EPT8 Madrid: Look at this picture and tell me what you see


You might be forgiven for thinking "what the hell is that?" when you arrive at Casino Gran Madrid. It happens as you catch a first glimpse at the Casino's logo, hoisted high up on a pillar so that it's visible from the motorway which speeds past linking Madrid with Coruna on the North West coast.

There it is, in-between signs for Caja Duero, IKEA, Aventis and something called DISPONIBLE which you can get by calling 91-573-82-00. It doesn't look like a Casino sign, unless you get close and have someone explain it. Basically it looks like two stick men, both on all fours, hauling a big tractor, on which a man is using a broom to encourage them to get a move on.

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"Yes doctor, it's a butterfly...": the Casino sign visible for miles

Obviously no right thinking Casino marketing office would sanction such a thing so there must be an optical illusion to this Rorschach ink blot; something that tells you that man on the tractor is not hitting those two other men on all fours with a broomstick. Suddenly you see the roulette wheel; and that broom, that's not a broom, it's a croupier's rake; and those two people aren't crawling on all fours, they're at the table having a good time playing roulette; and all is well again with the world.

It's the first thing you see on the bus from Madrid to the Casino, leaving the city behind and all its trappings for the Castilla-Leon region, with its vast mountainous landscapes reminiscent of Las Vegas, with the local equivalent of the Sierra Nevada's and the lights of Henderson in the distance.

That's definitely a broom...

But no, this is wilderness Spain, built up with south facing apartments; yellow grass and air conditioned shopping outlets. It's a different landscape, a different world to the capital itself, which is a metropolis of millions, soaked in history and half an hour's drive away to the south.

Back there though is Madrid itself, a city that never sleeps. Actually it does sleep, just not when everyone else does.

The Spanish treat night time in the same way the rest of us treat afternoon, and tend not to rush anything. These brush stroke generalisations give the casual tourist plenty of time to see such sites as the Plaza Mayor, the Puerta de Alcala as well as the third and fourth and fifth (etc.) of others listed on the Wikipedia page, while still finding something to eat when even the east coast of the United States is calling it a day. It's a city perfect for poker players, many of whom don't use clocks and jettisoned the notion of "time" decades ago.

Locals finishing off last night's dinner

We play eight levels today, plenty of time to see all this when play ends. Or if you prefer, to see the tractors on what is a stunning casino floor.

Hang on, I mean the roulette tables...