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Everything posted by Tesoro12

  1. Welp I whiffed on this one badly. Really disappointing as I had a ton of current production ones when I was on the island and thought I was familiar with the profile. Oh well, I'd agree with others that this didn't strike me as a phenomenal stick but based on my other experience with the 4, I'd mark it as an outlier. Either way, congrats to those who did! Kudos.
  2. Sure! You can look in my post history for my write up from April but both times I've gone (April and June of this year), the tour guide will bring you back to your bags (you have to lock them in a closet at the start), lock the door behind you and then pull fakes out of their purse or bag. The non cohiba fakes aren't terrible but anybody with a modicum of experience can tell. The cohiba on the other hand are atrocious. Mislabeled, glass top, etc.
  3. I think the lcdh is but the lounge there, churchills I believe?, definitely attempted to sell my group fakes when we were there last month. I was actually relatively upset, they were awful fakes. After I told him they were fakes and pulled out 3 cohiba from my bag (we had gone on a cigar journey that day to every shop in the city), he backed down. Afterwards, a friend who was in attendance but not a cigar smoker said he saw him pull a bag from a hidden compartment in the bar to stock the humidor before we went over (wanted to purchase to justify the lounge space we were taking up). I was disappointed needless to say. That being said, it's crazy that on my 2 trips I've only seen fakes twice; the Nacional and the Partagas Factory! @flinthills I'm traveling for work but picked up a few turbos last month in boxes and cartons so I can check Friday when I'm home although I'm sure far more knowledgeable members will be able to help you out in the meantime.
  4. Agreed. Living in Colorado we definitely see the variety of cultures and attitudes surrounding marijuana but I think those attitudes will likely evolve over time. Lest we forget that many people still view swisher sweets and black and mild as true cigars. There are varieties of sophistication in any hobby. I do happen to have a few friends working in the enterprise side of marijuana and I'm constantly fascinated by their stories and understanding of the growing process and the impact that even the slightest mineral can have on the finished product. I think I am fairly versed on cigars but could never in my life claim to have that kind of understanding on cigars. Additionally, from an enterprise perspective, it's a fascinating business. Not since the end of WW2 or prohibition have we seen an entire market spring up out of formerly illegal substances. The possibilities in terms of profits are vast. And speaking frankly, I completely agree with the legalize and tax strategy. Most countries struggle to truly adequately fund education and here in CO we see an extra 100-200 million per year solely for their use. I say kudos even though it leads us down the rabbit hole of eventually higher taxes on cigars as well as a "luxury" and "vice" item.
  5. The first one I've actually gotten! I was between the Upmann and the diplo, I just thought it lacked a pepper character I associate with dip. The wood flavor on this was somewhat similar to some other upmann I've had and so that's why I ultimately leaned that way
  6. They were out of the XL ones when I was there but definitely hoping they'll have it when I return next month. Also hoping for that pink marble.
  7. I thought Cayo Jutias was great but the drive is a real drag and it's definitely starting to get more "discovered". If you're in the area, I think it's worth a visit but even the 2hr drive from Vinales is pushing it in my opinion. I just smoked my first one of the mons bundle last week and was very intrigued. It's certainly a unique blend and I enjoyed it. The environment there was also really pleasing. Very quiet but refined and the coffee was great. Definitely looking forward to returning for a longer visit this time. We really are lucky to have such a short travel time. For me, it's about 5 hours of flying, 7ish with layovers but that's very reasonable. The costs of everything in Cuba was so cheap, and the people so cheerful, that I plan on returning at least annually.
  8. Day 8 we arrived at our casa to be delightfully surprised that it is on the 20th floor! We had a phenomenal view of the entire city. Our host, Alberto, and his partner, were super gracious and quickly checked us in and sent us in the direction of a music festival happening nearby. We headed out to the music festival and caught the last 20 minutes or so of a phenomenal festival until it ended. We walked down the malecon until we got close to the hotel nacional and we ducked in. Grabbed a few singles, 2 ashtrays and then headed out to the back patio for a quick smoke. Walked the caverns of the missile crisis, an incredibly awesome experience, and then left. We walked down to the melia Cohiba and then up all the way to Hotel Ambos Mundos. We found the area to be much too touristy and left before even hitting the catedral. We went to an unknown paladar for dinner. I'm hazy on the name but the food was nondescript so no reason to remember. We headed back to our casa and got to watch and listen to the city. Forgive the GIF below but it was a combination of a few exposure levels and I found it enjoyable. Day 9 we woke up and had a huge breakfast courtesy of our hosts. We went to the Partagas factory and discovered we needed to buy tickets in advance! No problem, we walked to the capitol. Then headed into the Iberostar Parque Central to buy tickets. Inside we found a nice cigar shop and picked up a box of the SLR Cuba ER. We headed back to the factory and arrived to be told that no cameras could be taken in. Our tour guide told me we could take pictures with our cell phones but unfortunately my cell phone camera cracked in Varadero and so the pictures turned out hazy. In the looby is a nice banner with the Cuban flag and the GR band. The first room was the stripping room where they pulled the center vein from the leaves. The second room was the rolling room where we saw how they rolled and actually got to chat with a few of the workers. I also learned an interesting tidbit that I had not known in my research prior. There is a desk at the front of the room and there will be a local student who reads the newspaper to the rollers in the morning, cover to cover. In the afternoons they sometimes read novels or biographies. The final few rooms were boxing and banding rooms. It was a unique experience for sure. Interestingly enough, the only time we saw fakes on the island was in the factory itself!! When we finished our tour, our tour guide took us to the room where they had locked our bags. She locked the door behind us and offered us some of the worst banded Cohiba's I've ever seen. After leaving the factory, we walked through downtown, visiting the revolucion plaza and the propaganda ministry. Finally we stopped at the American embassy (conveniently located directly next to the plaza dedicated to the anti-imperialists, no joke). We sat on the seawall of the Malecon and lapped up the sunset. Day 10 we headed to the cathedral next to Ambos Mundos simply to check it out. Again, we found it touristy and quickly left. We had to be at the airport in the early afternoon and I still had dreams of Monsdales so we grabbed our bags and headed to Club Habana. When we arrived we found quite simply the best humidor I came across during my time in Cuba. Phenomenal selection of Trinidad and Cohiba. Even a Noellas jar which I regret not snagging. I inquired about monsdales and the cashier played coy before bringing Jorge out for a chat. He sized me up and decided that my small purchase (a single bundle) was ok and deftly produced the bundle. We sat in the lounge and got a coffee and I had a Montecristo 4 to close out the day and then we snagged a cab to the airport. The duty free was out of anything good, even the maestro so I was stuck with some normal stuff but my rum palate isn't phenomenal so it will more than do for me. Overall, it was a phenomenal trip that I enjoyed so much that I'm bringing a group of friends back in June. The casa's are cheap and the airfare can be bought with points and so I'm looking forward to re-experiencing much of the sights and sounds of Havana. The Haul!
  9. Day 5 we took a long bus ride on the viazul to Vinales. The viazul bus was very nice, aside from each seat didn't stay upright and slowly reclined, and the stories about the air conditioning were real. We arrived in Vinales and walked to our casa, Casa Edel. The walk was great as we got accustomed to the city and the beautiful architecture and eclecticness of the colors and styles. All accommodations were booked via airbnb. Edel was phenomenal and had us set up with some mountain bikes as we arrived around 2pm. We grabbed the bikes and went for a ride into the hills and into some of the tobacco farms. We came across a nice guy who wanted to give us a tour of his farm and wasn't super pushy. He rolled us about 10 farm rolls and we paid 1CUC each which was worth it to me for the experience. We then biked to the Vegeuros farm but I had left my camera at home so no pictures. We finished the evening by going to 3J Bar and Tapas. Food was good but not great. Drinks were cheap and we grabbed 2 extras to go and walked down the main streets. We came across a group of kids playing a pickup game of baseball set against a backdrop of the setting sun and some large limestone Mogotes. This ended up being my favorite moment of our time in Cuba. I grew up playing baseball with my dad and it remains one of our strongest bonding points. Reflecting on that as these kids played with unbridled passion for the game and sipping a beer was something else. We walked back to the casa and saw all the families and children hanging out on their porches and playing in the street. We arrived back at the casa and ha a cigar (Partagas P2 tubo) on the porch while my wife and I read a book each. Of note, I'm not sure what I was thinking when I picked my book choices for this trip. I ended up with 3 books and 2 of them were about the extreme division of political ideas in the US and Edward Snowden. Not exactly uplifting topics for a relaxing vacation! Day 6 we woke up early and went into downtown to find a shared cab to Cayo Jutias. This was a somewhat "locals only" beach and was phenomenal. The drive to the beach was the sketchiest road I've been on in terms of maintenance. The taxi driver was swerving all over the road to avoid pot holes and the last 10 miles took over an hour because he had to drive so slowly. That being said, it had the clearest water (I went in up to my neck and could still see my individual toes) I've ever been in. The shoreline is nice for the majority of the coast and then peters off into this forest area where you can find some very nice secluded areas. My wife and I hung out in a few of those alcoves and walked the beach for about 4 hours. Beach was phenomenal and I'd highly recommend it for a relaxing day. When we came back to our casa, our casa owner was able to secure us reservations at balcon del valle. We arrived for dinner and were stunned by the view. The pictures below are entirely unedited and really still don't give a good way to grasp the immenseness of the view. The food was very good and we'd highly recommend the place for dinner. Tip: Pay your taxi driver double to pick you up at the end as getting a cab won't be easy. Day 7 we woke up before the sun so that we could do a sunrise hike. We met up with our guide and took a cab into the park outside Vinales. We hiked up the Mogotes for about an hour and arrived at a farm at about mid mountain. We were given coffee and watched the sunrise over the Mogotes. The mist is still in the valley and watching it burn off as the sun comes up was an experience itself. We then toured their coffee facilities and saw their plants, the roasting and cracking areas and tools and purchased a few pounds of coffee that were some of the oiliest beans I've seen. As we were hiking down we came across a scene that looked like something out of jurassic park. We hiked around the valley for about 2 more hours before catching a cab back into the town center, grabbing our bags and a taxi to Havana. Along the way on our last piece of the hike, we came across this tobacco drying barn set against the mogotes.
  10. Hey all! I've been putting off making this post but you all have given me so much in my time on the forum that I knew I needed to give back in my small, but hopefully special for somebody, way. Background: I've been smoking cigars for about 10 years now and been getting much more into cubans in the last 4years or so. I watched a few docs and saw a few different pictures of Cuba and knew that I needed to go. When I took a new job with an unlimited and flexible vacation policy, I knew how I was going to take advantage of it. So I convinced my wonderful wife to do a 10 day trip, 5 days in Varadero with only drinking and beach for the wife and then Vinales for 2.5 days and Havana for 2.5 days for me. Without further ado, let's dive in. Varadero (days 1-5): We stayed at the melia las americas. My wife and I went to an adults only resort for our honeymoon 3 years back and swore that we'd only go to them from that point forward. The hotel was nice enough, food was miserable but all-inclusive is definitely going to do that. Got to play a round of golf at the Vardero golf club (rental clubs were atrocious but it was only $30 for the cart rental). Course was nice enough and it was great to get off the resort for awhile. The beach was great and on day 3 we walked down to the LCDH in plaza las americas. Overall the selection and service was acceptable but not astounding. The #1 thing I found there was a box of sir winnies which I immediately bought. I also purchased about 3lbs of coffee as they had a massive selection. Their singles selection was lackluster and the staff actually screwed me on the purchase (didn't feel like calling them out over $5) of about 7 singles. Our last night there we went to the Hotel Xanadu (An estate that the DuPont family had owned) and went up to the top floor. The entire top floor is windows and so the sunset was astounding. There was also live music although the drinks were more expensive (5$). On day 5 we got a very, very early cab to the viazul station where purchasing a ticket was very easy. Pictures below: Because of the length of my write-ups for Vinales and Havana, I've moved those sections to new posts.
  11. I'm traveling through tomorrow night so am unable to take a picture, can provide if needed although I'm fairly sure I won't be near the top so it won't matter. Ended up at 215.7lb which was a drop of slightly less than 10kg. It was great to have some added motivation, wish I could have done better but looking forward to shedding a bit more over the next few months. Additionally, it was the perfect incentive to get me back to the gym and I added some decent muscle mass, skewed my weight totals but I am feeling better at where I'm at with my body which is great. @El Presidente, thank you so much for putting this on! It's a great way to work together at a common goal.
  12. Was in Cuba last week. Actually saw quite a plethora of winnies. A mastercase at the varadero lcdh as well as at both the parque central and melia cohiba. Picked up 2 boxes and the wrappers on all of them looked pretty good. Did pick through a bit in Varadero as a few of the boxes looked very rough. That being said, based on the quantity I saw, it wouldn't surprise me to see a bit of a resurgence this year in production.
  13. @Corylax18 Southwest was the easiest for us in terms of flights. The only flights from Denver that don't include Red-eyes or significant layovers. Cheap too! Where are you located around Denver? It looks like we'll rent bikes from the casa that we are staying at (villa los reyes) and bike through some coffee and tobacco farms the day before. Catching the Viazul bus from Havana at 11:15 and ideally getting into Vinales around 3pm. Then we'll be doing the sunrise hike with Fidel from at cuban style (highly recommended according to Tripadvisor). Apparently the valley keeps a barrier of mist overnight and so the sunrise is spectacular. I'll definitely let you know how both those excursions go!
  14. Ken, that was phenomenal. Imagining the visual of you stammering apologies with your demented grin got me laughing ear to ear. Looking forward to hopefully a somewhat less eventful hiking trip vs what you lot had.
  15. Down to 216.6 this morning. Making progress, not quite as fast as I'd like but my eating habits will do that....
  16. Hey all! Headed to Cuba next month. My wife and I love hiking in Colorado and we want to head out in Vinales. Does anybody have an experience hiking there? Any favorite paths or trails? We prefer higher altitude views rather than flat meadows or roads through the tobacco farms. Appreciate any advice!
  17. I'll be out of town this weekend so got it over with today. Been sick the last week or so so haven't been able to work out. The dehydration might be bringing that # down anyways... We'll see next month if it's real or not.
  18. Went to the gym 5x a week for 3 weeks. Have to go to Vegas for 3 days for a meeting, tack on 3 to stay for the SB and I'm afraid to get on my scale. Whew boy that was not a good trip for this contest!
  19. Well I attempted last year and didn't even make it to the end before I let work interfere in the workout regimen. Joined a gym across the street from the office and hoping to go at least 3x a week on lunch. 234lb equaling 106.14kg if Google is to be believed. Aiming to get down about 35lb during this competition and down 50lb overall this year. Lofty goals make good men mad.....
  20. I wanted to participate last year and missed the deadline. Made sure that mistake didn't repeat itself! Emailed Di. Thanks!
  21. I'll be in. Last year didn't go quite so well for me but I've signed up for a gym and am hopefully starting down the right path. Need to lose about 45 lbs to be more comfortable. Good Luck All!
  22. That's phenomenal! I can't wait to pick up the normal nacional ashtray on my trip in May but this one is also particularly memorable. Wouldn't mind one like this as a "consolation" prize.
  23. My standard is either a French press or cold brew coffee with a small bit of cream. Otherwise for non alcoholic I stick to water.
  24. Merry Christmas all! It was a balmy 50 degrees here in Denver. Had a fantastic morning cigar of a Montecristo no 4 from 2010 and a party e2 to polish off the evening. Happy Holidays everyone and hope everybody has a safe and merry new years as well.
  25. Strong praise from the Halfwheel crew on the model that our host is selling. From my time reading this particular blog, Patrick (the writer) is particularly hard on reviews but he had strong praise for the traveler. Thought others might be interested in case they were on the fence for purchasing. Halfwheel Cigar Traveller CT30

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