Sunday, November 29, 2015

last stop: panama

The last leg of our trip was from Costa Rica to Panama. Rather than flying, due to close proximity, we took a BUS from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Panama City, Panama. Guess how long the bus ride was? 17 hours!

We left Costa Rica at midnight, and were anticipated to get to Panama City at 5 pm the next day. That included the time to cross the border and a few quick stops. Our plan was to try to sleep as much as possible during the night, which we were both able to do relatively okay. However, we were woken up at 6 am when we got to the border crossing. Unfortunately, the border didn't open until 7 am, so, we waited and waited and waited... when the border finally did open, it was another confusing and complicated process. If you were from some countries of origin, you needed a copy of your passport (luckily not us, since we had no idea how to get copies of our passports at 6 am in this border village!). You also needed to have $500 cash on you, as well as prove that you had a ticket/method/plan to return to your country of origin. (not sure how that works if you are traveling and not going directly home?! Good thing we were heading back to Canada!)

As long as the bus ride sounds, it really wasn't THAT bad. They fed us both breakfast & lunch at least, which was good because we had only brought little snacks & drinks, assuming the bus would be stopping at places to get food. (they didn't)

Alas, this was the last leg of our honeymoon, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience so many cool cultures & experiences on this once-in-a-lifetime trip! (I just tried typing this after the photos, but for some reason its not letting me type there... apparently I need to blog more to get back into the swing of things!)

This was what our breakfast came in - isn't it adorable?! It's a bus! (Tica Bus is the bus line we rode, it was like  Greyhound bus. Thank goodness this one had air conditioning!)

Inside, there were games. This kept us occupied for a solid 30 minutes.


So, after a long bus ride, we were finally in Panama! (this picture was actually our last day there, but again, weird blog things are happening. The photos aren't uploading in order for me for whatever reason....) We were staying downtown Panama City, and it's a huge metropolitan area. High rises everywhere!
 

This is on the other side of the pedestrian crossing the above photos are on. Traffic was nuts!!! Also, despite it looking gloomy, it was HOT.
 
This was our dinner once we got to our hotel and settled in after the bus ride. PF Changs! Delicious! There are a lot of chain restaurants, stores etc. in Panama.

The view from the patio of our hotel was gorgeous! (I apologize that I'm too lazy to go through and edit all the date stamps out of the photos...)

The first full day we were there, we took a big, red, double decker sight seeing bus around the city. This was cool to help us get our bearings straight of where things were!



There was some really pretty architecture on our drive.

This is at one of the mall stops. The malls in Panama are HUGE. Like we are talking THREE food courts huge. All of the entrances have a letter & animal associated with them, and there were alphabetical entrances. I am pretty sure it got about 75% through the alphabet - it was ginourmous!

One of our first stops - the Panama Canal!



Unfortunately, we had JUST missed the last boat of the day going through the canal. This is it, almost done.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't know much about the canal & how it worked prior to going here. My smarty pants husband taught me all about it though, and it's fascinating!



There's a 5 story museum that we went to; lots of cool history about the building of the canal, types of sea life in the area, people who work there etc.
 
Another beautiful part of the drive! We drove to some islands, and this is the view of the city on the way back.


We went to Old Panama. The bus dropped us off and you could go wherever, and just be back for the next bus. (it was a hop on hop off kinda deal) We went to the right in Old Panama, and ended up in some quite sketchy areas. The good news is that I got a cheap watch that I love! (albeit it's needed a new battery already since coming home... haha) Once we got back to the bus stop area, we realized that if we had gone to the left in Old Panama, there was a quaint, charming, pretty part of the city. This would have been much nicer than where we went!!

So, we had a quick beer in the nice part of Old Panama before heading out. (see my watch there?!) (also, please note, SO HOT)


On our last evening in Panama, we went to an authentic Panama restaurant, that even had a show, called Las Tinajas. This is my rice and beans.

My seafood dish - I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was good!!

Some of the dancers in the show we saw during dinner. It was very interesting to see the cultural dances, and hear the music and stories. I'd totally recommend this place for a true Panamanian experience if you are there!! 

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