I have actually lost count of how many Partagas Festivals I have attended in Havana but I reckon this may well be my thirteenth. It’s rather confusing as I can’t seem to get a definitive answer whether this Festival was the 14th,16th or 21st depending on how you count them (!)
So after relaxing with a facial and massage at the Virgin Upper class lounge in Gatwick to prepare me for 10 ½ hours of no smoking I settled into my flat bed for my 57th trip to Havana !
The usual Partagas Short at Jose Marti ( smoking ban of course not particularly policed) and we headed straight over to the Melia Habana for a bit of a herf to get us in the Havana Festival mood 🙂 bought a box of Partagas E2’s ( which hardly lasted for the 4 days) and sipped a few HC7’s
My smoking chums and I spent a long day enjoying fabulous sunny and hot weather visiting the Indian Caves, Robaina’s Finca ( where the seedlings had just been planted) Pinar del Rio and beautiful Vinales which always looks like a postcard to me.
Herfed our way through a baggie of assorted smokes including E2’s,D5’s as well as Punch Serie D’Oro no.1 that my friend Zaffie had brought from London ( talk about bringing coals to Newcastle!) dinner at Prado Neptuno and smokes on the Terrace of the Nacional whilst listening to some good if not incredibly loud music ( maybe I am getting old but my friend Valerio assured me there are only too volumes in Cuba ‘ too loud’ and extremely loud’ !)
Someone emailed me to say that one side of the Nacional Terrace was now ‘no smoking’ but I couldn’t see anyone without a cigar in their hand !
Herfed at Partagas VIP and caught up with a friends from all over the world as ever and bought some cracking Partagas books with robustos and piramides- v. cool. Smoked a few at Palacio too before doing a bit of a walking tour round old Havana including the rum factory, La Bodegita del Medio,Floridita,Villa Nueva, Camra Oscura and a great ice cream shop where I introduced my friends to the pleasures of smoking a good Havana whilst eating vanilla ice cream !
This was possibly the best Partagas Festival I have ever attended as the venue for the gala dinner was at the incredible ‘Tropicana’ which beats any and every show I have seen in the world ( and I have seen quite a few!) Great bunch of friend at our table including Amir and Tim from Canada who I meet up with at every Festival, Rob Fox from JJ, Zaffie and Arturo and cigar journalist Nick Hammond. We were treated to cigar after cigar throughout the evening together with copious amounts of wine and rum-finishing off with a bottle of HC7, very nice!
I bumped in to Colin Ganley from European Cigar Journal who gave me a new cigar book called ‘Le Snob’ which was a nice surprise as there’s a short chapter that I wrote for it with a nice photo of me ( no idea when that happened!)
Massimo from Italy ( no moustache this year!) conducted the auction in his inimitable style and was very successful in raising some 38,000 C.U.C. for charity- well done Massimo.
‘Amigo’s de Partagas’ were presented with fabulous boxes of special size and specially banded cigars and I will proudly display mine in my London humidor. The show followed the dinner and was as breath taking as ever. I’ll try and wham some movie clips on to our Facebook page in the next day or two
Herfed a few in the lounge at Jose Marti airport before the flight back home to finish a memorable Festival trip and my last overseas trip of the year. I think I have spent 6 months out of the UK this year so it’s good to be back at the office…..if only till the February’s Festival del Habanos