Author Topic: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!  (Read 8347 times)

Offline maxmiles

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2017, 01:15:53 PM »
Great TR so far! Ddi you go to LULU? That was my favorite place, pricey but good

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2017, 01:24:51 PM »
Lula Darna? It was on my list but we never got there. The website looked awesome.

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2017, 02:11:49 PM »
Great TR so far! Ddi you go to LULU? That was my favorite place, pricey but good

+1.  Great food!

Offline maxmiles

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2017, 04:55:46 PM »
Lula Darna? It was on my list but we never got there. The website looked awesome.
Yep...BH Next year!

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #34 on: May 09, 2017, 12:06:55 PM »

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #35 on: May 09, 2017, 12:25:05 PM »
Okay getting started on our Tuesday of Adventure in Panama.

I got up before my kids so I went to enjoy a quiet coffee and empanada ALONE at the Coffee Bean about a block from the Hilton (may not seem like a huge deal to you but that is a huge luxury for me on a family vacation)!  ;D




About 9AM our tour guide picked us up in our private van for our approx 1hr drive to the Chargres river.  Since she knew would could eat fresh fruit (and not other food she provided) she always made sure to have tons for us.  Instead of getting it herself that day, we made a stop in a little town along the way in an open air market and she let the kids pick what they wanted even though she paid (I'll give detailed info later on the tour guide and company but she was a guide par excellance and I feel she helped to make our trip truly special with these little touches).



We continued on our way and in about half hour of a very easy ride (not bad roads at all) we arrived within the National Park and emptied at the bank of the river.  I got concerned when I saw a couple of huge tour buses also arriving but our guide explained that they only bother to go to the first Indian Village and head back (usually to their cruise ships) and we would be riding our boat significantly past there to take a little hike to see a water fall and our own private "swimming pool" within the river.  The canoes were super cool dugouts from one tree trunk, made by the Indian guides.  The one modern accommodation was that it did have a little motor so my kids didn't have to row.  :P



You can see from the picture you are entering the heart of a rainforest and you have the chance to see cool birds and animals along with way.  Shockingly, we encountered literally zero mosquitos, I guess because we came in the dry season, and the weather was perfect and not to hot at all.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 01:07:22 PM by Denverite »

Offline yuneeq

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #36 on: May 09, 2017, 12:26:25 PM »
Did you spot any monkeys?
Live forever or die trying.

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #37 on: May 09, 2017, 12:47:19 PM »
After the maybe 45 minute, very pleasant boatride, we got out to a little path.  Our hike was shorter than other people's (our friends had gone a month before and had to hike a bit farther because the river was down) because the river was high and she knew some of my family members are extremely lazy.  8)  After a few minutes we arrived at this beautiful waterfall.  Because the Hilton's pool was so cold my kid's said that swimming in the river was actually warmer, plus after walking in the heat it was just so refreshing and didn't seem to cold at all.  DH didn't want to swim so that was great because he snapped some great pics.



I actually brought my daughter's floaties and was glad I did because the pool was quite deep and also you have a current from the waterfall.  Our tour guide was again so awesome and helped me to bring my daughter up to the rocks under the waterfall so we could get some pictures.  My boys were having too much fun playing and couldn't be bothered to come pose for a picture!  ::)



Don't usually post face pictures but figured this one is far enough away. ;)




Without starting a whole halachic argument here, just a word to the wise about privacy and swimming here.  We swam uninterrupted for about half an hour all by ourselves.  It's my own personal issue but in a different life ages ago, I used to be a lifeguard and really love to swim and dive and covering my hair in the water is just very difficult for me (the frum suit doesn't bother me at all in comparison...lol).  Since I forgot to bring a swim cap, our tour guide was a woman and we were all alone, I was considering taking off my hat so I could really dive down, play with my kids and enjoy myself.  Literally as I'm contemplating this, a tour guide walks up the trail with 3 or 4 people! 

They just were there to see the waterfall and not swim (According to our guide, she is one of the only ones that tells people to come in swim clothes).  So bottom line, if you are makpid on not doing mixed swimming this is an awesome place to go and have fun, even if someone does happen to come they most likely won't swim and will leave after snapping pics for a minute or two.  It IS very isolated and hard to get to but NOT private so I personally would want to make sure I was dressed tzniusly at all times (again, just my personal preference not giving advice).

« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 01:08:48 PM by Denverite »

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #38 on: May 09, 2017, 12:48:18 PM »
Did you spot any monkeys?

Not on this day but saw TONS of them a couple of days later (I'm slowly but surely trying to get through this TR...lol).

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #39 on: May 09, 2017, 01:36:33 PM »
After the swim, we hiked back to the boat and rode back along the Chargres river to an Embrera Indian Village.  Since it is deeper into the river area, the big tour buses don't go there and only people on private tours like us, were there.

The entrance to the village from the river and the pictures do include the local people in their native dress. The women of the village all come out to welcome visitors and the kids are visibly excited to have people come.  They don't even have electricity there and the kids all know my tourguide and she brings them treats and toys so they especially got excited to see her!









It was really sweet how the children wanted to show us everything and how excited my children were (especially my youngest daughter) to run around and play with them.  Because they subsist mostly off of fish from the river, local fruit and vegetables and some subsistence farming, our guide brought them a treat of raisin bread and sliced cheese and they were so excited to get it.  They all waited and shared nicely and you can see their palpable joy and excitement!  My daughter really wanted to be in the middle of everything but was still a little shy.  :)










« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 01:40:26 PM by Denverite »

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #40 on: May 09, 2017, 06:09:10 PM »
Great start!

What are the prices of kosher items? Are they more expensive then normal?

I just realized that I never responded to you guys.  The price of food is comparable or cheaper than in the US (although I guess kosher food is expensive in Denver so I might now have the proper perspective).  For example, a pizza was $16, probably more expensive that some places but cheaper than Denver.  A nice steak in a restaurant was $25.  A fancy order of sushi $8-10.  The difference is literally none of the places we went to were "heimishe" restaurants.  :P

They would be considered very high end in the US, with awesome decor, service, etc. so when comparing apples to apples of fancy restaurants in the US it is significantly cheaper.

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #41 on: May 09, 2017, 06:53:28 PM »
Awesome start, can't wait for the rest. If you don't mind me asking, what was the price range of the room? (You don't need to tell me an exact price).
Did you guys go to San blas?

I did post that our suite was about $220.  We want to go back next summer and I think since I'm not gotta gonna use points I might book an awesome condo in the Trump Tower from AirBnB.  I won't earn points for the stay but can buy their GCs from Staples on my Ink and at least get 5ppd.

We did NOT go to San Blas  but I so wish we did and now that we know our kids are up to it, it's on our list for a return.  If you want to enjoy San Blas and don't want to stay over night (I think we actually would spend one night if we went, now that I know all of the details) you have to leave at about 5AM.  It is a long drive over bumpy, windy roads into an indigenous area.  It is impassable at night so they close it and you must leave from the area at least an hour before sunset (think candle lighting time) which is why you need to leave so early if you want to get to spend any time at the beach.  There are tons of uninhabited islands and they are happy to take to your own private island for swimming and relaxing. 

Good friends did this day trip with 5 kids (youngest was age 6) and said it was the best part of the whole trip and wished they stayed overnight.  San Blas is the area where you can get over-water bungalows for cheap.  The views and water honestly look the same as the Maldives and Tahiti, just without the infrastructure and fancy accommodations.  You definitely need to go with a guide because of the roads and needing to have pre-set arrangements with the indigenous people and boat drivers.

We used http://www.therealpanamatours.com/ for all our tours.  The owner's name is Sorhay (she's in my pictures) and multiple of our friends from Denver used her to go to San Blas and she is so amazing and now also familiar with so many things about Kashrut and a number of the kosher establishments.  All our tours started later and my kids ate at home but for my friends, she would swing by one of the bakeries (called Jeffrey's) on the way out before they started their day so they could pick up a nice breakfast and coffee and at the end of our tours she would ask us which restaurant we wanted to be dropped at for a late lunch or dinner (they stay open very late in Panama since in the Latin culture they often eat dinner at 9pm).  If you want her e-mail or What's App, PM and I'll be happy to provide her info.  She is extremely professional and I can't recommend her highly enough.  Also, because we were a large number of people, her private tours were cheaper than paying for a big company on an impersonal bus and she offered a really well thought out, curated experience.  So even though I didn't go to San Blas yet, I hope that was helpful! 


Online saw50st8

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #42 on: May 10, 2017, 09:20:21 AM »
Do you know if all the Coffee Bean and Tea Leafs are under hashgacha or only the location you went to? there seem to be a few in Panama City.  I'm mapping out all the kosher places for my trip next week.

Offline Denverite

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #43 on: May 10, 2017, 09:31:26 AM »
Do you know if all the Coffee Bean and Tea Leafs are under hashgacha or only the location you went to? there seem to be a few in Panama City.  I'm mapping out all the kosher places for my trip next week.

I'm pretty sure they all are, even the airport.  Also the Sephardic VAAD there is very strict and unlike some of Coffee Beans I've seen in the US that just have teudah on the wall, all their sandwhiches, salads, etc have the tape and hecsher on each items.  All the restaurants did that for takeout or delivery.  The tape wouldn't just be on the bag but also on each item inside.  Also there is a nice Pinkberry yogurt right near the Coffee Bean on Avenida Balboa.

Online saw50st8

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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #44 on: May 10, 2017, 09:32:16 AM »
I'm pretty sure they all are, even the airport.  Also the Sephardic VAAD there is very strict and unlike some of Coffee Beans I've seen in the US that just have teudah on the wall, all their sandwhiches, salads, etc have the tape and hecsher on each items.  All the restaurants did that for takeout or delivery.  The tape wouldn't just be on the bag but also on each item inside.  Also there is a nice Pinkberry yogurt right near the Coffee Bean on Avenida Balboa.

Thanks!