Category Archives: Other Travel Stuff…

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Cigars Smoked (Part 2 of 2)…

For some of the previous posts on this trip to the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, please use the following hyperlinks:

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: A Beautiful Escape in Montego Bay…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Fun In The Sun…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Food Fit For a King…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Pirate Beach Party and Local Flair…”

And so, continuing on from my previous post about cigars from this trip

6.  Trinidad Fundadores.  Dic 2009 “OUS”.  Now this one was a bit of an experience to be had!  Had a loosely-packed foot, dark ligero-loaded head upon cutting, and some soft spots throughout that became more pronounced as the cigar progressed, due in part to the format interacting with the conditions that day (29 C and 79% RH, 19 kph wind, and right poolside).  Heavy residual salty taste and feeling in my mouth and nose at the start of this cigar, from snorkelling with Erin in the Caribbean Sea earlier.

But a perfect draw on this cigar.  It had a wonky burn to start, but with a slightly firm ash (1-1/2″ groups).  Not much smoke off the foot “at idle”, but loads of smoke when drawn on.  Heavy tones of leather and dark tea, saddled onto toasted tobacco.  Hits of shortbread cookies and honeydew melon – that’s right, folks, honeydew melon in there too!  LOL.

It held up very well in the heat and the humidity overall – the wrapper had some slight unravelling near the end of the experience.  No harshness or sour tinges, right to the stubby end.  A solid 93; would have perhaps been slightly higher if not for the slight construction and burn issues.

An elegant and classy smoke to start that particular day for me.  And to lead me into an ass-kicking afternoon of drinking triple-tequila margaritas.  Had a dinner reservation that night for 8:30 pm, but instead, went up to the room at 6:15 to have a nap prior to, and instead slept right through until 6:30 am – aside from having Erin shove my ass over in bed at 11 pm after she spent the evening reading.  LOL.

7.  RA Gigantes.  Nov 2013 “MUL” – from a gorgeous box found during my Feb-Mar 2015 trip to Havana, Cuba.  Enjoyed this with “Wata” and local Blue Mountain coffee.  And nope, that’s not a typo – it’s “Wata” down there, with an “a”.  Not “water”.  “Wata”.  As I was told, “It’s spelt as it’s said”.  LOL.  Awesome.

As for the cigar itself, it had flavours of cherry-red coffee beans, nougat, cooked red apples (a slight deviation from the atypical “RA flavours” of “stewed fruit”), and with strong molasses and wet leather tones.  Lots of relights.  Could have been much better if not for burn issues – 87 points.

Other notables…

RA Extra 2011 EL.  Ago 2011 “RUE”.  Okay, I guess.  Not the best one I had, but lots of tones of burnt brown sugar and leather, with some molasses.

Partagas Lusitania.  Dic 2009 “STA”, Czar’s PSP stick.  Awesome.  Just awesome.

Diplomaticos No. 2.  Jun 2008 “EMA”.  A perfect match for Grey Goose screwdrivers.

Trinidad Robustos T.  Jun 2009 “OUS”.  Kinda uninspiring that day, but my palate was zapped from spicy and strong foods, coffee and drinks from that morning and the previous day.  Still pissed that these were discontinued so early into their release by Habanos S.A. though.

And lastly…

The resort itself had a nice little cigar lounge there, Hemingway’s.  While I didn’t actually bother to visit it for a smoking experience, I did know it was there and wanted to check it out; it appeared to almost always be staffed during normal hours, and had a pleasant-enough looking selection (which did mostly appear to be legitimate stock, rather than some of the fake cigars being peddled by some of the shops in the resort’s plaza area).  The staff seemed attentive too, but it was just too nice of weather outside and such a gorgeously-designed resort for me to sit inside and smoke.

Perhaps on a future trip I’ll check it out more.

Cheers all.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Cigars Smoked (Part 1 of 2)…

For some of the previous posts on this trip to the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, please use the following hyperlinks:

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: A Beautiful Escape in Montego Bay…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Fun In The Sun…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Food Fit For a King…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Pirate Beach Party and Local Flair…”

So, as I’ve done with previous trips, instead of doing full-on reviews, here’s a bit of an abridged version of what cigars smoked well, and where they were seeming to perform for me when on this trip last spring to Jamaica.  The smoking weather was comparatively perfect at a slight plus-or-minus variance of 28 degrees Celsius and 74% RH right at the mid-afternoon point daily almost.  And, as an added plus, the resort itself was a smoking-friendly resort (which I worry about a bit, when looking at resorts or hotels in “Americanized” locations in the Caribbean), and I smoked on our room’s terrace relaxingly, as well as quite a number of cigars being smoked poolside, with ashtrays supplied by staff, and no funny looks or questions about the “stinky cigar smoke” from either staff or other resort guests.  Frankly, when I did puff away, most were intrigued, and not a single nasty look or comment was noted (nicely enough).

1.  Quai d’Orsay Imperiales.  Oct 2012 “MUR” coded.  Enjoyed this with a Bacardi 8 & Coke, then with some Red Stripe beers.  Smoked well.  Lots of light cedar wood, cream, loads of vanilla bean, almost a hint of sweet almond nuttiness, and a heaping of refreshing citrus zest.  Delicious, with a wonky curve too.  Solid 94.  What a start!

2.  La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’Or No. 2.  Ago 2008 “TEB”.  Light black tea base tones.  Light herbal / floral essences waving in and out.  Rosemary with roses.  Then, carnations and dill almost (wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating in the heat or not, LOL).  Very fragrant combos.  Waves of dried cut grass in there.  EXACTLY what I love about nicely aged LGC sticks – like a spring breeze a day after the lawn was cut, and the yard work was satisfyingly done.

Excellent draw.  The ash held on in one-inch groups, but was very lightly compresses and easy to flick off.  Razor-sharp burn, no need for relights aside from one cosmetic touch-up.  A solid 93-point smoke.  Not an overly “filling” cigar, per say, or potently flavourful in an overpowering style, but an extremely nuanced and mature-tasting smoke, with a subdued finesse…PERFECT to start that particular day off.

3.  Ramon Allones Superiores LCDH Release.  May 2012 “MUR”.  An awesome mid-day smoke.  This one seemed a bit more muted than previous I’ve had, but I have high hopes for this particular box code.

4.  QdO Corona.  Ago 2008 “TEB” coded.  Like most of these cigars, another one of Czar’s HQ / PSP offerings.  This one was slightly tight with a restrictive draw – due, in part I think, to me accidentally leaving it out of my travel humidor during the evening before, and sucking up a bit more humidity than I like to store my sticks at (62% RH).  That said, potent flavours of leather, orange zest, and rich demerara sugar.

Mild burn issues throughout (again, like the slightly tight draw, something that’s tied in with over-humidifying it), and needed multiple touch-ups and relights.  Could have been better and was a bit unfortunate.  An 86.

5.  Cohiba Siglo IV.  Oct 2013 “POU”.  Wow – what an ugly cap this thing had.  This was enjoyed wholeheartedly with several piña coladas with double-shots of Appleton 12-year dark rum…and I enjoyed every minute of it.  Unfortunately, this cigar was one with another slightly tight and restrictive draw, and thin whispy smoke therefore.

That said, it had STRONG flavours of smokey honey and lemongrass tea, damp hay, and some buttered toast.  Rich flavours, but a bit of a paradox in that there’s just slightly closed-in about them.

I was thinking this may also be because this cigar is just not quite ready yet (just over a year-and-a-half old; baby-aged for Cohiba almost).  Will be amazed to see what these are like at 3- and 5-years, and how they may develop then.

More to come on this…

Cheers all.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Pirate Beach Party and Local Flair…

Following up on my previous posts about the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and some of our pool and food adventures, we met a couple of people who have stayed at that resort before, and they told us about a Pirate Beach Party that takes place every Thursday night.

We were thinking, “this is an adults-only resort”, “why would they do a show for kids?”  Well, the all-out beachfront display and people’s comments made us want to go and check it out for ourselves…

And it was sooooo well worth it, especially when the event staff got the crowd involved in the act, from little things like sneaking up being people in their chairs and tickling their ears with a long feather, to heckling the pirate midget.  That’s right – a little-person, dressed up like a pirate, and playing the role of “jackass midget” as he said.  LOL.  Awesome.

And of course, before the events, Erin just had to get her local flair on, in between the hustle and bustle of drinking poolside and feasting like kings earlier that afternoon, and indulge in a little pedicure appointment…

…which the pirates promptly made fun of her at that night’s event.  “Oooooh!  Those toenails look like they’re made of EMERALDS!  Chop ’em off!”  LOL.

Cheers all.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Food Fit For a King…

…Or at least for a fat Canadian bastard!  LOL.

Following on from my first post on a bit of the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall resort itself, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and then a bit about the pool grounds and beaches of the resort too, I started recalling some of the food there.

Hot.  Damn.

The food was spectacular.  And, looking through a lot of my pictures that I had on my iPhone as well as my digital SLR, I realized just HOW good it was, by the fact that…I barely took any pictures of the food!  LOL.

But I did take some shots of my various “beach grill” plates…

The lunches were always awesome.  I’ve been to soooooo many resorts where lunch is just…lunch.  This resort made lunch a big deal.  Each day, aside from eating at the buffet restaurant, or the beachfront a-la-carte sit-down restaurant, they organized a beachfront grill.  Giant BBQ’s, huge paella pans over hot coals, etc.  So, if you didn’t want to go to one of the regular restaurants, and just wanted some grub poolside or beachside in your bathing suit, you could walk the 50 feet from your lounger to get some spectacular and locally fresh food.

Grilled jerk pork.  Conch.  Fried banana slices.  Shrimp.  Breadfruit.  Cold jerk chicken salad.  Giant prawns.  Grilled asparagus.  Pork chops.  Corn.  Etc., etc., etc.

The seafood and beach grills were awesome.  The fruits and veggies were too.  But my wife and I were always amazed by the breakfast buffet as well.  Again, I’m just now realizing I took NO pictures of that….arrggghh!

But we knew it was going to be a hit when we arrived downstairs at the buffet restaurant for our first breakfast on the first morning after we arrived.  There was the usual fare – fresh fruit, the typical cold cuts and cheeses, some ready-made baked goods and pastries, and even the somewhat typical omelette station.  But then…my wife got excited – there was a fresh-waffles and crepes station.  And an ice cream sundae area (yes, for breakfast).  And even a sushi station.  And all of these areas were staffed by at least one chef / staff member, assisting you every step of the way.  And then…I got REALLY excited.

A steak station.  For breakfast.  With a chef asking for my choice of steak.  For breakfast.  “Sir – filet mignon, New York Strip, or ribeye?”  What’s the smaller size of ribeye you have there, as my plate’s already pretty full with this omelette?  (It WAS only 8:30 am, after all, LOL.)  “We have 20- to 32-once ribeyes.  Take your pick.  All our beef is flown-in certified Argentinian beef and steaks as well, sir.”  Well, fuck me sideways.  That’s just AWESOME.  For BREAKFAST.

And then last but not least, though my wife couldn’t care for it, I saw the crème-de-la-crème right beside the sushi area – an oyster station.  With loads and loads and loads of oysters, mussels, etc….with FROZEN BOTTLES OF GREY GOOSE VODKA right in the ice beside them, and stacks of shot glasses, little oyster plates and knives, and bowls of various topping sauces, such as my favourite sweet-Thai-chili sauce.

It was the best damn breakfast I had in ages.  Very unexpected.  An awesome omelette, a friggin’ huge ribeye steak, and oysters and vodka shots.

For fucking BREAKFAST.

That said, not to be outdone were the supper a-la-carte restaurants too.  Most were reservation only, and people definitely had their preferences.  The teppanyaki dinner at the “Kiniro” restaurant was the most in demand, and once we got in there (dining with a few other couples we had met and were partying with for the week), we definitely saw why…

It was an experience and a half (Erin and I have never bothered to do a teppanyaki restaurant before, though we both LOVE sushi and sashimi and other Asian-inspired foods).  Kept us all more than entertained from a 6:30 pm start time, straight through to 9:00 pm drinks.  Our server had his schtick down to a science damn-near…


We’re definitely wanting to go back.

Cheers all.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Fun In The Sun…

My initial post on the trip that my wife and I took to Montego Bay, Jamaica last year, as I published here, showed a bit of what blew us away upon our arrival.  I wasn’t too familiar on the Iberostar chain’s “Grand” idea – that of an ultra-premium, adults-only, luxury resort; and my previous knowledge of Iberostar came from friends and family staying in their “regular” offerings in Cuba and Mexico – so perhaps not the fairest comparison.  But this resort turned out to be well worth it.

The pool was always wicked nice…

There were four pools, all interlocked and infinity-style.  Somehow, Erin and I always found a way to be right near the swim up bar – surprise, surprise!  The pools were all “themed”, so to speak (tranquil, active, sport/exercise/aquafit, and then The Party Pool), and the crowds converged around them accordingly.

And, since this was an Iberostar Grand, and everything was premium, I was quite pleased that upon my first swim up to the pool bar at about 9am that first day, that when I asked for a couple of Screwdriver cocktails for my wife and I, that I was pleasantly asked, “With which vodka, sir?  Belvedere, or Grey Goose?”  Hmmmm – Belvedere or Grey Goose for MIXER VODKAS??!?!?!  Awe.  Some.

And, the beach itself was no slouch either…

Beautifully taken care of by the staff.  Snorkelling and many other water sports were included, and Erin and I took a few lazy swims out there to snorkel and check out the sea life (a LOT of action in the water out there).

It was always amazing to see two things done by staff, too.  Firstly, every evening, just a bit before sunset, there would always be a few staff out there, one in a sea kayak, and another hanging on and snorkelling off the back of it, cruising back and forth in the roped off area for this resort, picking up any wayward drink glasses, any garbage, debris, even sea urchins.  Every evening, and every morning.  A noticeable care that they were heavily taking care of their beach.  Secondly, the security and service at this resort was top notch.  Servers wearing little tuxedo outfits, even with shoes on, with service right on the sandy beach itself.  While it must have been annoying and uncomfortable somewhat for the staff at times, they never seemed to show it, and the attention to us as customers was awesome.

And oh yeah – the beach.  A little sidenote.  The beach is “rented / owned” by the resort.  In Jamaica, that little slice of sandy heaven is the resort’s to do with as they please.  As our end of the resort was adults-only (the main building connected through to the other Iberostar Rose Hall resorts, the Rose Hall Beaches and Rose Hall Suites, which were more family / with-kids resorts), the staff ensured only those with wrist bands for the Iberostar Grand resort was within our property lines.  As perhaps self-centered as it may seem, we loved it.  We chose to travel on this trip for just us, with no kids – so, we didn’t want other people’s children messing with our mojo for this trip.  And then the funny thing is the local “salesmen”…

As the resort rents / leases the beachfront itself, the water is not allowed such a distinction under Jamaican law, apparently.  So, while resort security and staff could ensure any kids and/or locals stayed away from the resort itself and the beach, the water was open game.  So, quite a few times, we noticed that there were local Jamaican men who would appear out of nowhere from the water, and walk right up to the waters edge.  Kind of like that epitomal “hey buddy” trenchcoat salesman.  And, just like that guy, these local salesman had everything – carved wooden turtles, seashell necklaces, bracelets, and loads and loads of Bob Marley everything, including monster-sized joints.

Yup, the marijuana sales were always in full-swing with these guys at the waterfront – not really our thing, either my wife and I, for many years now due to our jobs (and just our preferences anyways).  But it was interesting to see the dynamic at place with these pot sellers in the water.  A local guy, wading up to the shoreline, trying to make any and all eye-contact with a tourist, and then the incessant “buddy, buddy, BUDDY, BUDDY!!!!” to get you to come over (they wouldn’t step out of the water itself / onto the beach, or else the staff could have them escorted off the property and/or arrested).  And, if you happened to be in the water yourself when these guys happened to come by, they took advantage of the location, and followed you around constantly, unless they had other customers).  All-in-all though, staff were pretty good with it, with trying to keep the bothersome advances away, and letting customers enjoy the resort itself.

All told, Erin and I only left the resort for maybe a 30-minute window, just to walk further down the beach, to see what some of the tourist-trinket sellers had to offer.  We found a couple of cute items for the kids, chatted with a few of the locals, and then went back to focus on our little get-away.  Right or wrong, and though it was different for me to “isolate” myself away from a local culture to only spend time indulging in the sun-sand-surf-food-booze mantra of an all-inclusive resort stay, it was an interesting change-up, and one we fairly well enjoyed.

After all, THIS was definitely the quality and level of a resort to do that with, with the beauty carrying through to the nighttime as well…

Cheers all.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: A Beautiful Escape in Montego Bay…

So, a bit of a step back in time here.  Catching up on various posts from the past year, one of several big items was a trip that my wife and I took to Jamaica last April.  As I’ve discussed a bit before, 2015 was a very trying year for us both.  We needed a bit of a getaway last spring (more so than even I myself realized), and so we settled (ha!) on the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Well, I knew resorts went 3-, 4- and 5-star in ratings, but I didn’t realize they stepped up to 3-, 4- and 5-diamond after that.  We paid a pretty penny for the trip, but we thought well worth it, thinking we were booking a 5+ star all-inclusive resort.  Once we got there, and realized it was a 4-diamond location, we were pleasantly surprised, and our big-spend trip became a just that much more worth it.

Our flight down was fun, but there was a distinct difference of morning snack choices for men versus women…

On arrival, the resort blew us away with it’s overall design, layout, appointment, and features…

The view from our room alone was impeccable…

Honestly, we didn’t end up doing much besides room, pool, breakfast buffet, poolside, beach, pool bar, room, pool, supper restaurants, bed.  I don’t think we travelled more than 100 meters in any single direction all week.  It was a specific thing that Erin tasked me with – rather than my “usual” travel routine of doing excursions and checking out various local places and go-go-go, she wanted me to try a beach vacay, her way, and just do only poolside and beach.  Drink, eat, suntan, smoke cigars and be merry.

We did it damn well, too.

More to come shortly…

Cheers all.