Miami & Panama City


En route to Panama we stopped off at Miami for a few hours and headed down to South Beach hoping to catch the rollerbladers and speedo Italian beach weightlifters. Took the local bus passing insane numbers of 16 year olds in brand new SUVs but it only took us to mid beach and so we only stayed 30 minutes as our attire (Si in trousers and trainers) and lack of swimwear made it a little bit torturous. Stuck at the airport for a while due to a passing storm; “for those of you running to the gate.. there is no need. Your plane is going no where”. The storm was pretty amazing and within about 30 seconds of it passing, like the start of the day in the Truman show, in one instant everything starting working again.miama
Arrived in Panama City, and after the fun of no pre booked taxi waiting for us, not having a hotel phone number, not having a full address and having a confirmation email with a different hotel address to the one that is actually on the sign and that everyone uses, we managed to get to our hotel at about midnight. Our top floor room overlooked the Panama Canal; perfect view with Local Beer #1 (Bilboa) and Si regressing to my nephew Liam’s age; getting overly excited by all the big boats passing by.

Fruit Loops!

A few of the usual teething issues (costs of transport, phones not working, and Si’s card being blocked – screw you Lloyds TSB) we headed down to the old colonial town, Casco Viejo (San Felipe). Described as similar to Havana’s old town due to the dilapidated colonial architecture. However you couldn’t really venture outside the rejuvenated, policed, tourist area, which felt really odd to me. Still managed to find a local cheap cafe where we were the only gringos, so that made up for it a little (even though they still had English menu’s 😉 ). Of course I was trying to re-learn my Spanish and on being told a cab ride would cost  U$17 US I felt pretty good and telling him this was far too much and we should only pay U$10… but as soon as I got in the taxi I realised he’d originally said U$7… thankfully he laughed at me telling him my Spanish was bad (in Spanish) and we paid $7…

miaiaiaNot a fan of cities (without exciting turbulent histories…) and Panama City is joked as being the “Miami of the South, but with more English speakers”.. so we headed to the Smithsonian Museum, which is a conservation education centre. Fun and I managed to find the sloth in the forest (go me!) Forced Si to give up his manhood and ride a 2 man wussy 1920’s (or not.. ?!) bicycle. We tried to go somewhere cheap for dinner, but the restaurants we wanted to go to had shut down.. and ended up being dropped in the middle of Calle Uruguay… where all the fashionable eateries/discos are! The only cheap (pizza) place had turned into a new financial skyscraper… so we had to bite our tongues.. and go for expensive (for Panama.. not for London….) Chinese at Madame Changs…which has great reviews in the NY Times. OH NO!! Si said it had the best crispy noodles he has ever tasted… but for me the HK Golf Club still comes up trumps on that one!!Saw the owner on the way out and he seemed excited at our raving reviews… even despite our backpacker sandal-short combo!

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