Monday, September 02, 2013

Travel Report: EPT10 Barcelona, Main Event: Day 1a -- Under Construction

Much too much to write about and way too little time. Over the last couple of days I’ve flown to Barcelona, Spain, settled in a hotel room a short way from the Casino Barcelona where the first stop of Season 10 of the European Poker Tour is underway, and have worked an initial day writing posts for the PokerStars blog about the EPT Barcelona Main Event.

An unusual treat for me for this trip -- Vera Valmore has accompanied me -- which means I doubt I’ll be spending too much time over the next few days posting here as I aim to use all the scant free time I do have with her.

I’ve mentioned before here how we’ve been to Europe together before, even living in France for a year. During that time we made several trips to neighboring countries and even once looked into a package to Barcelona (I dimly recall), but never did make it further south than Nice. Vera did visit here once before that, but it has been a while.

We flew over together and our flights were fine, the transfer in Frankfurt, Germany, successfully made without much bother. We arrived on Saturday around noon, and as we were unable to check into the hotel until 3 p.m. we went ahead and cabbed it over to the casino where we met up with my PokerStars blog colleagues Stephen Bartley and Rick Dacey for lunch.

On our own again after that, we finally got into our hotel room and then despite having missed a night of sleep mustered the energy to head back out. Some searching around neighboring blocks eventually got us to the metro and after taking the L4 northward for several stops and transferring to the L5 we got off at the famed Sagrada Família (partly pictured above), that wild, awe-inspiring, perpetually-under-construction church about which we’d heard from just about everyone we’d spoken to about the upcoming trip.

The line for the tour inside was too long and we were too tired to stand in it, but even just making the circuit around the huge basilica was enough to fire the imagination. First designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi (who died in 1926), construction started way back in the 1880s and was only about a quarter of the way done by the time of his death.

Work continued off and on throughout the 20th century and into the present, with numerous others taking on the task of completing and adding to Gaudi’s original vision. It sounds like a completion date has been set at 2028, although walking around it and reflecting on what seems dozens of different overlapping lines of inspiration gives the impression that it will never truly be finished.

From there we worked our way back to the hotel, napped a bit, then walked to the beach where we saw many others enjoying a pleasantly warm evening and picturesque sunset. We then enjoyed a light tapas meal at one of the shorefront restaurants, sitting outside and watching people walk, skate, and bicycle past, before finally getting some rest.

After breakfast yesterday we parted as I went in to help cover the first Day 1 flight of the EPT Barcelona Main Event while Vera did more exploring and shopping. We will get to spend some more time together this week before she departs on Thursday, and in fact have an excursion planned a little later this morning which I’ll likely write something about on the PokerStars blog today.

Speaking of, there were some fun posts yesterday, including one with a friendly Irishman named Tom Gallagher who qualified for his €5,300 seat online (spending next-to-nothing to do so) and another in which I evoked Don Quixote while commenting on the inherent romanticism (or non-realism) of poker tournaments.

Gonna cut it off here as more adventures await. Consider these posts unfinished, all part of a large, planned-for edifice of chronicling not unlike the Sagrada Família still under construction.

Meanwhile, head over to the PokerStars blog today to read more of our Main Event reports, and also take a look at the EPTLive webcast which goes on every day this week until the Main Event concludes on Saturday.

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