After two months in the city, I decided it was time for me to see something farther than walking distance away from my apartment.
I’d seen a bright red double decker bus around the city, and after doing some research, found their website http://www.citysightseeingpty.com/ and decided to hop on the bus and see the sites!
They offer two tours: the Canal Tour, and the City Tour. I went on both! The highlight was definitely our very first stop: the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center.
The Panama Canal has three sets of locks, Miraflores being the closest to Panama City. For $8.00, I got entry into the Visitor’s Center, their Canal museum/exhibits, as well as a short film showcasing the history of the Panama Canal. I loved it. The place was packed to bursting because I had arrived just as two ships were passing through the lock system, but it was exciting to share my experience with so many world travelers 🙂
Other stops on the tours included the two big malls in Panama City, Multi Centro and Multi Plaza (think Yorkdale and Eaton Centre), as well as Amador Causeway, Isla Flamenco (a manmade island and marina), and some stops in and around the city with some smaller attractions.
Our final stop of the day was Casco Antiguo (aka Casco Viejo), the ‘Colonial City’. Not to be confused with ‘Panama Viejo’, which is another set of ruins/old building left over from the original Panama City which was burned down by the famous Pirate Captain Morgan centuries ago. True story. But back to Casco Veijo… the first word that came to my mid was ‘beautiful’. The second was ‘construction’. The Colonial City was build back in the 14th (I think) Century, and is set right on the water, across the Bay of Panama, from Punta Pacifica. You can see the city skyline, the boats coming through to cross the Panama Canal, the harbor, and the Colonial City itself.
Half of the city was restored and built up and absolutely breathtaking, the other half was still in the process of being restored. I couldn’t venture far in to the city because most of the streets were roped off for the ongoing construction, but I did get a nice meal at a restaurant (pulled pork on an of course deep fried potato tortilla) and a great little tour by the harbour front. The rain ended my tour day early, you can’t argue with a downpour, but all in all it was a wonderful day and a great tour. I am now glad to say I know Panama City just a little bit more, and if I have time, I’m going to go back to explore JUST Casco Antiguo for a whole day more… see if I can get around some of the construction barriers 😉
This weekend, I’m heading to Chiriqui Province- the Panamanian equivalent to Canada’s British Colombia! (Theirs is in the Western-most corner of the country, too.) I’m looking forward to seeing the highland province and all of the coffee farms. It’s an 8 hour drive one way however, so I’ll be heavily armed with my Gravol and newly purchased Sea-Bands.