Panama City

Posted from Panamá, Panama, Panama.

Panama CityThe bus trip to Panama City from Bocas del Toro was rather uneventful. We stopped for lunch along the way, arriving around dinner time at a shopping centre that also posed as the bus terminal. Our mission was to find a way to our hostel, Villa Vento Surf.

I had read that the taxis here hiked their prices, often ripping tourists off, like everywhere in the world. In reality the price was probably only a few US dollars. A German guy who was staying at a hostel near ours wanted to share a taxi, but as we began negotiating prices he got super condescending and combative with us. The interaction led to us arguing quite a bit with him.

Panama City

Some dwellings in the city.

One thing I learn more and more with travelling is that people get really set in certain modes of thinking and have a difficult time switching channels. Perhaps it’s a survival instinct.

On the plus side, as we drove through Panama City to our hostel, It looked like an incredible city.

Panama City

During our walk to find an ATM.

When we arrived at our hostel I was surprised to find my Swedish travel companion sitting at a table, drinking a beer, by the pool. Things like this always happen when you’re travelling, but how cool was it to run into him again.

Panama Canal

In the morning he left to go to an adventure sports park on the coast, while we went to go see the Panama Canal. I have to admit, it wasn’t that impressive. I mean, yes, it’s the porthole from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but I lived next to the Welland Canal – and I found that way more cool. 

Panama Canal.

The historic Panama Canal. These are the locks near the viewing area.

Panama Canal.

Some workers just waiting for their boat to be moved through the canal.

Casco Viejo

The next day, me and a friend walked to the old part of town, Casco Viejo. There’s a lovely boardwalk along the ocean that goes almost straight there. We left early in the morning to beat some of the heat, but it really was no use. It’s hot here. 

Panama City

The ocean pathway has been beautifully landscaped.

Casco Viejo used to have a bad reputation. Over the years property in the old city has been bought and restored, raising prices and pushing out inhabitants who can no longer afford to live in the area. It has become a top tourist destination, and also a tourist trap. However, it’s charm can’t be overshadowed by the expensive cafes, and touts that lurk around every corner. The architecture is beautiful. The narrow streets and brick buildings adorned with flowers create an alluring maze of history.

We opted to taxi home, declaring a $5 price on the journey. We were exhausted. The weather was hot hot hot, and we’d been on our feet for hours. It’s times like these when I’m happy my hostel has a pool. For dinner we found an American style eatery with American prices. Funnily enough, I think we were the only tourists there.

The city

The next day we went for a long walk around some large buildings in the core. We were looking for an ATM that would accept my friend’s card. After many banks, we finally found one that worked, next to a Versace store.

Panama City

This was the door for the ATM kiosk. You could lock it.

We explored the city as much as we could ad nauseam. When we got back to the hostel we found that a girl, whom the day before was boasting she had never been robbed while traveling, got robbed. Her taxi driver dropped her in the middle of a street, not exactly where she asked to go, then a guy came and tried to take her backpack. He had a knife, but some how she negotiated with him and lost $50US. 

We told her she was stupid as she could’ve just been stabbed to death right there. But we also told her she was lucky he let her keep her backpack, with her passport. Getting robbed while travelling really sucks. Been there, done that. It makes you feel a very dark sense of vulnerability.

Panama City

Just after sunset from Trump Tower.

Panama City

Shot over the infinity pool at Trump Tower with the last bits of light.

On my last night we ventured to Trump Tower to take in the sunset. On certain days of the week (Monday and Tuesday I think) it’s free to go to Panaviera, their sunset bar, otherwise there’s a $20 surcharge. We all bought some rather expensive beers and enjoyed the view. Trump had just been inaugurated a few months prior.

Panama City

Seems everywhere you go people want to create a fence with locks to seal their love.

The end of a journey

I had to leave for the airport at 5 a.m. due to my International flight, and having a layover in the US. I ordered an Uber, which happened to be about $5 cheaper than the regular taxis. There’s a surcharge for any hired vehicle to arrive at the airport. There are busses that would be cheaper, but being that I didn’t speak Spanish, people told me it would be far too confusing. And it was 5 a.m.

Panama City

Until we meet again Panama City.

There are a few free wifi spots at the airport, but otherwise, I had a long boring wait with over-priced food.

My holiday was over. Over six weeks I had gone on a cruise through the Caribbean to four countries, visited Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Extended travel is by far a favourite method of seeing multiple different places in a compact area.

My next step was to head home to my mom’s in Canada before flying to Egypt for a 10-day trip, and then three weeks seeing Bavarian places in Europe. Until next post.

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