Monday, October 18, 2010

Travel Insurance: Make sure you are protected

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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vienna Sightseeing Tip: The Mumok

The Mumok (Museum Moderner Kunst/Museum of Modern Art) is the biggest museum of contemporary art in Central Europe, and Vienna’s greatest. The Mumok is always worth a visit, if only for its architecture. And inside it’s just as impressive, since the curators can draw from an extensive collection and present interesting focal points. There are five levels with works by Pablo Picasso, Nam June Paik, Andy Warhol and Günter Brus, ranging from Pop Art to Photorealism and from Fluxus to New Realism. 230 pieces were given to the museum by the German industrialist and art lover Peter Ludwig and his wife Irene in 1981. The Mumok regularly organizes special exhibitions and is known for its large collection of art related to Viennese Actionism. The Mumok is located in the Museumsquartier in Vienna, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien. It is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursdays till 9 pm. This sightseeing tip originates from the website

Monday, August 16, 2010

Concert Venues: Stiftskirche, Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig, Austria

The abbey, situated on the Göttweig Mountain, is - because of its location - sometimes called the Austrian Montecassino. The Monastery, founded in 1083 by Saint Altmann, sits on a hill 449 m above sea level in the Dunkelsteiner Forest south of the city of Krems, on the eastern edge of the world-famous Danube Valley called the Wachau. With the Wachau, Göttweig was in 2001 placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Goettweig Abbey by Herr Specht.

At first, Augustines worked here, to be followed in 1094 by Benedictine monks from the Monastery of St. Blasien in the Black Forest. The Benedictines have been living, learning and teaching on Göttweig Mountain for more than 900 years. The goal of their life is to glorify God in prayer and work according to the Rule of their Order’s founder, Saint Benedict, the Patron Saint of Europe. Currently 54 monks belong to the monastic community. More than 30 of them give pastoral care to parishioners and pilgrims in the Dioceses of Vienna and St. Pölten. Forestry and viticulture have been the economic basis of the Monastery since it was founded - today completed by various touristic and economic efforts.

"The Stiftskirche is a perfect Baroque chapel, with lovely acoustics, detailed fresco, and choir loft. The tall stairs make for a great riser, and the locale in the hills of Austria is MAGNIFICENT!"
-Dr. Jonathan Talberg,
Director of Choral, Vocal and Opera Studies
Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, CSULB

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Visit Dürnstein in the beautiful Danube River Valley

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 and also a well-known wine growing area. The municipality consists of the Katastralgemeinden Dürnstein, Oberloiben and Unterloiben. 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, when, in the castle above the town, King Richard I Lionheart of England was held captive by Duke Leopold V of Austria after their dispute during the Third Crusade. Richard had personally offended Leopold by casting down his standard from the walls at the Battle of Acre, and the duke suspected that King Richard ordered the murder of his cousin Conrad of Montferrat in Jerusalem. In consequence Pope Celestine III excommunicated Leopold for capturing a fellow crusader. The duke finally gave the custody of Richard to Emperor Henry VI, who imprisoned Richard at Trifels Castle. Dürnstein Castle was almost completely destroyed by the troops of the Swedish Empire under Field Marshal Lennart Torstenson in 1645. Dürnstein Abbey (Stift Dürnstein) 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 monastery was dissolved by order of Emperor Joseph II in 1788 and fell to the Herzogenburg Priory. During the War of the Third Coalition the Battle of Dürenstein was fought nearby on November 11, 1805.

Photo courtesy of the Austrian Tourism Board.  

Melk City Facts

Melk is a city of Austria, next to the Wachau valley along the Danube. Melk has a population of about 5,222. The town is first mentioned as Medilica in 831 in a donation of Louis the German; the name is from a Slavic word for 'border.' The area around Melk was given to Margrave Leopold I in the year 976 to serve as a buffer between the Magyars (called "Turks" in that time's sources) to east and Bavaria to the west. In 996 mention was first made of an area known as Ostarichi, which is the origin of the word Oesterreich (German for Austria). The bluff which holds the current monastery held a Babenberger castle until the site was given to Benedictine monks from nearby Lambach by Margrave Leopold II in 1089. Melk received market rights in 1227 and became a municipality in 1898. In a very small area, Melk presents a great deal of architectural variety from many centuries.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Welcome to Germany

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is located in Central Europe. The North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea border Germany to the north; Poland and the Czech Republic lay on the eastern border; Austria and Switzerland border on the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands on the east. Germany hosts the largest population in all of Europe.
Historically nicknamed Das Land der Dichter und Denker, “The Land of Poets and Thinkers,” GermanyGermany’s history has been shaped by major intellectual and popular European trends of both religious and secular influence. The strength of German culture has produced such historical figures as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, novelist Franz Kafka, and poet Paul Celan. boasts an exorbitant array of scholarly culture.
Germany’s sixteen states offer 240 subsidized theaters, hundreds of symphony orchestras, thousands of museums, and over 25,000 public libraries. The abundance of culture attracts throngs of tourists each year, resulting in an annual average of 91 million museum visits, 20 million theater and opera attendees, and 3.6 million symphony concert-goers.
Germany claims many of the world’s most renowned classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Wagner. Since 2006, Germany has been recognized as the fifth largest music market in the world, influencing pop and rock artists such as Tokio Hotel, Kraftwerk, Scorpions, and Rammstein.
A popular German saying translates to “breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar.” German cuisine varies according to region. The southern areas of the nation share a culinary culture with Switzerland and Austria. Pork, beef, and poultry are the main source of protein consumption. Meat is often eaten in sausage form. Germany produces more than 1,500 varieties of sausage. 
With Germany's newly established comprehensive system of social security, the country continues to develop a very desirable higher standard of living. Germany holds a key position in European affairs as the government strives to perpetually strengthen international relations. Germany is recognized as a leader in many scientific and technological advancements. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Visit Dachau

Dachau, located in southern Germany’s Upper Bavaria, is a major district town of the administrative region, about 20 kilometers north-west of Munich. The town, now a popular residential area for those working in Munich, currently serves approximately 40,000 inhabitants.
The late 19th century ushered a new wave of artists to Dachau. The town received prestigious recognition as one of Germany’s most important artist’s colonies.
Unfortunately, the Second World War resulted in the construction of a Nazi-German concentration camp in Dachau, the nation’s very first concentration camp, operating from 1933 to 1948. It served as the prototype for all other such camps. 25,613 prisoners are believed to have died in the camp and almost another 10,000 in its sub-camps.
The camp’s served for the first twelve years at an internment center of the Third Reich. From 1933 to 1938, the prisoners consisted of mainly German nationals detained for political reasons. From 1938 onward, a significant population of German Jews also joined the list of Dachau detainees. The camp ultimately held a variety of international prisoners under the forces of the Third Reich. Following 1948, the location served as a United States Army base and housed members of the German population expelled from Czechoslovakia. The facility was finally closed in 1960.
The Dachau Concentration Camp memorial site now attracts many visitors wishing to honor those tragically lost and learn more about that fateful period.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Incantato Impressions: Munich

Fun Facts About Munich

  • The Bavarian city is called "Minga" in the Austro-Bavarian slang.
  • Its native name, "München", is derived from the German word "Mönche", meaning "Monks".
  • The park called "Englischer Garten", close to the city centre, is larger than Central Park in New York.
  • Best known for the largest beergarden in the town is the former royal "Hirschgarten", founded in 1780 for deer which still live there.
  • On October 16, 2009, the International Olympic Committee has listed Munich as one of the three Applicant Cities for 2018 Winter Olympic Games, with Annecy (France), and Pyeongchang (South Korea). If chosen, Munich will be the first city to host both the Summer (1972) and Winter Olympic Games.
  • The "Deutsches Museum" or "German Museum", located on an island in the River Isar, is one of the oldest and largest science museums in the world.
  • Munich has played host to many prominent composers including Orlando di Lasso, W.A. Mozart, Carl Maria von Weber, Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Max Reger and Carl Orff. With the music festival "Biennale", the city still contributes to modern music theatre.
  • In 2010 the famous beer festival "Oktoberfest" celebrated its 200 year anniversary.
  • The "Weißwürste" (white sausages) are a Munich speciality. Traditionally eaten only before 12:00 noon - a tradition dating to a time before refrigerators - these morsels are often served with sweet mustard and pretzels.
  • For its urban population of 2.6 million people, Munich and its closest suburbs have one of the most comprehensive and punctual systems in the world. The Munich Tramway is the oldest existing public transportation system in the city, which has been in operation since 1876.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Welcome to Switzerland

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is situated in Western Europe, and is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Lichtenstein to the east. The country is landlocked between the Alps, the Central Plateau, and the Jura mountains. Zürich and Geneva, the country’s two largest cities, reign in both economic and global exchange and consistently rank second and third as cities with the highest quality of life in the world. Switzerland is home to many international organizations, including the World Economic Forum, the International Olympic Committee, the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization, FIFA, and the second largest UN office. Although Switzerland’s government founded the European Free Trade Association, they notably remain unlinked to the European Union or the European Economic Area.
Switzerland comprises three main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, and Italian. Residents of many Swiss valleys also speak a deviated form of Roman-Latin called Romansh. The Swiss therefore do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnic or linguistic identity. The strong sense of belonging to the country is founded on the common historical background, shared values of federalism, direct democracy, and neutrality, and Alpine symbolism. The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is officially dated to August 1, 1291. Swiss National Day is celebrated on the annual anniversary.
Alpine symbolism plays a vital role in the country’s history, national identity, and foreign tourism. Mountain regions thrive on the popularity of ski resorts in the winter and hiking and wandering culture throughout the summer. Folk art is famously expressed throughout the country in the forms of music, dance, poetry, wood carving, and embroidery. The alphorn, accordion, and yodeling epitomize traditional Swiss musical culture. Swiss cuisine offers many common European tastes, as well as the nation’s coveted specialty cheeses and chocolate confectionaries.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Possible Concert Venues: Benedictine Abbey of Engelberg

The Benedictine Abbey of Engelberg, Switzerland rests in a mountain valley at the foot of Mount Titlis. The Abbey rises over the center of the town of Engelberg, which appropriately translates to “the mountain of angels.” The Benedictine Abbey of Engelberg is often associated with the nearby Benedictine Sisters of Maria Rickenbach. Since the Sisters’ convent is only accessible by cable car, perhaps an additional performance at the Abbey’s Collegiate Church would excite the locals.
Founded in 1120 by a nobleman by the name of Konrad von Sellenburen, and ratified by Pope Callistus and Emporer Henry V in 1121, the Abbey offers a colorful history with periods of great flourishing that withstood the tribulations of fire, revolutions, and the plague.
Following the great fire of 1729, many aspects of the church were refurnished in early Baroque style. The main alter is stunningly painted with themes of the Assumption and the Trinity, while the ceiling is adorned with frescoes recounting the life of the Virgin Mary. The simplistic complex, which also includes a working farm, fits admirably into the serene mountain setting. The Abbey’s Collegiate Church houses the largest organ in Switzerland—the ideal locale for a choir performance.
Currently about forty monks reside at the monastery, working in the garden, kitchen, sacristy, library, infirmary, arts and crafts station, administration, development projects, pastoral care, local schools, and the parish. The warm-hearted townspeople of Engelberg thrive on the ministry of the Abbey and welcome visitors with open arms. Any spiritual soul is bound to be gladdened by the peace and serenity exuding from the majestic mountains of Engelberg.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Concert Venues: Benedictine Sisters of Maria Rickenbach

The village of Maria Rickenbach, Switzerland remains a place of Christian pilgrimage since the 1500s, when a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary and Child was miraculously preserved from fire. One of the loveliest sites in Switzerland, Maria Rickenbach rests high atop the green Niederrickenbach plateau, overlooking the valley of Engelberg, the Nidwalden Alps, and Mount Pilatus.
In 1853 two Benedictine Sisters chose Maria Rickenbach as the ideal location for a convent of Perpetual Adoration. The sisters of Maria Rickenbach aim for a life of unceasing prayer. They pray the Divine Office, celebrate Eucharist, have continual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and take time for other personal prayer and reading. In keeping with the Benedictine tradition, this work of prayer is balanced by the work of their hands.
The sisters are fully self-sufficient, supporting themselves mainly through the cultivation of herbs and distribution of various teas, tinctures, ointments, and schnapps. The intricate art of drying and preparing herbs has been passed from generation to generation within the convent’s community.
In addition to growing many of their own herbs, the sisters also collect wild herbs growing throughout the vast mountain meadows. They enjoy spending their days harvesting the fields, packing picnic lunches, and praying outside, praising the majesty of God’s creation. Their love for the earth and reliance on its bounty renders them dedicated stewards of the environment.
Although the convent is accessible only by cable car, the sisters welcome many visitors each year, usually pilgrims going to the shrine of Maria Rickenbach or travelers on holiday. All are invited to browse the convent gift shop which carries the sisters' herbal remedies and handicrafts of fine embroidery and weaving, liturgical vestments, altar cloths, and miscellaneous items. The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in the United States are spiritually and affectionately bound with the sisters of Maria Rickenbach. The two congregations continue drawing mutual inspiration and strength from each other in their journey to witness Christ’s presence in the world. 

Photos courtesy of the Benedictine Sisters of Maria Rickenbach website.