Lunch in London on a Budget

English food, although usually commented upon with disdain, is actually quite good. The problem is, it can be a bit expensive. In essence, you get what you pay for.
There is, however, a cheaper alternative for meals that you may have free while staying here in London. It is called Pret. This little cafe and quick-stop-shop for food can be found on most streets in London. It has an array of food, anything from fresh-made soups and salads, to homemade cookies. All of the food is made fresh daily, and options can be found for any type of diet, whether you are vegetarian, gluten-free, or just plain picky!

It is very well-priced, as you can get a coffee for under one pound, and a lunch consisting of a salad, a baguette sandwich and a drink can cost you only around 7 or 8 pounds. You can eat-in, or, on a nice sunny day, you can take your lunch to any of the parks within London (Regent Park, Hyde Park, etc.) and enjoy your meal surrounded by the beauty of the city. Cheers mates!

Incantato Impressions: Dublin


Ever Had An Irish Boxty?

While in Dubin, you might get a craving for an Irish Boxty (an Irish Potato Pankcake filled with vegetables, meats, and cheeses, then rolled up and topped with sour cream). If that is the case, then look no further than Gallagher's Boxy House, conveniently located in the Temple Bar District.
This wonderful traditional Irish restaurant not only has an extensive menu, but is also vegetarian friendly, with several vegetarian options to choose from. Here, is a Vegetarian Chili and Cheese Boxty. Yum!

Souvenirs in Dublin

Most of us buy souvenirs for our loved ones back home wherever we travel, but sometimes we have a hard time finding the perfect gift. In Dublin, they have a one-stop shop that can pretty much take care of even the most difficult person on your list!
Carroll's is a Irish gift shop that can be found all over Dublin. There is one on almost every major street, and they carry almost anything you can imagine. They even carry much of merchandise that is found at the Guiness factory, so if you do not make it there for a visit and a pint, then you can always bring back something for that Guiness drinker you know, just by visiting Carrolls.

Take a look at just the amount of key chains alone they have!
Of course, if you are looking for something more traditional and hand-made, you can always visit the Irish Celtic Craftshop. They carry hand-carved ornaments, hand-made sweaters, drums dolls, etc. This store can be found right down the street from Christchurch and the Jurys Inn Christchurch hotel.

Enjoy your shopping!


Guinness, anyone?

One of the highlight attractions in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse on St. James Street. Here, you can learn about the history of Guinness and how it is made, as well how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. You can also enjoy a pint in the 360 degree panoramic bar and buy plenty of souvenirs to take home to your beloved Guinness-lovers back in the states!

As we say in Ireland, Slainte! (Good Health!)

Occidental Glee Club Singing At St. Patrick's Cathedral


Want traditional Fish and Chips in Dublin?

Dating back to 1198, The Brazen Head is Ireland's oldest pub. When you consider that licensing laws only came into effect in 1635, this pub has been serving alcohol even before licensing laws were enacted! A short walk from Christchurch Cathedral and The Guinness Brewery, The Brazen Head is well worth the visit.

The pub has three rooms, a small bar and restaurant room on the first floor, and a large function room for groups on the second floor. Of course, when the weather is nice you can soak up the atmosphere in the very quaint enclosed cobbled stone courtyard!

On May 25 at 1 pm Incantato Tours proudly presents the Occidental College Glee Club at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin

To finalize this amazing tour, Occidental College Glee Club under the direction of Desiree LaVertu will be participating in a lunch time recital at the beautiful St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, the largest church in Ireland, today, May 25, at 1 pm.
Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. A church was built on this site in 1191 and in 1991 they celebrated 800 years of worship. The present building dates from 1220 and during the years it had been extended again and again.
The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland (Anglican). The basis of the present building was built between 1191 and 1270, though little now remains of the earliest work beyond the Baptistry. Much of the work was overseen by Henry of London, a friend of the King of England and signatory of the Magna Carta, who was also involved in the construction of Dublin's city walls and Dublin Castle. The tower (Minot's Tower) and west nave were rebuilt between 1362 and 1370, following a fire. In 1560, one of Dublin's first public clocks was erected in "St. Patrick's Steeple".
Throughout its long history the cathedral has contributed much to Irish life, and one key aspect of this relates to the writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, who was Dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745. Swift took a great interest in the building, its services and music and in what would now be called social welfare, funding an almshouse for poor women and Saint Patrick's Hospital.
The Choir School, which had been founded in 1432, supplied many of its members to take part in the very first performance of Handel's Messiah in 1742. It continues and although originally all-male, now also admits girls; a Cathedral Girls' Choir was founded in 2000 and sings once or twice a week. The Organ of St. Patrick's Cathedral is one of the largest in Ireland with over 4,000 pipes. Parts of it date from a Renatus Harris instrument of 1695. It was restored in the 1890s and in 1963.


The Occidental College Glee Club sings at St. Augustine’s Church, Cork, today (May 24) at 8 PM

St. Augustine’s Church in Cork is today's venue for the Occidental College Glee Club at 8 pm. The Augustinians, the Order of St. Augustine, owe their origins to Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), from Hippo in Algeria, who inspired men and women to live in religious communities.
By the 13th century many different Augustinian communities existed and in 1256 Pope Alexander IV created the Grand Union of all existing Augustinian Congregations to form what we know today as the Order of St. Augustine.
The Order of St. Augustine came to Cork some time between 1270 and 1300. As the Augustinian historian, Fr. Thomas C. Butler OSA writes: "If we take 1272 as a date of petition for approval to open a foundation in Cork, it would have taken some years for the planning and building so we can safely assume that the latter took place between 1275 and 1285.
The Priory was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity, but was recorded on ancient maps as St. Austin's 1545 and St. Augustine's 1610. Later still it became known as the "Red Abbey" because of the red sandstone used in the church. The Towers were added after the middle of the 14th century.
The Red Abbey was raided in 1630, but the friars, forewarned, had fled. This was a short lived closure and the friars were back again, until 1644 when all priests and friars were expelled from the city, and the Red Abbey was taken over by the protestant Dean of Cork, Richard Boyle.Lady Fanshawe leased the Red Abbey, but had to leave when Cromwell came in 1649, and stabled his horses in the building.
Returns on the State of Popery for 1766 give "a friary - Augustinian - in Fishamble Lane. It was located where a side entrance leads into the Franciscan church. Formerly Mill St, the site of the church is shown on De Rocque's map of 1759.
In 1776 the friars were living in an old tottering house, with an old tottering chapel nearby. They started to look for a suitable site and ran into difficulty with the bishop of Cork. The friary in Fishamble Lane was in the parish of St. Finbar's, and the new site was in SS Peter and Paul's.In 1778 the Augustinians chose a site on Brunswick St, at the time within the South Parish. Again the Bishop objected, but the Augustinians decided to go ahead with a chapel and dwelling in Brunswick St. now known as St. Augustine's Lane. The community was suspended by the Bishop. The case was taken to Rome.
A decision was given in favour of the friars, with a command to the bishop to bless and open the church when completed. The first stone was laid on November 27th 1780. The Bishop complied with the mandate from the Holy See, and he blessed the new church on June 4th 1781, and he restored the Prior and community to the jurisdiction of the diocese.
The church was extended in 1872 and the Priory built on Washington St, known then as Great George St. The present church structure was built in 1942 and furthered extended in 1972. The Priory was rebuilt in 1982.


The Occidental College Glee Club performs at the Danny Mann Pub in Killarney on May 22 at 7 PM

Today, Saturday, May 22, at 7 pm the Danny Mann Pub in Killarney will turn into a performance venue for the travelers of the Occidental College Glee Club under the direction of Desiree LaVertu. The Danny Mann is a hotel pub that is renowned as one of the best centers for Irish music, singing and dancing in all of Killarney. Here you will find locals and visitors alike joining with the band to sing together. You might be lucky enough to hear a joke or a tale from long ago. The Danny Mann Pub has brought traditional Irish music and good times to Killarney for over 70 years.


The Occidental College Glee Club sings at St Mary’s Church of Ireland in Killarney on May 21 at 8 PM

The beautiful St Mary’s Church of Ireland in Killarney is the second performance venue for the Occidental College Glee Club from Los Angeles today, Friday, May 21, at 8 pm.
St. Mary's Cathedral in Killarney is a Roman Catholic cathedral in County Kerry, Republic of Ireland. The diocese of Kerry, or Ardfert and Ahadoe as it is sometimes called, was ruled by vicars apostolic from the mid-16th century until the early 18th century, with the exception of a brief few years in the 1640s. The 18th century Bishops of Kerry resided at Dingle, Kilcummin, Tuogh, Listowel and Tralee, from 1720 until 1775. In the latter years Bishop Francis Moylan (1775-87) established the see at Killarney.
Before the construction of Killarney cathedral there was a small chapel in Chapel Lane, of which the font survives in the baptistery of the present cathedral. The idea of building a cathedral was started by Fr. Joseph O'Sullivan, curate of Dingle, who roused the enthusiasm of Bishop Cornelius Egan (1824-1856) and the 2nd Earl of Kenmare (1788-1853), a local Catholic landowner.


Occidental College Exchange Concert Tonight, May 20, at the Franciscan Abbey in Galway

The travellers of the Occidental College Glee Club are getting ready for their exchange concert in Galyway tonight at 7.30 pm:
The Franciscan Abbey was founded in 1296. In 1483 a school of advanced theology was instituted there. About 40 years later, Maurice O Fihely, archbishop of Tuam, was buried in the church. 1657 the friary was destroyed and the church was made into a court house (the present court house stands on the same site). In 1660 a church was erected on the present site. The only novitiate of which they have definite information was opened here in 1774. The church was rebuilt in 1781 and around 1836 the present chuch was opened; present friary was built or rebuilt in 1820, and renovated recently. The organ of the Abbey, Galway, is placed in the gallery at the back of the church, and is divided between two cases to avoid obscuring a large stained-glass window in the centre. The swell and pedal divisions are located in the left case (as seen from the church, facing the back) and the great in the right. The console is beside the left case, and faces sideways across the rather narrow gallery. The instrument has a pleasant, sweet sound with good definition and a fast, ready response from the action. The picture is from the official website of the Irish Franciscans.

Occidental Glee Club starts their Ireland Tour with a concert at the Gothic Church at Kylemore Abbey on May 20 at noon

On May 20, the Occidental College Glee Club under the direction of Desiree LaVertu travels to Kylemore Abbey and presents the first formal concert of their Incantato Ireland tour at noon.
Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War I. Originally called Kylemore Castle, it was built between 1863 and 1868 as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy politician from Manchester, England who was also MP for Galway County from 1871 to 1885. Architects were James Franklin Fuller and Ussher Roberts. After the death of his wife Margaret in 1875, Mitchell did not spend much time there. He and his wife are both buried in the small mausoleum near the church in the grounds of the abbey.
A notable feature of the abbey is the neo-Gothic church, a miniature replica of Norwich Cathedral, made from local green Connemara marble. It was built between 1877 and 1881 and has a beautiful stained glass tracery window depicts the five graces; Fortitude, Faith, Charity, Hope and Chastity, and it is a center of reflection and prayer for many visitors.


Occidental College Glee Club Concert Announced on the Web

The Ireland Performance Tour of the Occidental College Glee Club is just around the corner. Their performance on May 25 at the beautiful St. Patrick's Cathedral (1 pm) is now listed on the official Dublin Tourism website. Check out the concert announcement on the web!

Press conference for Chorfreude 2011 coming up on May 18

Here is a first sneak peak at the 2011 Chorfreude Festival in Germany. More details will be released on Tuesday, May 18 2010 in a press conference.


Countdown for the Occidental Glee Club 2010 Incantato Ireland Tour

The Occidental Glee Club under the direction of Mrs. Desiree LaVertu is heading to Ireland on May 18 and will be presenting concerts at Kylemore Abbey, in Galway, Killarney, Cork and Dublin. Below is their concert card which is distributed throughout Ireland. Incantato takes great pride in providing the fine ensembles touring with us to Europe with excellent marketing.


A new way of traveling with Incantato Tours: River Cruising in Europe

Incantato is pleased to announce that we are honored to welcome the Youth Performance Arts School (YPAS) from Louisville, KY back as a traveling group in 2011. After touring Spain with us in 2009, Dr. Timothy Glasscock and his students are looking forward to traveling to Central Europe next and what better way to see the beauty of the magical Danube Delta than from the actual river and aboard a cruise ship. For large groups like YPAS this luxurious way and most comfortable of touring can actually be quite affordable and is comparable to a traditional bus tour.
Here is a brief introduction about that journey that can also be found on the YPAS Tour blog.

Dearest Singers, Musicians, Parents, Family and Friends of the YPAS Choirs & Orchestra.

We are so excited to share the news about the upcoming YPAS Performance Cruise with you all and hope that we get anough aboard to fully charter the wonderful 4 star superior MS AMALYRA from AmaWaterways to take you all from Budapest via Slovakia and Austria to Germany and Prague from April 2 to 11.

You will be for eight nights on the ship with full board (meaning all meals and most beverages are covered and I can tell you the food is amazing) and one night + dinner/breakfast in a nice hotel in Prague. There will be amazing concert opportunities for the singers and hopefully many of the orchestra players can join the touring ensemble as well to present a major work like the Mozart Requiem in original venues this music was composed for such as the Baroque Abbey Church of Goettweig.

Auf Wiedersehen from all of us at Incantato

P.S. Click here for pictures and a video of the AMAWaterways Cruise experience and just imagine that all the guests you see are people that you know from YPAS or their family and friends.

If you are interested in taking your group on an Incantato River Cruise with AMAWaterways, then email us to info@incantatotours.com or call 646-696-1195.

Here is a photo album from a personal cruise experience in November 2009: