Travel Guide: Madrid

ept-thumb-promo.jpgThe European Poker Tour made its inaugural stop in Madrid in Season 7. The gorgeous city served as the backdrop for the Grand Final. Always keeping us guessing, this year PokerStars has decided to return to Madrid, only this time, it will not be the Grand Final. Last year's event attracted 686 players and created a prize pool of €6,860,000. The final table had players representing eight different nations, but, it was Venezuelan Ivan Frietez who secured €1,500,000 and a prestigious EPT title.

This year's event will take place March 12 through 17 at the Casino Gran Madrid and will cost a more moderate €5,300. The event will be capped at 600 players, so be sure to secure your seat in advance.


And bring your appetite with you.

Spaniards are notorious foodies. They eat often, and well. A typical meal lasts between three and four hours to offer time for digestion and socializing. In fact, tapas has become widely popular for its ability to allow for conversation since one isn't focused upon an entire meal set before them. Tapas consists of a wide variety of appetizers that may also be combined to create a full meal. The food in Spain is renowned for its health benefits and fresh ingredients known simply as the Mediterranean diet. So make sure to get out into the city and explore all that Spanish cuisine has to offer.

While out and about you will likely notice that Madrid is a combination of modernity and history. Although its infrastructure is considered the financial center of Southern Europe it has still maintained the old charm and feel of its historic neighborhoods. Grab a light jacket since the weather in March is about 11 degrees Celsius and head out to some of the cities most incredible sights.

The Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid) is the official residence of the King of Spain. However, he does not actually live there. It is used mostly for state ceremonies. It is the largest palace in Europe by floor area. It is 135,000 square meters and has 2,800 rooms. The palace is known for its notable wealth of art and is partially open to the public when not being used for official state business.

The Plaza Mayor is located in the heart of the city and is visited by thousands of tourists every year. It holds a ring of traditional shops and cafes under its porticos. Last year I enjoyed some sangria while watching street performers play live music and flamenco dance on make shift stage. There is always something going on within the walls of the Plaza and its surrounding areas.

Parque del Retiro, formerly the grounds of the palace built for Felipe IV, is Madrid's most popular park and the largest park in central Madrid. The park is magnificent and filled with sculptures, monuments and galleries. It boasts a peaceful lake near the center of the park where one can rent a paddleboat for a small deposit.

Even Madrid's airport Madrid Barajas International Airport Terminal 4 is an architectural masterpiece. It is one of the world's largest terminal areas and was designed completely to give sojourners a stress free start to their journey. This is managed through careful use of illumination, available by glass panes instead of walls and numerous domes in the roof, which allow natural light to pass through.

So book a flight and head to Spain's largest city and its capital, Madrid. It has already shown itself to be a new favorite stop on the EPT circuit.

Sarah Grant
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour