Photo of the day – Lunch in Serbia

Photo of the day
One of the best parts of traveling is indulging in a few vices. The “hey, I’m on vacation!” attitude enables you to order dessert, have a glass of wine with lunch, and not worry about the calories you’re taking in, especially as you figure you’ll burn them off walking around museums or hiking the countryside. This photo by Flickr user eolone in Serbia shows some of the best travel food groups: the sausage group, the fried group, even the “hey, I’m in Europe!” tobacco group. Just switch out the water for a beer and you’d have the perfect guilt-free (for now) vacation meal.

Enjoy any food vices on your last trip? Take a photo for our Gadling Flickr group and it could be our next Photo of the Day!

How to book a cigar tour


Cigar manufacturers are eager to host consumers. If you happen to be in Honduras or Nicaragua, your request for a tour of the facilities would probably be met with excitement and a warm welcome. But, you can get more than that. As the manufacturers and retailers struggle to overcome the effects of the global recession, many are arranging cigar-centric trips designed to host you from seed to ash.

Many cigar companies are partnering with tobacconists to arrange cigar tours for their customers. Camacho brings smokers down to Honduras to spend a few days at “Camp Camacho,” where they can tour the fields, see how cigars are rolled and smoke as much as you like. Rocky Patel and Drew Estate (which makes Acids and Javas) host groups as well, in Honduras and Nicaragua, respectively. My recent trip to Pepin Garcia’s factory was a first for the company, but I strongly suspect that many will follow. WhileDrew Estate is open to individual bookings, most of the cigar trips offered by manufacturers need to be arranged by cigar shops.

Your local retailer has the connections to make a cigar trip possible, so that’s where you need to start. Bring the idea up, and make sure there are enough people in the shop who share your interest. You’ll probably need about a dozen to make the trip happen (on my trip, De La Concha and Uptown Cigar, contributing roughly the same number of travelers each).
Since the cigar companies are eager to bring you to their facilities, you’ll generally be responsible for your airfare … and nothing else. Accommodations, meals and transportation are usually included, and you’ll be provided enough cigars to keep you busy – I had one lit pretty much all day every day. The details will vary with the cigar company. Those that have rooms on the premises will put you up inside the walls, and companies that don’t will arrange for you to stay in a local hotel.

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On your tour, you’ll become intimately familiar with the process of making cigars. From the tobacco fields, where the plants are bursting from the ground, to the factories, where legions of rollers showcase their dexterity, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the process by which your favorite stick reaches store shelves (and ultimately your humidor). At Pepin Garcia’s My Father operation, we saw everything, including the wood shop where the cigar boxes are built and printed. An estimated 70 pairs of hands are necessary to create a cigar, and w saw most of them.

At night, you’ll eat, smoke and hang out with the cigar company hosts and, more important, your fellow travelers. After all, what makes your favorite cigar shop special? It’s the people who smoke with you. This is what will turn your cigar trip into a memorable event.

Sicilian steals a New Year’s Eve away from his family

Some people will do anything to dodge family at the holidays. We’ll kick and scream or otherwise misbehave, but my new hero is a Sicilian man who risked getting a record to score a New Year’s Eve away from the wife and relatives. The 35-year-old went to the police station and asked to be incarcerated for the evening. The cops refused, claiming that he needed to commit a crime before he could score accommodations in their establishment.

So, lacking any other option, the man went right next door to a tobacco shop, threatened the owner with a box cutter and grabbed some gum and other candy. Rather than take off, he hung around and waited for his ride the police, who arrived and arrested him for armed robbery.

No indication was given as to whether the turn-down service was to his liking, though it’s likely the price was right.

[Photo by harry525 via Flickr]

German airline to offer smoking, not non

How did this one get by me? An all-smoking airline!

Alexander Schoppmann is on the prowl for startup capital for an all-smoking airline. Once he gets the cash, he’s going to lease two Boeing 747s and run a route from Dusseldorf to Tokyo. This doesn’t do much for the few Americans who still prefer to light up, but if the Schoppmann can squeeze a profit out of this (which conventional airlines aren’t even doing), maybe he’ll export the idea.

If all goes according to plan, Smintair (for “Smoker’s International Airways) will go wheels up for the first time next year. Each plane will accommodate 138 passengers, with no economy seating. You’ll have to pay to play on Smintair, but if you have a serious tobacco jones, it could be worth the trouble – especially if you’re stuck on a plane from Germany to Japan.

Schoppmann is looking to use the upper deck as a passengers’ lounge, rather than cramming it with more seats. Smintair will be an upscale affair, so the poor and the nic-free should book their travel arrangements elsewhere. Flight attendants and pilots who aren’t interested in a smoke-filled workplace, the company says, need not apply.

The price tag is hefty: approximately $56 million. Part of this will pay for an older approach to pushing fresh air through the cabin – instead of the cheaper systems being used now. Even with the barriers, Schoppmann is optimistic. I guess the former stockbroker has some solid connections.

Cigar smokers: if you’re worried about discrimination, the hopeful founder remembers fondly the days when Lufthansa would serve a selection of Montecristos in flight.

[Via Blackbook]

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Mobile Ashtray Museum

MAMImagine a world where non-smokers and smokers live harmoniously. How do you picture it? What does it look like? Does the smell of cigarette smoke pollute the air or do you only catch whiffs of apple-pie, roses and other delightful scents floating in the air? I do not yet have a clear vision of what this harmonious world looks like, but Japan Tobacco seems to have one or a piece of one at least.

According to this Japan Times article the world’s third-largest cigarette-maker aims to push portable ashtrays so that smokers can place their butts in a safe place until further disposal and non-smokers can enjoy a landscape unblemished by discarded cigarettes. Are you feeling the harmony yet? The Mobile Ashtray Museum (MAM) is a private collection of manufacturer’s products from the past, but also an emporium selling more than 300 portable ashtrays. Other goods for up for grabs include lighters, cig cases, and all the JT-made cigarettes, of course. I mean, after you go check out all these sort-of cool devices to help keep butts off the ground, I mean you’re going to want to puff on something right? From the sound of this piece the smoking tourist might have somewhat of a blast in the so-called quirky museum, but the truly anti-tobacco minded will choke up and probably burst into flames at Japan Tobacco’s attempt to keep smokers smoking and therefore passing on their second-hand smoke, which is always the biggest issue with smokers anyway.

Right?