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Trip to Panama: Coronado, El Valle, Amador Causeway

Exploring the Panamanian Countryside


View Panama- Spring Break 2011 on pables21's travel map.

Day 2: Coronado

The first day of the trip was spent in Panama City, and it was a truly amazing day. However, we wanted to spend the next few days exploring what was outside of the city. So for Day 2 of the trip, Mason and I filled up the gas tank and drove west to the beach town of Coronado. In order to gain access to the beach, it was necessary to have a residency there so we met up with our friend Jorge and spent the day at his family's beach house. This was the most uneventful day of the trip, being that our access to the beach was actually closed. But we had a good time as we learned a lot about the local customs, played futbol and relaxed with some good friends.

I don't have too many photos from this day, but there are a few below that you can check out, showing the drive from Panama City to Coronado and the house that we stayed in for the day:

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And now in Coronado:

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Day 3: Fantastic Mistakes and Accidental Destinations

For Day 3 of our trip, we were planning on heading back to Coronado and going to the beach with our friend Ian. However, we could not reach Ian once we arrived in Coronado and had to change our plans. Instead of heading back to Panama City, I urged us to drive ahead and check out the town of El Valle. Jorge had mentioned it the day before and said it was a beautiful destination and was worth checking out, but we knew nothing more about it. On top of that, it was a good 45 minutes west of Coronado, which which placed us about 2 hours west of Panama City. However, we had nothing better to do and decided to check it out. This turned out to be the greatest surprise and accidental destination of the entire trip.

El Valle

The road to El Valle is basically one long continuous paved road that starts right off of the Pacific coast and slowly ascends high into the mountains, then descends down into the middle of a huge valley where the actual town of El Valle is located. This valley is apparently the second-largest volcano crater in the world. I'm not sure if that's true, but that's what we were told by the locals. Regardless, it's huge and beautiful and stunning and definitely worth a trip. The photos shown below showcase the drive to El Valle, as well as some of the sights as we ascended higher and higher up the mountain:

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And below are my favorite photos of the trip. This is actually "El Valle" and the town is in the bottom of the valley here, with the mountains soaring up high into the air. This is truly a hidden treasure:

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Amador Causeway

After seeing the beautiful sights of El Valle, we drove back to Coronado hoping to hear back from Ian. However, he was still out in the ocean and didn't answer our calls, so we headed on back to Panama City just to drive around and burn some time before dinner. After crossing the bridge into the city, Mason took the wrong exit and we entered a part of town that we were not familiar of. But as had been the theme of the day, this mistake actually turned into a great evening as we had stumbled upon the island that I had seen on the first day in Casco Viejo. The island and the associated roadway that connected it to Panama City were known as the Amador Causeway. The island was home to a Smithsonian science research center, as well as a marina, seafood restaurants and a few shopping districts. Yet again, Panama impressed us as the island was gorgeous. On top of that, the weather was near perfect and made for a fantastic evening on the water.

Check out the photos below to see the drive along the roadway and the island in the distance:

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Here is a portion of the marina:

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And here are some photos of the interior of the island, along with some shops and restaurants:

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The Causeway entertained us for the rest of the evening, and soon after we made our way back to Punta Paitilla and crashed for the night. This day did not go as planned, but it turned out better for that reason. Witnessing the natural beauty of El Valle and the Amador Causeway certainly served as a great way to experience the surrounding Panamanian countryside, and by "wingin' it" the day had turned out to be fantastic in every way. That's all for this entry, be sure to check out the third entry soon to read about the Panama Canal and monkeys in the rainforest!

Posted by pables21 13:20 Archived in Panama Tagged city panama pier panama_city coronado el_valle amador_causeway Comments (0)

Trip to Panama: Panama City, Casco Viejo & Panama Viejo

Taking our talents to Punta Paitilla, Panama!

sunny 80 °F
View Panama- Spring Break 2011 on pables21's travel map.

Panama City

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Traveling with my best friend Mason, the two of us flew down to Panama on a flight that took us from Chicago, IL to Fort Lauderdale, FL, then finally to Panama City, Panama. This was our spring break trip and was my first international trip in 7 years (the last trip being China in 2005). The trip almost didn't happen because we nearly missed our connecting flight in Fort Lauderdale, which would have been tragic. The plane was delayed by 30 minutes in Chicago and we only had a 30-minute layover in Fort Lauderdale. However, the flight in FL was also delayed, so we made it just in time. Talk about a stressful start to the trip!

However, the rest of the trip proved to be one of the least stressful and most relaxing times of my life. If there was one word I would use to describe my trip to Panama, it would be "freedom". It was just the two of us going to Panama, although we planned on meeting other friends who were already down there for Carnival. We had an apartment all to ourselves that was right in the middle of downtown Panama, in the district known as Punta Paitilla. We also rented a car in order to give ourselves the ultimate freedom to discover the country as we so desired, and it turned out to be the best decision of the trip.

After arriving in Panama City around 4:30am EST, we called our host who granted us his apartment for the week. You can see the view from our room in the photo above. We were 12 stories up in a highrise just off of the Pacific coast, right in the middle of downtown. For two college students, what more could you ask for?

We awoke early in the morning and immediately took our car around the city to get our bearings. My friend Mason had actually visited Panama before, so he had a general idea of the city's layout. However, it was just a "general idea" and we got lost more times than I can count. Refer below for some views of the city:

Driving in Panama City

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As you can see, Panama City is full of high-rise buildings, and they are truly everywhere. For a city that only has roughly 1 million people in it, the skyline would make you think the population is 5 times higher. Anyway, below is a photo of Niko's Cafe, which was a favorite late-night hangout among the locals and has the "best french fries in Panama." Don't believe me? That quote is actually their slogan. Definitely stop by here if you need late night food, it's open 24 hours:

Niko's Cafe

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Panama Viejo

After driving around aimlessly for a while, we decided to check out a few close destinations. Our first stop was Panama Viejo, which is a collection of ruins dating back to the 1600's. This is the oldest remaining area of the city and is a great stop for any history junkie (like myself). The first major highlight was this old cathedral that still has standing walls. The city has done a great job at renovating the floors and placing supports throughout the structure to make it accessible to the public. Check out the photos below:

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This was a great ruin to visit, but the highlight of Panama Viejo was further down the road. An old churchtower is still standing today, and visitors are able to climb to the top and get some great views of the city and Pacific Ocean:

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For a more in-depth view of the sights from the churchtower, I have embedded a video taken from the tower. You will see Mason here, and we are both taking videos because the view from up top is so spectacular that we had to get it on film. Take note that all videos recorded on this trip are just from a Sony Cybershot camera, so the quality isn't spectacular, but certainly gets the job done:

If you are visiting the churchtower, be sure to stop in the shopping area that is right next to the entrance of the tower. There are lots of booths and small shops that are full of great souvenirs, all made by local craftsmen. These are very cheap to buy and bargaining is definitely encouraged, as each person will vie for your business. Across from the shops should be a smoothie stand. It is definitely worth a stop by, as the smoothies are made with fresh fruit and are fantastic. Here is the shopping area:

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Casco Viejo

Since we had just visited Panama Viejo, the next logical destination to visit was on the other side of town, called Casco Viejo. This is another old part of the city, this time dating back to the 1800's. Casco Viejo is completely different from Panama Viejo and might be the most beautiful part of Panama City. Most of the structures are still standing and are actually receiving an extensive renovation from the city to bring this part of town back to its old grandeur. The results are startling, as Casco was a colonial Spanish settlement that has a European flair to the architecture and city layout. While much of the site has been renovated, other parts are still rundown. Try to avoid the rundown areas and stick to the renovated side, which is absolutely beautiful and has a completely different atmosphere from the rest of Panama City. Check out the sights!

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One particular place of interest in Casco Viejo is the town square featuring the Catedral Metropolitana. This particular square has the most beautiful cathedral in Panama City, along with some great shops and beautiful architecture all around. Photos of the square and cathedral are shown below, as is a video that gives a 360-degree view of this beautiful part of Casco Viejo:

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Here is the video. You will notice that I keep mispronouncing "Casco Viejo" in this video and the next video further down. It is a little embarrassing, but I corrected the mistake and am working on de-Americanizing my accent LOL:

The last place of interest in Casco Viejo is located behind this square and has two excellent lookout points that might be the best photograph spots in all of Panama City. From these points, you look back and see the entire skyline of Panama City, and as amazing as it is in a photo, it is 10 times more beautiful when you are actually there. This was a great area and also showed us the islands off in the distance, as well as the Bridge of the Americas, which connects Panama City to the Western side of the country. Yet again, I have photos and a video provided to get a true sense of what it is like in this beautiful part of the city.

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And the video. Again, sorry for the poor quality:

One Amazing Day

After visiting Casco Viejo, we both decided to head back and rest until the evening. Later, we met up with some friends and partied the night away. It was a pretty incredible first day in Panama, and it only got better from here. I hope you enjoyed this first entry about my Panama trip, and be sure to check back soon for the second entry!

Posted by pables21 01:39 Archived in Panama Tagged cathedrals city cathedral beautiful panama beauty panama_city viejo casco_viejo panama_viejo town_square Comments (0)

Trip to Panama- Spring Break 2011

My first international trip in 7 years!


View Panama- Spring Break 2011 on pables21's travel map.

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This post is going to serve as an introduction to my trip to Panama during Spring Break 2011. I traveled there with my best friend Mason and met other friends who are natives of Panama and we had met in Kentucky. The trip was from March 2, 2011 - March 10, 2011 and just so happened to occur during Carnival season, which was honestly completely by accident (but what a great accident!). This was my first international trip in seven years, so I was extremely excited to get on that plane and land in Panama City!

For easy navigation, I have split up the trip into 4 separate blog entries. I don't think anybody wants to read one massively long blog entry about a trip, so this makes it easier on the reader. This is how it will be split up and organized:

Entry 1: "Trip to Panama: Panama City, Casco Viejo & Panama Viejo"
Entry 2: "Trip to Panama: El Valle, Amador Causeway"
Entry 3: "Trip to Panama: Colon, Portobelo, Isla Grande"
Entry 4: "Trip to Panama: Gamboa Rainforest, Panama Canal & Carnival!"

I hope you enjoy these blog entries and if you plan on visiting Panama, I hope these help in some way. There will be plenty of photos to give everyone a good look into the country. Viva Panama!

Posted by pables21 00:00 Archived in Panama Tagged introduction Comments (0)

Welcome to Paul's Travelblog!

A place to discuss amazing trips, incredible cultures, world wonders and anything travel!

Thanks again for visiting my travelblog here at Traveller's Point. My name is Paul and this blog is going to be the hub of all international trips that I take in the near future, as well as various random blog entries related around travel, World Wonders, desired destinations and pretty much anything travel-related.

Although this blog won't be updated daily (I only wish I could travel that often!), I will keep it fairly up to date as I make blog entries not only about the trips that I have already taken (China and Panama), but also about trips that I am planning for the future. And trust me, there are MANY that I want to experience, as this beautiful world is meant to be explored and I intend on doing plenty of that! Blog entries will range from summaries of various world wonders to multi-destinations trips that people should look into. I have done extensive research into many locations across the globe, and I hope to provide some ideas to not only myself, but other world travelers out there.

Just some information about myself: I just graduated from college in 2011 and live in the great state of Kentucky in the United States. I have recently gained employment in a great firm that is finally putting me in financial position to travel abroad, and I look to take full advantage of this opportunity. I anticipate traveling to the Yucatan in Mexico for my next trip, which is hopefully a few months away.

Either way, enjoy the site and be sure to read the entries about my two international trips: China in 2005 and Panama in 2011!

Posted by pables21 02:30 Comments (0)

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