29.10.2006 - 01.11.2006 25 °C
Paulo, a bloke from Saõ Paulo I had met in Santa Catalina, and I arrived in Panamá on Sunday afternoon. Paulo had to catch a flight and I took a taxi to the International Voyager Hotel, a lovely hostel in the heart of the new centre of Panamá. I got to know Skynnie and Stephan, two blokes from near to Cologne, the moment I arrived at the hostel. We sat down at the terrace on the 8th floor with a brilliant view over the new part of Panama with all its skyscrapers, played some guitar, well at least Skynnie did and sang a bit. Apparently, Skynnie knew quit some traditional songs and some gipsy music as well, which was of course lovely to hear again, as I am not carrying any i-pod, nor discman with me. A lot of Cerveza Panama flew, it was a lovely night, with the music, the warmth and the beautiful view, I felt at home straight away.
Next morning, it was time to go on exploring a bit and that is what I did! I wanted to go to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal and for that I had to catch a bus at Plaza cinco de mayo. So, I caught the bus at Via España, near to our hostel and tought I would recognize the square when we would arrive there. As you guessed I did not and when we arrived at the final busstop after a while I realised that I had missed it and did the rest of the bus tour, asking the driver to warn me when to get of this time. Well, to look at it from the bright side, I had a lovely two-hour tour around the old part and the new part of Panama City for only ten dollar cents!
In the end I managed to catch the bus to the Miraflores Locks where there was just a couple of boats going through and it was really interesting to watch one of the technical wonders of the world from that close.
The bus back took quite a while, too, in the evening traffic, but at least I had seen a good part of the city, from the bus, and the canal! The buses are so cool and kitchy, you cannot believe it. They are like American school buses but on the outside, they are all covered in flashy paintings, flickering lights and spoilers and on the inside, there are red lights, stickers saying Jesus is great and cheezy music playing at times.
Next morning, I had planned a visit to the old city centre, Casco Viejo, but as it did not stop pooring down, I could only leave around 3 p.m. Despite Lonely Planet warnings and warnings of the hostal´s pesonnel, I did not find Casco Viejo a dodgy area, on the contrary. It is a nice part of the city with quite some beautiful old buildings and houses and with a good view on new Panamá from the beach. There is not a lot of tourits walking around, but there is loads of guards, so I did not feel unsafe for one second. I walked all the way back on the Avenida Central and Via España, which was a nice experience, very busy.
On wednesday, in the morning I had a flighth to catch that would take me to Lima.
Hope you are all doing well!