Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wishing you safe travels to Europe - St. John's Choir

Dear members of the 2014 St. John's Choir Tulip Cruise,

We wish you safe travels to Europe. Incantato Tour Manager Anja will be welcoming everyone on Friday, April 4, 2014 at the Amsterdam airport and then bring the group to their home away from home for the next seven nights - the MS Amadeus Elegant.

Enjoy your time in Netherlands and Belgium,
Your Incantato Concert Tours Team

MS Amadeus Elegant - Cruise Overview for St. John's Choir

  1. Amsterdam, Netherlands (April 4, 2014)
  2. Volendam, Netherlands (April 5, 2014)
  3. Arnhem, Netherlands (April 6, 2014)
  4. Middelburg, Netherlands (April 7, 2014)
  5. Ghent, Belgium (April 8, 2014)
  6. Antwerp, Belgium (April 9, 2014)
  7. Kinderdijk and Keukenhof, Netherlands (April 10, 2014) 
  8. Amsterdam, Netherlands (April 10, 2014)

Monday, March 24, 2014

The City of Hoorn

"Charming" may be the first word that comes to mind, when someone is asked to describe the city of Hoorn, Netherlands. Just north of Amsterdam by about 30 minutes, many come here to enjoy a day walking near the waters edge or through the center to stop in at a nice cafe or do some shopping.  Uniquely located on the waterfront of the Markermeer Lake, it was founded in the 8th century and soon after became the center for trading in the area. Though it did not officially become a city until the 1300's. In centuries after that, ships that sailed from Hoorn had traded all over the globe, bringing back goods and spices, such as pepper and nutmeg, from places like Indonesia and Africa.

There are 365 Grade I listed buildings, one for every day of the year, which places Hoorn in the third place on the Netherlands table of historic cities, following just after Amsterdam and Haarlem. The two oldest public squares in the town are called, Roode Steen and Kerkplein. The building that's known as the 'Waag' on Roode Steen was built by Hendrick de Keyser in 1609 and was used as a weight house for cheese until the end of the nineteenth century. Opposite of Waag, you can almost be instantly drawn to the colorful lions and crests that beautify the facade of the Statencollege, built in 1632. What was a town hall now houses the Museum of West Friesland, where a substantial amount of the region's cultural heritage from the 'Golden Century' is on display.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Belgium the Country of Beer

In Belgium, beer is more than just a frothy beverage - it is a culture. With over 650 different varieties, many Belgian beers have personalized beer glasses in which only that beer may be served. The shape of each glass enhances the flavor of the beer for which it is designed. This tradition may seem like behavior reserved for wine snobbery, but Belgians take their beer seriously - and with good reason. The country has enjoyed an unparalleled reputation for specialty beers since the Middle Ages. Connoisseurs favor Belgian beers for their variety, real flavor and character.

It is easy to see the depth to which beer has become one with Belgium's culture. What other country has a driving tour through the countryside called the Beer Route? After a day of castle hopping, visitors can stop by one of the local cafés to enjoy some chocolate with their beer, as their worries melt away. Whether you were visiting a brewery, sitting in a café or attending a festival, visitors will remember the first time they tasted their favorite brew.

To commemorate the country's beer tradition, Belgian cities and towns across the country hold festivals. These beer-filled events provide locals and visitors with the opportunity to gather and share a pint of their favorite brew while trading stories.

Information curtesy of

8 Things to Know about the Netherlands

1. Cycle everywhere:
The Dutch love the bicycle. They have industrial strength padlocks and wonderful cycle paths that run the length and width of the Netherlands. Many can cycle while carrying the weekly groceries, children or a ladder, handling tricky tram tracks and swerving around unexpected obstacles at speed.

2. Obsess over the WC:
Though Englishman Thomas Crapper popularized the toilet, many modern toilet innovations are Dutch. The famed old school Dutch toilet with an “inspection shelf” is less prevalent these days, but still available. For women, the joys of a standing female urinal can be found in various popular locations. It's claimed to reduce queues.

3. Eat more pastries:
No event is ever complete without a cake or pastry. The Dutch don't just create any old pastries, though. There’s the appeltaart, the moorkop and the bossche bollen, best as dessert.
Other Dutch culinary treats include frit and mayo, stroopwafels (ideal with coffee and sold fresh at most outdoor markets) or saucijzenbroodje (Dutch sausage rolls with high meat content).

4. Go sailing:
The Netherla
nds is technically below sea level and stays dry thanks to polders and dykes. The Dutch are nearly as obsessive about getting out on the water as they are about cycling - plus they appear to navigate just as recklessly.

5. Pay only for what you consume:
“Let’s go Dutch” is probably the most misunderstood phrase associated with the Netherlands. To really go Dutch, you should only pay for what you eat or drink rather than split the bill equally. In the Netherlands, service is included your bill. But it’s still polite to tip.

6. Get that ‘gezellig’ feeling:
You know you're feeling "gezellig" when you skip work for a three-hour lunch. It's a word or concept with no direct translation but many meanings. You’ll often hear “gezellig” referenced wherever Dutch people gather. The word roughly translates to cozy, quaint, familiar or friendly.

7. Drink coffee with a special milk:
Long before coffee became a fashion accessory, it was a national pastime in the Netherlands. The Dutch have a special “coffee milk”, an acquired taste and definitely not advisable for use in tea or on breakfast cereal.

8. Go to a ‘brown café’:
Brown cafes are casual, often dark (brown) environments that support the regional brewed beer. Typically brown cafes serve: Amstel in the north Netherlands, Grolsch in the middle, Brand in the south. Most pubs also serve at least one Belgian beer on tap due to the enormous popularity of these heavier and stronger beers.

Information curtesy of

Your home away from home - MS Amadeus Elegant

The MS Amadeus Elegant lives up to its name: with the famous pointed bow, and measuring 110 m in length and 11.4 m in breadth the newest flagship fits in perfectly with the Amadeus fleet.

The vessel accommodates up to 150 passengers in its comfortable 67 cabins and 9 suites. A crew about forty strong are on hand to meet their every wish. The bright and modern standard cabins have a floor area of 15 m² (161 sq.ft.), giving passengers a space of their own with all the accoutrements of an ocean-going cruise liner.

Experience here a virtual 360 degrees tour of the MS Amadeus Elegant.

St. John's Choir Flight Schedule

Flight Information

Departure from the US
Thursday, April 03, 2014:
United Airlines flight UA4686 leaves St. John's (YYT) for Newark (EWR), at 9:00 am local time, arrival is at 11:17 am local time.
The same day, the group then connects from Newark (EWR) at 5:50 pm with United Airlines flight UA70 to Amsterdam (AMS), Netherlands, with an arrival time of 7:45 am the next day (Friday, April 04, 2014).

Return to the US
Friday, April 11, 2014:
United Airlines flight UA71 departs Amsterdam (AMS), Netherlands, at 9:15 am local time for Newark (EWR), to arrive at 11:50 am.
The group then connects from Newark (EWR) at 6:45 pm with United Airlines flight UA4670 to St. John's (YYT) with an arrival time of 11:30 pm local time.