Everyone who i’d spoken to said don’t spend too much time in Panama City, you don’t need to but actually for a girl who doesn’t particularly enjoy cities most of the time I was pleasantly surprised.
A bunch of us came from Bocas on the night bus and stayed at a hostel in Casco Viejo called Luna’s castle. A huge hostel with high ceilings and creeky corridors. I’d recommend it, it’s got good pancakes for breakfast, cheap beer and huge spacious rooms – which is a massive plus as some hostels really pack you into the dorms.
The day we arrived after a nap we explored Casco Viejo – the old part of town by the sea. It was much nicer than I expected and I enjoyed wandering around. Every now and again we had to find a farmacia for air con to keep going as I’m pretty sure there is no air in Panama City.
After trying to stay up as long as possible we headed back to the hostel to sleep, in a nice comfy bed with a curtain which is always nice.
That night we cooked up a feast – we all felt in need in vegetables but apparently they don’t do vegetables in panama so our desperate need for veg turned into carrots, onion and celery in a meatball sauce!!!
The next day Deste and Henrik who I’d been travelling with were leaving to go home to Belgium, they got up at 4am, headed to the airport and text me at 10am to say they were heading back to Luna’s and was I still around! The airport had a huge black out, loads of flights were cancelled as there was no electricity. Quite a few faces I recognised came back to Luna’s that day. Some pretty happy like Deste and Henrik – others less impressed as they had already checked in so spent all day in a dark airport!!
As they had an extra day we headed to the mall – it is huuuuuuuge! Never seen so many shops. Not the most exiting thing to do on your travels but sometimes you just have to stock up!
Stocked up with bits for the next couple of months, we headed back, chilled out in the hostel playing cards before heading out to a roof top bar to see the skyline at night. It’s pretty impressive – huge sky scrapers in the distance and old colonial town houses in the for front.
If you are in Panama City, you have to go to the canal – it’s like coming to London and not seeing Big Ben! A big group of us went, on the metro and by bus – it was hilarious, like a school trip. Only cost us $1.25 and was relatively easy ( if you have google maps ha). When we got there it’s $15 to get in, which seems pretty steep but personally I thought it was worth it and was fascinated by it all. I can’t say the same for everyone who came with us but I enjoyed it. We saw two large ships go through and it is quite the engineering feat. I didn’t expect it to be so narrow – there is literally no room for error and every ship is so carefully manoeuvred. I took loads of videos but the wifi here isn’t good enough to upload them, so maybe another time and to be fair I don’t think photos or videos really show the scale of it.
Don’t be fooled by the museum like half our group did. There are 4 floors but the escalator to each floor is quite hidden – so half our group only did the grown floor, and once you go up a floor you can’t go back and get anyone. So half of us thought it was very interesting and learnt a lot – the others couldn’t understand why they’d paid $15 for a tiny little room!!!!! Don’t be fooled.
I found it interesting that the museum doesn’t really go back past 1903 when the US took it over. In the short videos it mentions the French trying for 20 years but other than that there is little info before then. Most of the exhibits are about the future of the canal, rather than the history. Anyways that was just my opinion and I really enjoyed it.
All feeling hungry we headed to the giant fish market for lunch and the food was yummy! Fresh fish right by the sea, although so many venders to choose from it feels stressful and they all pretty much sell the same things for the same prices but there’s about 30 of them! Finally we picked one and had a standard Panamanian meal of fried fish, rice, plantain and salad – it was yummy!
To let our food go down we walked back along the sea front to the old town which was pretty – I love it when old meets new but so hot. At this point it was about 37 degrees and felt like there was no air. Time for a siesta!!!
For my last night in panama we found another roof top bar to watch the sunset over the city. Again, pretty beautiful as you watch the city turn into night. I definitely enjoyed Panama City more than I expected, although I didn’t cover a huge amount!
Next stop – Colombia 🇨🇴 and moving into the South American chapter of my adventures. I’m pretty excited for Colombia as everyone I have met has loved it ( this post is a tad behind due to wifi restrictions – I’m already in Colombia and it is lovely)