Blogs from Panama City, Panamá, Panama, Central America Caribbean


This blog is not as much about Panama City as it about my experience getting there. Sometimes travel throws up interesting situations and I thought it's an experience I should share. The travel bit of Panama City will follow in Part 2. I flew into Panama City from San Jose. On the flight I met a traveler who was going to Cuba and I asked her to keep me posted on how she finds it so that I can evaluate it in my plans. It was an evening flight and it was befitting that Costa Rica bid me goodbye with a stunning sunset. It was even more mesmerizing when the moon rose in full brightness as the sun was setting. At Panama City, the immigration was a little complex and in the process I was a ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City February 7th 2022

Planning a trip to Panama City was a bit like doing a jigsaw; post pandemic, most tourist attractions are only open a few days a week and putting together an itinerary which incorporated everything I wanted to do was fiddly. Then, I caught covid and we had to change all our flights. The result – our only full day for sightseeing is a Monday, when everything is closed. No matter, we will spend the day wandering and looking at the outsides of things. Our first stop (after the breakfast buffet – you can’t keep the old man away from a breakfast buffet) is the Casco Viejo – the old town. Or to be more precise, the old new town. The original site of the town (Panama Viejo) was a few miles to the northeast. After it ... read more
Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City February 1st 2022

Today, four days later than planned, we are finally leaving Costa Rica. The last challenge for my running club’s January Jaunt is a mystery run/walk where opposing teams must guess your location, so I have deliberately avoided mentioned our next destination - Panama City. I can remember learning about the building of the Panama Canal at school (a very long time ago) so am very excited to be visiting this engineering Wonder of the World. It’s a stressful start to the morning, as I have scheduled an Uber, but the hotel wifi is down so I cannot receive notifications of if/when it will arrive. The first 3 drivers cancel, but finally we’re on our way. It feels so good to be checking out of my ‘isolation hotel’ and getting on the move again, even if the ... read more
Hotel room view
Hotel room view
Plaza Paitilla Inn

I spent a fair amount of time here for logistical reasons - arrival by plane, picking up Mike and then Peggy, and getting a COVID test to leave - and I can say that Panama City is certainly the most navigable and comfortable Central American capital, making it worth a couple of days if you don't mind the higher prices. LA CINTA This seaside trail and park was my favorite part of the city. It's the perfect place not only for exercise and views of the skyline, but also to walk from the CBD to the fish market and Casco Viejo without the need to dodge cars. CASCO VIEJO It used to be a no-go zone and with the exception of the tip near the water, the new and old are visible on every block - ... read more
The Reinvented / Gentrified Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo
City View from Metropolitan Park

My sixth stop to my Anthony Bourdain No Reservations Central America Trip 2016 is Panama. Looking forward to seeing the Panama Canal and how it works.... read more

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City October 8th 2019

The gateway into Panama is through Panama City and also conveniently located right next to the canal. Panama has always been close to the top of my bucket list and I just needed someone to tilt me in that southerly direction. So, I met a gal, Danielle, who told me she and her young family lived there on an island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. I have always wanted to check out the Panama Canal. I know several folks who have sailed through the canal on a cruise and heard them preach about the beauty and engineering that went into its creation. But, I don't do cruises, except for the Alaska one I did a few years ago and that would be the last one. So, I told Danielle she might see the whites of ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City August 17th 2019

I subscribe to the theory that says adventure can be found anywhere. I like the idea of choosing travel destinations by throwing darts at a map. I don't have darts, but a few months ago I saw the headline of a Trip Advisor article that listed Panama City as one of five underrated cities in Latin America. I didn't bother reading the article. I just bought a ticket, then called Jennifer in Texas and asked if she wanted to meet me there. "It won't involve mosquitos and camping in a jungle, will it?" she asked. "No," I lied. Going Native I found Anne on the Internet. A former Seattle zookeeper turned Hollywood animal trainer, she once wrangled jaguars for a film called End of the Spear, a true story about missionaries who tried to evangelize a ... read more

After an early breakfast we toured the ship’s galley and said goodbye to the friendly crew and staff, then disembarked the Discovery to be rejoined with Roberto our jovial bus driver on Isla Amador. He drove us around Isla Amador passing the Smithsonian Tropical Institution on Isla Culebra where they have been measuring water accumulation in the region. From there we found the much anticipated Biomuseum designed by architect Frank Gherry whose wife, we are told, is from Panama. I am sure she had a great deal of influence on the design and installation of this amazing museum. The roof, with its many colorful tiles scattered about like piles of brightly colored leaves, makes this building stand out with a statement of its own. But under the roof it gets even better. As you get closer ... read more
View of the volcano from the Biomuseo
Giant sloth
the Great Biotic Interchange

We left the Hotel Cubita at 9AM to visit Dario Lopez the renowned mask maker at his home on the northern edge of Chitre in the district of Parita, carnival mask headquarters. Mr Lopez demonstrated the creation of traditional Panamanian folkloric festival masks using clay, paper mache and forms that could be reused up to 30 times. He doesn’t use a base color but adds up to five colors as he creates his designs. A large mask can take about two to three days to build the form, letting it air dry and finally painting. Mr Lopez has been making these devil masks since the 1960s and now his family joins him in this tradition. Dario’s granddaughter Madeline (five years old) was very proud of her grandfather, taking photos and watching over him like a little ... read more
Dario Lopez, renowned mask maker
Horse-truck gas station stop... beer and gas for the truck, what's for the horse?
View of the Panama Canal from our hotel window

Monday, Jan 28 We are off to Panama! We enjoyed breakfast at The Cafe by Mise en Place at the TPA airport before hot footing it to MIA where we caught a plane to Panama City. It was a surprisingly chilly 54 degrees when we left Miami so when we landed in Panama we were happy to warm up. The Pope had just been to Panama and as we left the airport there were still large signs pronouncing: “Bienvenidos A Panama Peregrinos” or Welcome to Panama Pilgrims. Thousands of people had come as pilgrims to Panama City to see the pope and although he had left, there were still hundreds of worshipers lingering in churches and parks throughout the city. We took a cab from the airport to the Hotel Grand Central in Casco Viejo, Spanish ... read more
Hotel Grand Central
View of the Basilica Santa Maria la Antigua from our hotel
Santa Luisa, Patron of Houses at the Iglesia de la Merced

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