Sunday, December 29, 2013

Incantato Performance Venue: Auditorium of the Colégio do Espírito Santo, Central Évora University.

The Occidental College Glee Club, under the direction of Désirée La Vertu, will perform in the University Auditorium on January 16th, at 8 pm, in a Joint Concert with TAUE - Tuna Académica da Universidade de Évora, as a finale for the music exchange.

The University of Évora is one of the buildings most visited by tourists from around the world flocking to the city. The University of Évora, the second oldest in Portugal, was founded in the 16th century (1559) by Cardinal Infante Dom Henrique (the future king of Portugal), and by the Pope Paul IV, and it was delivered to the Society of Jesus.

The Colégio do Espírito Santo, (College of the Holy Spirit) is the core of the University of Évora and appears today in the same format in which it was conceived and executed between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, housing the Rectorate, many Departments as well as many college classrooms and units.

Its monumental and artistic ensemble includes the Renaissance Cloister, with harmonious double galleries in Tuscan order; the Refectory (sixteenth century); the Chapel of Nossa S.ª da Conceição (1641); the Old Library, with a painted ceiling fresco (1708), and a magnificent collecion of ashlars and paintings along the Johannine Classes (1744-49)

The Tuna Académica da Universidade de Évora, TAUE, is a traditional ensemble that has became one of the main vehicles to publicize the good name of the University of Évora and the true spirit of the University and its students.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Weather in Spain and Portugal and What to Pack for your Trip

Dear travelers of the Occidental College Glee Club,
As your departure for your 2014 performance tour comes closer and closer, Incantato Tours would like to provide you with a couple travel tips.

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.

Knowing the weather forecast can be helpful, keeping in mind that it is still too early to have a good prediction… However, here you have some examples of how the weather can be in the cities you will visit for the month of January. Remember it is winter!
  • Madrid: Temperatures between 35º and 50ª F, scarce rain, chilly wind from the snow-capped mountains. 
  • Córdoba: January temperatures usually vary between 40º and 55º F. It is never as cold as in Madrid, so you can expect fair non-rainy winter days… being outdoors at sunny midday is nice!
  • Sevilla: Very much like Cordoba, average temperature in January runs from 45 to 60º F. It is a bit warmer, and it might rain occasionally.
  • Évora: 43º and 55º degrees, some rains, mild temperatures unless it gets windy up-and-downhill. 
  • Lisboa: Well, this could be the rainiest part of the trip – though you can always be surprised!!. Lisbon January temperatures run from 45º to 60º F, and there is a 47% chance of getting some rain!!

Even if you are used to lower temperatures and you feel these forecasts sound like summer, please keep in mind that many churches 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 here. Shorts should always go to your knees (both for ladies and gents).

Now it is time for you to start planning your luggage! We hope the weather forecasts can help you to decide what to bring. 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 one small carry-on such as a backpack. 
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 you are bringing electronic devices, please check if they are compatible, most new devices are – most……)
  • 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, if you tend to feel chilly).
  • 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: TSA | 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.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Occidental College Glee Club is featured choir at the Basilica de Nuestro Padre Jesús del Gran Poder, Sevilla.

Occidental College Glee Club will be singing Mass on Tuesday 14th January at the Basilica of Our Father Jesus del Gran Poder, a very beloved temple in Sevilla.
The temple was consecrated as a Minor Basilica in 1993 and only two years later, in 1995, was awarded the Gold Medal of Sevilla, being the only image of Christ that holds such recognition.

The second Basilica in the city, this basilica is home of the Brotherhood Hermandad de Nazarenos de Nuestro Padre Jesús del Gran Poder y Mª Santísima del Mayor Dolor y Traspaso, (brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazarene of Great Power and Blessed Maria of Suffering and Traspass), was founded in 1431 with founds from the powerful Duke of Medina Sidonia.

This brotherhood procession takes place at dawn on Easter Friday, and it's followed by thousands of penintentes. For the processions, the Pasos (steps) are carried by the brotherhood members, called costaleros, a tradition that honours them deeply and has its roots in the. The pasos, carrying the very sculptures, very enriched and ornated, can weight all together up to 2,500 kg ( 5,500 punds), and each costalero can be holding a weight up to 100 kg (220 pounds). The processions are held in silence, just broken by the saetas singing -  a very flamenco song singed from soul and faith.

The brotherhood was located in different places until in 1703 he moved to the Church of San Lorenzo , which was its usual venue until the construction of the current basilica.

The new temple was completed in 1965, although the first consagration took place the following year.

The building features Sevillian baroque architecture on the outside, and inside forms a central plant, similar in structure to that of the Pantheon in Rome. The temple itself is a large circular area covered by a very hemispherical dome decorated with moldings, with a large central oculus illuminates the entire temple.

We can admire in this temple the image of Nuestro Padre Jesús del Gran Poder (our Father Jesus of the Great Power) , to be dressed effigy , carved by Juan de Mesa in 1620. 
We can see another sculpture of San Juan Evangelista also made ​​by Juan de Mesa , considered the best sculpture of the saint of the whole city .

Alongside, the image of Mª Santísima del Mayor Dolor y Traspaso is venerated: a Sevilian anonymous work of 1798 . 
The Cesta del Gran Poder (Great Power Cage) is very interesting, being the only survivor in the city from the XVII century, and was carved by Francisco Antonio Gijón. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A glimpse of Spain at the holidays

On December 22 almost everyone in Spain takes part in the Christmas Lottery, and prizes are celebrated in style out in the streets.

Christmas Eve (December 24) and Christmas Day (December 25) brings families together. Traditional dishes such as lamb and sea bream are prepared, along with seasonal desserts such as turrón (rich sweet made with almonds), polvorones (crumbly shortbread) and marzipan.
Many attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, to commemorate the birth of Jesus. 

 December 28,  the Day of the Santos Inocentes, where people play pranks on each other similar to those of April Fools’ Day. Novelty items purchased at street markets add to the entertainment.

Bid farewell to the year with the New Year’s Eve celebrations on December 31. Tradition has it that you have to eat 12 grapes one by one, in time with the striking of the clock at midnight on December 31. If you manage to eat all the grapes on time, you are in for a year of prosperity and good luck. People gather at the clock towers in their towns or cities (usually found in the main square) to toast and  welcome in the New Year. Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid is a popular place to spend New Year's Eve. Thousands of people decked out with hats and squawkers joyfully toast in the New Year. Celebrations continue throughout the night at hotels, bars and clubs throughout Spain.

Another tradition is found in Alcoy, where young and old alike anticipate Christmas and the arrival of the Three Wise Men with special excitement. On the Sunday before January 6 (Epiphany), a  children’s parade called “les Pastoretes” (the little shepherds) is held. Children dressed up as shepherds parade with their flocks to give gifts to the new-born Baby Jesus. Excitement builds until January 4 when the Royal Envoy reads a royal proclamation announcing the coming of Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, The Envoy is accompanied by “les Burretes,” small donkeys that carry letterboxes where the children put their letters to the Three Wise Men.

Finally, when night falls on January 5, the Three Wise Men make their spectacular entry into Alcoy, riding camels, loaded with presents. Torch bearers (antorcheros) light the way as the Wise Men ride through the streets of the town. Christmas carols fill the air as the royal pages (“les negres”) hand out  presents to the children.

To learn more about New Year's Eve in Spain, visit

To find out more about the Three Wise Men visit

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Little things to know about Spain and Portugal before packing

At Incantato Tours, we strive for you to enjoy every single step of your way. Here you have some info on little things you might want to know about Spain and Portugal before getting on the plane. Maybe these tips are able to help you enjoy the trip better!
Spain and Portugal at night by NASA

In Spain there is a saying that :
“one just-in-case is worth more than a hundred if-I-had-known”

- It is customary to always have some kind of picture ID. You can use your passport or your driver's license. It is a good idea to have a photocopy of your passport
 to be kept with the rest of your valuables.

- In order to use a credit card, you will need to activate it and get a pin number before coming. Let your bank know that you will be using it abroad so that the card will not get blocked!

- American Express credit cards are not accepted in many places.

- Any kind of Traveler Checks are not accepted. If they are, it can become very expensive.

- Please click here for more info on money matters.

- Food and clothing are generally more expensive in Spain than in the USA. Portugal is cheaper than Spain for most things.

- It is forbidden to smoke in all public places.

- Please bring a photocopy of your prescriptions in case you need medication. This is a just-in-case! The active ingredient is good to know too, as we do not always have the same medicines (though mostly).

Cooblestoned Praça do Giraldo, Évora
- Old towns mean cobblestones and hilly streets, pedestrian areas, steps, stairs... Happy feet help to have a happy tour. Please bring flat, comfortable shoes.
- Flip-flops are definitely not comfortable in our old towns, but they might be in the hotels. We do not walk around barefoot! Remember that January maybe rainy, especially in Portugal!

Showing your knees/shoulders is forbidden inside churches. We will be entering churches almost daily – concerts, art, history... Please bring appropriate clothing. Knee-long pants/skirts, girls can use a scarf to cover their shoulders. Men are not supposed to use scarves, so please do bring shirts with sleeves (short or long).

- Pocket-knives, scissors and sometimes drinks and food are not allowed inside some monuments and museums.

- Laundry service in hotels is very expensive. Unfortunately there are only a few laundromats in Madrid and Lisbon.

Suitcase: 1 per person, NOT heavier than 50 pounds!!

If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. There are so many little things that we can tell you, and we will be hapy to address your doubts!

Hasta la vista!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Occidental College Glee Club: Incantato Tour Poster

Wonderful Occidental College Glee Club and Director Désirée La Vertu, sure deserve great marketing, and in the next weeks you will see them here:

Incantato proudly presents the concert poster for the 2014 Performance Tour to Spain and Portugal.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Incantato Performance Venue: Auditorium of the Conservatorio Profesional de Música de Córdoba.

As a great finale for their Exchange program with the Coro del Conservatorio Superior de Música de Córdoba "Rafael Orozco", both choirs will perform a Joint Concert in a wonderful venue: the Auditorium of the new headquarters of the Conservatorio Profesional de Córdoba.

Inaugurated in 2011, the new building of the Conservatorio hosts the most modern equipment of all of Spain's conservatories.
The government has paid over 7 million Euros for the building, measuring over 7000 sq. meters, including 51 individual instrument classrooms, 24 individual study carrels, a choir classroom, drums classroom, orchestra classroom, four music classrooms, a library, a sound library,... and of course the administrative offices.
The Conservatory has some 1212 students this year: 546 in elementary music levels and 666 in middle music levels. The number of teachers: 122 professionals are in charge of the teaching.

The new auditorium is also impressive: a whole year non-stop Concerts Programme is hosted by this reknown hall. The 296 seats and its very good acoustic will make a warm and brilliant concert.
A wonderful end to the Spanish part of the Occidental College Glee Club Performance Tour to Spain & Portugal.
For more information, you can visit the Conservatorio Profesional de Música de Córdoba "Músico Ziryab" webpage

Sunday, December 1, 2013

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 adebit card; this allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. This fee will differ between banks. Be sure to call your bank before yourdeparture to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. Thedebit cards given by a 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 often charge for their services. Most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water and a small fee for restroom use. There are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why mostEuropeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around $20-25/day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards and some souvenirs. It is notimperative 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.
Remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices.