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Panama City, Panama- Expect the Unexpected

So much to discover!
Panama City

It's interesting. When I decided to take a trip to Panama City, Panama, I had really not heard much about it from my friends. Oh sure, I got the "Panama City?" question from my friends who seemed to think the Panama I was going to was in Florida and when I told them, no, the "real Panama", the wrinkles in the foreheads got deeper.

And what a surprise Panama City turned out to be! From the deep history in Casco Viejo (Old Town) with beautiful hotels and restaurants, to the cosmopolitan nature of the downtown area, Panama City delivered on all I wasn't even expecting! And isn't that just the kind of place you want to head to?

First of all- it's easy. Panama takes the US dollar so no trying to figure out the exchange rate if you come from the US. That in itself makes it easy. Credit cards are also widely accepted in the bigger towns as well. Secondly- the airport is close to downtown so after landing you can be at a downtown destination in 25 minutes or so. And third, if you love water, and I do, Panama is an isthmus with the Carribean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The local language is Spanish so a few words will help you with the locals, but honestly, my Spanish needs a lot of work and people understood me just fine and many speak English especially in the major towns.

The Panama Canal keeps the economy strong as over 40 ships each day take the 8-10 hour journey to get through the canal. As one of the 7 wonders of the world, this canal is a must see. There is an amazing tourist center at the canal so be sure to build in time to go. The IMAX movie narrated by Morgan Freeman is worth the visit!

And don't miss out on the amazing restaurant scene! There are many very good restaurants in Panama City. One of my favorites since it came with a speakeasy twist was Azahar

Panama. I don't want to spoil your fun but know that you enter through a "florist" and once you pull open a door, your evening will be forever changed! Ask to sit out on the balcony so that you watch the sunset at night and sit above the lights of Panama without anyone knowing you are just above them. The food is fantastic and the drinks even better!

Or if sushi is more your thing, check out Sushark! This cozy neighborhood spot was a great find! The service was spot on, and the sushi? Well the sushi was great. Know that the specialty rolls are pretty large so you may not need as many as you think. And the decor is cute and eclectic.

Panama City is also a very walkable city. The streets are clean and well lit at night and my favorite thing they did during my visit was close one way of the main street of Cinta Costera on Sunday morning from 6am-12pm. Turns out this happens every Sunday which allows people to get out and walk, bike and jog this magnificent boulevard. There are places along the way to rent bikes, get food and water and just people watch. It's about 15km or 9 or so miles but it makes a great Sunday morning for sure. If biking is your thing- you can also bike all the way to the Amador Causeway where there are restaurants and shops to enjoy. Always something to do if the weather is cooperating.

All in all if you are looking for a great place to enjoy a get away to a Central American country- check out Panama City. It delivers on everything you were expecting and many things you weren't!


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