So I’ve decided to start a series chronicling some of my trips prior to starting this blog. They won’t be nearly as detailed as my newer posts, but hopefully will be just as enjoyable. They will be in no particular order and will be posted on (you guessed it) Fridays! I make no promises that they will be every Friday, but I will try to do them as often as I can, but for some of them I might actually have to take the time to scan in some old photos 😮
Panama – March 2015
This trip started (as many of my trip do) with a fare sale. Round trip flights to Panama City were just over $300 each! As an engineering nerd, I’ve always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and this time I managed to convince a friend to come with me! So in short order we booked our flights to Panama… for 48 hours.
The flight down was interesting, to say the least. YVR-LAX-DFW-MIA-PTY. Of course this was when a snow storm decided to blow through Dallas and we had a medical emergency (luckily prior to take off), so we ended up missing our original morning connection to Panama. We had been rebooked on the evening flight, but I checked other options as we were enroute and there was a flight shceduled to leave about 20 minutes after we landed. With some quick running, no checked bags, and a slight flight delay that worked in our favour, we were off to Panama!
After our mid afternoon arrival, we quickly checked in to our hotel and went for an exploratory walk around town. We took the metro (which we managed to purchase a card for with some help and my rusty Spanish) a few stops and then walked around Casco Viejo, which is fairly touristy, and then took a long walk back along the seawall. It was quite busy, which surprised me. We started our walk back to the hotel when it was already dark out, but it was lively all the way along the boardwalk. We finally crashed for the night after a long day of travel.
The next day it was off to the Panama Canal locks! There are two locks, but the one close to the city is Miraflores. Luckily they had started bus service to the visitor centre, so we hopped on the metro once again to the end of the line, and then took a bus. The signs at the transfer point were not clearly labeled, but we did manage to get on the correct bus with a combination of my attempts at Spanish and banding together with a few other tourists we spotted in the crowd. I should note you can take a taxi there for around $10, but the bus was only $0.25!
The visitor centre there is actually really well done with a multi level museum that explains the history of the canal as you ascend the floors, with a viewing area at the top. We were lucky that we arrived in time to see the last few vessels go through for the morning. They do stop around mid day for a while, before letting ships go through in the other direction. If you want to get an up-close and personal look at the canal, you can book a tour to take a boat through, but they were a bit pricey for us at around $100 per person.
After heading back to town, we also went to visit Panama Viejo, the ruins of the old Panama city and a UNESCO heritage site. Once again, we hopped on a bus, this time to the complete opposite end of town and got off when we saw the Museo Panama Viejo. Of course, this is at the other end from all the ruins to visit, but it’s a nice walk along the water. We might also have ended up not having to pay because we walked through the wrong gate? Oh well 🙂 The history of the city is quite interesting and seeing the original building was neat.
We made our way back to our hotel and then head off towards the Causeway Islands for a few drinks and relaxation before having to leave the warm tropical climate the next morning. Out trip home was slightly shorter (PTY-MIA-TPA-DFW-YVR) but still took all day.
Panama is a interesting city, and while there’s not a great number of sites to explore, you can definitely spend 2 or 3 days there without getting bored. While people in the tourism industry will speak English, a little bit of Spanish will go a long way when trying to ask the locals for help.