Panama City is aptly called “little Miami” with a dazzling skyline along the coast. Because it is the financial epicenter of Latin America, sky scrapers abound in the Financial District.
The old quarter, or Casco Viejo, is easily walkable. It has a Havana vibe, with colorful colonial structures and narrow streets. While strolling along, we admired the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Antigua of Panama, along with a few other landmarks like the Bridge of the Americas.
We hiked to the top of Ancon Hill, which afforded great panoramic views of the city.
We stayed in a Salinas Hostel, which was fabulous. The overall hipster and eclectic vibe was a welcome change to our previous hostels and the rooftop taco bar was incredible.
The Panama Canal is one of the 7 man-made wonders of the world, and for good reason. The building began by the French in 1880, but was abandoned in 1900 after financial woes. In 1904, the United States took over construction. It is 80 kilometers long and navigates from the Caribbean Ocean to the manmade Lake Gatun, and out to the Pacific Ocean. A series of locks allow boats to gain elevation and then lose elevation while crossing the Continental Divide, rather than digging the trench that much deeper. Panama later built a new lock that is larger allowing for bigger cargo ships. The old lock costs $300-400,000 to cross, while the new lock cost $500-800,000. We witnessed a few boats crossing the Miraflores Lock before visiting the museum.