07 Nov 2016

Sunny In Panama City Panama

Hello world. Hope you all had a great weekend. My experience in Panama City, Panama last week was simply beautiful. 

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Panama City is the the most cosmopolitan capital in Central America. It is also Central America’s most attractive, safest Capital City and a curious blend of old Spain, modern America and the bazaar atmosphere of the East.

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 If I could use one word to describe Panama City, Panama…CONTRAST! There’s the old city with beautiful colonial architecture while the new city boast sultry skyline of shimmering glass and steel towers that is reminiscent of Miami or Dubai. 

HISTORY

The Republic of Panama is a former Spanish colony in Central America with a mixed population of Creoles, mestizos, European immigrants, Africans, and indigenous Indians. Panama City was founded in 1519 by the Spanish governor Pedro Arias de Ávila (Pedrarias) not long after Balboa first saw the Pacific. Panama became an autonomous nation because of its function as the custodian of the transisthmus shipping route—the “path between the seas.” It gained independence in 1903 as part of an American-sponsored revolt against Colombia that led to the signing of a treaty granting the United States the right to build the Panama Canal. The city’s only major setback in recent times occurred in 1989, when it was invaded by the USA to oust dictator Manuel Noriega from power. The capital suffered damage both from the invasion itself and from the subsequent looting, and several residential blocks of the El Chorillo district were destroyed by combat-ignited fire. Today, Panama City is by far the wealthiest city in Central America, and residents are wholly optimistic about the future – and with good reason. 

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BEFORE TRAVELING TO PANAMA

Visa: As an American you do not need to have a tourist visa to enter Panama. However, there are specific requirements that Americans need fulfill in order to be let into the country, such as a US passport that is valid for at least 3 months.

Language:The official language is Spanish, but English is used widely in business, especially banking and tourism, and by some people of African descent.

Money: Panama’s official currency is the balboa. The rate of exchange for the balboa has always been tied to the US dollar—one dollar equals one balboa. Panama does not, however, print its own paper currency and instead uses the US dollar as legal tender. While shopping or eating out, you may see prices with either a “$” or a “B/” before them, corresponding the dollars or balboas. They mean the same thing and have the same value.

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Departed from Houston International Airport (IAH) to Tocumen International Airport (PTY)

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I stayed at the Aloft Hotel. In the San Francisco neighborhood, it’s just 20-25 minutes from the international airport, across the street from the Altapa Convention. There are several restaurants within walking distance.  The hotel is beautifully decorated and the room was extremely comfortable.

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This mirror was the first thing I noticed in the room. I took countless pictures here. 

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Welcome fruits from Aloft

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After I settled in the hotel. I was given suggestions for one of the authentic restaurants in Panama City for dinner. 

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Las Tinajas is an attractive Panamanian restaurant with a convenient location in the financial district that offers a folk-dancing show every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. The hour-long show starts at 9 pm and costs $10—plus you need to consume $12 worth of food and drink. Reserve ahead of time or arrive early to choose a good table, since the stage is at the center of the room and not all tables have great views.

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These amazing dancers are wearing traditional costume of Panama, Pollera. One of the most expensive traditional dresses in the world. They are handmade and could take more than 6 months to make. Price…$25,000. So I decided to pose wearing my $19.99 dress!

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I got up pretty early the next morning to workout and get a quick swim before exploring Panama City. 

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It was time to explore Panama City

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WALK ALONG THE CINTA COSTERA

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The Cinta Costera of Panama City is a place to enjoy green areas without leaving the city. The strip covers over 35 hectares, 16 of which are completely devoted to green spaces. Bordering the Bay of Panama, the strip links modern Punta Paitilla to the Panama Viejo district. As you walk along, the road will take you from the skyscrapers on one end to the colonial-era constructions on the other.

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 CASCO VIEJO

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 Casco Viejo (Spanish for Old Quarter), also known as Casco Antiguo or San Felipe, is the historic district of Panama City.

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I have to say, I had an excellent experience in this restaurant. Service was awesome. Environment is clean and offers a well balanced colors. A colorful blend of spanish and argentinian flavored style menu.

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The next day, I had delicious breakfast at Aloft Hotel before heading to the airport.

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Panama City is truly a city of beautiful contrasts. I hope this post helps inspire you all to visit Panama. 

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