Panama City - Reminds me of Singapore!
Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
174Trip End Jan 15, 2012
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Where I stayed
Panama by Luis
I had to get up early, well 7:30am, to catch my flight to Panama City. A taxi from the hostal took just 10-15 minutes to the airport. But at the check in counter a bad surprised waited for me. In order to enter Panama you have to have a ticket out in your hand - so I had to buy a return ticket which I sure won't use. As it was the lowest fare the ticket was not refundable. Money down the drain. Once I got that sorted I went straight through to immigration. My flight was via Bogota - that take a few hours more, but it was cheaper that way. Once in Bogota a staff from CopaAir took us from the gate all the way to the international terminal and did some registration with our passports - noone understood what and why. We had another 2 hours till the departure. The duty free zone in Bogota is not great but it offers opportunities to spend your last Colombian Pesos. The flight to Panama City was smooth and we landed on time, around 5pm
My highest priority in Panama City was to get a visa for the US. As Austrian citizen I normally don't need a visa but since I am travelling with an emergency passport US embassay wants some money....and that requires for me to go to the bank, pay the visa in order to get an interview date with the embassy. It took the whole morning to get that sorted but by 12pm I had an interiew date for next Monday, 7am - one week later! I emailed the US embassy immediately to request for an earlier date but they replied that this is early enough to be in the US at my planned date, 4th August
Now it's time to get to know Panama City! I took a bus from my hostal to the FIsh Market. The buses here remind me very much of the jeepneys in Manila - like a colourful metal box! Since I was at the Fish Market I had a quick tour - it didn't smell too bad. I walked 3 streets up to Ave. Central which is partially a pedestrian zone and leads to Casco Viejo - the old part of Panama City. The area is quite colonial. Unlike the old center of Cartagena not all buildings are well maintained. Many are in the process of being restorated or torn down. Though black clouds came up, it literally drizzled for two seconds, then suddenly the sun was out. Just down the road was the Plaza Catedral with the cathedral. The middle part of the cathedral looks quite military-style, not surprising considering that the cathedral was built by some military engineers! I walked around to the tip of the center which was at the seaside. Some schoolkids in folklore clothes and with music instruments were around for a while