Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Travel Insurance

Incantato Tours strongly recommends getting travel insurance for your upcoming journey.
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. 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

Travel Tip: What to pack?

Dear members of the University of Miami Frost Chorale,
As your departure for your 2011 performance tour comes closer and closer, Incantato Tours provides you with different travel tips to make it easier for you to get ready for your trip.

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."
Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents).
Here are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, we allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on such as a bag pack or small duffel.

A sample packing list (just a suggestion!)
* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* An adapter plug/converter (if bringing electronic devices)
* Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
* At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses too
* a sweater or two
* Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
* Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
* A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables)
* Choir music and attire
* Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
* Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules.http://www.tsa.gov/311/
* 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.

Travel Tip: Money matters

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

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

Travel Tip: High voltage

Dear travelers,
To charge your digital cameras, laptops, etc. in Europe during your Incantato performance tour, you will need an adapter. The U.S. plug (2 or 3 prong here in the U.S.) will not fit in a European socket. In most cases the European socket takes a plug with 2 round prongs.
The adapters allow an U.S. plug to plug in to the back of the adapter and the front of the adapter plugs into the European socket. You'll find adapters at stores like Radio Shack, Walmart or online at amazon.com.

Welcome to Spain!

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a member state of the European Union 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. Furthermore, the town of Llívia is a Spanish exclave situated inside French territory. With an area of 504,030 km², it is the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union after France.
Because of its location, the territory of Spain was subject to many external influences since prehistoric times and through to its dawn as a country. Conversely, it 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 first language. Spain is a democracy organised in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy. It is a developed country with the ninth or tenth largest economy in the world, and very high living standards, including the seventeenth-highest quality of life index rating in the world. It is a member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, OECD, and WTO.

Frost Chorale 2011 Performance Tour travel route through Spain

Monday, October 11, 2010

Home away from home: Hotel NH Numancia, Barcelona

On the nights of May 16 and 17, 2011 the University of Miami Frost Chorale will stay at the Hotel NH Numancia in Barcelona. The NH Numancia is a comfortable and modern hotel with 208 rooms. One of the hotel's most attractive features is the Nhube restaurant, which was created by the renowned chef Ferrán Adrià. The hotel is located in the financial heart of Barcelona and close to the trade fair and the city center. The rooms are equipped with a television, air conditioning and a wireless internet connection (fees might apply).

Home away from home: Hotel NH Las Artes, Valencia

The University of Miami Frost Chorale will stay at the Hotel NH Las Artes in Valencia on the nights of May 18 and 19, 2011. The Hotel NH Las Artes is located next door to the City of Arts and Sciences Museum, across the street from the El Saler shopping center, and within five kilometers of the beach. The hotel houses 174 guest rooms, a restaurant specializing in Valencian cuisine, and a spa which includes an indoor swimming pool, solarium, and sauna. Standard room amenities include television, balcony, air conditioning, iron and ironing board, safe, en suite bathroom, and hairdryer. Recent guest praise the hotel’s comfortable accommodations and helpful service. Guests also favor the hotel’s prime location, especially due to its easy access to the Museum and nearby Opera House.

Home away from home: Hotel Cigarral el Bosque, Toledo

On the night of May 21, 2011 the University of Miami Frost Chorale will stay at the four star Hotel Cigarral el Bosque in Toledo. The hotel is located in the Cigarrales area of Toledo, just a short bus ride away from the historic center of the town. The property is housed in a building constructed in 2004. It offers a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi and a Michelin-recommended restaurant. The rooms are equipped with satellite TV, safe, air conditioning and heating. Do not miss: The hotel occupies one of the oldest country houses in the region!

Home away from home: Hotel NH Parque Avenidas, Madrid

The last home away from home for the Frost Chorale during their Incantato performance tour 2011 will be the NH Parque de las Avenidas in Madrid on May 22. The four star hotel is located in Madrid's chic Salamanca district near the Las Ventas bullring and offers a swimming pool, a garden, and tennis courts. In the hotel lobby there is free Wi-Fi for your convenience. The 198 rooms are all standard size, with white walls and light wooden furniture. They feature air conditioning, toiletry kit, hairdryer and more.

City Facts about Barcelona

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

Culinary Spain

Touring Spain, the University of Miami Frost Choral will taste some of the local specialities. Here are descriptions for some of the foods and drinks:


Horchata or orxata is the name of several kinds of traditional beverage, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts (chufas). The name comes from Valencian orxata, probably from ordiata, made from ordi (barley). The French and English 'orgeat', the Italian 'orzata', and the Surinamese Dutch orgeade have the same origin, though the beverages themselves have diverged, and are generally no longer made from barley. Various folk etymologies exist – one legend links the origins of the name to James I of Aragon, who after being given the drink for the first time by a local in Alboraia, was said to have exclaimed "Això és or, xata!" ("That's gold, darling!"). In Spain, it usually refers to orxata de xufa (horchata de chufa), made from tigernuts, water, and sugar. Originally from Valencia, the idea of making horchata from tigernuts comes from the period of Muslim presence in Valencia (from the 8th to 13th century). It has a regulating council to ensure the quality of the product and the villages where it can come from, with the Denomination of Origin. The village of Alboraia is well known for the quality of its horchata. It is served ice cold as a natural refreshment in the summer. Tigernut horchata is also used in place of milk by the lactose intolerant. The horchata is traditionally served with fartons, a finger shaped pastry.

Merienda is a light meal, usually taken in the afternoon or for brunch - it fills in the meal gap between lunch at noon and dinner, or between breakfast and lunch. It can be anything from a piece of French-style bread with a piece of chocolate on top, to bread with chorizo, ham or salami. Simplicity is typically key as the meal is not meant to spoil one's appetite for the proper dinner.

Agua de Valencia
Agua de Valencia (English: Water of Valencia) is a cocktail made from a base of cava or champagne (wine), orange juice, vodka and gin - the travelers of the Frost Chorale will indeed be served the alcohol free version of it. In general, it is served in pitchers of various sizes and is drunk in a broad cocktail glass. It was made for the first time in 1959 by Constante Gil in the bar Café Madrid de Valencia in the city of Valencia. According to the writer María Ángeles Arazo in her book "Valencia Noche" the bar was frequented at that time by a group of Basque travellers that used to order "Agua de Bilbao", referring to the bar's best cava. Tired of always ordering the same thing, they challenged the owner to offer them something new and he suggested that they try the "Agua de Valencia". They agreed to try what Gil made, and liking it, they continued to drink it in later visits. For a decade the drink was known only to a small group of clients and it wasn't until the 1970s that it started to become known in the wider Valencian nightlife. Since then, it has grown to be a very popular drink.

Incantato Impressions: Barcelona

Enjoy a traditional tapas dinner!

The word tapas, from the Latin word “tapar” meaning “to cover,” refers to a variety of appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine. They may be served cold, such as olives and cheese, or hot, such as potatoes or fried squid. In select Spanish bars as well as some regions of North America and the United Kingdom, tapas has evolved into a well-rounded and often sophisticated cuisine. Many tapas patrons choose order a variety of tapas in order to create an entire meal.
The serving of tapas is designed with the intention of encouraging conversation, since people are less focused on intricately eating a full course meal set before them at a table. In some countries, it is even customary for diners to stand and mingle while enjoying tapas.
According to Spanish legend, the tapas tradition began when King Alfonso X of Castile treated an illness by drinking wine with small dishes between meals. Following the successful restoration of his health, the king ordered the local taverns to cease serving wine to customers unless accompanied by a small snack or “tapa.”
According to

Explore Valencia

Valencia is the capital and most populous city of the Autonomous Community of Valencia and the third largest city in Spain, with a population of around 810,000. It is integrated into an industrial area on the Costa del Azahar. Its main festival, the Falles, is known worldwide, while the traditional dish, paella, originated around Valencia. The city contains a dense monumental heritage (including the Llotja de la Seda - World Heritage Site since 1996), but its landmark is undoubtedly the City of Arts and Sciences, an avant-garde and futuristic museum complex.

City Facts about Cuenca

Cuenca is a city in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain. It is the capital of the province of Cuenca, and one of the largest provinces in Spain, being almost as large as countries like Slovenia or Montenegro. The history of Cuenca is one of the richest in Spain, where traces of the Iron Age have surfaced through the remains of various burial grounds. Important Roman settlements, such as the ones found at Saelices and Valeria have also been located in Cuenca. The city also serves as the site where the Roman Conca was established, which later became a territory ruled by the Visigoths, followed by the Moors, until liberation came by the hands of Alfonso VIII in 1177. It was from then on that Cuenca would enjoy the unique rights as a frontier town, eventually becoming the headquarters of the knightly Order of Santiago.
Today, the history of Cuenca, Spain is captured in the many attractions and intriguing sites from the past that are scattered about the land. The Cathedral, located in Plaza Mayor, dates back to 1177, and displays the allure of several different periods of architecture. Another worthy chapel called the Palcacio Episcopal dates back to the 13th century. While the Cathedral is rather historic, the Town Hall is relatively new (an 18th century gem). The hill on which the village thrives upon is thought inhabited since prehistoric times. After the Romans conquered the land, the Arabs converted it into a fortress, which was later taken back by Alfonso VIII. In Belmonte, an assortment of well-preserved churches, palaces, and convents hailing from between the 15th to 17th century reside.

Incantato Insider Spain: The hilltop town of Cuenca

Incantato Tours is thrilled to bring the Frost Chorale to the charming hilltop town of Cuenca in 2011. Enjoy the photo album of Cuenca by night:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Incantato Impressions: Toledo

Facts about Toledo - A city with extensive cultural and monumental heritage

Toledo is a municipality located in central Spain, 70 km south of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo. It is also the capital of autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures. Many famous people and artists were born or lived in Toledo, including Al-Zarqali, Garcilaso de la Vega, Eleanor of Toledo, Alfonso X and El Greco. It was also the place of important historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo. The city has a population of 78,618 and an area of 89.59 square miles.
Having been populated since the Bronze Age, Toledo (Toletum in Latin) gained relevance during Roman times, being a main commercial and administrative center in the roman province of Tarraconensis. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Toledo served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, beginning with Liuvigild (Leovigild), and was the capital of Spain until the Moors conquered Iberia in the 8th century. Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo enjoyed a golden age. This extensive period is known as La Convivencia, i.e. the co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Under Arab rule, Toledo was called Tulaytulah. After the fall of the Caliphate, Toledo was the capital city of one of the richest Taifa Muslim kingdoms of Al-Andalus, and, because of its central location in the Iberian Peninsula, Toledo took a central position in the struggles between the Muslim and Christian rulers of northern Spain. Remains of Roman circus at Toledo. On May 25, 1085 Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo and established direct personal control over the Moorish city from which he had been exacting tribute, and ending the mediaeval Taifa's Kingdom of Toledo. This was the first concrete step taken by the combined kingdom of Leon-Castile in the Reconquista by Christian forces. After castilian conquest Toledo remained as a main cultural centre; its Arab libraries weren't savaged, and a tag-team translation centre was established, in which books in Arabic would be translated from Arabic or Hebrew to Spanish by Arab and Jewish scholars, and from Spanish to Latin by castilian scholars, thus letting the old-lost knowledge spread through Christian Europe again. For some time during the 16th century, Toledo served as the capital city of Castile, and the city flourished. However, soon enough the Spanish court was moved first to Valladolid and then to Madrid, thus letting the city's relevance dwindle until the late 20th century, when it was established as the capital city of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. Nevertheless, the economic decline of the city helped to preserve its cultural and architectural patrimony. Today, because of its rich heritage, Toledo is one of Spain's foremost cities, receiving thousands of visitors yearly. Toledo's Alcázar (Arabicized Latin word for palace-castle) became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.
Toledo's cuisine is the cuisine Castilla-rooted in its traditions and is closely linked to hunting and grazing. A good number of recipes is the result of the combination of Moorish and Christian influences. Among his specialties include the lamb roast or stew, as cuchifrito, and beans with partridge or stewed partridge, the carcamusas, the crumbs, the porridge Mancha and the tortilla to the lean. Two of the foods that have brought fame to the city of Toledo are the Manchego cheese and marzipan, which has a denomination of origin itself, the marzipan of Toledo.