Day 1: Listen to the Streets
Posted: Jan 4, 2008 12:00am ET
There’s something mystical, even spiritual, about Havana. I landed yesterday in the great city from Cancún, Mexico, and I immediately felt like I had arrived in a very special place. You have all heard Havana called a cigar mecca, which it is, but it’s much more than that. It’s a place that oozes its opulent history. You breathe the air and it fills your heart and mind with a rich, almost decadent culture. The warm people, soulful music, hearty food, flavorful cigars, and strong rum electrify your senses. Every nook and cranny of the city’s crumbling façade seens to want to tell you a story.
I drove around the street from Old Havana with a couple of friends before arriving to my accommodation and I couldn’t get over how amazing the city is. I have been coming to Havana for 17 years now, and each visit is a new experience, a new adventure. It’s like reading a book and not knowing what each page will bring to you.
I was smoking a Partagas Serie D No. 4, the ubiquitous robusto, in the car, and it tasted spicy and rich, like a thick flavorful Cuban coffee. It was like meeting an old friend, who walks into a room to great you with a big smile and an open heart. You pick up the conversation where you left off and feel like you haven’t even been apart. I know that smoke well and it’s one satisfying cigar. It might be my go-to smoke on a daily basis. It never lets you down.
The Partagas robusto is now the most popular cigar in many of the key markets in Europe, particularly France. It’s hard to believe that the world has changed that much. It used to be the Montecristo petite corona, No. 4. People obviously want a quick smoke but they want more flavor as well. Nothing better than walking down the streets of Paris or sitting outside in a café terrace and smoking a lovely robusto.
I imagine I will be smoking a number of robustos this week in Havana. I have a few meetings with people from Habanos S.A., the global marketing and distribution company. They are very busy making the final arrangements on this year’s cigar festival, which starts on February 25. So I don’t expect much information. I will most likely get more from other sources. But it takes time.
Stay tuned. I am hitting the streets right now to discover what they have to tell me….
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