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We set out on a 1 month European adventure in late September 2016. We booked 3 expos over a 3 1/2 week span with some extra time built in to travel and learn more about the vaping scene in some select areas.
In France, Vape is pronounced "Vap" - which in some ways has a cooler sound to it than it's english counterpart. The French are notorious for being heavy smokers. It's a cultural thing. Vaping has been growing at a rapid clip in France as smokers rapidly transition from combustibles to combustibles while maintaining the ritual that is such a part of everyday life in France.
Our booth set up was pretty basic and once again we were able to score an awesome Cafe bike. This bad ass Moto Guzzi actually is the personal bike of Cafe Racer's partners based in Paris - US Vaping
Opening day on Sunday was a madhouse. The line to get in stretched for about a 1/4 mile outside of the venue.
Our booth was up in the balcony as part of the US Vaping VIP area. We had a chance to meet vape shop retailers from all over Europe - including this crew Switzerland - www.facebook.com/CaveDuVapoteur/
The weather was spectacular during our stay in Paris. The walk from our hotel to the Grand Hall was along a river and had lots of nice areas to hang and enjoy the day.
One of the highlights of the Expo was a boat trip around the Seine River organized by US Vaping for their partners.
One of the big questions we had going into this expo was how would the french like our latest flavor creation - Croissant. The french have a lot of pride in their cuisine and culture and we were a little nervous as to their response .... after the first few locals sampled croissant we knew that it would be a hit. We sold out of croissant after the 2nd day at the show!
We made a ton of new friends at VapExpo Paris and look forward to returning again in 2017. Big ups to the organizers and US Vaping for helping make this a huge success
Next up on our EuroTour: Kiev, Ukraine
With Paris under our belts, the real adventure was about to begin as we made our way to Kiev, Ukraine for Kiev Vape Expo held October 1 - 2, 2016
Ukraine has a shared culture and history with neighboring nations, dating back to the 9th century. Mutual customs are shared among the cultures of Russia, Poland, Belarus and other Central Asia countries. Ukraine has gone through number of major political shifts starting with the fall of the Soviet Union then the Orange Revolution in 2004, the ousting of it's president in 2010 and most recently the protests in Kiev's Independence Square. Unlike the bloodless Orange Revolution, these protests resulted in more than 100 deaths, occurring mostly between 18 and 20 February.
We arrived in Kiev and were taken back by the friendly welcome we received from everyone we met. After settling in at the apartment we rented for the week - we met up with our local team from Vaping Stuff for a pre-event dinner.
Like many places around the world, Cafe Racer culture is alive and well in Kiev. We were able to team up with some local builders to showcase this bad ass Moto Guzzi at our booth.
This was one of the first major vape expos held in Ukraine with mostly local shops nad distribution companies exhibiting.
The event definitely had a some colorful elements that one doesn't see at most vape events in USA or Europe ... like the twerk competition and body painting.
Our booth was pretty slammed for both days. We had a ton of fun meeting the folks from Kiev and other cities in Ukraine and neighboring countries who attended.
We held a little party at a cool spot in Kiev called Rockfellow 210 which offered private rooms with Playstation, Fusball and our own bar and lounge area. Was great to chill with our #Vapegypsy friends and partners.
Big ups to Kiev and the Ukraine crew for hosting an amazing first Vape Expo. We are more than stoked to be returning for not 1 but 2 events there Nov 12 + 13 for Ukrainian Vapor Week by Smile and Ukrainian Vapor Week by Events-International
NEXT UP: Tour of Belgium and Amsterdam
After doing the Expo in Paris and then Kiev, we were ready for a little adventure and decided to head to Belgium and Amsterdam for a week to check out the vape scenes there. The fact that Belgium also has some of the best beer in the world in no way influenced this decision ;)
The first stop was Brussels where we have a Cafe Racer retailer called VIP Corner.
Pairing Lucky 13 and Lucky Bastard with Belgium Beers was the idea behind these flavors since we started the company. Leffe is a common Belgium beer found in many countries around and it one of the best beers to pair with our award winning tobacco flavors.
No visit to Brussels by someone who loves craft beer would be complete without visiting Delirium Cafe - which features over 4,500 beers. We could have spent weeks here but unfortunately only had one evening to sample the local suds.
After cruising around Brussels for an afternoon, we made the trip out to Waterloo to visit our friends at VIP Corner. This is their original shop and one of 3 that they have in the Brussels area.
After a visit to the shop, our hosts took us to a local craft brewery/restaurant for some amazing mussels and of course, some awesome local beer.
NEXT STOP: GHENT, BELGIUM
Brussels is an international city and home to the EU Parliment. It's mostly french speaking and is a modern cosmopolitan urban center. For some real Belgium scenery, we headed west to the picturesque city of Ghent.
Ghent is similar to the famous city of Bruges, but also has 100k college students and is definitely more lively. Ghent almost feels like you've entered a city from Game of Thrones.
While in Ghent we dropped in on one of Cafe Racer retail partners e-life to check out their shops and get to know the team.
NEXT STOP: ANTWERP, BELGIUM
After 4 amazing days in Ghent, we hopped on a train to Antwerp. Antwerp has a totally different vibe than Ghent. Having been mostly destroyed by bombing during WWII, Antwerp features much more modern architecture and is also home the largest diamond trading business in the world.
We decided to check out a hostel in Antwerp vs renting an apartment on Airbnb just to change things up - and man were we stoked on finding this gem called ASH
After settling in, we went out to explore and check out some of the local vape shops in Antwerp.
What we found was beyond anything we've seen in any country - a top notch vape shop called Vapor Shop with a line out the door to get in... and this is the scene there everyday!
We closed out our trip in Antwerp by dropping in on a pop up party held on the 21st floor of an office building with some top DJ's from Holland laying down some amazing deep house until the wee hours.
NEXT STOP: AMSTERDAM
The trip from Antwerp to Amsterdam by train takes a little over 2 hours. We would have liked to have stopped in Rotterdam but with only 3 days open before heading to Birningham for the Vaper Expo UK - we put that on our list for the next trip.
We were able to score a nice apartment through our friends at HardCore Vapers who are based in Amsterdam. It's always nice when you're on the road for an extended trip to stay in places that feel like home - with plenty of room to work, chill as well as cook the occasional meal.
Amsterdam is a city built for cycling. Stats show that over 40% of the people in Amsterdam bike commute to work vs drive or take public transport. We took this to heart and rented a couple of bikes to explore as well as use to get to our meetings there.
We were stoked to be able to drop in and visit our friends at Hardcore Vapers. They have a shop plus a lab and distribution company and are one of the main drivers of vape culture in Holland.
Thank you Amsterdam for a few days of catch up, cycling and another opportunity to meet some awesome people.
NEXT STOP: BIRMINGHAM UK FOR VAPER EXPO UK
This was Cafe Racer's 2nd time being a part of the Vaper Expo UK but this time we were able to bring our full booth vs be a part of a distributor's booth. The event had over 8k visitors last year and the organizers were predicting at least 10k over the course of 3 days.
Big Ups to our friends at Down And Out Cafe Racers for sharing this 2014 Custom Triumph Scrambler with us. It's aways great to meet the Cafe Racer builders spread out around the world.
Things got a little crazy at the booth when our friend Alika from Kvass broke into the bottle of Ukranian Vodka that we brought for him.
The show was pretty large as vape expos go. The creativity in the booth designs was definitely some of the best we've seen at any show - highlighting how mature the vape market is in the UK.
Our European partners US Vaping had a bangin booth that was packed from the opening bell to the closing hour of the show.
The UK was an amazing last stop on the Fall Tour. It's great to see how the scene here has matured and that the % of people vaping vs smoking is steadily increasing and spreading beyond the hard core vape community.
We are headed back to Europe in mid November 2016 for some more expos and touring. Keep an eye out on the blog for the next update.