Panama City, Panama-Part 8 -Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo is a very old, but yet interesting part of Panama City. According to the Lonely Planet guidebook : ” in 1904, when construction began on the Panama Canal, all of Panama City existed where Casco Viejo stands today”. The area is very historic and houses some nice restaurants. It was definately someplace we felt we should see while in Panama City, Panama.
Once we arrived, a street policeman befriended us and served as an unpaid tour guide for about 10 minutes.
As we walked through the streets I kept thinking “hmmm….this area seems familiar. Seems like I have been here before”. Then it dawned on me….with the old buildings and narrow streets, it reminded me of Cartagena, Colombia.
We spent some time taking photos in Casco Viejo. Here they are:
It was very hot in Casco Viejo, so we stopped inside an ice cream store and while sitting there I noticed a street vendor outside, so I shot this photo(below) through the door from where we were stitting:
I have a few more photos of Casco Viejo. I will post them on the next blog (Part 9)
Next-More photos of Casco Viejo, Panama
Part 7-Las Isletas
Stretching out into the ocean from Panama City, Panama, there is a causeway that many people stroll, bike, drive, or whatever, just to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city.
We wanted to check it out and Alberto was more than happy to take us. I think by this time, Alberto was beginning to see $ signs for the tour. He was doing a great job and we were enjoying it.
On the causeway, there are lots of open air restaurants, bars, and souvenir places to spend your money. It’s also a place for the yachties to hang out and enjoy the different restaurants and bars. If you go to Panama City, you should at least drive out the causeway. You get a great view back at the skyline of the city. Shown here is an example of the view:
Here is how the yachties keep out the riff-raff :
Below is an example of one of the many restaurants to keep the tourists occupied–and spending!!
Afterwards, we were ready to go back to the city and relax. On the way back, we got caught in some of the worst traffic I had ever seen. After 6 hours of rapid-fire Spanish from Alberto combined with the hectic traffic we were glad to get back to the Marriott. Alberto had exhausted us.
How much did we pay Alberto? $75 including tip for 6 hours total. At the end of the day, he asked me how much I thought it was worth and I told him $75. He said he thought that was fair. We got to see everything we wanted that day, so we thought it was well worth it.
Once back inside the hotel, they served us some iced coconut coffee in the little bistro in the lobby. Delicious stuff! The coffee had espresso in it, so after a few minutes rest we were wired and decided to head to Casco Viejo next. Stay tuned–
Panama city, Panama-Part 6-More photos of the Panama Canal
After a couple of hours at the Panama Canal, we jumped into Alberto’s taxi to go back to the Marriott hotel in Panama City. Alberto, being the businessman he was, said he wanted to personally show us other parts of the Canal and the city. We thought “what the heck? Let’s let this guy be our guide for as long as possible”.
There are two well known bridges across the Panama Canal: The Bridge of the Americas and the new Centenario bridge. The Centenario is quite an architectural masterpiece and after first seeing a photo of it a couple of years ago, it had always been my dream to cross it. Alberto must have read my mind because that was the first place he took us. Here is a photo of Centenario from the locks of the Canal and then a photo of it close up.
After some time driving up to the bridge, photographing more parts of the Canal, it was time to head back to the city.
Next-Back to the city.
Part 5, The Panama Canal
Alberto drove us through Balboa which is part of the Canal Zone. He showed us all of the original buildings, explained about how it was when the Americans were there, and basically just gave us a lot of trivia that we found to be very interesting. He seemed genuine in his effort to make us feel welcome to Panama.
When we arrived at the Canal, Alberto asked if he could just wait for us and take us back to the hotel. He said it would be better for us since we already knew him. We agreed, fully realizing that he wanted the opportunity to make a few extra bucks, which was really ok with us.
The entrance to the museum building is shown below:
The museum is incredible. They show the whole story of how the Canal was built. There is also a short film of about 12 minutes in the auditorium. You don’t want to miss it. To really do the museum right, you need to allocate about 1.5-2 hours. There is lots to see—also a gift shop.
The real show is outside on the Canal when the ships come through. They announce them on a loudspeaker as they enter the lock. There is outside seating in a shaded pavilion to observe the passage of the ships through the Canal. It is quite a show. I was fulfilling a life long dream of seeing the Panama Canal.
As the ships pass through, the crew members on the ships are often times on deck taking photos as they pass the Miraflores sign on the locks. It is funny, they are taking photos of us and we are taking photos of them.
Here are some photos of the canal and of a ship as it passes through the Miraflores locks.
Next-some other photos of the Panama Canal and two famous bridges