Sunday, March 1, 2015

Winter Escape 2015: More from Panama City

During the months of January and February we explored Panama City as much as we could in this dry season of hot temperatures. We walked and took the Metro Bus to get us to different parts of the city and even tried out the new Metro Subway.

The modern building structures are an architect's dream but the sidewalks are a pedestrian's nightmare.
We visited the BioMuseo, also known as the BioDiversity Museum: Panama the Bridge of Life, located on the Amador Causeway in Panama City. It is a newly opened facility designed by Canadian Architect, Frank Gehry. Its unique design of oddly shaped cubes and squares in various positions makes it an eye-catching structure.

BioDiversity Museum: The Bridge of Life
We walked through the different parts of the building viewing an exhibit within an open space with a pleasant cross breeze coming through the structure as we absorbed the content on each of the colour-coded information pillars. It was time well spent.

Inside the BioDiversity Museum: Pillars of Information
On a Saturday, we did the full day Panama Canal Cruise. We embarked the Pacific Queen cruise ship from Flamenco Island located beyond the Amador Causeway in Panama City. We spent 8 hours on this vessel that took us through the Miraflores Locks and the Gatun Locks from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side. 

This was an awesome experience watching the gates open and close as our vessel was positioned in each chamber with other small vessels; the cargo ships had their own chambers within their own water lanes.

In the Canal: Gates closing behind our vessel

In the Canal Chamber: Gates closed
We were in and out of the locks as we watched our vessel gradually rise and fall with the water as it was piloted through the Canal.

In the Canal, watching the water rise in the chamber

Yikes! Change of protocol; a car carrier vessel is brought into the small vessel water lane.

Going through the Gatun Locks in the Canal.

View of Coln from our vessel as we get closer to the docking area
We disembarked the Pacific Queen in Coln, on the Atlantic side of Panama and were driven back to Flamenco Island to catch a taxi back home. Apart from watching the inner operations of the Panama Canal we met travellers from Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Britain, America and of course, Canada; all came to do the cruise and then onto further travelling in Central America. It was indeed a memorable day.

Within these two months in Panama City we can claim that we did all that a tourist can do in Panama City, i.e. experience the Panama Canal either through the cruise or through a visit to the Panama Canal Museum and viewing deck--we did both, spend time in the Panama Ruins area, Casco Viejo, Flamenco Island, BioMuseo and apparently the three shopping malls located in different parts of the city--the latter not so interesting to us. It is now time for Playa Serena, about an hour away from the City to spend the month of March basking in the sun and strolling along the beach.

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