Around the World with Lynn Gilmartin: Barcelona
There are few cities in the world where you'll find yourself walking past a buck naked man in the middle of a busy street. Three years ago, I traveled through Europe with a group of girlfriends, and one of our favorite stops was the oh-so-eccentric Barcelona, Spain. Once again, the PokerStars.net European Poker Tour will return there for another season.
- Language: Spanish, but English is widely spoken
- Currency: Euro (1 euro = $1.55 USD)
- Timezone: Central European Time
- Weather: around 55-60 °F
Getting There and Around
Assuming that you would be flying into Barcelona, a 20-minute cab ride will get you to the city center from the El Prat International Airport, setting you back about €15-20. Or for €3.75 you can catch a bus that will add just another 10 minutes to your trip, or even cheaper again, a €2.40 train direct from the airport’s Terminal B will take you straight into town. However, we didn't have such a luxury of flying in, and instead endured the bus for 10 hours from France.
Once you’re in the city, head straight for La Rambla. This is my favorite street because it is lined with shops, market stands, restaurants and street performers leading down to the ocean. It was here that we stumbled across La Boqueria, a market that blew us away with the bright colors of the fresh fruit and vegetables. This is the place to go to pick up a snack of the freshest fruit you've ever tasted, or some lunch on the run. For a sample of old tradition, take a seat at El Quim De La Boqueria, a world-famous tapas bar inside La Boqueria.
Of course, Barcelona is home to some of the world’s greatest artists and almost every corner you turn will prove this. The most outstanding attraction within the city is Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, a church that bursts through the city’s skyline. A church has been under construction for approximately 200 years, its most amazing feature is that there is not one single sharp edge to the detail. All carvings are rounded to give it the appearance of being made of wax.
If you need to go to the bathroom while you’re walking around the sights, find a McDonalds somewhere. I was warned against going anywhere else, but I still made the mistake of sneaking into a pub’s bathroom. When the owner realized we weren’t customers, she nearly lost her mind – I actually though she was going to slap me in the middle of the Spanish abuse she was hailing at me. But hey, at least the task at hand was complete. Lastly, please remember that Spain is home to many clever pickpockets, so be sure to keep your bags closed and close to your body at all times.
The Gran Casino de Barcelona, host of the PokerStars.net EPT, is situated on the waterfront opposite Port Olimpic, a long strip of bars and nightclubs. This area is a hot tourist spot, which means the bars love to rip you off, but at the same time they also bend over backward to get you inside their club with all the competition nearby, especially if you’re walking along the pier before midnight as the party only gets started when the clock ticks over to the a.m.
Each bar has promoters standing out the front trying to reel you inside with a “free shot.” Don’t be fooled, though, because the alcohol in this “free shot” might as well be water. We haggled with one persistent salesman about this scam and he insisted it was the real deal, so we joined him inside. When the waitress saw him enter with new customers, she went to do her routine pour of the shots, but he stopped her and told her to get the real bottle of vodka – and that it was. This may just be the power of five blonde Aussie girls in Europe, but there’s no harm in giving it a go yourself.
EPT Location and Accommodation
The PokerStars.net European Poker Tour will be held at the following venue:
Casino de Barcelona (annexe at The Arts Hotel)
Marina, 19-21 (Port Olímpic)
Tel: +34 93 352 1010
If you're heading to EPT Barcelona and are still yet to book your accommodation, PokerStars has a dedicated EPT Hotels website for bookings at special rates. However, if you qualified online, then you won't need to worry about accommodation because that will be part of your prize package. Any queries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.