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Pipe Smoking Around the World

(35 posts)
  1. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    As I cruise around in various forum areas and read threads that I don't usually visit, I've noticed that we have members in Russia, Norway, India, China, etc... I mean, I've known that we have forum members from around the world, but I started having more questions... curiosities. Where does someone in Russia buy a pipe? What tobaccos are available, and from what kind of store? Do you order from the US or the EU? What does a mailbox in India or China look like? Where does someone in your country go to smoke? Does your country have its own tobaccos that maybe the rest of us have never heard of, like Semois in Belgium, etc...

    There may be things that we miss in assuming that everyone just goes to a tobacconist that looks just like the one we all go to, buys a pipe, a tin of aescudo, and a Bic lighter and gets started. Please share with us what it's like to be a pipesmokers in your country. And, pics would be even better.

    Do you all have access to Bic lighters, what does a box of matches look like from your country. Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

    Michael
    Posted 2 years ago #
  2. warren

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    I can really only speak to the Russian Far East. I purchased my tobaccos from street vendors in Magadan, a tobacco shop in both Kharbarovsk and Vladivostok. My one Russian pipe was a gift. My last time working in Russia was in 2003, I'm guessing things have gotten worse not better.

    A man without a shillelagh is a man without an expedient.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  3. pagan

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    I picked up pipe smoking from a friend when I was in Afghanistan and relied on the Army postal system, the following year in Iraq had the same situation, USPS to the Military APO and convoy hopefully make it to me, I did look around the shops that had Hooka's and such but never tried the local blends, I wasn't that courageous. Most of my world travels were courtesy of the US Army so I had support of AFFES and sometimes reliable mail system

    Nowhere in the world will such a brotherly feeling of confidence be experienced as amongst those who sit together smoking their pipes
    Posted 2 years ago #
  4. cosmicfolklore

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    I've done just a little touristing myself, and I always get home and wonder, why did I not pick up matchboxes or some other such memorabilia, besides the obligatory plastic Eiffel Tower snow globe or Ganesha Christmas Tree ornament. I wish now that I had of picked up a few matchbooks.

    I imagine getting comforts of home was more important than exploring local tobacco blends when in war. Thank you for serving, Pagan.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  5. andvary

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    Cosmic, you are opening a Pandora's box with this one...

    I'll probably start by saying that there's a sizeable pipe community in Russia, online forums, meetings etc., but I'm not a part of it, so I can't say much.

    Buying a pipe in any sizeable city is easy enough, although there are some peculiar limitations. First of all, there are no "drugstores" of the US type in Russia, our drugstores only sell pharmaceuticals. Second, selling tobacco requires a special license plus there's a recent law prohibiting the promotion of tobacco-related products. For example you won't find cigarettes at the counter of a grocery store, they are hidden in the closed display stand that the cashier opens at your demand. It looks weird. )
    There are of course specialized tobacco stores, those are usually chain stores or retail outlets for online shops. Those are usually pretty standard, people can's smoke inside and the damned vaping equipment is steadily taking over everything. There's a couple of online stores in the former Soviet states (I recently received a package from the Ukraine). All the popular pipe brands are present (Savinelli, Peterson, Dunhill, Vauen etc.), you can find smaller brands like Nording and Briarworks, you can even buy Missouri Meerschaum (although Russians seem to dislike those). Same goes for tobaccos, all the household names are here.
    The retail margin is on par with the shipment cost (i.e. you'll pay more if you order the same product and have it delivered from, say, the US). I am going to order something from the US eventually (smokingpipes.com, I guess). Sometimes you just want a particular product that local stores don't carry. For example I have never tried Carter Hall. Ordering from the US is pretty straightforward, a package arrives in about two weeks. Same goes for Ebay, although some sellers refuse to ship to Russia (guess we look unreliable). Shipment from the UK however sometimes takes months, I don't know why. I have never had any trouble with customs since the 90-s (receiving packages in the 90-s was a big hassle).
    What else... Estate pipe market is smaller, I guess, although I know at least one man in Moscow who makes a living restoring and selling estate pipes.
    There is no large-scale pipe manufacturing in Russia, as far as I know. The market is pretty much set, and owning a manufacturing business here usually doesn't pay off. Ukrainians have Golden Gate, they make both budget briars (I heard good things about those) and non-briar pipes a la Mr. Brog.
    There is a number of independent pipe-makers here, but I never dealt with them, so I can't report anything.

    All in all everything is not that different from the rest of the world. Pretty boring.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. cosmicfolklore

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    Very cool, I know that there are Russian cigarettes, are there pipe tobaccos? And if so pics and reviews would be much appreciated.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  7. andvary

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    I believe we have a manufacturer who makes several brands of cigars and pipe tobacco. They trace their history back to 1915. I can't imagine, who buys this stuff... I'm afraid to try it.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  8. mso489

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    Check out the recent post on pipe clubs in China. Several groups, one or two including both men and women, puffing contentedly. China has long been a consumer of tobacco, mostly cigarettes, but I think this is the first I've seen of tobacco pipes catching on.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  9. derfatdutchman

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    Andvary, thanks for sharing, your post was far from boring. I find interesting to hear from pipe smokers in other parts of the world.

    "The value of tobacco is best understood when it is the last you possess, and there is no chance of getting more."
    Bismark
    Posted 2 years ago #
  10. paulie66scandinavian

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    Only basic and monotone drugstore blends (Mc Barens,Amphoras and Borkum Riff+ Swedish Greve Gilbert Hamiltons ribbon Cut) remain only and available here in Finland-Scandinavia,even in neghborhood Russia I do find they've got better assortiment of pipe tobaccos than ours,beforedays we've had many descent pipetobaco blends available but no more,then only the online orders from abroad help us out from this misrable situation,leaving alone our high retail prices that are very similair to Canadian ones.

    Paul The Scandinavian'
    Posted 2 years ago #
  11. agnosticpipe

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    I think this thread is a great idea! I love to see how people live their lives as opposed to the US. The China pipe club thread was very interesting to me. Reminds me of watching Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown on CNN. Always interesting to see how the average person in another country lives, what they eat and drink. Would like to see some pipe smoking covered too, but all I ever see is cigarette smoking, and well maybe some other things...

    The pipe smoker formerly know as agnostic pipe
    "Fried food, hard liquor, and tobacco, that's the holy trinity!"- Stacy Keach
    Posted 2 years ago #
  12. paulie66scandinavian

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    as for Cigarettes,here in europe all cigarettes no matter what brand are gettin to beacome a real crap tastewise in comparition with those available in The States,which are way better in quality and taste,

    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. beastinview

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    Very interesting thread! I feel for your gents in more pipe-oppressive parts of the world, though! While we yanks are moaning about FDA regs, you guys have it even worse!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. cosmicfolklore

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    I want to tour the world, going into tobacconist and pipe shops in every country. Setting with pipe smokers in their usual habitats and smoking spots, talking about local tobacco favorites. Traveling with a pipe. Customs, tobacco taxes, pipe friendly hotels, local smoking laws, rules, etc... Wouldn't it be neat to drop into a pipe shop in Turkey, Austria, New Zealand? Talk to the owners, check out their pipes, tobacco selections, find out their best sellers. Chess games in parks, wine at bistros, news papers and bathrooms you can smoke in.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. andvary

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    The thing I find most depressing about tobacco stores in Russia, is that none of them are small businesses, so none of them are, for the lack of a better term, cosy. The owners only care about the sales, so instead of a "hobby place" it's just a regular store: nowhere to stand (let alone sit), there's a typical assistant behind a counter (i.e. a bored middle-aged lady who probably smoked crappy cigarettes her whole life and neither does nor wants to know anything about what they stock), you go in, you buy, you get out. The best advice you can get is "try this, it sells well".
    No wonder people are switching to online shopping.

    I may be wrong, I'll try to make a tour around the tobacco stores here in Moscow, maybe I'll get a pleasant surprise somewhere.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. cosmicfolklore

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    Here in the US, most people don't even have a store of any kind for pipes and tobacco. I still would think it exciting to see such a place.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. mortonbriar

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    In New Zealand you still see the occasional shop with a 'Tobacconist' sign, but they have all become convenience stores, possibly they have one dusty tin of erinmore ready rubbed or a pouch of borkum riff kicking around under the counter somewhere and they will probably tell you that the roll your own pouch of drum is fine in a pipe. I dont know how many years since they functioned as tobacconists, New Zealand stopped growing tobacco commercially in the 80s. When you do find a shop that sells pipes it will be in a shop with a lot of glass pipes and you might find 5 petersons and 5 falcons to choose from.
    Basically the internet has been the only way to keep this hobby alive in NZ!
    As far as smoking, there is nowhere you can smoke inside anymore...NZ is not a tobacco friendly country at all, you can only bring in 50grams duty free in person, and everything else is taxed about a dollar a gram...
    Its a lovely country to sit and smoke in (just ask Bilbo) but it takes a lot of effort to make that happen!

    Isaac

    I don't really care if the cup is half full or half empty, I just want something to sip on.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. jvnshr

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    Since joining the forums, I have always wanted to open a similar thread, but was skeptical all the time. Andvary did a good job and described the situation in Russia, I have also heard similar things (hidden cigarette display stands). Azerbaijan is a post-Soviet country and in this context we have some similarities with Russia. Here we go:

    Smoking is allowed almost everywhere in Azerbaijan (restaurants, cafes, parks, etc.), there are only few places that smoking is not allowed or partially allowed (shopping malls, cafes, etc.). Cigarettes are sold in every supermarket (even in the small ones) and cigarette stands are near the cashier. Until last year a license was required to sell tobacco products, at the moment no license is required to sell or manufacture tobacco products. There are not many places that sell smoking pipes, but only few with 6-7 available options (and all of the shops carry almost the same options), mostly cheap Chinese, no brand or Shahin (Turkish) pipes. So far, I have seen only Captain Black and Erinmore tobacco products here, no any other blends.

    I order both my pipes and tobacco from the States. There is a forwarding company that receives the box in the States and forwards it to its local warehouse in Azerbaijan. Once the box is here, I go to their local office-warehouse and pick up the box. They ship the items twice a week, so whatever I order from the States is here in a week or so. Once I have been told by a company representative that they are not allowed to ship tobacco products but I have never had any problems with them. I have to inform the company in advance about the box (contents, quantity of items, invoice price, etc), once I forgot to inform them and they marked it as a tea product ). I always realize that customs officers open my boxes and then close it with a tape, however I have never had a problem with them either. The good thing is, a single citizen is allowed to import whatever he wants to the country with a value up to $1000 within a month for non-sale purposes. But I try to order not much tobacco at a single time, as it is going to be really hard to explain them the cellaring.

    Regarding other questions; 1) As far as I know, no pipe tobacco is manufactured in my country, but I read once about an Oriental that is raised here, they are probably exporting it. 2) I have access to Bic lighters here 3) I mostly smoke inside the apartment or in our summerhouse (during the summer time, but not inside, only outside) and sometimes while meeting with friends I smoke in a tea house (chaikhana). There are only 2-3 smoking lounges in the city and it is allowed to smoke there if you buy a cigar or something else. 4) Here is a picture of available matches in Azerbaijan

    The bottom left one is made in Belarus, other two are made in Russia.

    Javan
    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. cosmicfolklore

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    Little detail like how you recieve a package may seem like a small thing to you guys, but I find it facinating. Bic lighters worldwide, crap, my family used to own major stock in Bic, back when they were just ballpoint pens.
    I am even enjoying hearing about small crappy tobacco shops. It sounds like many places in the US have a similar situation.

    Thanks guys, these things that may seem common place to you, are facinating, even the stuff that sounds just like our situation in the US.
    More pictures. I'm loving it.

    Ohh, and I wonder if we could start a matchbox trade. I'd love to get hold of some of those boxes!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  20. jvnshr

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    I've done just a little touristing myself, and I always get home and wonder, why did I not pick up matchboxes

    I always do that.

    Bought this one from Maldives during our honeymoon (not a matchbox but a lighter).

    Whenever we visit Istanbul, Turkey we stay at this hotel, very nice boutique hotel with friendly personal.

    When we were in Vienna, Austria with my wife, her brother (used to live there) took us to a nice place. It is called Hotel Sacher and is very famous for their torte (cake that I didn't like at all). They have a special room for smokers and that's how a smoker should be treated

    I couldn't find a picture of the smoking room, but it was similar to its main lounge.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. cosmicfolklore

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    Wow, it's even better to see the matchboxes next to the actual place. I'm such a nerd for things like that. Thank you.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  22. jvnshr

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    You are welcome. I have more matchboxes but they are mostly from local restaurants or cafes. Whenever I sit, I ask for an unused matchbox, I tell the waiters that it's for my collection and they bring me one happily.

    Ohh, and I wonder if we could start a matchbox trade. I'd love to get hold of some of those boxes!

    That's a good idea actually. We should do that in a very near future.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    I miss those years when I lived in Europe. Especially while living on the Island of Malta. Taking a walk at night on the strand in the town of Sliema, looking across the harbor at the buildings lit up in the Capitol city of Valetta. Always walking with a pipe clenched in my mouth. Stopping at a cafe for cappuccino and dessert, the pastries were outrageous! Just sitting and watching the local people walk by. Listening and understanding the Maltese language I would hear " there's The American Cowboy "! Most of the time I would wear a cowboy hat and boots. I'd watch the local fishermen getting their boats ready for the morning catch. The movie Popeye was filmed entirely on the Island. The ship that was used in the making of the movie was The Black Pearl, belonged to the late actor Eroll Flynn. That vessel sits in the harbor city of Pieta and was made into a fine restaurant. I can go on and on about my times in Europe, but another time.

    I am of Russian/Austrian descent and proud of my heritage and Family Tree. Had the pleasure of visiting both countries on different occasions. Hopefully one day I shall return!

    KEEP ON PUFFING!!!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  24. oldreddog

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    As most of you know in Dublin we have Petersons, decent shop and staffed by fellahs who will take the time to chat.

    Also we have Foxes staffed by stickybeaks for stickybeaks.

    To the chap who served me last Sunday, I wasn't there to plunder the place,no matter how much I enjoy a bowl of Black Frigate. Prehaps I should become a distance customer, I hear they do good over the counter to overseas.

    On stranger tides there is this pearl, http://www.mcahillandson1870.com/. I would suggest a google image search of the place.

    I get to the south of France a fair bit and a Tabac is just that. Most places have a decent slection of basket pipes and tobacco, even if they tell you that Amsterdamer is a popular traditional blend. Cube Gris sadly seems to have dissapeared.

    In a homage to Catalonia, the tobacco Falange has not gained the upper boot. St Bruno and Capstan are big rock candy mountain cheap. As you leave the Tabaquero with the cuban that the nice lady behind the countuer has just clipped, clenched jauntily in your jaw and the jingle jangle of capstan tins in you pocket, be sure that an old Senor will tip you a fraternal nod.

    Killing me won't bring back your apples.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. paulie66scandinavian

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    Now,over the years I'm coming to conclusions countries with best traditional tobacco stores/shops are as follows, Germany, England and Ireland-at least so far,nevertheless as we all are well aware,continuous threat against them is ongoing all over the europe.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  26. oldreddog

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    I'd sooner have the price and choice of High Germany than Eirè or Brian Brou's other Island. Particularly as the HU* door is closing.
    *(Edit EU not HU)

    Posted 2 years ago #
  27. andvary

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    After a couple of years I visited my local tobacconist (walking distance from my apartment in an older residential district of Moscow). Just as I remembered it: lots of cheap Polish pipes (good thing the drilling is visible through the glass cabinet, no need to even examine them), a shop assistant, who automatically reaches for rolling tobacco (I asked for MacBaren Original Choice, which comes in both pipe and rolling variants), and a price about 30% higher than buying the same stuff online. No wonder the floor-space was reduced since the last time I dropped by, they probably had to cut back on the rent. And the space they vacated is now occupied by the store selling plumbing equipment, of all the things.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  28. jvnshr

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    Дорогой (dear) Andvary, we have the same problems over here. I don't know if it's good or bad that they had to reduce the space, but I wish they could just learn more and become very informative about what they were selling.

    And the space they vacated is now occupied by the store selling plumbing equipment, of all the things.

    At least the space is used for other pipes

    Posted 2 years ago #
  29. andvary

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    I mentioned a guy who sells estate pipes, tobaccos etc. here in Moscow. Well, he doesn't have a store. If you want to purchase something or pick up your order, you make an appointment and come over to his apartment. And he doesn't force you out at once, mind you. I remember hanging out at his place, asking questions... I once asked him: "Doesn't that bother you? Having strangers in your place every day". And he replied: "I'm making a long-term investment. The more hospitable I am, the bigger the chance that you'll buy something next time".
    I wonder if any store in Russia has a similar philosophy. If I find one, I'll sing my praises here.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  30. rodo

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    My frustration has been the LACK of goods in some other countries. (And I count as lack availability when you can get it but at twice the price of what it would cost in the States.) Was in Italy this past summer, got to visit the Mastro de Paja factory. (Headache to get to but worth it. Nice people!) Picked up a nice pipe and was given a couple of tins of their brand of tobacco. Packaged in Germany. The "DaVinci" I bought in Florence was made/blended in Germany. No Italian tobacco. Paris? Some shops (la Civette, but mostly cigars and the freakishly odd L'oriental) but their tobacco also imported, and crazy expensive. (Priced a nifty tin of some special edition tobacco: E40 there, $18 here. That was two summers back, however.)

    The best story was in Turkey. Was on an organized tour and turned out the guide was a smoker. We had a couple of good sessions after the rest of the group went to bed: cigars or pipes out by the pool overlooking the Med. He explained how while there are meerschaums there is no tobacco worth smoking. Any imports are subject to huge duty coming in. "But," he said, "sometimes there is a black market and you can find stuff. A few days later we are back in Istanbul and leaving a restaurant and I notice a small kiosk with some wooden (not briar) pipes. He says, "yeah, Turks are experimenting with making wood pipes." Then he looks at the chap behind the counter and asks him if he has any tobacco. Chap says "hayir." (No.) So he says to me, "See, just can't get tobacco." Then, I guess the guy behind the counter realizes the Guide is not a government agent, he has some words, they chat a second, and the chap pulls out a drawer below the one with pipes and it is stuffed to the rim with European tobacco packets. The guide just looks at me: "That is Turkey."

    So after all of those fun trips, I want to know WHERE a pipe smoker can go to find reasonably priced quality tobacco in a culture that doesn't make one feel criminal. I have this fantasy in my head that it is Germany. Can anyone talk about travel there for pipe smokers?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  31. cosmicfolklore

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    I don't know, the American rebel in me finds buying blackmarket tobacco in a secret Turkish kiosk very appealing.
    Keep in mind that the prices you see on websites in America are wholesale, not what we pay in B&Ms. Those are not the true price. Yeh, we buy them, but at the cost of putting the B&Ms out of business here. We are losing B&Ms at an alarming rate. My own favorite B&M has been debating for years about no longer carrying tobacco, because of the jerks that come in and make the owner feel like crap for charging a rate that will keep the lights on. He already doesn't make profit on the tobaccos. Real estate and commercial utilities are outrageous. In spite of the FDA, our own greed is killing our hobby (in the long run) more so than the government. Man, it is nice to pay what the B&M does wholesale to stock up my cellar, but when I no longer have a B&M smoking lounge to hang out in, I'm not sure that I can keep my own passions for the hobby going. When the time comes, I'll just have to see.
    But, don't let those online prices deter you from supporting those entrepreneurs that are giving you guys an option.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  32. hmhaines

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    Lots of awesome info here. Thanks to our international members for sharing!

    "Following the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked."
    U. Utah Phillips
    Posted 2 years ago #
  33. andvary

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    Man, it is nice to pay what the B&M does wholesale to stock up my cellar, but when I no longer have a B&M smoking lounge to hang out in, I'm not sure that I can keep my own passions for the hobby going.

    Well, one solution is to make the smoking lounge a chargeable service. Sure, it will turn away some of the customers (ones who like free stuff), but a good place to smoke has a value in itself.
    I don’t know about the US, but in Russia there are the so-called anti-cafes, basically places to hang out with hourly fee for stay, as well as free stuff (basic tea/coffee/cookies, boardgames, an Xbox etc.).

    I have a somewhat related story. Due to the influx of people from the Caucasus and the former southern USSR republics, the recent fad in Moscow and central Russia was smoking a hookah (or sheesha, or whatever you want to call it, the “Arab-smoking-thingy-with-a-hose”). Many restaurants and bars hopped to it and included hookahs in their menus. Then came the new law for “protection of public from tobacco smoke” and all the catering establishments were obliged to be non-smoking. It hit the business hard, some places actually closed down. All the smoking patrons are now crowding the sidewalks and boy do they look miserable. Enter the anti-cafes! The trick is - technically they are not “catering venues”, so they can allow smoking inside. Some are beginning to focus on smoking customers, be they hookah-smokers, cigar smokers or pipe-smokers.
    There’s a saying in Russia, “the severity of Russian laws is compensated by the optionality of compliance”. Or in this case - copious loopholes.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  34. jvnshr

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    Being from Caucasus, I know how hard it is to find a place to sit without smelling the hookah smoke. Fortunately, smoking is still allowed almost everywhere here, so we don't have any anti-cafes right now. Even a girl promoting cigarettes offered me to buy a cigarette and get a free lighter yesterday while doing some grocery shopping. I said unfortunately, I don't smoke cigarettes.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  35. arno665

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    So after all of those fun trips, I want to know WHERE a pipe smoker can go to find reasonably priced quality tobacco in a culture that doesn't make one feel criminal. I have this fantasy in my head that it is Germany. Can anyone talk about travel there for pipe smokers?

    In my opinion in Western-Europe Spain and Germany. Spain is still cheap as far as tobacco goes, also see this blogpost of mine: Springtime in Seville – Part 2. Also the culture helps, I saw a lot of people smoking. As far as smells go Seville was a mixture of orange blossom/jasmine and dark smoke.
    Germany really has a pipe-smoker feel for me. Almost every bigger town and city has a decent tobacconist. And you are being appreciated as a pipe-smoker (as long as you don't smoke a horrible smelling blend). For some reading see Christmas time in Cologne, Marvellous Motzek, Luxury tobacco from Lauenburg, Amazing Aachen, Christmas time in Düsseldorf and Heavenly Heinrichs.

    Posted 2 years ago #

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