Smoking On The Bus – A Short Trip to Switzerland With Frank & Jos

22 Sep


nfc capWell, it was a short trip, but it wasn’t a SHORT drive !

Forget it, delete it, rewind the movie. I erased the duration of the nightmarish drive from my memory as soon as we passed the Swiss border and were greeted by our friends Urs Portmann and Horst Ocho who were waiting for us in front of Portmann Cigars.

The drive was supposed to take 4 hrs – but the German Autobahns were clogged, jammed, worked on, filled to capacity ( and it isn’t even holiday season ) – and to add more misery upon us, we drove into a thunderstorm deluge ….

We arrived almost 3 hrs late.

But lucky to have escaped a serious accident when a light truck driver realized too late he was headed into the rear-end of a car jam, braked too late, lost control and slammed into the centre concrete protector head-on, had he turned the wheel right instead of left, he would have hit us.

Frank and Jos arrived at noon from Belgium for a light meal and a cigar in the village and to pick me up for the ride south.

We had a vintage VW bus with enough space and an ashtray as we smoked our way down, Jos his beloved cigarillos and Frank and I whatever cigars we found in our bags. A treat, as both Frank and I never smoke in our cars.

The only good part of being stuck in the terribly long jams was the fact that I could slide open the side door and let in some fresh air – we must have looked like a steam locomotive on wheels …

We were only on a pleasure trip, vacation for Jos and get-away time for Frank, and I decided to join them just for the fun of it.

Visiting the Portmann family is always a pleasure and sharing time with the mutual friends valuable.

Upon arrival we were taken by Urs and Horst over to Gottlieben and the “Zum Ochsen” Gasthaus as we were starved. There we were joined by Marc Portmann.
Amazing hospitality as they were departing very early next morning from Zรผrich to attend the Intertabac fair in Dortmund.
A good dinner and some cold beers later all minor issues were solved.
The cigars and humidors ordered would be ready next morning, the plan of action for my next visit to Havana in February/March 2015 was discussed and Horst will be my house-mate then. I was very happy I had just reserved the large Casa particular again.
We moved over to the bar at the Drachenburg hotel by the lake and continued with some cold ones, good cigars and good conversations.

The next day dawned gray and rainy but it was mild enough to have breakfast outside and a good morning cigar.

By the time we walked over to the German city of Konstanz it was sunny and we were sweating. No sufficient time for a boat cruise on the lake, but time to show Frank and Jos the ancient part of Konstanz and have coffee at the Steigenberger by the lake.

Then it was back to Portmann’s and the best care and attention in the cigar world by Marlene Portmann, left in charge with all her menfolk being away.A serene and warm-hearted lady, dedicated, hard-working, always smiling, leading by example, she took excellent care of us.

Coffee, cigars, rum, a quiet corner, attention to detail and highest degree of customer care – that is what makes Portmann unique.

Hannes arrived to join us and we smoked the new Hoyo de Monterrey Hoyo de San Juan. I found it too young, too tannic, harsh, unbalanced and immature. Should be best left to rest.
We received some very special Lanceros from the desk of the director of La Corona with a most beautiful band – Thank you, Hannes !

We then checked the ordered boxes and humidors and left for a very good lunch back at “Zum Ochsen” where Horst joined us again.

After having organized my February/March 2015 Havana plans with Horst the night before, I then organized my November Havana plans with Hannes, as he will be there as well, hosted by a good friend in the cigar industry and learning Spanish “full immersion style”.
So we will meet up again soon in La Habana – look forward to it.
The Portmann group travel plan for the 2015 Festival was handed out and I will see that I arrange, plan and reserve some events for the group again but will stay out of any official stuff. Been there, done that.

We bought some exquisite Gottlieben pralines to bribe our better halves and returned to pick up the cigars, say farewell and head back north.

After the gruelling experience the day before we were afraid of the drive back – OK, one Autobahn sector was fully closed due to works and we had to take a detour, but all in all it was a relaxing and sunny ride and 4 hrs and 2 cigars later we were back in the village.

Frank, being a serious accountant, counted all Autobahn road works and came up with 24 in all for the 700 km, so one every 30 km. Talk about unhindered high speed …

It was local Schnitzels, and I am talking big, home made juicy, tasty pork Schnitzels that we had for dinner with Josef, our Dutch cook friend – who has promised next dinner will be at his house.

With our bellies full and happy we all moved over to the Irish pub where Andreas was waiting for us.

Great fun, good friends and fine cigars and beverages – life’s not bad outside a German Autobahn …. ๐Ÿ™‚


8 Responses to “Smoking On The Bus – A Short Trip to Switzerland With Frank & Jos”

  1. Dieter 22/09/2014 at 14:07 #

    seems the wunderbaum fights its last stand ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Nino Munoz 22/09/2014 at 14:15 #

      Hahaha, yeah Dieter, that wunderbaum was dead by the time we arrived – we smelled like an ashtray ๐Ÿ™‚

      But it was worth it !!


  2. Frank 22/09/2014 at 14:15 #

    I hate Germania. Frankfurt airport on strike, Autobahn cluttered, germans trying to crash into our vintage VW Bus.
    Never again…. What’s up for next week my friend ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Nino Munoz 22/09/2014 at 14:20 #

      Well Frank, my revenge for all the Belgian hunger diets …. ๐Ÿ™‚

      How ’bout taking the cigar bus to Italy for a good pizza ??


      • Frank 22/09/2014 at 15:11 #

        Sounds great. I think Jos is still looking for some spare parts for his old Fiat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Cubano 26/09/2014 at 18:09 #

    Glad you had a great time, after the trecharous trip. How are the Picadores smoking?

    • Nino Munoz 27/09/2014 at 01:26 #


      we did have a good time after all the driving hassle ….

      As I posted on the report, I truly enjoyed the PL Picadores – even more solid opinion now after having emoked a few more, last one tonight. I find them very much Por Larraรฑaga style, easily accessible despite their being very young, smoking very well and giving a round and creamy aftertaste. I enjoy them.

      Un saludo de


  4. Arild 30/09/2014 at 00:24 #

    Wonderfully written report Nino. I enjoyed every word of it!