Travel Cuba: The Shopping Forecast
Saturday 01 May 1999
"A woman is only a woman," claimed a thoroughly politically incorrect Rudyard Kipling, "but a good cigar is a smoke." Cuba is claimed to be the source of the best cigars in the world, and the Travellers Survival Kit: Cuba (Vacation Work, pounds 9.99) gives useful tips on buying - and selling - the precious smokes.
In Havana there is a well-established black market in cigars, and people approach you in the street offering to do business. Such transactions are probably best avoided as the quality of the cigars is highly variable: one may taste like heaven, another like rags dipped in turpentine.
A beautifully wrapped and sealed box is not without its perils either: one tourist returned home to find that he had bought a large stone and a few tatty panatellas.
Even non-smoking travellers can subsidise their visit to Cuba by taking home their duty-free limit (50 cigars) and selling them at a substantial profit. The best tour of a cigar factory in Cuba is at the Palacio de Tabaco, right next to the Museum of the Revolution, in central Havana, which also has an excellent shop.
Try to go for the biggest and best-known (and make sure that the box has not been opened). Previous visitors have made good profits with Esplendidos (Cohiba) or Romeo y Julieta Churchills. A box of 25 can be bought for about $50 ($20 on the black market), and would cost pounds 585 or pounds 325 respectively in the UK from The Havana Club, 165 Sloane Street, London SW1 (0171-245 0890) - potentially enough profit for a week's holiday in Havana. If you are an aficionado, you might like to contact Special Places (01892 661157), which runs specialist cigar tours to Cuba.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
MOBO Awards 2014: Jess Glynne hits back at 'ridiculous' criticism of nominated white artists
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - review: Silly, sensational and sensitive
The Apprentice 2014: Nurun Ahmed and Lindsay Booth fired in double elimination
MOBO Awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board with four gongs
The Apprentice, episode 3 - review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with double elimination
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters