Bright Lights Big City

Panama City Travel Blog

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Panama City at sunset

After 5 days on open water we were all itching to get back into the swing of things in a city.  Panama City didn`t disappoint.  After leaving the boat we caught a 4x4 jeep that whisked us from one side of the country to the other round some hellish bends and incredible forest scenary.  Panama City finally loomed up ahead of us, shining and shimmering in the glaring sunlight.  It was also incredibly hot, maybe the hottest city i have ever been in, and that is saying something!

With skyscrapers, ocean views, plush apartments and millionaire playboys, Panama City is probably the most high flying capital in Central America.  We were also thrilled to discover it has a Crepes and Waffles.

Oh yes it`s Ladies Night
  What more could you need?!  We were based in Casco Viejo, the old historic centre, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is still undergoing restorations to restore it to its former glory.  I actually loved the contrast of old and new, delapidated and modern.  It gave the whole area a real atmospheric feel.  I also loved that from the point you could stand and watch the sunset over the shimmering skyscrapers across the bay.  Wow!

After taking in the city, finding the best ice cream shop was right around the corner and watching the sunset we were ready to party with the rich and famous.  The night led us to a self contained street, Zona Viva where there were more bars and clubs than you had time to check out.  The reggaton played, the locals swung their hips and sashayed across the floor and Jenny won a bottle of booze.

Old school bus
  Drink, dance, fall down!

No trip to Panama is complete without a trip to see one of the most inspiring engineering feats ever undertaken, The Panama Canal.  The canal joins the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through a series of locks which stretches over 51 miles.  It had a massive impact on the shipping trade as it meant that the trecherous Drakes Pass and Cape Horn could be avoided and trips were much shorter.  After the Spanish first suggested a quicker route through the seas through Panama, the project was finally taken up in 1889 by the French.  However, overcome by problems and diseases (21,000 people died due to Dengue and Malaria) the project failed.  The US finally took up the project in 1904 with a better understanding of disease control and the financial requirements of such a project.

A boat clearing the Locks
  They spent the next 10 years building the canal with workers mainly from the West Indies making up the workforce.  As part of the deal for creating the locks the US had rights over them until they were handed back to Panama on the 31st December 1999 (and they are apparently run much better now!).

We took ourselves to Miraflores Lock, one of three locks on the river and the one easiest to view from Panama City.  We took a very interesting tour through the history of the locks ($8) and then went to see them in action.  Not exactly riveting stuff but it was a really interesting afternoon spent learning about this incredible place.  So many people died in its creation and it has made a massive impact on the worlds trading abilities.  There are approved plans to extend and widen the canal over the next decade, lets hope that no lives are lost this time!

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Panama City at sunset
Panama City at sunset
Oh yes it`s Ladies Night
Oh yes it`s Ladies Night
Old school bus
Old school bus
A boat clearing the Locks
A boat clearing the Locks
Look at the bottle of Vodka we fou…
Look at the bottle of Vodka we fo…
Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo
The Lunas Castle Crew including Ma…
The Lunas Castle Crew including M…
Tierra Firma ... Panama City
Tierra Firma ... Panama City
Panama City Hostels review
A great location in Casco Viejo. The building is gorgeous and with a movie theatre, great bar and one o fthe best appointed guest kitchens i`ve seen … read entire review
Panama City
photo by: Biedjee