The humans have stayed busy running the Sail Loft. But all work and no play make them boring dog owners. Do not get me wrong, as far as my doggy life style goes, all the jungle trails and beaches surrounding Shelter Bay Marina are all I need in life.
The humans did take a day off and joined in on the festivities surrounding the Grand Opening of the New wider Panama Canal passage that follows the older sections.
Despite having modern equipment at their disposal, these new MEGA locks took as long as the original canal to build.
But now the modern giant container and cruise ships can pass through the isthmus. If you are interested in engineering, you should really look up information on how these new locks work. It is really quite fascinating.
All this was fun and entertaining, but my humans really craved a little get away. Some place with a little history and culture perhaps. One place to find that is in Panama City.
So I sent them off on a little over night city break.
Shelter Bay Marina is on the Caribbean Sea side of the Panama Canal, while Panama City is on the Pacific Ocean side. It only takes between 11/2 to 2 hours to cross the entire country of Panama here.
The humans dropped me off with ‘willing’ neighbours and caught the Marina’s free weekly shuttle (Wednesdays) to Panama City.
The shuttle dropped them off at Albrook Mall.
Albrook Mall is not only the largest mall in both the Americas, but the transportation hub of Panama City. You can get anywhere in Panama from here.
My humans had a ‘nose about’ and then caught the subway into the City proper.
Fast, clean and cheap (35cents) the subway beats trying to get around Panama Cities busy streets. The humans were off to visit the Fish Market just two stops away.
Just a short walk from the subway stop you will find the bounty of the Pacific Ocean.
Looking down on only a small section of this thriving commercial market
Whole yellow finned tuna. Yum!
More than just fish, there is also a huge assortment of lobster, crabs, mussels, clams and, of course, prawns. Yum, yum!
All this great sea food only wets your appetite. You can dine at the restaurant on the top floor of the Fish Market or outside at the many kiosks that line the walkway between the market and the docks.
Busy docks as fishing vessels unload their cargo.
The humans choose to sit outside and ‘people watch’. If you choose the kiosks with the most locals seated at it, you can not go wrong.
You can get a full cooked meal, but the humans choose to slowly eat their way through the entire ceviche menu one cup at a time. At $1.50 a beer and cups of ceviche starting at $1.50 it was a fun, delicious and economical way to while away the afternoon.
But then a walk was in order to work off all that food.
If you follow the waterfront Panama cities Old Town is only a 30 minute walk away. Along the way you get great view over the water the skyscraper dominated city centre.
On the other side of the peninsula here you also get a view over the water to the walled in Old Town.
The humans picked a hotel right on the edge of the Old Town.
Casa Panama is a lovely hotel, but the male human had an ulterior motive for choosing this hotel. It is right beside a pub that brews its own fine selection of ales and stouts. More on that later!
Like most Spanish architecture of this era the hotel structure was dominated by a beautiful central courtyard. But the high light of this hotel is the views from it’s roof top restaurant and bar.
From the roof you get fabulous views out towards the main city centre and also back into the old quarter.
So off the humans went to explore.
Narrow streets, old buildings with rod iron balconies and little urban parks dominate this quarter of the city. Local and tourist interest in the area has lead to major regeneration projects.
Most of Old Town has been lovely restored, especially the churches.
The historical, cultural, religious and economical influence of the Panama Canal is evident everywhere.
But there is more to see than just history and architecture here.
There are lots of street art and galleries. Restaurants and park side cafes. Boutiques and souvenir vendors. But where did the humans end up after their walk? You guessed it!
A little ‘parched’ they ended up at the pub trying out Panama’s version of a good pint.
You can forgive them as it has been a few years since they had a sip of a fine ale. They were entertained by the stories of an expat who had been based in Central America for a few years. Lots of learn from those that had ‘been there done that’!
The streets of Old Town are even more ‘alive’ at night. Even mid week.
Beautifully lit up, tourists and locals alike pile into this quarter of the city to enjoy the restaurants, jazz bars and cafes.
There are places to stay and eat in the Old Town to match any ones budget including a youth hostel and grocery stores.
My humans returned to their little bit of luxury after feasting at an ‘all you can eat’ sushi bar.
No late nights on the terrace for these two. They had an early start in the morning to catch a very special train.
Welcome to the Panama Canal Railway. A train service that runs once a day from Panama City to Colon following the entire length of the Panama Canal.
This railway has become so popular with tourists that they have built a special ‘glass topped’ carnage. Check it out!
Not the most economical way to travel at $25 a ticket. But it does include a breakfast snack box and coffees.
And, short of traversing the canal yourself, you will not get better views.
The train weaves in and out of the jungle, along the canal and over the giant flood plains of Lake Gatun in the centre.
They even have an ‘intermediate’ car where you can step outside for a breath of fresh air and unobstructed views.
And that was it.
The humans caught a taxi ($3) to the Shelter Bay Marina free shuttle bus parked outside the grocery store in Colon, and travelled back to the Marina arriving at noon.
A short and sweet break, but perfectly ‘doable’ by any visiting yacht to Shelter Bay Marina before doing their canal transit to the Pacific.
The humans got their holiday, I got spoilt by the neighbor and we are all back to work again with smiles on our faces.
More later from your roving reporter.
Did you all check out the July 2016 issue of Caribbean Compass?
There are two articles on Panama. One on the Bocas del Toro area and one on the San Blasé islands. The San Blasé article ends in Shelter Bay Marina. And if you look at the end of that article you will find a little story about the Sail Loft. The first article ever written by my female human and she got it published.
Admittedly it is rather short, and obviously a ploy for publicity for the Sail Loft.