Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Panama Travel

Facebook keeps reminding me that around this time last year, I was in Panama. I just realized I hadn’t posted photos here!

I never would have chosen Panama myself. I truly had never even considered it among my top destinations. I’ve found that when I go to a place with high expectations, having done tons of research and planning, I tend to be a little disappointed. It seems to never live up to all the photos I’ve seen and all the travel blogs I’ve read. But, when I go to a new place with little or no expectations, I’m usually blown away. This is true for all of the best trips I’ve been on.

My sister works at Expedia, as a geographer, and spends all day at work looking at maps, researching hotels, and basically daydreaming about travelling. She also has insight to good deals, and gets special perks and discounts. So, last year when she suggested Panama, even though I had never considered it and only knew it for it’s hats and canal, I said yes. Yes, yes, a million times yes. (I probably didn’t say it like that). The four of us (me, Evan, Amanda, and her then boyfriend-now husband Pete) spent a few days in Panama City, and the rest of our time on Isla Colón, an island in Bocas Del Toro province. 

Here are my faves. All photos taken with our iPhones. 

In Panama City
Casco Viejo/ Casco Antiguo is the historic district of Panama City. Take in all the beautiful architecture and old churches and ruins. Eat at the Fish Market food truck (not to be confused with Mercado de Mariscos, the actual fish market), which is inside the ruins of a cleared out old building, where nature is taking over, and you can sit under twinkly lights eating fish tacos. Magic. Get coffee from Unido Coffee Roasters, which is a hip little spot that sources it’s beans from local Panamanian growers. 

Mercado de Mariscos: This is a huge fish market, between the downtown core and Casco Viejo. Pick a food stall, order ceviche, eat it on a cracker, chase it down with an icy cold can of Panamanian beer.

Panama Canal: We just went to the Miraflores visitor center, rather than on an actual boat tour, and it was awe-inspiring. You can watch boats (the biggest boats I’ve ever seen) go through the locks, and learn about all about the history of the canal. Very cool stuff!

In Isla Colon / Bocas
We stayed at Turtle Beach House bed and breakfast, and loved every second of it. My review is here. Watch parrots fly around in the trees outside the B&B, spy on the sloths, eat and drink at the beach bar!
This was the "road" to the beach house! 
Rent ATVs from Flying Pirates, check out Noriega's ruins, where he supposedly had an airstrip in the jungle and buildings for his operation (ps. after being there, the episodes of Narcos where they mentioned Noriega were pretty rad to watch). Adventure around in the jungle and get muddy, get freaked out by the howler monkeys, find your own private beach, repeat.
ATV into town, find out where the locals get their fried chicken. We went on a boat tour, which would have been a lot better if wasn't stormy that day, but there was a lot of cool stuff to see, like dolphins, little red frogs, mangroves, and pretty scenery.

I give Panama an enthusiastic two thumbs up! Would visit again!
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