After a smooth 8-hour drive across the country, we made it to the capital city and if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere. Ride went ‘fast’ on the Panamerica and we really enjoyed the landscapes. Panama doesn’t cease to amaze us; it truly is a beautiful country! We were pretty excited to be in Panama City for a few days as we hadn’t been in a big city in… forever! And even though we still hadn’t decided where we would sleep as we stepped off the bus, we felt ready. Travelers had told us to go to Casco Viejo, a beautiful district while our lonely planet recommended Calle Uruguay with the happening night life. Dilemma, dilemma. The question was generously answered by greedy taxi drivers who wanted $10 to drive us to Casco Viejo. $10 vs $0.25 for a bus ride… Let me think… Still thinking… Rethinking… Thanks but not thanks! Our urban adventure started quite chaotically as we weren’t sure that we were actually on the right bus but several Panamanians made sure we were dropped off close to the areas we had chosen, hoping to find our dream hostel. Bless them!
Our hostel, El Machicho, was simply amazing! We surely didn’t expect this but the owners were incredibly welcoming and helpful and w ended up staying 4 nights. The hostel itself was just perfect with its comfortable and clean facilities. I keep mentioning cleanliness but believe me this is not something you take for granted when you are traveling! Many hostels seem easily confused with the notion of cheap and very often downgrade the cleanliness standards. Sad but true!
Our first full day in Panama City was fantastic. We enjoyed a stroll through Casco Viejo after a lunch at the fish market (mercado mariscos). The ceviche and the mix platter were deliciously cheap (or cheaply delicious!). Everything tasted so fresh and affordable, I could have stayed there a whole day! It was very interesting to see that Casco Viejo kept its colonial charm with its old buildings. The rest of the day called for a quick visit to the mall (as you do) and a nice chill by the pool. Days 2 and 3 were dedicated to outdoors (yes, you can – even in a big city), preparations for or sailing trip (as a newbie, I wasn’t going to take any risk and I got myself some nice seasickness pills) and chilling by the pool. We jumped on a bus (M and I had quickly mastered the art of traveling on the city buses) to Allbrook (a major hub for every metrobus) and from there, we caught a bus that brought us close to the entrance of Parque natural Metropolitano. Not even 24 hours in a big city and we already needed our nature fix! It took us 2 hours to walk the 4 trails, stopping for pictures and enjoying the view over the city from the ‘mirador’. The day was still early and we were happy to enjoy some pool (and do I dare to say it out loud… some more) mall time. You know what they say: you can take a girl out of the city but you cannot take the city out of a girl!
We are now ready and excited (read for me: scared as fukc) for our sailing trip to Colombia. I am greatful for being given an opportunity to face one of my biggest fear but fukc! What was I thinking?! Hopefully, I’ll survive the rough seas and live long enough to share more traveling tales! You might have noticed that we left the Panama Canal out and there’s a perfectly good explanation! Today we are going on our first and last train journey on this Central American adventure (exciting!). Since (apparently) our train will cross the canal or at least come very close to it, we figured that we could kill two birds with one stone and spare $15.
Next stop(s): Colon, Portobelo and Puerto Lindo where our boat to Cartgena, Colombia, will depart from!