Author Topic: Panama  (Read 6361 times)

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« on: September 11, 2019, 05:05:27 PM »
I’m not that good at writing, so I’ll keep it to bulleted points with ratings and short notes where applicable.

Background: We decided on a Tuesday afternoon in July that we’d like to get a way for July 4, which was the next day. We definitely overpaid for most things here, but it was an awesome trip.

•   JFK to CUN on Interjet
  • This was a paid ticket
•   CUN to PTY on Copa Air
  • Award Booking: 17.5k KrisFlyer Miles +42.60 SGD per ticket (These KrisFlyer miles were left over from my trip to Singapore, and were just sitting there waiting to expire)
•   PTY to MIA to JFK on AA
  • This was a paid ticket
  • This was actually a Skiplagged ticket, which then continued onto Montreal.

•   Le Méridien Panama
  • This hotel was not too close to the Jewish Community, but Ubers were cheap. The traffic is crazy, so I recommend staying close to the Jewish Community so that food is readily accessible.

Method of Transport:
•   Uber
  • These were ridiculously cheap ($2-$3 for a 15-minute trip)

•   Panama has a large Jewish community, with a ton of kosher food. We found to be particularly useful.
•   Most dairy establishments use Cholov Yisroel for everything except one or two items, so if you are makpid, just ask which dishes are/aren’t CY.
•   Shabbos Meals- Chabad- 4/5
  • The food and company were great, but after reserving our meal here we found out that the local Jewish community offers meals as well (one shul hosts Friday night, and another Shabbos Lunch). It would probably have been more of an experience to mingle with the locals.
•   La Spezia- 4/5
  • Delicious Pizza!
•   Jeffrey’s Bakery- 4/5
  • Good breakfast place
•   Pita Pan- 3/5
•   Restaurant KO- 3/5
•   Aroma Restaurant- 4/5
•   Aria Restaurant- 3/5
  • Their main dishes were horrid, but the sides and soups were all delicious!
•   Most of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s are kosher which makes things very convenient, especially in the airport.

•   Casco Viejo- 4/5
  • Loved the restorative Spanish charm!
•   Museo Del Canal in Casco Viejo- 3/5
  • A somewhat boring museum of the Panama Canal
•   Embara Indigenous Tribe- 4/5
  • This tour was arranged by our hotel. While the tribes were fascinating, our tour guide was less so. He was more of a driver than anything else and was unable to answer our numerous questions. Note that this drive is not for anyone who gets carsick. To get to the Embara you need to pass through an unpaved forest and a ‘landfill’. I believe this was $280 per group.
•   Jewish Tour- 4/5
  • This was an amazing tour of all the shuls and history of the community given by a local community member
•   Panama Canal- 3/5
  • We first headed to the canal late one day, and got stuck in horrible traffic, unlike anything I’ve seen before. We arrived about two minutes after the ticket booths had closed and were denied entry. We returned again on Friday, and while it was rainy, it was cool to see the ships passing through the locks. On the way back we hit another traffic jam (what were we thinking??), realizing that it was fifteen minutes to the zman, traffic wasn’t moving, and we still had a ton of things to get ready, we jumped out of the taxi on the causeway, jumped over the divider onto some grass, and ran the ten minutes to our hotel. That must’ve been a site…
•   San Blas- 5/5
  • This tour was arranged by our hotel. I would dub San Blas the ‘Maldives of the West’. The waters here are just wow. The territory falls under the Guna Yala tribe and so it’s not under the jurisdiction of the Panamanian government. To get here we passed through a mountain region with unpaved roads (my bottom was sore for days after). We then crossed a makeshift border where we presented our passports and an entry fee. The standard tour takes you to some beautiful uninhabited islands to spend a few hours relaxing. We asked our driver to change things up a bit, so he took us to his family’s island. It was incredible. They live in extreme poverty, and the entire island is full of houses built out of containers. It was really an eye-opening experience. Also, don’t forget to lather in sunscreen. The day started out cloudy, so we didn’t think much of it. By the time we got to the city, we were roasted. I believe we paid $165/per person.
•   Market- 3/5
  • Don’t ask me where this is… a random cab driver dropped us off here.