Recently The Traveling Eye and 80 of our listener family took a 4 day trip to Panama City.
When traveling to a destination I don’t over research. I find out the basic things like, where the destination is, what is the language and currency, and what is the electrical current. I like to see a destination with “clean eyes.” Panama City was truly a pleasant surprise.
The word City was in the name so I naturally assumed that it would be the place where major businesses and commerce were housed and I expected some shopping and cultural areas. I did not expect it would be so big, modern, and urban. The first thing I thought of looking at the skyline, yes, Panama City has a very impressive skyline, was a smaller version of Dubai. Driving to our hotel from the airport the streets were jammed packed with cars.
We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel Panama and it was very large with many different restaurants, clubs, bars, and lots of atmosphere. My room was nice and spacious, however, even though the bathroom and a large shower, the vanity didn’t have much counter space. A lady needs her counter space.
In the middle of Panama City’s modern buildings is quaint Old Panama where you are taken back in time with its Spanish architecture, quaint shops, and small restaurants.
There are many unique things about Panama City. One is, there is a rain forest inside the city. We went to the rain forest and visited the Embera Community Village located in the Soberania National Park. We drove to shore of Lake Alajuela where we got into hand crafted canoes and taken to the village. My first impression was peace and excitement all at once. We were greeted by the Chief, families and children dressed in colorful beaded clothes. The children were playing and laughing and being…children. We all couldn’t stop smiling and enjoying their freedom.
The Chief took time to speak with us and explain their lifestyle, clothing, and relationship with other indigenous communities. We ate a delicious lunch of tilapia and fresh fruit, and we had a great time learning a few of their dances. When we left, our stomach, hearts and minds were full of warm thoughts and memories that will last a life time.
You can’t go to Panama City and not go to the Panama Canal. There are several ways to view the canal but I would suggest you do it on a boat tour that will take you thru the locks of the canal. We took the half day tour and it was relaxing wonderful experience. The history behind the building of the Panama Canal is intriguing. In 1902 the United States purchased the French assets. The US spent around 375 million dollars to build the canal and transferred control of the canal to Panama in 1999. 14000 ships use the canal each year and now another section of the canal is being built to accommodate today’s mega ships.
I would recommend Panama City as a wonderful destination for any traveler. The language is mostly Spanish and the currency is the US dollar. It is pretty easy to get around and I felt comfortable venturing out.
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Until next time, keep your EYE to the sky!