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May 2, 2016

WORLD YOUTH DAY COMES TO POLAND – THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU’RE THERE!

World Youth Day was started in 1985 by Pope John Paul II, and has grown into one of the world’s biggest events. It definitely draws the world’s biggest crowds; the world record for the greatest attendance of a religious festival was won by WYD in 1995 when 5 million gathered in the Philippines for the final mass (a record only surpassed last year, when the current Pope gave another mass, also in the Philippines). Young people from all around the world come to celebrate their faith, share in their diversity and generally have a great time. This year, the event returns to Poland for the first time since 1991. This year, the theme is ‘mercy’, and the event will feature a special tribute to the recently canonized founder, St John Paul II, himself a polish citizen.

If you are headed to Poland this summer for World Youth Day (or for any other reason), there is a vast array of things to do. We’ve made a small list from some of the huge amount of options available to you.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

One of the first things you’ll want to do when you arrive in Poland is grab yourself something to eat. Some Polish foods are famous the world over, such as kielbasa pork sausage or pierogi dumplings, and you should definitely waste no time before sampling these. But there are dozens of other treats, including an amazing array of desserts including makowiec, a traditional poppy-seed and piernik, a version of gingerbread served with a chocolate glaze. However, our favourite food from Poland has to be the amazing oscypek. Served on its own, or grilled with bacon, apple and cranberry sauce, you might have a hard time finding this salted sheep’s cheese. It’s native to the Tatra Mountain region, but the real problem is you might find yourself looking at oscypek and think it’s something else entirely. This is because the cheese is cured for two weeks, giving it a light brown colour on the outside, and also because it is pressed into an intricate spindle that gives it the appearance of carved wood.

Once you’ve filled your belly (or even while you’re doing it), you’ll want to wash your food down with a drink. This being Poland, the most obvious choice is vodka. But unlike some other vodka-drinking nations, it’s not simply enough to knock back shot after shot of the pure stuff – in Poland, they prefer to blend it with other flavours. From the cherry-infused Wi%u015Bniówka to Goldwasser, which combines a plethora of herbs and spices with flakes of real gold, there’s plenty on offer. But the most famous Polish vodka these days is probably Zubrówka, which comes with a blade of bison grass from the Bialowieza Forest. Why bison, you ask? Well…

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Poland has a huge array of environments and areas to satisfy even the most adventurous traveler, but two areas stand out. First, there is the aforementioned Bialowieza Forest, a last remnant of the vast, primeval forest that once covered the whole of Europe. It is here that you’ll find (if you’re lucky) the European Bison. While most of us think of Bison as an American icon, roaming the great plains of the Midwest, the European Bison is primarily a forest-dwelling beast. And they have a wonderful forest to dwell in. Some of the oak trees are so vast and old that they have individual names, such as Emperor of the North, the Dominator Oak and The Guardian of Zwierzyniec. With some of these great trees being over 400 years old, they are well worth tracking down.

When you think of Poland, you don’t think ‘desert’ – but that’s exactly what you’d be thinking after a visit to Slowinski National Park. On the coast of the Baltic Sea, there are several acres of shifting sand dunes. There are also several large lakes, seven rivers and 87 miles of tourist tracks around the park, giving you ample opportunity to enjoy the beach, the dunes or the wildlife.

Castles and other sights to see

With a long and tumultuous history both internally and with its neighbours, it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of castles in Poland. From the vast edifices of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, to the ruins of Ogrodzieniec, built in the 13th Century to help fend off the invading Mongol Hordes, there are castles of every kind to be found all over the country. One that truly cannot be missed is Malbork, the largest (and most imposing?) Gothic castle in Europe.

The towns are no less charming, including the old town of Krawkow which was one of the few that escaped the devastation of the Second World War. There is also Olsztyn, which has been painstakingly reconstructed. Of course, to truly bring home the awful horror of World War II, one must visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum.

Another of Poland’s great visitor attractions is the Wieliczka Salt Mines. As well as tours of the mines themselves (which have been in operation since the 14th Century), concerts and plays are often held there, and there is a hotel and spa that offers you the opportunity to spend a night 135m below sea level.

Enjoy the Festivities

Poland is host to several key outdoor music festivals this year (including Open’er and Przystanek Woodstock 2016), but sadly none are running during the week of WYD. However, there are a couple of other festivals going on, including the 21st Open Air Jazz Festival in Warsaw’s old town. Running for almost two full months between July and August, this event attracts the biggest name in jazz from all over the world.

Meanwhile, in Gda%u0144sk, another long-running festival will be taking place for three weeks between July and August. St Dominic’s Fair was first established by papal decree in 1260 and was very soon one of the key dates in any European trader’s calendar. It was not long before hundreds of ships were arriving at the port of Gda%u0144sk to trade, make deals and be entertained. Some 750 years later, it is still one of the largest market festivals on the European mainland.

Stay in Touch

With so much going on and so much to see in Poland, you’ll want to have a way to keep in touch with friends and family back home, to make sure they know you’re okay, and to share your experiences. The best way to do this is with our Europe SIM card. Everything is priced at 25c (17p); calls are 25c per minute, texts cost 25c to send, and data is priced at 25c per MB. With $10 free credit, this gives you more than enough to upload photos, check maps and send videos. If you’ve travelled from further afield, calling back home isn’t too expensive either, with calls to the rest of the world priced at 59c per minute.

Whatever your plans, we hope that you have an amazing time at WYD 2016!


April 28, 2016


DON’T FORGET TO PACK THESE – THE BEST TRAVEL APPS

With over 1.5 million apps available on app stores, it can be easy to get lost in all the options. We’ve curated a list of some of the best apps that make life easier for travelers.

FLIGHTTRACK (Android/iOS, $4.99)

With over 100,000 commercial flights taking off around the world per day, you would need to be an air traffic controller to keep track of them all. Alternatively, you can get the Flightrack app and keep tabs on your flight from the comfort of your smartphone. Search for flights by airport, route, flight number or destination, and receive real-time updates of how things are going. You’ll receive push notifications as soon as your flight is allocated a departure gate, and the status of your aircraft is updated with helpful color-codes – green for early, blue for on-time, amber for delayed and red for cancelled. You can even coordinate with groups of friends or family coming into a destination on different flights from different parts of the world; the app will keep you updated about when they left, where they are and when they’re due to arrive.

PACKPOINT (Android/iOS, $2.99)

I’ll never forget the day my family and I were waiting in line at the check-in desk, and my Dad, with a weary sigh, said that he’d wished we’d bought the television with us. My Mom asked him why that was, and he replied: “Because I left our passports on top of it.” Fortunately, Packpoint is here to make things right. Just enter your destination and how long you’ll be staying, and this fully customizable app will prompt you to gather the right number of socks and shoes. Delve deeper into things, and you’ll find suggested lists for various activities, such as business meetings, spending time at the beach or more robust outdoor activities. It will even suggest an umbrella after having checked the forecast to see if one is necessary.

ENTRAIN (Android/iOS, free)

Finding yourself in an unfamiliar country, surrounded by strangers and in a culture very different to your own can be an exciting, but also very disorienting, experience. Jetlag increases this disorientation dramatically and can be a real problem, eating into your vacation time or causing stress because you need to be alert for a business meeting. Developed by the University of Michigan, Entrain is designed to help you manage your sleep patterns between time zones by incrementally changing your sleep schedule until you are in synch with the new time zone. With graphs and user-shared information, it’s a truly crowd-sourced solution to an awkward problem.

WORLDMATE (Android/iOS, free)

Worldmate is a one-stop-shop for travelers on the go. With flight tracking and alerts, hotel recommendations and car reservations, every aspect of your journey can be planned out in advance, right down to a detailed map of directions from the airport to your hotel. It will even inform you if there’s a hotel offering a better deal than the one you are currently considering. This is a must-have for business travelers, 10 million of whom have downloaded and use the app at present.

GOOGLE MAPS (Android/iOS, free)

Having mapped the world from just about every conceivable angle – from the sky, satellite and streets – Google Maps are one of the best-used resources that can be found online. Get up-to-the-minute travel updates, information on businesses (from opening hours to contact numbers), detailed directions and a host of other information. And thanks to a recent update, you can now access Google Maps without a data connection. Just download the map for the region you are visiting, and you’ll have all that information available offline (with the exception of satellite images and traffic reports).

ACCUWEATHER (Android/iOS, free)

The weather used to be a much simpler thing. Someone on the television would display a map of a country or region with half a dozen county-sized icons displaying sunshine, cloud or (worst of all) a mixture of both. And that was all you got for the day. Fortunately, things have changed dramatically since then. Now, not only can you get up-to-the-minute weather reports, you can help create them yourself. This is the work of Accuweather, which provides a huge amount of information, including humidity levels, visibility, wind speed and sunrise/sunset times. It even has a feature that cuts through the sterile facts and figures, cross-checks temperature and wind speeds to tell you what the weather feels like. All this, and the ability to tell someone that the rain will stop in the next two minutes, will make you feel more in control.

GOOGLE TRANSLATE (Android/iOS, free)

Back to Google for another of their excellent innovations. Google Translate will deal with all of your language issues, detecting languages automatically, two-way translated conversations and the ability to recognise pictograms that you draw with a finger. If you take a photo of a sign or notice that you can’t read, the app will superimpose the translated text over the top of it.

XE CURRENCY (Android/iOS, free)

With over 20 million downloads, the XE Currency converter is a must-have tool for anyone abroad. See live rates for every currency on earth, and historic charts of currency movements so you can see how things have moved recently. You can calculate prices in real time and if you’re not online, it will store the latest dates until you are connected again. You can even check the prices of all precious metals around the world, just in case you want to pick up some platinum while you’re buying postcards.

JT TRAVEL APP ( Android/iOS, free)

If you’re using one of our prepaid international SIM cards (and why wouldn’t you?), the JT Travel App is the perfect companion. Access your phone records to see exactly what you’ve been spending and when, use the app to top-up your account and check your phone numbers. You can also find local weather details and a currency converter.


April 20, 2016


WHAT IS CALL BACK AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

If you’ve been researching which type of Telestial SIM you need for your vacation or travel plans, you may have seen reference to the phrase “call back”. This is not some vague promise to get back to you, but rather a clever bit of technology that helps you save even more money on your international calls.

Traditional calls are pretty simple – you dial the number, and the signal travels in one direction via your phone to the phone of the person you are calling. Since you are the person who started the call, you are the one who pays for it. But when you are in another country, the cost of these calls can start to get expensive. It’s much cheaper to receive a call, but then that leaves you with two problems: firstly, the person on the other end will be charged more for an international call, and secondly, they are probably not psychic and won’t know that you want to speak to them.

Call back makes it so that both of you are receiving the call. Here’s how it works: you dial the number as normal. Instead of giving you a ringing tone and connecting you straight away, your phone hangs up and calls you back. When you answer, you’ll hear the ringing tone just as if you’d made a regular call, and as soon as it is answered, your call can continue as normal.

It does take a little bit of getting used to. Because phones don’t traditionally work this way, our natural instinct is to hold the phone to our ear when we’ve dialed a number. It can be a bit of a shock (and a bit annoying) when your phone starts ringing while you’ve got it held to your ear, but any irritation is soothed right away when you realize that this is all in aid of saving you money.

Callback process chart


April 14, 2016

TRAVELING TO THE USA? CHECK OUT OUR NEW USA SIM PLANS

With over 10 years in the international SIM card business, we at Telestial like to think we know a bit about what you want and how to give you it. We have the connections (both business and digital) to find you the best deals and the lowest rates when you’re traveling, and we have a much better feel for our customers’ requirements than some of these newer companies.

Travel to the USA is at an all-time high, with 191 million visitors to North America in 2015. That figure is set to be even higher for 2016. And whether they’re visiting family, working at a summer camp, coming for a sporting event or just to drive down Route 66, we know what our customers want. We know that calls and texts have taken a back seat to the need for mobile data, and that we’re using more of it than ever before. That’s why we’ve just announced an overhaul of our prepaid USA SIM card plans.

The new SIM is unlimited in just about every respect. Domestic talk and texts are unlimited, as is data (albeit at reduced speeds once your high-speed allocation is exhausted). We’ve made it cheaper and easier to call the folks back home, with international calls at 19c and texts at 9c to over 80 destinations worldwide. And we’ve created some bundles to suit your needs, and to give you a little extra power on your data connection when you need it. The plans break down as follows:

USA Starter Pack TelestialThe Starter plan is for anyone looking to try the SIM on for size. As well as unlimited talk, texts and LTE data, you get $2.50 of free international credit and 250MB of high-speed 4G data. Because it’s a trial plan, the expiry terms are a bit shorter – two weeks – but the price is also much lower – just $29.

Unlimited USA SIM Card TelestialThe Unlimited plan costs $49 and comes with $10 of international calling credit, and 1GB of high-speed data access. This is enough for most users, giving you the ability to access maps or websites if you need them on the go.

Unlimited Plus USA SIM Card TelestialThe Unlimited plan is for heavier data users, offering a huge 2GB of high-speed LTE data. The SIM comes with $10 of international credit and costs $79.


If you need for more international credit or high-speed LTE data, add-ons are available for purchase at any time. Usage can be tracked through our free Travel App.

All our SIMs are multi-fit, and will plug into any unlocked handset. Alternately, if you need a travel handset (perhaps a lower-spec phone with excellent battery life, or a no-frills smartphone), all Telestial’s phones are sold unlocked and have dual SIM slots – meaning that you can bring your domestic SIM card with you while you travel. For more details, please check out our USA SIM card page here.


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