Friday, December 14, 2012

First Itinerary for the St. Bon's Danube Cruise

Day 1, Wednesday, April 3
Overnight group flights to Europe
Day 2, Thursday, April 4
Willkommen in Deutschland - Board cruise
Upon arrival in Germany, you will meet your Incantato Tour Manager at the airport and transfer to Passau, an ancient Roman town known for its rich Catholic heritage. Take a walking tour, then board your floating hotel for the next 7 nights, the beautiful MS Amadeus Royal, which has been exclusively chartered by Incantato Tours for this unique journey hosted by St. Bonaventure's College for members of the band and choirs, as well as their family and friends. Make yourself comfortable prior to attending a welcome reception and dinner. The Amadeus Royal is a floating European Grand Hotel and has been categorized as a five star boutique river cruise. This luxurious ship will be your home until the morning of April 11. The SBC Band has the opporutunity to play a sail-away salute to Passau from the sundeck as the ship leaves the port in the evening.
Day 3, Friday, April 5
Melk Abbey Sightseeing & Performances - Scenic route to Hungary
A stunning panorama awaits you in Austria as you awak to the scenery of the Danube Valley - made a UNESCO World Heritage site for a myriad of reasons. Visit the stunning Melk Abbey with an expert guide and hear the SBC Choir sing in the beautiful cathedral. A band concert is an excellent option and an exchange with students from the Abbey has been requested. The remainder of the day is spent aboard as you journey into Hungary. Lunch and dinner feature local specialties and traditional entertainment from the area. 
Day 4, Saturday, April 6
Esztergom Mass - Budapest by night band concert
You will awake to even more stunning scenery, this time in Hungary and explore the ancient city of Esztergom, once the capital city. A special Mass is to be organized just for the SBC group at the Esztergom Cathedral featuring both ensembles. Thereafter, the ship travels on to the new capital city of Budapest for sightseeing. The late afternoon and evening is at leisure for shopping and exploing. To end the day, you will have the opportunity to view the city lights as the cruise makes its night time voyage past all the major sites on the Danube.
Day 5, Sunday, April 7
Sunday Mass at the Cathedral - Musical Budapest - Concert
The SBC group has the opporunity to attend/participate in a Sunday Mass at St. Isztvan Cathedral during the morning. You will then see more of Budapest's musical side prior to a special SBC concert at a prime venue such as the Kodaly Music School - possibly joined by Hungarian students. The ship will set sail again in the evening en route to Slovakia and Bratislava.
Day 6, Monday, April 8
Bratislava in-depth - Likely Embassy Concert
Your group will awake in yet another country, Slovakia, as you crusie until the afternoon to the charming capital city of Bratislava. A concert at of for the Canadian Embassy is being planned before the Amadeus concintues on to Vienna. Arrival is scheduled in the evening so parents and guests can enjoy a night on their own and explore the town.
Day 7, Tuesday, April 9
Musical Vienna - Concert or Mass
Guten Morgen in Austria! "Musik macht schlau", music educates, is the theme for today's wal, as you follow in the footsteps of Mozart and Beethoven through historical Vienna, the Austrian capital city. A true highlight, you have the opportunity for a performance potential at Karslkirche (band and choir). Last but not least, there will be plenty of free time for exploring and shopping prior to boarding your ship again for a late departure towards the Wachau Valley once again.
Day 8, Wednesday, April 10
Castles & Cathedrals - Farewell Concert
While the ship docks in Krems, Incantato has planned a journey to Duernstein just for our musical groups. The baby blue church steeply of Duernstein's Stiftskirche is one of the Danube landmarks. Your ensembles will be performing in this stunning baroque church followed by plenty of free time to explore the town. A school visit is also planned. Why not climb up to the fortress where Richard Lionheart was once imprisoned? A special farewell gala dinner and party awaits you all back aboard. 
Day 9, Thursday, April 11
Disembarkation in Passau - Travel to Munich for return flights or extra night
It's time to say Auf Wiedersehen to the MS Amadeus after breakfast - but don't be too sad! You will have the week's memories to look back on fondly! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Discover Duernstein, Austria, with Incantato Tours

Dürnstein is a small town on the Danube river in the Krems-Land district, in the Austrian state of Lower Austria. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Wachau region.  The town gained its name from the medieval castle which overlooked it. The castle was called "Duerrstein" or "Dürrstein", from the German duerr/dürr meaning "dry" and Stein, "stone". The castle was dry because it was situated on a rocky hill, high above the damp conditions of the Danube at the base of the hill, and it was built of stone. Dürnstein was first mentioned in 1192. The ruins of the castle fortress, 159 meters above the town, are inextricably linked to the Crusades. Here Leopold V, the Babenberg duke ruling the country at that time, held Richard the Lionheart of England prisoner in 1193. It seems that Richard had insulted the powerful Austrian duke in Palestine during the Crusades to capture the Holy Land. The story is that when Richard was attempting to get back home, his boat foundered on the rocks of the Adriatic and he tried to sneak through Austria disguised as a peasant. The English monarch was arrested and imprisoned by Leopold.
For quite some time, nobody knew exactly where in Austria Richard was incarcerated, but his loyal minstrel companion, Blondel, had a clever idea. He went from castle to castle, playing his lute and singing Richard's favorite songs. The tactic paid off, the legend says, for at Dürnstein Richard heard Blondel's singing and sang the lyrics in reply. The discovery forced Leopold to transfer Richard to a castle in the Rhineland Palatinate, but by then everybody knew where he was. So Leopold set a high ransom on the king's head, which was eventually met, and Richard was set free.
The castle was virtually demolished by the Swedes in 1645, but you can visit the ruins if you don't mind a vigorous climb (allow an hour).  

The fifteenth century Dürnstein Abbey (Stift Dürnstein) was initially an Augustinian monastery and was reconstructed when the baroque style came to Austria. It was established in 1410 by Canons Regular from Třeboň and from 1710 rebuilt in a Baroque style according to plans by Joseph Munggenast, Jakob Prandtauer and Matthias Steinl.The blue tower of this church is one of the best baroque examples in the entire country and a notable landmark in the Danube Valley. There is also a splendid church portal. Kremser Schmidt, the noted baroque painter, did some of the altar paintings.  The monastery was dissolved by order of Emperor Joseph II in 1788 and had been given to the Herzogenburg Priory.