter half of the 14th century.
Old Town Bridge Tower: The entrance gate to Charles Bridge from the Old Town river bank, the most beautiful gate of Gothic Europe, was a masterpiece of the Court buildings. It was finished before 1380. It is richly adorned with sculptures. And many, many more to explore.
Fun Fact: Tremors under foot:
Many writers and academics have claimed to have felt strange and disturbing tremors coming from under the ground in Prague. Dark alleys and desolate squares have been known to produce many eerie sounds and have spooked many writers, including those such as Kafka and his friends, into thinking ghouls were beating drums underground.  

Some famous people and Prague: Mozart came to Prague with his wife in January 1787 for the first time. In his honor, a large ball was organized in Breitfeld Palace (at the corner of Nerudova Street and Jánský vršek), where Mozart also met with Giacomo Casanova. Mozart himself conducted The Marriage of Figaro in the Nostic Theatre performed by the Italian Pasquale Bondini opera company and he also performed two public piano recitals. He was immediately drawn into Prague social circles and musical events.
The famos writer Franz Kaffka (Letters to Milena, The Castle, Amerika) was born in Prague in 1883 and lived there for a long time until he moved to Austria where he died at age 40 in 1924. His body was transported to Prague and buried in a family tomb at the New Jewish cemetery in Strašnice (grave No. 137).

Discover the Czech Republic with Incantato Tours

The Czech Republic is situated  in the center of Europe, sharing borders with Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. The country boasts an impressive total of twelve UNESCO World Heritage sites, among which are the historic center of Prague and the town of Cesky Kurmlov. Known personalities of European and world science and art such as Beethoven, Casanova, Einstein, Goethe, Kafka, and Mozart were influenced by or were in some way connected with Czech history.
The capital city of Prague has a population of around 1,213,400 and is situated on hills overlooking the Vltava River. The historic Old Town, with its winding streets, is more than ten centuries old and centers around the Old Town Square with the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn and the Old Town Hall with the famous astronomical clock. Not far away is the Charles Bridge, one of the oldest stone bridges in Central Europe. Perched above the city sits Prague Castle, the ancient residence of the kings of Bohemia. Across from it is Petrin Hill, where you can have a stunning view of the city from the lookout point in the form of a smaller version of Paris' Eiffel Tower. 
Of course experiencing the cuisine will also be a part of your journey. Influenced by German and Austro-Hungarian culinary heritage, Czech food features a great variety of dishes. Possibly the most traditional dish is the dumpling, a unique phenomenon of Czech cuisine. Once the main component of any meal in the Czech Republic, dumplings were used in replacement of meat and are still widely used in Czech dishes today, mostly in combination with a variety of tasty sauces and gravy.


.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Incantato Welcomes You to Bratislava, Slovakia


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!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

An Incantato Favorite: Melk Abbey, Austria



Melk Abbey was originally a palace. Located on the banks of the Danube River between Salzburg and Vienna, Melk Abbey stands crowned by towers and resplendent in a golden hue. The impressive Baroque ensemble at Melk was built in 1702-1736 by architect Jakob Prandtauer. Especially noteworthy is the church with magnificent frescoes by Johann Michael Rottmayr and the library containing countless medieval manuscripts. The monastic community of Melk is over 900 years old and black-robed Benedictine monks still stroll amidst the marble sculptures and frescoed walls. It is now also a prestigious coed monastery school with more than 700 students. Melk has played an important role in the Danube region since Roman times, when a fortress was built on the promontory overlooking a tiny "arm" of the Danube. Melk also appears in the German epic poem Nibelungenlied, in which it is called "Medelike". The rock-strewn bluff where the abbey now stands was the seat of the Babenbergs, who ruled Austria from 976 until the Hapsburgs took over. In the 11th century, Leopold II of Babenberg presented the palace at Melk to Benedictine monks, who turned it into a fortified abbey. Its influence and reputation as a center of learning and culture spread throughout Austria, as reflected in Umberto Eco's popular novel The Name of the Rose. Eco researched his novel in the abbey's library. Melk Abbey suffered damaged during the Reformation and the 1683 Turkish invasion, but it was spared direct attack when the Ottoman armies were halted outside Vienna. Reconstruction of the abbey began in 1702 in full Baroque style and was completed in 1736. The abbey church was damaged by fire in 1947, but is now completely restored. The design of the present abbey ensemble (1702-36) is primarily the work of architect Jakob Prandtauer. The Marmorsaal (Marble Hall) contains pilasters coated in red marble and an allegorical painted ceiling by Paul Troger. The library rises two floors and also has a Troger ceiling, along with around 80,000 volumes of priceless works. The Kaisergang (Emperors' Gallery) stretches for 198m (650 ft.), and is decorated with portraits of Austrian royalty. The highlight of the abbey, though, is certainly the Stiftskirche (Abbey Church). The church has an astonishing number of windows and is richly embellished with marble and frescoes by Johann Michael Rottmayr with help from Troger.There are fine views of the river from the abbey's terrace, which Napoleon probably used as a lookout when he used Melk as his headquarters for his campaign against Austria. 


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Incantato's Fun Facts about Vienna, Austria


  • Vienna, situated along the Danube River, is the largest city as well as the capital of Austria. Not only that, Vienna is also a Federal province of Austria.
  • It has the 3rd highest quality of living in the European Union.
  • The major religion is Christianity. The major language spoken in Vienna is German. Surprisingly the voting age in Austria is only 16 years old.
  • Vienna is the only city-state in Austria, which is a federal republic.
  • Vienna is divided into 23 districts. The city center in Vienna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Vienna is known worldwide as the city of music and is home to the great music hall with excellent acoustics.
  • The Museumsquartier, which is one of the largest cultural complexes in the world, is in the heart of Vienna.
  • World famous classical composers, including Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert, and Brahms, have all lived and performed in Vienna.
  • Vienna is home to the setting of Graham Greene's novel ‘The Third Man’ that is an actual city casting melancholy and telling the story of the Cold War.
  • Vienna is considered as a city of cultural heritage. It has been home to various great artists such as Gustav Klimt, Sigmund Freud, and Arthur Schnitzler
  • Tiergarten Schönbrunn, which is world’s oldest zoological garden,  was founded in 1752
  • The largest emerald of the world, which is of a whopping 2860 carat, is displayed in the Imperial Treasury in Vienna.
  • The highest waterfall in Europe is Kriml Falls, which is close to Vienna. The water falls 1,250 feet.
  • One of the few of its kind and one of the oldest ferris wheels in the world is in Vienna. It is situated in a large amusement park called the Prater, one of Vienna's most popular attractions. It has 15 gondolas, which offer a scenic view of Vienna, and is probably one of the city's most familiar sights.
  • Europe’s second largest cemetery is situated in Vienna, which is called Zentralfriedhof and has a total size of 2.5 square kilometers/one square mile.
  • Zentralfriedhof also has over 2.5 million tombs, which is almost double than the city’s live population. It also has tombs of some of the most famous personalities of the world such as Beethoven, Brahms, Gluck, Schubert, Schoenberg, and Strauss.

Incantato Welcomes You to Vienna

Vienna is the capital of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.7 million (2.3 million within the metropolitan area, more than 25% of Austria's population), and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political center. It is the 10th largest city by population in the European Union. Vienna is host to many major international organizations such as the United Nations and OPEC. Vienna lies in the east of Austria and is close to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Founded around 500 BC, Vienna was originally a Celtic settlement. In 2001, the city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2005 an Economist Intelligence Unit study of 127 world cities ranked it first, equal with Vancouver, for the highest quality of life. This assessment was mirrored by the Mercer Survey in 2009. Art and culture have a long tradition in Vienna, including theater, opera, classical music and fine arts. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Incantato Insider: Duernstein, Austria


Dürnstein is a small town on the Danube river in the Krems-Land district, in the Austrian state of Lower Austria. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Wachau region.  The town gained its name from the medieval castle which overlooked it. The castle was called "Duerrstein" or "Dürrstein", from the German duerr/dürr meaning "dry" and Stein, "stone". The castle was dry because it was situated on a rocky hill, high above the damp conditions of the Danube at the base of the hill, and it was built of stone. Dürnstein was first mentioned in 1192. The ruins of the castle fortress, 159 meters above the town, are inextricably linked to the Crusades. Here Leopold V, the Babenberg duke ruling the country at that time, held Richard the Lionheart of England prisoner in 1193. It seems that Richard had insulted the powerful Austrian duke in Palestine during the Crusades to capture the Holy Land. The story is that when Richard was attempting to get back home, his boat foundered on the rocks of the Adriatic and he tried to sneak through Austria disguised as a peasant. The English monarch was arrested and imprisoned by Leopold.
For quite some time, nobody knew exactly where in Austria Richard was incarcerated, but his loyal minstrel companion, Blondel, had a clever idea. He went from castle to castle, playing his lute and singing Richard's favorite songs. The tactic paid off, the legend says, for at Dürnstein Richard heard Blondel's singing and sang the lyrics in reply. The discovery forced Leopold to transfer Richard to a castle in the Rhineland Palatinate, but by then everybody knew where he was. So Leopold set a high ransom on the king's head, which was eventually met, and Richard was set free.
The castle was virtually demolished by the Swedes in 1645, but you can visit the ruins if you don't mind a vigorous climb (allow an hour).  

The fifteenth century Dürnstein Abbey (Stift Dürnstein) was initially an Augustinian monastery and was reconstructed when the baroque style came to Austria. It was established in 1410 by Canons Regular from Třeboň and from 1710 rebuilt in a Baroque style according to plans by Joseph Munggenast, Jakob Prandtauer and Matthias Steinl.The blue tower of this church is one of the best baroque examples in the entire country and a notable landmark in the Danube Valley. There is also a splendid church portal. Kremser Schmidt, the noted baroque painter, did some of the altar paintings.  The monastery was dissolved by order of Emperor Joseph II in 1788 and had been given to the Herzogenburg Priory. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Welcome to Austria with Incantato Tours

The Federal State of Austria,located in central Europe, is a very diverse country for its comparatively small size. Ruled by the Habsburg kings and emperors for almost seven centuries, the Austrian culture absorbed many Roman, Slav and Hungarian influences, thus creating a unique cultural blend. Even though around 95% of the population does speak German, there are a number of very pronounced local dialects that make Austrians difficult to understand even for native German speakers. Additionally, due to the various foreign influences, many things have different names in Austria than in other German-speaking countries such as Germany.
Aside from Austria's cultural and natural diversity, there is also a rich music tradition to be found. Austria was and is a world-renowned center for music, especially known for the period of Viennese Classicists. These include composers such as Joseph Haydn, who moved to Vienna in 1790 and was the court composer. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also lived and worked in Vienna, as did Ludwig van Beethoven, although he was originally from Germany. Moreover, these composers' works later guided 19th-century composers such as Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, Anton Bruckner, and Gustav Mahler. Vienna's central cemetery is also well worth a visit for any classical music-lover, as people buried here include Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss (father and son), Bruckner, Brahms, and Gluck.