To fly to Havana from Sydney, we had to fly through L.A. and Panama City. We stopped off in Panama City for 3 days on the first leg for a little break before flying into Havana.
The Panama Canal is one of the seven wonders of the industrial world and cuts through Panama from one side to the other, linking the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. The enormous scale of this operation was highlighted as we looked out of the window of the plane as it descended towards Panama City. Dozens and dozens of ships were dotted on the dark blue Pacific Ocean, waiting for their turn to enter the Canal.
We stayed at the beautiful Hotel De Ville in a large two-storey room with colonial-style decor. The ground floor had two lounge-areas, a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, study area and a bathroom. The bedroom on the second floor was complete with a bathroom as well as a television unit and mini bar inside a colonial-style wardrobe. Although the room was a little dark as there was a building right next to our window, it was still very spacious and the perfect place to recover from a very long flight.
We ate most of our meals at the hotel’s restaurant, Alkimia, because it was convenient but also tasty and very good value for money. The menu was extensive with a selection of pizzas, pastas, salads and paellas all for around US$10 to US$15.
The paella was exceptional and no, we didn’t finish it and sincerely hope the lovely waiter took it home for his family. The flan was my favourite dessert of our entire trip because it reminded me of Sri Lankan caramel pudding. It was so soft, creamy and sugary. We also ordered a delicious cream brûlée to share.
It was in Panama that we had our first encounter with pyramid-shaped tea bags. The only difference, in my view, was how elegant these pyramid-shaped silken infusers by Tea Forte looked compared to an ordinary tea bag.
We spent our only full day on a partial-transit Panama Canal tour. It was super hot and humid on the boat, but thankfully the tour provided plenty of bottled water (although tap water is very safe to drink) as well as a buffet lunch. Although I was tired from jet lag and the heat, it was a day well spent. We saw and experienced one of the seven wonders of the modern world and travelled under the Bridge of Americas.
Other memories of our short trip include the friendly people; getting my glasses fixed on the spot for just US$4 at the Optometrist; delicious food in any cuisine and; great shopping. I’m glad we chose Panama City for our stopover and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a visit to this city.