Monday, December 10, 2012

Spain - there's an App for that

Since the Providence College group will be focusing on Spain for their 2013 performance tour, some of those traveling may be interested in being inspired by the "Experience Spain" App.
It is the best of Spain told by its own travelers as the app is based on travelers' experiences on the Minube social network. A guide that includes the Spanish travelers' favorite corners, this app includes more than 350 spots that represent the culture, gastronomy and landscape of Spain. Surely some of the Providence College group's destinations, such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, or Toledo, will be included in this list. You can enjoy a whole range of different experiences through fiestas and special events in Spain. And best of all - it's free. For more information, check out the Experience Spain site. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Intriguing Spain - a first itinerary for the 2013 PC Performance Tour with a special emphasis on music and Dominican traditions

Here is a first itinerary for the upcoming journey:

Day 1, Monday, May 20, 2013
Overnight group flight to Spain
Those choosing the air-land package will depart from Boston today.

Day 2, Tuesday, May 21
Benvenidos en Espanya
Meet your Incantato Tour Manager and bus driver at the airport, then embark on an orientation tour of Barcelona’s highlights prior to check-in at your hotel and a special welcome dinner.

Day 3, Wednesday, May 22
Barcelona sightseeing - Mass
Your guided tour of Spain‘s second largest city will include many highlights, but also retrace Dominican history. A special Mass featuring the PC choir is scheduled today, followed by free time for exploring.

Day 4, Thursday, May 23
Scenic Route to Modern Valencia
Bid farewell to Barcelona late this morning. You’ll experience a rapid change in scenery as you take the coastal highway to the artistic city of Valencia. Meet with students from the Conservatory and rehearse for tomorrow’s highlight performance.

Day 5, Friday, May 24
Valencia Sightseeing - Exchange Concert & Reception
Known as the city of Arts and Sciences, Valencia is also haven for musicians. Embark on a guided tour, followed by a second rehearsal at the Conservatorio Profesional de Musica de Valencia, followed by a special concert.

Day 6, Saturday, May 25
Ancient Cuenca & Concert
There is lots to see and do today as you explore the historical hilltop town of Cuenca in the La Mancha province. Learn more about the Dominican routes of this unique place, then presents a special concert tonight at one of three unique venues.

Day 7, Sunday, May 26
Dominican Mass - To Toledo
After participating in Sunday Mass, continue to Toledo - 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. Enjoy a guided tour and plenty of free time for exploring.

Day 8, Monday, May 27
Toledo in-depth & Concert
There is so much to see and do in beautiful Toledo. After a guided tour and recital at the magnificent Cathedral, your next concert will take place in the historical city center.

Day 9, Tuesday, May 28
Madrid sightseeing - Farewell performance & Dinner
Madrid is only a short drive away. After a guided tour of the capital city‘s highlights including the Gran Via, the PC ensembles prepare for a farewell performance at one of the city‘s stunning Dominican churches followed by a tapas farewell dinner.

Day 10, Wednesday, May 29
Flight back to Boston
Return home with memories to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Discover the UNESCO side of Barcelona with Incantato

Did you that know that Barcelona has several sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List? Here are just a few examples of the many sights to see while you are visiting this vibrant city:

La Sagrada Familia
This iconic cathedral from the 19th century was first started by architect Francisco de Paula, who had originally envisioned a Neogothic building. However, when the famous Spanish architect Gaudi took over the project in 1883, he soon began to change the project to his own personal and very distinctive style. He was only able finish the chapel of San Jose, the crypt and the door o El Nacimiento  before he died. Work on the project continues to this today.

La Casa Mila "La Pedrera"
Another masterpiece by Gaudi also on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites is the so-called "La Pedrera" House. It is one of the best-known works by the architect and one of the symbols of Barcelona. Built between 1906 and 1912, everything in this building is curved and undulating. Reflecting Modernist techniques and tendencies, there are chimneys and sculptures on teh roof, large windows and iron balconies set into the stone walls on the outside and the interior consists of two painted courtyards.

Palacio Guell
Gaudi created the small Guell Palace during the 19th century on top of some basements and columns. The site measures only 18 x 12 meters and features a dome, stained glass windows and stairs that create an optical illusion to make the palace seem larger. The entrance doors are iron work with coiled sculptures snakes and the terrace is a veritable outdoor museum. 

Palau de la Musica Catalana
The Palau de la Musica Catalana Auditorium was inaugurated in 1908. It took the architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner three years to complete what is now one of the world's major concert halls. An excellent example of Modernism, the interior is decorated with ceramic mosaics and glass with floral motifs.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Welcome to Valencia with Incantato Tours

Spain's third largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia, being on Spain's coastline, has a warm climate and is situated in the middle of a fertile plain of orange gorves and market gardens. The city was founded by the Romans in 138 BC and later conquered by the Moors. The three finest buildings in Valencia were built in the 14th and 15the century, when the city's economic prospere: the Torres de Serranos, a gateway, the cathedral and La Lonja. 

Torres de Serranos
The tower was erected in 1491 as a triumphal arch in the city's walls. It is a gateway that combines defensive and decorative features and the two towers are crowned with battlements and lightened by delicate Gothic tracery. 

The Cathedral
The original Cathedral was built in 1262, however much has been added over the centuries. The three doorways are in different styles, the oldest of which is the Romanesque Puerta del Palau. The Cathedral's bell tower, the Miguelete, is Valencia's main landmark.   

Lonja de la Seda - The Silk Exchange
Built in the 15th century, the Silk Exchange is Valencia's jewel of European Gothic civil architecture. The majority of the Exchange was built between 1482 and 1492. After the master mason Pere Compte's death, a pupil completed the work, adding in some Renaissance elements. Similarly to old medieval castles, the Silk Exchange is based on a fierce, fortress-like appearance re-enforced by its stone walls. The complete site, consisting of the Sea Consulate Room, the Orange tree Patio, and the Room of Columns, covers more than 2,000 square meters. It is considered one of Europe's most beautiful examples of Gothic civil architecture and for that was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Toledo: an Incantato Favorite

Toledo is a municipality located in central Spain, 70 km south of Madrid.  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. 

Having been populated since the Bronze Age, Toledo 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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ready to travel to Spain?

Providence College Choirs 2012 Spain Performance Tour Slideshow: Incantato’s trip to 4 cities Barcelona, Cuenca, Valencia (near Chiva, Valencia Province, Spain) and Spain (near Cabanas, Galicia) was created with TripAdvisor TripWow!

Incantato Welcomes You 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.

With an area of 504,030 km², Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union after France. 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.

Spain is a developed country with the ninth or tenth largest economy in the world by nominal GDP, and very high living standards.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Comida Espanola - the foodie side of Incantato

While traveling in Spain, there might be some types of food that you have not encountered before. Especially the typical Spanish ‘Tapas’, a wide assortment of appetizers or snacks, offer up a great variety of Spanish dishes and foods. Tapas may be cold or warm and were designed to encourage conversation while eating because people do not have to focus upon an entire meal.

Some of the most typical and essential ingredients for any meal are chorizo (spicy sausage),
jamón iberico (Iberian ham) and jamón serrano (cured ham). Ham is cherished in Spain as as much champagne is in France. The process of curing it takes a couple of years. Chorizo is a type of spicy sausage, either sliced thinly and served cold on bread or cut into chunks and cooked.

Another extremely typical Tapas dish and Spain’s very own fast food are patatas bravas. They are chopped, fried potatoes (basically potato wedges) that are covered either in a very spicy tomato sauce or a mayonnaise olive oil garlic sauce.

Speaking of fast food, another one of Spain’s favorites is the tortilla española. The plain ones are simply made with just eggs, potatoes and onions, cooked together in an omelet-type combination, then cut into pie slices and served. Variations include shrimp cooked inside or cheese melted on top.

The last dish often comes as a bit of a shock to people. It looks likes tomato soup, but careful - it is cold! This typical appetizer is a mixture of pureed tomatoes, cucumbers and a few other ingredients, topped with croutons. If you are traveling in
southern Spain, however, be sure to watch out for salmorejo on restaurant menus. This is the regional variation of Gazpacho and a bit more flavorful. A combination of tomatoes, bread, oil, garlic and vinegar, salmorejo is much thicker than Gazpacho because it includes more bread. It is also typically served with diced jamón serrano and diced hard-boiled eggs on top.

Crista’s personal favorites include the tortilla española and the salmorejo. Check out the recipe linked to the tortilla española to try this dish at home. Yum!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Time to diet now, not next May

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Providence College Choirs touring Spain in 2013

Where to next? After touring Italy and the Vatican State in 2011, the Providence College Choir will be heading to Spain in May of 2013.