We ate Greek food and tacos, visited Amador Causeway, Panama Canal and danced to live music
January 1st, 2015, Posted by travelwith2ofus
We visited Panama twice this year, in January and during the cruise in August.
We arrived on board a Copa Airlines flight. We've used Copa a couple times before and we must give them credit for always being on time. The airplanes are always very clean and well maintained.
We arrived at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama at night and after about a thirty-five minute wait cleared immigration. Getting a taxi to the Hilton Garden Inn located in Bella Vista, Panama City was hilarious. It's very competitive with each taxi service trying to get you to use them.
Nikks chose the taxi as she could speak a little Spanish and we were on our way. It's about twelve miles from the airport to the Hilton so the ride took about thirty-five to forty minutes. We were surprised that the driver didn’t speak to us much at all. You know normally they will tell you where you are and what's up ahead and make general conversation. But there was nothing much from this guy. We were also asked by the driver to give him part of the taxi fare so he can pay the tole fees.
What was really amazing was when we arrived at the hotel. Apparently, the driver was waiting for a tip and when he did not get one he stormed out without saying anything and visibly angry. Good luck with that attitude buddy.
I know what you’re going to say! But hey, we get our points for every stay at the Hilton OK! And yes! We do stay at other hotels. The Hilton Garden Inn in Panama City is a fairly small hotel. It's located in Bella Vista about 25-30 minutes from the Toucuman Airport.
The location is one of the main reasons we chose this hotel. Supermarkets, restaurants, casinos, all within walking distance or you can take a taxi just outside the hotel.
The rooms are the normal Hilton standard room, comfortable and clean. We chose a package with breakfast, which was really convenient for us. It's not the first time we chose a breakfast package. What I really love was the fresh fruits, especially the pineapple. I don’t know why, but the pineapples served at that hotel were really delicious. Had a couple slices every morning. Well more than a couple slices!
The staff was really pleasant and helpful, including the chef and we felt welcome.
I must admit that on this trip we were really more relaxed than adventurous. We didn't go all over the place as we normally do, but we did do some stuff.
The first thing we found out was that a very cost effective way to see Panama City was using the City Sightseeing Hop on - Hop-Off bus. A 24 hour unlimited travel ticket will cost you US$29 per person.
You can catch the bus at several pickup points around the city and you can purchase tickets when you board the bus. We got on at the El Panama Hotel. There are 10 designated stops on the route, which are Multicentro, Parque Urraca, Mi Pueblito, Albrook Mall, City of Knowledge, Canal de Panama, Isla Flamenco, Marine Exhibition Center, Bio Museo and Casco Antiguo.
We basically spent all day hopping on and off the bus. A funny thing happened on our first stop. We got off and were heading towards the Handicraft Center Panama Viejo when Nikks shouted "Look the bus is leaving." Yep we got left behind. We figured no problem we will just catch another bus in a short time. Wrong! It took about 2 hours for another bus to come our way. Advice? Find out if the bus is waiting or leaving immediately.
In the following days that was our main mode of transport. Even though taxis are very easy to get. Just make sure you ask the cost up front, and you can negotiate with the drivers.
Getting food Again
We found one of the most cost effective ways to eat in Panama is actually from the supermarket. You can get a whole rotisserie chicken for US$7. You can also get sides like rice and vegetables to go with it. That’s a complete meal for under US$15 bucks.
One of the places we enjoyed was the Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador). It is very popular and has lots of activities, restaurants, hotels and beautiful scenery. We had ribs at one of the joints and it was really delicious. There are literally many restaurants there, with many choices.
We did visit the Panama Canal. It would be unheard of if you've been to Panama and not visited the Canal, Right!
Nightlife in Panama is very vibrant so we went clubbing and to some of the casinos. They normally have live music and a restaurant. Of course we also visited some of the malls. Panama has some great shopping. Just so you know!
What we liked:
Immigration: No hassle. Quick
Airport transfer - You have got to negotiate with these guys!
Hotel: Courteous. Helpful. Probably could brush up on English a little.
Panama: Vibrant but easy going, Clean, most places.
What we did not like:
Having to negotiate with these taxis every single time!
Would we go Panama again? Yes.
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