Friday, October 12, 2018

Panamá Day 2 - Panamá City

Sunday Sept 30
* * * * *
Day 2 official itinerary:
After your orientation walk, discover Panama City via its cultural touchstones as you stroll through Old Panama. Visit the ruins here and learn about this "first city built in the Pacific" at the museum on site. The remainder of the morning is yours for discovery. Spend your free time at the museum or perhaps you go back to the ruins to ascend the cathedral tower. Lunch is on your own and you can enjoy an afternoon of free time before joining your Trip Leader later.   
Upon reuniting with your Trip Leader later this afternoon, you’ll continue to discover sites like Cathedral Plaza—the Old Quarter’s largest plaza and the site of celebrations after the country won its independence from Colombia and Spain—and the Paseo Esteban Huertas promenade where you’ll take in sweeping views of the bay. 
This evening, enjoy an included Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant, an opportunity to celebrate the discoveries to come. 
*****

After a good nights sleep we woke up and got ready. We went to have breakfast and were very good again not to overdo it. There were more guests today and we met the first couple from our group. 

At 8:30 am we were supposed to assemble on the 4th floor. Everybody was punctual except one couple hadn’t arrive yet because their plane had mechanical problems. We all introduced ourselves and then Octavio led us through the orientation which took about an hour. 



We went briefly to our rooms and assembled in the lobby at 9:45 am. As we are 23 in the group we have a 45 seater bus which is too large to come to the hotel. We have to walk a few blocks to it. No problem. We find out that there is so much police because this is where the presidential palace is located. 


Part of our group. I think this is a cute photo. 


We wandered this way yesterday already. The Presidential Palace from the waterside.


Octavio explaines in the bus. We are driving through the new part to the other side to the Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo. 


The settlement was found in 1519 and 2 years later declared a city by the Spanish king, the very first location of Panama City. It was destroyed 1671 when it was attacked by the Pirate Henry Morgan and was later rebuild a few kilometers further west. We walked outside, went into the museum, walked some more outside. All very interesting. There was a model of the town (of about 5000 people) before it was destroyed. 






Some walked up the 95 steps of the cathedral tower but I felt I shouldn’t do that as much as I wanted to. Word was that you had a very good view if the ships waiting to enter the canal. 



(photo shared by Octavio)
Walking back towards the entrance. It looks very much like a heavy downpour is coming. A few drops will not hurt us. It is warm and very muggy already.



Octavio also talked about flora and fauna. This is called a suicide palm because it takes about 35 years until it has one gigantic flower and then dies. 


Catching the bus for the rest of the way.


We drive back through the modern part and stop to take a picture of the corkscrew highrise. Octavio gives us all these little tidbits of info which are so interesting. 


The bus drops us off where we started and we walk back to the hotel. We stop at the square shortly before we come to Rene’s Cafe for lunch. I had fish. We took what we wanted of salad, vegetable, rice etc from family style bowls. All very nice. 







Back at the hotel I went to the room to test a little but James went with Octavio and some others for more walk. 

(photo shared by Octavio)
We all met at 4:30 pm to explore the historic city some more. First information: the cathedral towers have sea shells imbedded at the top which worked as reflectors like a light tower. 


We went into the church James and I had already been in. 




Then we went to the park with the horse statue. Close by where remnants of the old city wall. 


And there were protesters Octavio wanted us to meet. About three years ago they were thrown out of there houses with government promise for this lot to build new housing but promises were not kept. 


Across the street was an abandoned school building which the 28 families now occupy in horrible conditions. 



(photo shared by Octavio)

It’s depressing but we continue our walk. We stop at another church which is famous for the gold altar. It was saved from the pirate in the old town and then brought here when this church was built. 


Here some lace photos for my lacemaking friends.





So much to see. 





I am fascinated by this tree with loads of pelicans. I try to capture at least one coming or going. This is the best I could do. 




It gets dark quickly now.



Light fades fast and we have a lovely view of the modern town. 


Back at the hotel. This concludes the official part. Dinner on our own. James and I are not hungry but think that tapas on the rooftop Octavio had pointed out during the walk would be nice. We do find it and there is a table for us at the edge. There is a lovely view over the water and the light string of the Bridge of the Americas. We order two tapas but only one comes (three spring rolls). 



There is the rooftop.


We decide it is enough, we are not hungry anyway, walk back to the hotel and fall into bed. It’s going to be an early day tomorrow.

Steps today: 13,625

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