Travel Guide: LAPT Colombia
In just a few short weeks, the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour will make its first visit to Colombia. Held at the Casino Allegre in the city of Medellín, the event is the fifth of the LAPT's Season IV and rightly deemed the Colombia National Poker Championship. Considering the two players atop the LAPT Season IV Player of the Year Leaderboard (Pablo Gonzalez and Daniel Ospina) are Colombian, the timing couldn't be more fitting.
Running from Oct. 13 through 16, the LAPT Columbia Main Event will have a cap of 250 players. Also of note, there will be a $4,000 buy-in high-roller event that coincides with the Main Event final table. Needless to say, there is plenty of poker action to go around.
Location: Medellín, Colombia
Founded: November 2, 1675
Population: 2.3 million as of 2005
Exchange Rate: Colombian Pesos (Col$) *1,737 Col$ = 1 USD
Weather: 22 °C (72 °F) on average
Tax on Winnings: 20% of winnings over Col$ 1,206,000 (USD $635) will be withheld by the Colombian Government. Official receipts will be issued.
Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia with 2.3 million people, behind only Bogotá. Settled in the South America's northern Andes, Medellín has positioned itself as an industrial center and a major metropolitan area; as such, tourism in the region tends to be focused on business, attracting conventions and conferences. With that said, the city is also cultivating an ecotourism sector. Surrounded by seven Foster hills, there are numerous scenic viewpoints, pre-Hispanic roads, vegetation, trails, and bird watching opportunities to chose from. Throw in the Medellín River and Arví Ecotourism Park, and it's not hard to get out and about in Medellín.
In addition, spring has just sprung in Medellín, so there couldn't be a better time to pay a visit. Being so close to the equator, the temperature ranges between 15 to 30°C (59 to 86 °F), with an average of a comfortable 22 °C (72 °F).
Getting There & Around
Medellín is the only city in Colombia with two airports: José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) and Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH). The former deals with international flights while the latter focuses on more regional flights. Needless to say, flying to the city isn't a problem.
Once there, getting around won't be much of a problem. While the roads can be quite congested with automobiles, Medellín has made great effort to improve its transportation infrastructure. It is home to two transportation terminals: Terminal de Transporte Intermunicipal del Norte and Terminal de Transporte Intermunicipal del Sur; as well as the Metro de Medellín, a bus line that connects the city with others in the area.
Finally, if you're looking for a unique transportation experience in Medellín, you'll want to check out one of the Metrocable lines, an air-cable car that'll help you get from one place to another.
For your convenience, the minibus to Medellín downtown is at COL$6,500 and takes approximately one hour.
The LAPT Main Event will be held at Casino Allegre. If you were fortunate enough to qualify for your LAPT seat, you'll have the option of booking your five nights of accommodation at the Hotel Intercontinental Medellin or the Hotel GHL Comfort San Diego.
If you have any questions regarding hotel accommodations, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you didn't qualify through PokerStars, there are plenty of options to choose from at varying price points. For instance, 61Prado Guesthouse offers rooms for an average of $25/night, while a higher-end place like Hotel Estelar Blue averages $72-$107/night.
Out and About
The quality of your hotel room probably won't be on the top of your priorities; after all, you're most likely going to be busy playing poker and exploring the city. Regarding the latter, there are plenty of things to keep you busy. We hope that you'll be busy deep in the Main Event, but for those who don't make it, we thought we'd offer some fun things to do in Medellín, which is often called the "City of Eternal Spring."
If you're looking explore at no cost, you'll want to check out Parque de los Pies Descalzos, one of Medellín's many parks. Here you'll be able go for a walk through rocks, a bamboo forest, stone pillars, and fountains. However, there is one catch: you're required to take off your shoes and go barefoot in the park!
If you're willing to travel a bit, we highly recommend you check out Piedra de Penol and the nearby town of Guatape. About an hour away, this geologic formation has proven quite popular with visitors. Likened to Devil's Tower in the United States, Piedra de Penol is essentially a large rock that visitors are able to climb. There are 721 steps leading to the top, which can be quite the workout, but the view is well worth it. In addition, there is a shop atop, with a market, colorful house, and lakes at the bottom. A must-see if you can spare the time.
If shopping is more your thing, Medellín ought to meet your needs. February is the best month for sales in the city, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to find some sweet deals. You'll find plenty of textiles, leather goods, and art throughout Medellín, whether it's at the upscale Medellín Mall or one of the many vendor stalls in El Centro. It sounds cliché, but if you so desire, you'll be able to shop until you drop.
If, after a day of shopping or a day trip under your belt, you're still looking for something to do, look no further than Medellín's nightlife. With a vibrant club and dance scene, you won't have to look too far for a place to get your groove on. If dancing is your thing, then pay a visit to Vía de Las Palmas, which is popular among both locals and tourists. Also, be sure to visit Medellín's most popular nightspot, Mango, located at Carrera 42 no. 67A-151 (tel. 4/277-6123). Purportedly the largest dance club in all of Latin America, Mango boasts an out-going, festival-like atmosphere. For whatever reason, they have a bit of an American Old West theme going, so don't be afraid to bring your cowboy hat.
Keep in mind that most clubs will cost you about COL$20,000 to get in, which is about $10 USD, and tend to close around 5 a.m.
Speaking of nightlife, don't forget that PokerStars will also be hosting a LAPT Welcome Cocktail on Wednesday, October 12. Team PokerStars Pros always make these events worthwhile, and it'll be a great way to kick off the LAPT's first stop in Colombia.
Transportation will be provided to and from the party. Dress is evening casual.
Full live coverage of LAPT Colombia begins on PokerStars Blog on Thursday October, 13, 2011, at 12.00pm local time.