12 Must-sees of Panama City
Русская версия Panama City is a gate to Central America, not only because of the Panama Canal. If you trip around Central America starts in Panama (like in our case), you will further see that Panama is very peculiar for the rest of Central America. For instance, in the same way as the whole region, Panama City is very dangerous in some areas and very safe in others. Also, as in other Central American regions, in Panama City you will fully feel what is called ‘pole-pole’ in Swahili: nobody is in a hurry, or, to make it clearer, everybody is late. This is not just the lack of rush, but ignoring any schedules and rules. Also, nobody will speak English to you, only, perhaps, at the Panama Canal – the most touristic place. This time we tell about the major sights of Panama defining the whole city.
1. Albrook bus terminal and mall cannot be avoided by any tourist. All the roads lead through it, whether the road to the airport, to the Panama Canal, Parque Nacional Metropolitano or the regions of Panama. The terminal has air-conditioned waiting rooms and wi-fi; these probably are all the positive sides of it.
After our arrival in Panama, we very trying to buy the tickets to our next destination Almirante. According to the timetable at the cashier’s desk, the ticket office for Almirante was supposed to be open from 14.00. At 12.00 the queue started to grow in front of it, which is why the air-conditioned waiting rooms were not helpful, since the hall with ticket offices was extremely hot. Yet, at 14.00 nobody opened the ticket office, neither at 14.45. By that time, we were thinking of the plan B: to buy the ticket to David or Chiriqui and then get to Almirante from one of these places. For this, we had to get the ticket from the neighboring ticket desk which turned out to sell the ticket only for the buses on the same day. In the meantime, the ticket office for Almirante was selling the tickets for the next day only. After all, we were extremely tired and decided to go to the hotel and to try to buy the ticket on the next day. This was not easy on the next day too, but after some queuing we finally got the ticket to David.
2. From Albrook, you may get to one of the most interesting places of Panama City – the Amador Causeway. This is an artificial road connecting Panama City and nearby icelands, and this is a great place for the walks. Amador Causeway opens great views to the downtown, and many come here by bicycles which can also be rented.
We came by bus till the last stop, had a great dinner at the sea restaurant, and then walked back to the mainland, enjoying the lights of downtown.
3. The modern downtown resembles American cities.
4. The small Museo Afro-Antillano in the city center tells about the Caribbean and African migration to Central America, mainly to build the Panama Canal. The exhibition is about migrants’ major professions and lifestyle in the new country.
5. The fish market Mercado de Mariscos is very authentic, on the one hand, and very touristic, on the other. You will immediately be chased by hassling waiters who will try to drag you into their restaurant. The prices are also quite high given that the city is situated at the ocean shore, but the dishes are large and quite good. Among other things, we recommend ceviche – the raw fish or seafood marinated in lime juice.
6. The fish market is not far from the old city of Panama Casco Viejo, a fine example of colonial architecture. Unfortunately, many buildings are falling apart, yet, Casco Viejo remains the most important destination of Panama City for tourists.
7. The souvenir market in Casco Viejo proovides probably the largest choice of goods if compared to other souvenir markets in Central America (at least those which we visited), also, the prices are good.
8. Museum Mi Pueblito tells about Panamenian traditional countrylife. Unfortunately, we reached it when it was being closed and could not fully enjoy it.
9. Also, we were not lucky when trying to get to the island Taboga (where people usually head for the beach from Las Perlas Ferry Terminal). Many visitors criticize Taboga for the insane number of tourists and the beaches which are very dirty. We did not get the ticket, since they were sold out, so we decided to walk along the place where the Canal falls into the ocean to observe the ships. We also witnessed the canoe competitions at the ferry terminal to Taboga.
10. Many also say that the subway is a must-see of Panama, well, it is up to you…
11. The Panama Canal is certainly the must to which we will dedicate a separate story. Remember that you should plan your visit carefully so that not to sit there for the half of the day waiting for the ship, as we did.
12. Another sight definitely deserving a separate story is the Parque Nacional Metropolitano in the very center of Panama City where you can watch wildlife, including sloths.
You may also discover some less known, yet, thrilling things in Panama by occasion. For instance, we encountered this kind of hairdresser’s.
The rally against corruption and American influence (by the way, Panama still uses dollars as its currency):
From Panama City we continued to the Caribbean, where Panama country is very different…
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