Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wishing all of you flying on Sunday a safe and smooth journey - Welcome to the tour start in London on Monday

Dear Belcanto Travelers,
we wish you a safe and smooth flight tomorrow and hope you look very much forward to this journey. Below are some pictures from Saturday's final meeting at the Château Vaux Le Vicomte.
More impression and live coverage of the journey, please visit our facebook pages.
Bon voyage, auf Wiedersehen, your Incantato and Inside Europe Tours team.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Let's have a look at the weather forecast...

Since the Enchanting Europe Tour is going to start this week on Sunday, June 29, 2014, we thought it would be a good idea to have a look at your weather forecast for London, Paris and Rome. It might increase your anticipation and also helps you to figure out what to pack in your suitcase.
In case you have not seen it yet, please have a look at our blog entry regarding what to pack and how to pack for your tour.

LONDON - Weather forecast: UK's capital city welcomes you with plenty of sun, highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s. On Wednesday, July 2, 2014 there is some sun with a few showers possible (only a 30% chance of rain). Temperatures are very nice, highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 50s.

PARIS has steady temperatures in the 70s and welcomes you with lots of sun. And ROME has temperatures in the mid 80s and a mix of sunshine and some light showers.

Incantato Tours will also post pictures, videos and updates during the tour on our Facebook page, so please tell you family members and friends at home to have a look there.

How to display travel mementos?

It is summer time and vacation time and it always seems like a great idea to purchase souvenirs on your vacation, until you are home and do not know how to display them properly.
Unpacking from a trip often includes trying to find places to store or display random keepsakes you have picked up along the way. If you are a sentimental traveler, you may be trying to find a way to keep your trip memories alive in your home with the ideas below:

A shadow box is a great way to show off those mementos in an clean and classy way. All you need is a 12x12 Shadow box which you can purchase at Ikea, Hobby Lobby, Target etc., a selection of keepsakes, double sided tape, craft supplies such as clothespins, masking tape, decorative labels, hot glue gun etc. Source: Design Aglow

Or put your favorite souvenirs into pretty glass jars. Display these memory jars on your mantel and treat it as a living arrangement — continue to update or rearrange items as you see fit. Source: Martha Stewart

If you are interested in other ways to display your holiday keepsakes, please have a look here

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Travel Tip: Frequently asked questions and answers

What is the size limit and number of items for a carry-on?
You may have 1 carry-on bag - it must be able to fit either under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. We highly recommend something simple and easier to use such as a backpack. 

What are the airline carry-on container regulations?
No containers holding more that 3ozs of liquid are allowed in the carry-on luggage. They also must be in a plastic zip-lock or another transparent bag. Please also have a close look at the 311 rules by TSA (Transportation Security Administration).

Do I need to carry my passport with me all the time?
Ideally, your passport should be with you at all times because you are generally required to have some form of identity with you at all times. Please be “street-smart” and take care of pickpockets. Photocopies of the passport should be packed in your suitcase, available in your e-mail and Incantato Tours should also have a copy.

Do you have recommendations or suggestions on the type of power adapter needed and what voltage?
Electricity in Europe comes out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at a 50 cycles per second. In the US, electricity comes out of the wall socket at 110 volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second. Not only the voltages and frequencies, but the sockets themselves are different. Adapters and converters may be found at Target, Walmart and radio shack etc. Please also have a look at our blog entry regarding this matter.

Is tap water safe to drink in Europe?

Most European Union countries have implemented the EU Drinking Water Directive which makes it among the safest drinking water in the world. If you are unsure and want to be real safe, we would recommend to buy bottled water.

What is the average meal cost? How much money should you bring? 
As long as you are wise about your choices, meals can easily be 15 EUR or less. You don’t have to go to sit down at restaurants to find good food. But when you do want to sit down, you should check the menu outside to see if they have a "menu special" - you can get an entrée, dessert and a drink for a set price. 

What has the best exchange rate, using a debit card to pull money out or exchanging US currency?
By far, the best way to deal with money abroad is to use your debit or credit card. Most banks only charge around $2 per withdraw and they also take care of the exchange rate for you. Keep in mind that you need a 4 digit pin and also let your bank know in advance that you are travelling abroad. 
We do not recommend to bring Traveler's Checks with you. Please also have a look at our blog entry regarding money matters here

Do you know what the transaction fee is for withdrawing euros on my debit card at the ATM's?

This varies by debit card and cash machine used. Therefore we recommend to talk to your bank in advance.

What is the approximate exchange rate right now? 

It’s about $1.35 to 1 EUR (June 2014) 

Should I use a major credit card for all purchases in London or do I need a separate debit card for pounds?
You can withdraw pounds in England and Euro in France and Italy, so just one debit card will be fine. For major purchases a credit card will be best. Please note that you will be charged foreign transaction fees unless you have a card that covers those fees. Have a look at our blog entry regarding money matters here.

What happens if someone gets injured while in tour? Medical care and cost wise?Do they need a medical consent form for treatment?
It is mandatory to purchase travel insurance as indicated on your registration form. You can select any insurance provider you may like. However, due to good experiences in the past we recommend Travel Guard. Please find our blog entry regarding travel insurance here

Is there a dress code for non-singers/members of the tour for entrance into Notre Dame and the Vatican? 
A conservative dress code is just fine. We recommend to cover shoulders and knees and modest cleavage. We also dissuade to wear flip-flops.

What is your shoe recommendation for the tour?
We recommend no flip flops, closed toe is our personal recommendation, some light weight sneakers even or good sturdy sandals. Please have a look at our blog entry regarding packing tips here

Friday, June 6, 2014

Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli your venue in Rome, Italy

Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, better known by its shorter name Santa Maria degli Angeli, is a unique Renaissance church in Rome.
It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to the angels, and to Christian slaves who died building the baths.

In 1541, a Sicilian priest had a vision of angels in the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian. As a result, Pope Pius IV ordered that a church be built within the Baths. The church was designed by Michelangelo, who began work in 1563 but died a year later in 1564. His design was completed by Jacopo Lo Duca, a student of Michelangelo.

The exterior has a unique appearance for a church, since its outer walls consist in part of the brick of the Baths of Diocletian. Although the interior has changed considerably and the floor has been raised a few feet, Santa Maria degli Angeli is one of the places where you can best appreciate the size and splendor of the Roman imperial baths.
Like most churches in Rome, Santa Maria degli Angeli is filled with art and monumental tombs and also has some holy relics.

The Choir is going perform a highlight concert at this magnificent venue on July 7, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Travel Tip: Luggage Size

Since the 2014 Enchanting Europe Tour starts this month, many of our travelers asked about the suitcase dimensions and how heavy it is allowed to be. Please find the regulations for the two airlines below:

Air Canada:
  • Check one bag at no charge
  • Max. weight per bag: 50lb, maximum linear dimensions per bag: 62 inches 
  • Plus one small/normal size carry-on (measurements: 9 in x 15.5 in x 21.5 in, maximum weight 22 lb, including handles and wheels)
Here is an interesting link to double check the information provided above.

United Airlines:
  • Check one bag at no charge
  • Up to 62 linear inches L + W + H and 50lbs per bag
  • Plus one small/normal size carry-on (measurements: 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches, including handles and wheels)
Here is an interesting link to double check the information provided above.

Please keep in mind that if you max this allowance out already on the way over, then there is no room for souvenirs on the way back.