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2017 FEB - CASCO VIEJO LAZY DAY & WELL LAID PLANS GO TO SHIT

Tour guide a no show, so we had to wing it & locals take all the seats.

sunny 30 °C

DAY 6 SATURDAY 11TH FEBRUARY

Our plan for today was to do a free (tips only) walking tour of the local area of Casco Viejo. The meeting point was only a couple of blocks away and not until 11am so we had a leisurely breakfast and time to kill.

Outside it looked a little cloudy, not overcast, just fluffy white clouds that we had not seen in previous days. Temp still up there.

We were at the meeting place 10 minutes before schedule so grabbed a park bench and people watched as we waited. And waited. And waited. By 11.30am we realized the tour guide was a no show and there did not seem to be anyone else waiting for a tour so that was that. Not having any other plans we just went on a little walk by ourselves, choosing streets we had not yet been along.

There is a lot of renovation going on in this neighbourhood as old run down buildings were being brought back to life and changed mainly into accommodation of some sort. The whole area is UNESCO and World Heritage Listed so I'm sure this is a costly task for the owners. We stumbled across a street that had some very posh looking places already restored to former glory and some in the same street under renovation. We could tell by the make of the cars in the street that this was a well do to part of town. Very nice indeed.

Even since we have been here in Panama City we have seen huge birds circling overhead like vultures. We got to see some up closer today and it turns out they are actually vultures. Not quite sure why they are always circling, and not sure I want to know either.
And there is street art everywhere. Colourful mural art - some of it very beautiful.

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We promised ourselves yesterday we were going to treat ourselves to lunch at the fish market today so really we just need to kill time until it was time to eat. Walking around killing time is not always ideal in this heat, but today was not so bad as there was a swift breeze that cooled us a little. We exited the neighbourhood of the old town because being a weekend it was crawling with tourists. Not sure why it was more crowded today as apposed to weekdays as people on holidays have a weekend all week. Nevertheless, it was much more crowded than other days so we went for a short walk outside the Casco Viejo. We walked along the water front of bella vista which gave a nice view of the Panama City skyline.

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Finally it was time to eat again and we had already chosen the restaurant we were going to patronage. Funny, how one side of the market is like a line of very touristy restaurants with waiter touts hassling everyone as they walked past, and on the road side was obviously where the locals ate. So that is were we chose to go also. We ordered octopus ceviche, fish cocktail, clams with garlic sauce and plantain shells stuffed with seafood. Washed down with a couple of local beers our lunch splurge cost US$30 but it was most enjoyable, and how many times in our life will we eat in the fish market in Panama City?

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After the big lunch we staggered home with full bellies, it was about 1.5km including a detour to the supermarket for dinner supplies and a couple more cans of rum.

Back at the hostel we settled in for our, now regular, afternoon nanna nap. This is starting to become a habit, I think we have had an afternoon nap everyday. It's the heat, its so draining lol , and we are doing a bit of walking around the place. Anyway I don't need to justify it, we are on holidays and if a nanna nap is in order then so be it.

We ventured out again at about 5 to have a drink in a square - later finding out drinking in public is illegal. Oops, lucky our cans were disguised underneath coolers.

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On our return we sat around chatting with fellow hostellers about the days' activities as Lyn waited her turn to use the kitchen, yes Lyn cooked dinner, well done!


DAY 7 SUNDAY 12TH FEBRUARY

Weather is still beautiful so we decided to go to the beach today. Closest beach to Panama City is an island just off the coast, so after breakfast we packed up our beach goodies, packed a picnic lunch and headed out to get a taxi that would take us to the ferry dock. I asked our receptionist what we should pay for a taxi and she said 7 or 8 dollars. WOW, that seemed a little steep to me, must say the staff here are not all that helpful. I know there is a language difference and we don't speak their language, but they are working in a hostel so really I expect them to be a little more helpful with information about places to visit and price to get there.

Anyway we started walking and after rejecting 2 (for no particular reason) we nodded at the 3rd taxi that had honked at us and asked the price to the ferry dock for Taboga Island. He said US$15! I laughed and continued walking. He was keen so actually got out of his car and yelled up the street at me $10 - we kept walking. The same taxi had come around the block we had just walked the other side of and said 'how much you want to pay?' cinco (5) I replied, and he said yes ok. They will try it on, and I'm sure $5 is still too much to pay but without a meter we just have to decide what we are happy to pay and go for that. No taxi driver is never going to loose out to us don't you worry about that.

It was just a short drive via the Cinta Costera which we had not yet driven on so that was a bonus ride. And then a short distance on the Amador Causeway (built with soil removed to dig out the Panama Canal) to the Balboa Yacht Club which is where the ferry leaves from. When enquiring about purchasing a ticket, we were advised that there were no return tickets available. So we could buy a ticket over to Taboga Island, but would not be able to return today. Obviously half of Panama had the same idea as us about escaping to the beach. In a way it was a relief that they did not just sell as many tickets as possible and overload the boats (we have been to countries where they do this) but it was a huge bummer as this spoiled our plan for the day.

The taxi had long gone as his next fare was waving him down as he dropped us off and although it would have been easy for us to find another ride home we decided to walk back instead. Although it was pretty hot already, we really had nothing else to do and were carrying water and a packed lunch so we would be ok. It was only about 2km back to the Cinta Costera and then that is 2.8km which we did at a strolling pace stopping regularly to take photos and water breaks. The tide was right out and we saw lots of herons fishing in the pools of water left behind by the tide and a few locals fishing as well. There was a giant catfish like looking beast stranded in one of the deeper pools, lucky for it away from where the humans were fishing. Further on we saw heaps of stingrays flying under the water in the shallow churning up the mud, looking for food I presume.

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It was an easy walk, but bloody hot.

The Cinta Costera (meaning Coastal Beltway) is a 26-hectare (64-acre) land reclamation project in Panama City, Panama, completed in 2009 at a cost of $189 million.[1][2] It extends from Paitilla to El Chorrillo. Its most recent expansion was the Cinta Costera III, which opened in 2014, along with the Maracana Stadium.

The Cinta Costera Viaduct is part of Cinta Costera Phase III. Consisting of a roadway bridge and pedestrian bridge, the 2.5-kilometer-long marine viaduct encircles Panama City’s historic and governmental district of the Casco Antiguo. The viaduct surrounds the World Heritage Site-Archaeological Site of Casco Viejo, Panama and Historic District of Panamá, as defined by the United Nations (UNESCO).

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We had our picnic lunch in Bolivar Square, on the way buying a chirzo sausage on a stick being sold on the door step of a local resident. Very enterprising selling cold drinks and sausages on a stick cooked in a sandwich toaster.

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We missed our afternoon nap today, too busy doing nothing. A trip to the supermarket for supplies to take to our next destination and more coldies. Still lots of tourists around Sunday afternoon, when we went out again around sunset for a bit of souvenir shopping. Lyn wanted a Panama hat that was bought in Panama City so we managed to get that.

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Back at the hostel Lyn cooked dinner again, gee she's good isn't she, and we sat talking with some younger backpackers, getting tips for our future destinations.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:33 Archived in Panama

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Comments

The viaduct looked really nice...all the photos are great.
The temps here been up to 37 and bloody humid. Keep cooking Lyn you don't want to starve!?? Xxxxhapp travels!!

by Marcia

Well, well. well! You girls are traversing our planet again - the unique and exciting Bruin way. Half your luck, I'm envious. Am following your adventures with delight. Enjoy, happy trails, stay safe.
Raymond.

by Raymond O'Shanassy

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