Mud bath in hot springs
Monkeys at the park
Spotted a sloth
Local food at fish market
Made our first travel friends
Work – travel combi
We have survived the first ten days of our trip! If these 10 days feel like only 3 days or 3 weeks already, we didn’t decide yet, but we’ve surely had some experiences. “Taking it easy” on day 1 but still walking 15 kilometers and relaxing in an eco hostel in the Panamanian mountains. Read all about it!
The beginning of the trip
The beginning didn’t quite go as planned. You probably know that we had a flight from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam to Panama, because it saved us a couple of hundred quid each. Flying at 08:15 to Schiphol from Düsseldorf, having some breakfast during the 2 hours stop and then continue on the next flight to Panama. “Sounds good” is what I can hear you think. We thought the same. Until the weather was playing parts in the Netherlands again: it was storming. After some delay we took off from Düsseldorf and after some more delay floating above Schiphol we finally had the green light to make a landing. We had 5 minutes to run from gate B20 to D07 where we arrived on time but really nauseous and without our breakfast. But at least we catched the fligt. We can’t say the same about those 71 other unlucky ones that had a connected flight as well. After being in the air for a while we received our long promised breakfast from the KLM staff. Rather fast though, I managed to ruin our good moods by spilling my boiling hot coffee over us both and my bag. Ah wel… With a beginning like this, the rest of the trip can only get better!
And better it became indeed! We got picked up at the airport of Panama by our super friendly Airbnb host Fabio. Luckily he spoke Englis (our Spanish isn’t that good yet..) and he told us loads about the city. Panama is a bit USA-ish and it’s really hot. But it’s great to stay here for a couple of days with my two personal highlights being the Panama Canal and the local food we ate at the fish market.
The original plan was to take it easy on our first day. So we left the appartment around 10:00 and took an Uber to the park. We had some food, drinks an a towel in our linnen bag and were ready to relax in de shade and get used to this new temperature and humidity. However, it soon became clear we had the wrong expectations. It seemed that the Metropolitano park in Panama is not a relaxing-park but the only tropical-rainforest-park in the world that lies in the middel of the city, including hiking trails! Only one thing to do: we payed the $4 entrance fee and started the 2 hour hike to the top. Along the way we saw monkeys, beautiful trees and birds, and even a sloth! And the view was worth the hike for sure (see picture at the beginning of this post).
The second day it really was time to take it easy. Around 13:00 we left (again with the Uber) the appartment to the Panama Canal. Before we started this trip I couldn’t get excited about this canal at all. But to be honest, this was all ignorance. We’ve easily spent 4 hours at the Panama Canal, walking though the museum and watching the enourmous ships float by through the canal (I’m still so impressed by this that I’ve already watched my time lapse at least 10 times). I was really not expecting to be so intrigued by this canal and couldn’t have been more ignorant. This enormous canal was such a huge project against the forces of nature, created by humankind without the machines and technology we have nowadays. I was blown away.
Another highlight thus far is the food we’ve had at the local fish market after our visit to Casco Viejo (the Old Town). You might know the concept: there are a lot of plastic chairs and tables in the middle of a square with a couple of different restaurant stalls and a lot of staff with the menu in their hands ready to attack. Whenever you look in their direction with only half an eye, they come at you and start convincing you all at once to sit at their restaurant. We weren’t really prepared for this to happen so a bit uncomfortable, we continued walking. But after half an hour we walked back prepared and determined to try again. In the end we opted for an enthusiastic young man who spoke everything in Spanish in his phone to Google Translate and let us read it in English. He informed us that we will get free beer – free! We’re Dutch after all.. – and explained the menu to us. At this local fish market, Mercado de Mariscos, we ate delicious ceviche, shrimps and some fries.
El Valle de Anton
Of course, I can write hundreds of words more about our experiences in Panama city, but I once decided to write some shorter blog posts. Therefore, we continue to our next destination: El Valle de Anton. The trip there was a bit disappointing. Bumpy vans that scraped the ground with the side when turning too fast around a corner on a small mountain way we not yet what we were expecting. But on the way back, we didn’t complain at all when we were crammed into a 11 person van with 21 people and the backpacks on our laps. The expectations have been adjusted and we can handle it!
Originally we had planned to take the first day at our Eco Hostel in the middle of the mountains of Panama for a rest day (read: to work the full day for YOMS). But during the night the wind had blown so hard that the power cables had broken and we therefore no longer had Wifi in the hostel. No Wifi means no YOMS, so we joined two American lads we had met on a trip to a nearby town. Except that the GoPro was missing after this trip, it was a great trip. We took a mud bath and visited a waterfall. Oh, and we saw a mountain range in the shape of a sleeping Indian!
Another pretty awesome thing during our stay at the eco hostel was the sunset hike. There were a number of mountain peaks within an hour’s walk of the hostel, which offered beautiful views of the entire area. The walk was pretty tough,
especially since we haven’t practice much sports in the last two years, ehh I mean mainly because it was steep and the sun was burning hot, but the view was worth it! Our first experience in a hostel together and in this beautiful nature all went very well.
What we think of the first 10 days
After checking with Jacob, I can tell you that we both really like it so far. We are very happy that we are together on this trip and are looking forward to leaving for Colombia today. Panama City was great for the first few days and the experience in nature beautiful! I just had to do some more research before I booked the hostel for the last two days in Panama City. We – especially Jacob – got mosquitoes bites all over and the heat in the middle of the city is hard to sustain without air conditioning. Panama city turned out to be a bit more expensive than we had calculated in advance, but we have learned from a reliable source that Colombia is most likely a bit cheaper. Conclusion: we will not be back anytime soon!
P.s. Don’t worry about the GoPro, everything is sorted with the insurance company already and we’ll buy a new one at the airport.
Exceeded the budget
21 people in a van with 11 spots