Travel Guide: EPT Barcelona
Season 9 of the European Poker Tour kicks off their eight-stop season in August with EPT Barcelona. By partnering with the Estrellas Poker Tour from Aug. 15 through 25, 2012, the EPT will create Spain's largest-ever poker festival.
The Estrellas Poker Tour, which will take place from Aug. 15 through19, will culminate in a €1,000 + €100 Main Event and wrap up their Season 3 schedule. That will be immediately followed by the €5,000 + €300 EPT Barcelona Main Event.
Barcelona, which has been on the EPT schedule since the very beginning, has proven one of the most popular stops each and every year. In Season 8, a record-setting 811-player field packed the Casino Barcelona at the Arts Hotel Annex to battle for a €850,000 first-place prize. After five days of intense play, it was Germany's Martin Schleich who emerged victorious and joined the likes of Sebastian Ruthenberg, Carter Phillips, Sander Lylloff, Kent Lundmark and Jan Boubli as former winners. What's more, Schleich put an end to Team Pro Eugene Katchalov's dream of capturing poker's elusive Triple Crown after eliminating the pro in third place.
Casino de Barcelona (annexe at The Arts Hotel)
Marina, 19-21 (Port Olimpic)
TelL 0034 93 352 1010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Population (Greater Barcelona): 3,218,071
Language: Catalan and Spanish; English widely spoken
Currency: The Euro
Weather: Average annual temperature is 20 °C (68 °F) during the day and 11 °C (52 °F) at night
International Dialing Codes: +34 (the USA is +1)
According to the EPT website: "With a population of 1.5 million, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Catalunya. With its prime location on the shores of the Mediterranean, historical medieval centre and stunning Modernista architecture, Barcelona is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. When you're there, you can enjoy the city's lively bars and restaurants, cosmopolitan atmosphere, acclaimed cuisine and superb shopping."
Getting There & Around
Europeans do not need a visa to visit Spain, and North Americans and Australians can visit Spain without a visa for up to 90 days. Other citizens should consult their travel agent of nearest Spanish embassy.
If you're traveling from afar, chances are you'll be flying into El Prat International airport, which serves many national airlines. From there, you can easily hail a black-and-yellow licensed taxi, which will take you to the city center in about 20 minutes for €15-€20.
If you'd rather take a bus, it'll cost you a more modest €3.75, but will take about 30 minutes. There are stops outside each terminal at the airport, so this option is fairly convenient. If you're looking for an even cheaper option, a regular train service runs into the city from El Prat train station, which is located via a covered walkway on the first floor of Terminal B at the airport. The train will take about 30 minutes and costs just €2.40.
If you qualified for the event through PokerStars, chances are you'll be staying on property or nearby. The preferred accommodation is at the Hotel Arts, which is a five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel right on the property that offers Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service, pool, sauna, gym and spa. In other words, everything you need for a week of poker and relaxation.
If you're not at the Hotel Arts, or are looking for another place to stay, the Pullman Barcelona Skipper has similar amenities and is located nearby, while both the H10 Marino and the Hesperia Del Mar are close and run a modest €100 per night.
For more information, either visit www.epthotels.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Out and About
The second largest city in Spain behind Madrid, Barcelona was founded as a Roman city and has a storied history; in addition, it is also one of the world's leading tourist centers. What does that mean to you as poker player? If all goes according to plan, you'll be busy going deep in a poker tournament, but if you happen to find yourself with free time on your hands, there's plenty to keep you busy.
For example, if you're a music fans, Barcelona is home to the world-renowned Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house and the Palau de la Musica Catalana concert hall. The city also plays host to two pop music festivals in the Sonar Festival and the Primavera Sound Festival. Unfortunately, both of these events recently passed.
If sports are more your things, you may want to check out FC Barcelona museum, which is the second most visited in the city. Likewise, the FC Barcelona's Camp Nou, which is the largest stadium in Europe with a 100,000 capacity, has proven a popular attraction.
What else is there to do? The list goes on:
Of course we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Barcelona's seven beaches, which were listed as number one in the top ten beach cities in the world by both National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. Spanning 4.5 km (2.8 miles) of coastline, the beaches, which were greatly expanded during reconstruction for the 1992 Summer Olympics, include: Sant Sebastia, Barceloneta, Nova Icaria, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant.
Likewise, a Travel Guide wouldn't be complete without talking about the nightlife. Barcelona is home to many of Spain's hottest nightclubs. The UK's Guardian recently put together a list of the city's top nightclubs, and ranked BeCool toward the top. As Leo Pollock wrote in his article for the Guardian:
"Tucked away further up Avenida Diagonal from the main stretch of clubs and bars, BeCool remains largely the preserve of in-the-know locals. Weekends are the highlights at this medium-size venue, with electronic music predominating. The line-ups tend to be impressive: John Tejada,D'Julz, and Aril Brikha are a few of the DJs recently billed. The revolving dancefloor adds an element of comedy to proceedings, and the pop, rock and indie nights in the upstairs bar attract a loyal following of cool kids with even cooler haircuts. A good solid choice for the weekend."
Here's a look at the other top-ranked nightclubs in Barcelona:
Be sure to visit the PokerStars Blog during Aug. 15 through 25, 2012 for the latest chip counts, seat draws, prize payouts and gallery photos from the Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona and EPT Barcelona.