A surprisingly nice city

Published: March 10th 2017
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I decided to head down to Panama City earlier than Jess and Andy so I could do more there than they wanted to do.
After a mostly sleepless night bus we arrived at 4am, luckily upon arriving at the hostel they were happy to point out 5 sofa spaces to sleep on, and there were still quite a few people up drinking! The extra 2hrs sleep were a godsend in order to function the next day!
My new friends and I headed out to the old town for an explore and because it has great views over the water to the built up part of the city. Two of the guys are keen photographers and with an array of old interesting buildings this led to a great day exploring and taking photos. That evening we also found a rooftop we could sneak on to to watch the sunset and the city lighting up. It was so beautiful and peaceful up there. We could even see the lights of the various cargo ships waiting for the canal. I'm not usually a fan of cities but Panama City is proving to be an exception to that rule. I was also surprised at how friendly people are here - they're much more friendly than you'd find in London!
The next day I headed out to the Panama Canal. I was lucky that when I arrived a boat was preparing to go through the locks, so the friendly guide sent me straight up to the 4th floor viewing platform to watch. I didn't realise that through the 3 lanes of locks they only pass 8-10 boats a day, operating 24hrs a day. I know this is a lengthy process but it seems mightily slow to me.
After watching the boat transit I headed to the museum which is very interesting, and took me over an hour to read everything.
After the Canal I headed out to the Biological museum. The cafe here has great views of the ships lining up for the canal, and entering the start of the canal. The museum was very interesting - I did not realise that Panama is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, and that the forming of Panama had such an influence over the climate in Africa, leading to humans evolving. They had guides in English, as well as an audio guide. One display had life size replicas of Panama's animals, extinct and present. They also had a feature that told me I weigh the same as 20,000 tree frogs! That's a lot. On the way back I got to go along a road that is built completely out over the ocean.
That evening Jess and Andy arrived, ready for a day exploring before Jess's flight. We decided to head back to the old town, this time walking an hour along a very well thought out coastal path that edges the city.
That evening we headed up to a 66th floor bar in the casino attached to trump towers for a great view out over the city. It's a shame their service didn't match the setting - especially at over $50 for 4 cocktails! At least the view was worth it.
The next day after saying goodbye to Jess we met up with Silvan from Boquete and headed out to the metropolitan natural park. This park is apparently home to monkeys, anteaters, sloths and hundreds of bird species. It is located in the heart of the city, and with this in mind, and it being quite hot already at 9:30am I didn't expect to see much more than a few birds and the views over the city. We opted for the long trails, which we were told would take 2.5hrs (more like 1). Only around 10-15mins in to the walk we saw a group of people start to disperse, and wondered what they'd spotted. We got closer and saw it was a sloth! I definitely hadn't expected to see any more sloths on this trip. The sloth put on quite a show for us - we watched it for around 15mins climbing from one tree to another, testing our branches, getting stuck, then climbing to another tree. This was the best view of a sloth I've had from all the ones we've seen, and even better because it was completely unexpected.
The park also has a great viewpoint for views over the city, and is a nice peaceful place for a stroll. Towards the end of the walk Silvan also spotted a large rodent type animal which I hadn't seen before, another bonus!
After our walk we headed to the big shopping centre nearby (not actually my idea!). The food court here was massive, and I think I could have eaten here for a week and not got bored. Panama is pretty good for shopping, and I treated myself to some trousers ready for Madrid (which I'm very glad of whilst currently in Quito at 16degrees!).
Time to fly to Quito - my 6th continent and the beginning of the end of the trip.

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