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Cuban Cigars, Rum, Salsa and Yank TanksThe Real Fabrica de Tabacos Partagas is one of the oldest and most famous cigar factories in Havana. Some 400 workers are employed here and they roll such famous cigars as Montecristos and Cohibas. Tours of the factory start on the ground floor where the leaves are unbundled and sorted. The smell of the tobacco leaves is amazing. You then proceed to the upper floors to watch the tobacco being rolled, pressed and boxed. The story that the best cigars are rolled on the thighs of virgins, is just that, a good story. Barcardi rum was distilled in Cuba until the revolution. The famous bat symbol of Barcardi came about after a colony of bats was found residing in the factory rafters. Today the factory is run by the Cuban government where it has continued to produce traditional rum. This is made by distilling the products derived from local sugarcane and then aged for up to 15 years. The signature brand is Ron Caney and they also produce Ron Santiago and Ron Varadero which is dark and sweet with a smooth caramel flavour. Havana Club is the national brand and has been made on the island since 1878, widely regarded as one of the best rums in the world. There are no organised factory tours but a tourist bar attached to the factory offers rum sales and tastings. Cuban style salsa is also known as Casino. The origins of the name Casino are derived from the Spanish term for the dance halls where salsa became popular in the mid 20th century. Music flows smoothly in Cuba and for the inhabitants of this marvellous country, dancing is second nature. You can find popular salsa dance clubs and cabarets almost everywhere in Cuba. Some of the best clubs are in Havana and Santiago de Cuba where the most talented dancers on the island can be seen in action, however most towns have at least one venue for dance and live music and you won't be short of options when planning your dance night out. When in Cuba you will find a large number of old American cars on the street. Popularly known as "Yank Tanks". These cars date from the 1950s and have been lovingly cared for by their owners for over 50 years. They are the result of the trade embargos enforced on Cuba and a complete back street infrastructure has grown up to support these cars with spare parts and even recycled brake fluid! Many of the owners are waiting for the export embargo to be lifted some that their cars can be made available to collectors. Some are available for tours and you can imagine yourself as Audrey Hepburn or Clarke Gable as you tour the city sights.
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