The Magic of Mendoza, Argentina & the Vendimia

Selection of Malbec wine bottles on display

Are You planning travel to Argentina? Thinking about places to visit and when to go? We have a great recommendation for you! One of the most important festivals in Argentina takes place at the end of February through the first week of March. The Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (The Grape Harvest National Festival) celebrates the most important export of Mendoza, and perhaps all of Argentina…wine.

Settled in 1561 by Pedro del Castillo, the city of Mendoza  is a relatively small city. It even feels smaller because of it’s quaint tree lined streets, and welcoming locals. The population of Mendoza center is 115,000 but climbs to 1 Million if you include the “metro” area. It encompasses 21 square miles and sits at 2,400 feet above sea level. The region is best known for it’s wine and olive oil production, especially for growing Malbec grapes. Because of it’s diverse terroir, Mendoza boasts some of the best Malbec wine in the world. Its varying bouquets are based on assorted soil, altitude and temperatures. Grapes are grown here from 2000 feet to 5000 feet above sea level. Nicolas Catena Zapata is the person who pioneered growing at such high altitudes since 1994.

The Vendimia

The Vendimia attracts thousands of South American artists, tens of thousands of tourists (especially wine enthusiasts) to Mendoza.  They celebrate all 18 of the provinces that make up the State of Mendoza.

Celebrations aren’t limited to just this time, though. All through the month of February each of the 18 provinces of Mendoza have celebrations and ceremonies related to the wine harvest. This time of year is very special for the entire region. You will be able to have very unique experiences during the wine crush. We suggest roaming around the outlying areas of Mendoza center too. Enjoy lots of wine tastings, rent bicycles or hire a driver and take a tour of the whole region.

This year the schedule of the Vendimia is from February 26 through March 6th:

February 26th –  ‘Blessing of the fruits’ ceremony.

March 3rd –  1st parade of Vendimia ‘Queens’ competing for the title of “Queen of Vendimia”, crowding the city streets, throwing fruit and even giving out bottles of wine.

March 4th –  ‘Carousel of Vendimia’ This is a morning time parade featuring cowgirls in traditional outfits on horseback

Night of March 4th – The ‘Central Act’ is a fabulous production including over 1000 participants, and ends with the coronation of the ‘Queen of Vendimia,’ and with fireworks from the nearby Cerro de la Gloria in General San Martin park. This is the quintessential celebration when Mendocinos (what the locals refer to themselves as) and visitors take to the streets and parties to share the local elixir.

March 5th –This is a repeat performance of the previous night with additional Argentinian and international artists.

March 6th– A third night repeating the grand finale celebration with additional national artists.

Getting There

Depending on your itinerary you can fly into Mendoza ‘s international airport “Aeropuerto Internacional Gobernador Francisco Gabrielli” (MDZ). This traveler chose to first fly into Santiago, Chile where we stayed a few nights to explore that area before flying from Santiago, over the Andes, to MDZ. Argentina also has great bus lines, and there are even first class lie flat seats available from Buenos Aires for less than $100…but make sure to book a window seat to get great views of the countryside!

Your time in Mendoza and South America will be very memorable, and you will want to stay in touch while you are there. Be sure to get connected using the OneSimCard Universal E international SIM card or the eSIM World E international SIM card. Data rates in Argentina start at $13.00 for 500MB plan on the eSIM World E international SIM card for travelers. OneSimCard is the leader in global roaming SIM cards catering to international travel with access to hundreds of networks in 200+ countries and territories.

 

Poland Is a Land of Rich History and Natural Wonders

Wawel Castle in Poland
Wawel Castle and Cathedral in Krakow

Poland is a country in Central Europe known for its rich history, culture, and natural beauty. The country has a diverse landscape that ranges from the rugged Tatra Mountains to the sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea. Poland has been shaped by its complex history, which has left behind a wealth of architectural and cultural treasures for visitors to explore. From the medieval Old Towns of Krakow and Gdansk to the communist-era architecture of Warsaw, Poland has something to offer for every type of traveler.

One of the top tourist attractions in Poland is the Wawel Castle in Krakow. This magnificent royal castle sits on a hill overlooking the city and is a symbol of Poland’s rich history. The castle has been the residence of Polish kings for centuries and is home to a collection of art, artifacts, and treasures. Visitors can take a tour of the castle, which includes the Royal Chambers, the Crown Treasury, and the State Rooms.

Another top attraction in Poland is the Old Town of Krakow, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Old Town is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in Poland, including the Main Market Square, St. Mary’s Basilica, and the Cloth Hall. Visitors can also take a stroll down the picturesque streets and enjoy the many cafes, restaurants, and shops.

The city of Gdansk is another must-see destination in Poland. The city is known for its beautiful Old Town, which is home to the famous Long Market, the Neptune Fountain, and St. Mary’s Church. Gdansk is also known for its shipyards, which played a key role in the Solidarity movement and the fall of communism in Poland. Visitors can take a tour of the shipyards and learn about the city’s role in the country’s history.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is another top attraction in Poland. This former Nazi concentration camp is a powerful reminder of the Holocaust and the atrocities committed during World War II. Visitors can take a tour of the camp and learn about the history of the Holocaust, as well as the lives of the prisoners who were held there.

Finally, the Tatra Mountains, which are located in the southern part of Poland, are a must-see destination for nature lovers. The mountains offer a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and rock climbing. Visitors can take a cable car to the top of the mountain and enjoy the breathtaking views. The Tatra Mountains are also home to several beautiful lakes and waterfalls, which are perfect for swimming and fishing.

In addition to these top tourist attractions, Poland also offers a wide range of other activities and sights for visitors to enjoy. The country is home to many national parks and nature reserves, as well as a number of historic sites and monuments. Visitors can also enjoy the country’s rich cultural heritage by attending a traditional folk music concert, visiting a folk art museum or take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Polish dishes.

When it comes to accommodation and transportation, Poland has a wide range of options to suit all budgets. There are many hotels and hostels in the major cities, as well as vacation rentals and camping sites in the countryside. The public transportation system is well developed, and visitors can easily get around by train, bus, or metro.

In conclusion, Poland is a country that offers a wealth of cultural, historical, and natural attractions for visitors to explore. From the medieval Old Towns of Krakow and Gdansk to the communist-era architecture of Warsaw, the Wawel Castle, the Old Town of Krakow, the city of Gdansk, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, and the Tatra Mountains, Poland is a must-visit country for everyone.

If you are travelling to Poland, don’t forget to pack your OneSimCard Universal E or download our OneSimCard eSIM World edition SIM card(s). You will undoubtably want to stay in touch with and share your memories with your family and friends while in Poland. OneSimCard offers great rates for roaming in Poland with it’s EU data packages starting at $29.00 for 5GB of data.

Discover the Majesty of Switzerland & Share with Your Switzerland SIM Card

Lauterbrunnen Alps
Lauterbrunnen Valley and Alps

Switzerland is known worldwide as one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is no wonder why with the towering Alps, lush green valleys, sapphire blue lakes, and varied cultures. Switzerland is an international destination for people with varied interests.

Introduction

Switzerland is also (and officially) known as the Swiss Confederation. It is made up of 26 Cantons, with Federal offices located in Bern. The population of Switzerland is ~8.2 million, with ~1/4 of the population being expats from other (mostly European) countries. This makes Switzerland the country with the most foreign population.

The climate of Switzerland is as varied as its population. There are three main geographies of Switzerland. The Alps, the Swiss Plateau, and the Jura mountains. Most of the population reside on the Plateau where all of the major cities are located. The climate is temperate, but ranges wildly depending on the locality. You will find year-round snow and glaciers in the mountains, but also palm trees in the southern plateau.

Regions

The Alps

The Alps are among the highest and most rugged mountains in the world. The highest peak is Dufourspitze. It is the second highest in Western Europe at 4,736m and is a challenge for any climber. They were formed by the collision of the African and European plates, and continue to grow.

Besides climbing, the Alps are home to a myriad of winter sports like skiing (alpine and cross-country), sledding, snowboarding, and summer sports like para-gliding and skydiving.  For the less active, the valleys in the Alps offer absolutely stunning vistas and easy hikes. One of the favorites is the Lauterbrunnen valley. Lauterbrunnen is home to the highest railroad in Europe (Jungfrau Railway), taking you to the peak of Jungfraujoch at 3,454m.

The Plateau

The Plateau is where you will find all of the major cities and beautiful lakes. With Zurich and Basel in the north, Bern centrally located and Geneva in the South, the Plateau is a collection of rolling hills, lakes, rivers and culinary delights like cheese and chocolate. (We recommend a trip to the picturesque town of Gruyere where the cheese is king and the views are stunning. kick back and enjoy some fondue!)

Gruyere
The cobblestone streets of Gruyere

 

Lake Geneva is easily the most famous of the large lakes, but Lakes Zurich, Lucerne, and the twin lakes of Brienz & Thun are all equally beautiful. If you visit the twin lakes, stay in Interlaken and you will have easy access to both lakes! You can enjoy swimming, boating and hikes around the lakes.

The Jura

The Jura mountains aren’t as famous as the Alps, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting. It is the demarcation between France and Switzerland. The Jura aren’t as tall and rugged as the Alps, but there is still lots of great opportunities for hiking, climbing, skiing, and cycling. This region is also known for its watchmaking industry. You can even be an “Apprentice for a day” and build your own watch!

The people of Switzerland are as varied as its geography. The landlocked country boarders France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstien. This mixing of cultures creates a diversity in language as well as food, Local dishes are pulled from all of these countries and tend to align country to which that canton is closest. For example, one of our favorite lasagnas was enjoyed in the south, closer to Italy, while in Zurich we had fantastic bratwurst closer to Germany. This melding of cultures also shows in languages spoken, and traditional dress.

Getting Around

When travelling to Switzerland from international origina you will typically Fly into Geneva or Zurich. You may also find flights into Bern, but this is smaller international airport, and is typically used on a regional basis. Once you are in country, the train system is a fantastic way to get around. The trains run remarkably on schedule and are always clean and modern. You will find that the local trains are also used by schools to transport their students, so don’t be surprised to share the ride with lots of kids.

Speaking of trains, we recommend the GoldenPass Line for sightseeing. The GoldenPass trains are designed with huge windows  so you won’t miss a bit of scenery. There are 3 main lines: 1) Montreaux > Zweissimmen, 2) Zweissimmen > Interlaken Ost, & 3) Interlaken Ost > Lucerne. You can break up the trips stopping for a night or two in certain areas (we highly recommend the Lauterbrunnen Valley) and enjoy what these localities have to offer. You can also join an organized tour who will handle all of the bookings and activities along the way.

Summary

Switzerland is a truly majestic country with varied geography and cultures. There are many, many activities to enjoy year-round for people of all ages and physical abilities. We recommend travelling in June or July for the best weather. So grab your passport, pack your binoculars to make sure to see all of the stunning vistas and don’t forget your OneSimCard eSIM World or standard global roaming SIM card (the Switzerland SIM card we recommend is the Universal card) because you will want to stay connected to share all of your memories!

The Top 5 Cities in the USA for Fourth of July Fireworks

Fourth of July Fireworks

Now that the USA has dropped its requirement for a negative COVID-19 test, travelling to the USA is much easier, and you may have plans to come to the USA over the Fourth of July holiday. If you want to see the “Rocket’s Red Glare,’ here is the list of the top 5 fireworks displays in the country.

1. Washington D.C.

When: July 4, 2022, 9PM

The top choice is a bit of an obvious one. The seat of the federal government puts on an amazing display of fireworks. Fireworks areat the National Mall & launched from both sides of the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This location is no mistake. All of the monuments honoring USA’s heroes are an amazing backdrop for the occasion. Access to the National Mall is simple and there is no bad seat.

2. New York City

When: July 4, 2022 8PM

The 46th annual showing of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks is set to take off this year.  It promises to be one of the biggest fireworks shows ever in NYC with thousands of fireworks and synchronized to  both patriotic and popular music.

The best viewing areas are along the East River and you will need to get there early enough to claim the best spots. Some viewing areas will fill up completely and will close to additional viewers.

3. Boston

When: July 4, 2022, 8PM

Boston’s fireworks show is on the Esplanade along the Charles River. The Boston Pops Orchestra along with Pop music stars including Chaka Khan play music under the Hatch Memorial Shell. One of the trademark portions of the concert is the kick off of the fireworks with the Pops playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture accompanied with cannons firing.

Viewing the display is best anywhere along the Esplanade, or across the River along Memorial drive. The best spots are right in front of the Hatch Shell, but you will need to come very early and be prepared to run to grab the best spots.

4. Denver

When: July 3, 2022, at 9:30PM

Celebrating on the Eve of Independence Day, Denver display is at the downtown’s Civic Center Park. The event starts early at 5PM  and includes music, food trucks and a performance by the Colorado Symphony.

The fireworks take off from the City and County Building across the street from the park. and there is no bad place to view the display.

5. Nashville

When: July 4, 2022, at 9:30PM

Music City’s celebration is amazing if you like live music. Known for its Country and Western music Nashville’s event features load of local (and world renowned) musicians and the Nashville Symphony. This year’s fireworks will be the largest in history for Nashville (a lot of cities are outdoing themselves because of the multi-year COVID-19 hiatus).

Admission is always free, but Nashville does have VIP tickets available for a fee.

Don’t forget to stay connected!

When you travel to the USA for the Fourth of July, there will be many shareable moments, and you will want to make sure to have a reliable data connection while in country. OneSimCard recommends the Universal SIM card or the eSIM World when roaming in the USA. Our international SIM card offers low rates so you can send all of your colorful fireworks pictures to your friends back home.

Oaxaca: Moles & Mezcal The Culinary Capital of Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico scenic streets

Surely you have heard of Cancun, Acapulco, and Mexico City, but has travel to Oaxaca ever crossed your mind? If you are a foodie, or if you just love Mexican cuisine, you need to make sure that you add Oaxaca to your bucket-list of must-visit places.

About Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca de Juarez (the city of Oaxaca) is located in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. The city center is about 287 miles south (462 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City, and sits at 5,102 feet above sea level (so the air is thin!). The population of Oaxaca de Juarez is just over 300,000 (as of 2014). The valley has been settled for over 13,000 years by the Zapotec and Mixtec people, and is the most diverse State in Mexico because it is inhabited by 18 of the 65 ethnic groups of Mexico.  This diversity adds to it’s culinary greatness!

The weather in Oaxaca is very predictable, and typically on the warmer side. The average highs range from 80 degrees Fahrenheit (~27 Celsius) to 90 F (~32 C) and April is the warmest month. The rainiest months are June and July with an average of 11 days of rain in each month, but many months average 0 days.

Getting There & Around

Travel to Oaxaca is simple. You arrive by air at Xoxocotlán International Airport (OAX). OAX is about 7 miles (11.6 km) south of the city center. In 20 minutes by private taxi (you buy tickets at the window to the left as you leave the terminal for 150 Pesos), or shared van (for 48 Pesos). Once you are in the city, you will find how pedestrian-friendly it is. Look for the  Andador de Macedonia Alcala pedestrian walkway. Walking is the best form of local transportation! If you are looking to leave the center of town, Taxis are a good option for about 100 Pesos/hour. Buses are also an option and can take you all over the State of Oaxaca, or colectivos for local routes around the city.

Cuisine

Traditional Mexican food from Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca is truly a food mecca. Travel and Leisure consistently lists this small city as one of the top 10 cities in the world for a bite to eat, and in 2020 it listed Oaxaca as #1. We also mentioned earlier the reason for this reputation is due in part to the cultural diversity of the State. The other factors are the abundance of local ingredients available to the kitchens, and, of course, food stalls of Oaxaca. Food is truly ingrained into the culture of the city; it is difficult to walk a few paces without getting a waft of a mole or hot chocolate. Moles are what really put Oaxaca on the food map. The cooks of Oaxaca cover, spread and stuff their own moles into pretty much everything they cook.

Another delight this area is known for is the production of Mezcal. In fact, people debate if, in order for this libation to be called Mezcal, it must be produced in Oaxaca. Most of the Mezcal is indeed produced in Oaxaca; about 70%. Unlike “Tequila” which is distilled only from the “Blue Agave,” Mezcal can be made from a mixture of over 100 agave varieties. This is the reason why Mezcals are so diverse in their flavor profile. Mezcals are also much smokier than Tequilas. Their smokiness is obtained by the way the piña (core of the agave) is cooked with coal and wood in earthen pits, as opposed to Tequila which, because it is steamed in ovens,  no additional taste is added. Mezcal is a real artisan beverage, and age-old recipes from across the state differ wildly.

Festival Time!

When What Where Theme
Late October/Early November Day of the Dead Oaxaca City, Xoxocotlan, San Augustin Elta, and elsewhere An amalgamation of a Mesoamerican holiday and Christian’s All Saints day.
Last 2 Mondays in July Guelaguetza Oaxaca City, Zaachila, and elsewhere Celebration of the diverse cultures and cuisines of the Oaxaca state.
End of February – beginning of March Feria Anual de Teposcolula Teposcolula Annual Fair featuring music, local cuisine, and traditional sports.
Middle of March San Agustinillo Eco Fest San Agustinillo Conference embracing ecological concerns with fishing tips, whale watching and photography exhibitions.
End of April – May Fiestas de Mayo Istmo de Tehuantepec Just a reason to throw a raucous bash!
2nd to last weekend of July Feria Regional de Hongos Sillvestres Cuajimoloyas Translated as Regional Wild Mushroom Fair, celebrates, well, the mushroom!
October 3rd 3 de Octubre Miahutlan de Porfirio Diaz Celebration of the victory of General Porfirio Diaz over the French in 1866.
October 31st & November 1st Feria Grafica Oaxaca Oaxaca City Showcase of local artists of multiple disciplines.
Mid-November Mazunte Jazz Fest Mazunte The name says it all, but also showcases Reggae, Rock, Trova, Afrobeat and more.
December 23rd Noche de Rabanos Oaxaca City Competition of farmers carving nativity scenes using vegetable, because why not!

Oaxaca Mexico Summary

Oaxaca is a must-visit region for anyone with taste buds! There is no limit to the activities around the region beyond just enjoying moles and sipping on Mezcal because of the diverse topography. The mountains are vast, and the beaches are beautiful. Because of this diverse landscape, a day could bring you from the top of a mountain and into a low valley, then off to the beach.

Don’t forget to bring your OneSimCard International SIM card also because service in the area is great, and Mexico is included in Zone A for our Universal and eSIM World SIM cards. Being in Zone A,  means plenty of data for a very reasonable cost!

What is the Best Travel eSIM Card & Why?

Phone that includes eSIM.

We discussed eSIMs (embedded SIM cards) in a previous post. eSIMs aren’t all created equally, though. An “international eSIM card” is a bit of a misnomer. International / travel eSIMs are the of roaming SIMs as physical SIMs move into the past. The reason for the change is because device manufacturers save space on the device by replacing the physical SIM and it with eSIM technology. eSIMs are probably better called “SoftSIMs.” They are simply nothing more than a piece of software downloaded into devices enabled to understand this technology. What makes for the best travel eSIM then?

The world is becoming more and more data centric, so most eSIM providers only include data usage, They don’t bother to support voice or text. However, voice and text remain important for the international roaming SIM market. The growth of data centric applications like WhatsApp, Facetime, Telegram, Skype, etc. are changing the way providers deliver their services. You can communicate with friends and family, post messages and even place video calls with data only. This doesn’t work well for the international traveler, and is a major problem/flaw. It forces the international traveler to use another provider to place calls and send and receive SMS. This is because these roaming eSIMs don’t include a phone number. Without a phone number you can’t call your Uber driver, talk to your bank, call the restaurant that you are running late, etc.

This is where OneSimCard international eSIMs really stands out. Our international eSIMs support Data, Voice & Text messaging. Our SIMs include an EU based phone number and you can also choose alternate phone numbers (Personal Extra Numbers, or PENs). You can get in-country phone numbers in 70+ destinations with OneSimCard eSIMs.  You can set your alternate number as your caller ID so that your phone appears to be a local caller. What’s more is you can get a USA phone number that is a true mobile number. This USA mobile number allows you to receive 2FA verification messages required by banks, the IRS, and pretty much any other US company.

Usability is another important feature making an eSIM the best international eSIM.  eSIMs should be simple to install and have flexible plans. Flexibility is key as travel patterns. Meant for a single country, most eSIMs aren’t flexible because you can’t move between countries. OneSimCard eSIMs are designed to be used over and over for years, and in many different countries. Our plans are flexible; even in a single trip. We also offer 2 different eSIMs: our World eSIM for the greatest # of destinations, & our Asiania eSIM for use especially in Asia and Oceania.

The amount of support and applications available from the eSIM provider is the last factor for rating travel eSIM cards. OneSimCard is one of the only international eSIM providers with its own VOIP app (available in Google Play and Apple APP Store)for US and Canadian phone numbers to reduce the cost of Voice and Text services. OneSimCard also has eSIM apps in Apple App store and Google play. You can manage all aspects of your travel eSIM right in these apps. Multi-lingual customer service is also available by phone, email and online.  

You need to read the fine print and look at the reviews for eSIM service providers before you buy. There has been a rapid growth in this space, and COVID forced some closed. We have been in business for over 27 years, and have a 4.5 star rating with Shopper Approved with 2500+ reviews.

More information about our international roaming eSIM is available on our website: https://www.onesimcard.com/esim or simply scan this QR code. This page will help you further understand why the OneSimCard international eSIM for travel is the best option for your eSIM enabled phone when you are abroad. You can also reach out to us, and ask any questions that you may have. 

Wishing you safe travels!

Discovering Slovenia: Trekking and Treats

Lake Bled and the Church of the Mother of God on the Lake
Lake Bled & Church of the Mother of God on the Lake

One of our favorite, just beginning-to-be-discovered, countries is Slovenia. Nestled between Italy to the West, Austria to the North, Croatia to the South and Hungry to the West, Slovenia offers many activities for everyone. Many travelers enjoy the great trekking and skiing offered. However, there is also a lot of history, culture and culinary offerings available. We think the best time to enjoy Slovenia is in early fall. This is when tourism is slowing and the crowds have dissipated from the hot spots, but there is still plenty to do.

An average day in Slovenia may include a morning hike in the Julian Alps or along the many beautiful lakes or rivers. Then a visit to a museum for an afternoon. Finally, a fantastic dinner to top off the day. Prices in Slovenia are still very reasonable, especially in the more rural villages. Even the larger cities like the capital, Ljubljana, have lots of shops, restaurants and activities at very reasonable prices

A magical town to spend a day or two is Bled. Its proximity to activities, the restaurants and sheer beauty of its surroundings make it a must see. You can take a walk around the lake (the Lake Bled Loop Trail) which is a 3.7 mile (6 km) easy hike. At the end of the hike, enjoy a walk through Castle Bled and enjoy some local food and drink in the courtyard while overlooking the iconic Church of the Mother of God on the Lake. If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can take a short trip to the Triglav National Park. Slovenia’s only National Park is a sight to behold where you can challenge yourself a little more with the moderate to expert hiking and climbing offered in the Julian Alps.

Entrance to Hisa Franko Casa
Hisa Franko Casa in the morning fog

Another must-do if you are a bit of a foodie, is to visit Hisa Franko Casa, located in Kobarid. When the Michelin Guide to Slovenia came out in 2019, Hisa Franko received 2 stars. It known for locally sourced, sustainable food. Hisa Franko is also listed as #21 of the top 50 restaurants in the world. (According to worlds50best.com) Ana Roš, the owner/Executive Chef, along with her husband Valter, operate this impressive restaurant which also has rooms to stay the night (highly recommended). There is also great hiking and a lot of WWI history in the town. We recommend the WWI museum in town and hiking nearby in old WWI bunkers and trenches.

All-in-all, Slovenia is a must visit country, especially for those with a love of nature, and delicious cuisine. But don’t worry…Slovenia is also a very well-connected country for technology as well. This makes sharing your gorgeous pictures of the hikes you take and food you eat easily shared when you use your OneSimCard International SIM. We suggest the Universal or eSIM World. This is because of the data packages available for Solvenia, like the 14 day 10,000MB EU data package for $57.00USD. So pack your bags, insert your roaming SIM card from OneSimCard, and enjoy the beauty of Slovenia!