Topic Wiki

List of TR's:
Denverite
saw50st8
dvol
dvol Pictures
zow
CGR, CGR #2
itreu001
TripsPls
davidrotts63
yuneeq Contadora (Pearl Islands)
Something Fishy (Cuba)
Something Fishy (Honduras)
Ponash123
PBaruch


Kosher Food/ Restaurants:
Places to Eat:
Aria
Aroma Cafť
Darna Dairy/Bakery
Kava
Jeffreyís Bakery
Pita Pan
Pita Plus
Lula by Darna
Metsuyan
Hilel Sports Bar and Grill- Closed
Darna
La Spezia
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (including 2 at PTY)
Dr. Sandwich
Prime Grill
Forever yogurt in casco viejo- Chalav Yisroel ice cream - Closed down
NEW - Jerusalem Israeli Cuisine by Chabad in Casco Viejo
Supermarkets:
Superkosher
Supermacardo Deli K

Cholov Yisroel:
If you go onto Kosher Panama Website you can search for Cholov Yisroel by entering Jalav Israel in the search, just be aware if the site lists Jalav Israel and Lacteo in the description, the establishment may have both CY and non-CY so be aware and double check with the staff.
SuperKosher also had a nice selection of CY breakfast/snack/frozen items available.

There is a local chalav yisroel that isn't up to everyone's standards. It isn't up to Chabad as they use a lower kasherimg temperature than the alter rebbe holds.
This is what local chabad down there told me. Don't hold me to any of it please.


Synagogue:

The Jewish community in Panama is mainly in Panama City in the Punta Paitilla area.
You must bring your passport with you to enter the shuls. You can bring your passport over during the week if you are not staying in the eruv. They will make a copy of your passport.

Sinagoga Beth El Ė Orthodox, Ashkenazi. After Shabbat morning services, they have a full sit down Kiddush lunch.
They also serve breakfast after weekday shacharit.
Contact Asistente al Rabino secretaria@centrobethel.com - Dťborah Wizel

Shevet Ahim Ė Sephardic. proper attire required, denied entry for shorts.

Ahavat Sion Ė

Chabad -  bracha Karniel goldberg  brachagold@gmail.com

Things to Do:
Panama Canal
Amador Causeway
Old City
$30 cabbie for all day
Panama John on FT cab and tour guide
San Blas islands
En Valle Market
Casco Viejo
Barefoot Panama tour company
Boquete
Biosphere
Miraflores Locks
Ancon Hill (tallest point in the City)
Anton Valley (hiking, waterfalls, horseback riding)
Panama Viejo
MultiPlaza (high-end mall)
Parque Natural Metropolitano
Partial canal transit
Monkey Island boat tour
Rainforest Gondola tour
Contadora (Pearl Islands) - whale watching, snorkeling/scuba on Chipera, Mogu Mogu, https://pearlislandsdaytours.com/
Rainbow bass fishing
Ziplining
Rent bikes along the water
Rainforest
Beach- Santa Clara and punta palmar both 1.5+ hours from Panama City
Indigenous tribes
Coffee plantations in the mountains
Whale watching
City tour (includes animals)
Chargres River Tour, hike to waterfall, visit Embrera Indian Village
Hiking Portabello road
Natural Metropolitan Park
www.therealpanamatours.com
Almiza Tours/ My friend mario http://www.bscpma.com/mfm/aboutus.htm (Website not working!)
Colon
Bocas del Toro
Old city/Casco viejo

Hotels:

Getting Around:
Uber is the best way to get around, cheap and reliable (if you go to the rainforest, there might not be any cars available going back, search before)

Notes:


Please Update the Wiki
« Last edited by dm123 on January 16, 2023, 12:05:33 AM »

Author Topic: Panama Master Thread  (Read 230778 times)

Online skyguy918

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1160 on: January 09, 2023, 12:54:33 PM »
Can you just show up to Gamboa Rainforest Reserve and see sloths and/or take the air/tram? Or is that only for resort guests.. @skyguy918
I didn't end up going (did a boat tour from the docks), but based on these two reports sounds like it's not only for guests. Maybe confirm with one of both of these DDF'ers.
@itreu001
@PBaruch (says Rainforest Discovery Center, but I'm guessing it was the place in Gamboa).

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1161 on: January 09, 2023, 12:56:05 PM »
When we went in the Summer of 2019 we were not guests, but we booked on their website. At the time they did not have ziplining yet. Make sure you arrange with your Uber driver a sidedeal to pick you up on the way back, as there is little chance of getting an Uber to take you back when you are done.

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1162 on: January 11, 2023, 02:10:24 PM »
Looking for advice on top things to do in and near Panama City on a Friday in April with 3 kids ages 7-14 with only one day in the city. Thanks!

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1163 on: January 12, 2023, 07:08:12 PM »
Possibly looking to order food delivered to W Panama tonight - any easy to use apps for iPhone? I canít find Kosher PTY on ios

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1164 on: January 12, 2023, 07:25:03 PM »
Possibly looking to order food delivered to W Panama tonight - any easy to use apps for iPhone? I canít find Kosher PTY on ios

Last I heard that is no longer available.
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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1165 on: January 14, 2023, 08:42:54 PM »
Follow up - Most of these places have business whatsapp accounts and pretty easy to use online ordering systems :-)

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1166 on: January 14, 2023, 09:35:30 PM »
Are there any dairy places that are cholov Yisroel?

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1167 on: January 15, 2023, 01:26:47 PM »
My experience was that you can get CY in most restaurants on request. Most of the time it was possible except sometimes the creamer for a cream sauce was not available.

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1168 on: January 15, 2023, 01:28:12 PM »
https://www.kosher.com.pa/establecimientos-certificados/

Jeffrey's and La Spezia are the only 2 restaurants listed as CY, but there are also some catering/delivery places.

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1169 on: January 15, 2023, 01:28:39 PM »
Just bumping this but dont know if the info is still accurate

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1170 on: January 15, 2023, 08:48:14 PM »
Are there any dairy places that are cholov Yisroel?

Also bumping this for you
Iirc Jeffrey's has both CY and non-CY so you need to check with the staff when you're there.

Super kosher had a selection of CY products, yogurts milk frozen etc that worked.


ETA: Also looks like if you search "Jalav Israel" on the Kosher Panama site it'll list them for you
« Last Edit: January 15, 2023, 08:53:09 PM by dm123 »

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1171 on: January 15, 2023, 09:01:34 PM »
I updated the wiki with the following please CMIIW

Cholov Yisroel:
If you go onto Kosher Panama Website you can search for Cholov Yisroel by entering Jalav Israel in the search, just be aware if the site lists Jalav Israel and Lacteo in the description, the establishment may have both CY and non-CY so be aware and double check with the staff.
SuperKosher also had a nice selection of CY breakfast/snack/frozen items available.

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1172 on: January 15, 2023, 09:22:15 PM »
So, there is a local chalav yisroel that isn't up to everyone's standards. I know it isn't up to Chabad as they use a lower kasherimg temperature than the alter rebbe holds.

This is what local chabad down there told me. Don't hold me to any of it please.

But Jeffrey's Bakery has cholov yisroel pizza and ice cream. And sometimes milk they bring in from Mexico. And they have a cholov yisroel Panini press. If they get enough feedback they may go full cholov yisroel locally sourced.
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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1173 on: January 16, 2023, 04:54:07 PM »
Link to a WhatsApp chat created by elan kornblum of kosher foodie group for Panama. Mods feel free to delete if this is against the rules. Tons of good info here, pics, reviews and information provided by restaurants themselves

https://chat.whatsapp.com/EkKAk2QntDu4BV6rZFKgFu

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1174 on: January 18, 2023, 10:34:40 PM »
Guys, Iím the one that basically exploded Sorhayís business but I can also see how @Divora M could have had this experience as well if she was in some crazy busy season. I love her but there is plenty of business for everyone and Iím happy that she posted another guide because a.) fundamentally Iím a capitalist and competition is good b.) some people just canít afford Sorhayís tours at all no matter how great she may be and Iím happy to have a reference to a more affordable option c.) with the HUGE Jewish market and many of us traveling at the same times maybe DDF can also build up another Jewish tour guide as well.

Can we have peace now in the Panama Master Thread?   :P

Thank you @Denverite for suggesting Sorhay she was awesome!

For the next month or so she's offering DD readers a discount on tours when you mention DansDeals when booking :)

Should be about 5% off.

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1175 on: January 19, 2023, 03:39:19 PM »
Posting a mini TR here. just jotting down as I think. there is enough detail on Pnama so I'll try to only add things that can be helpful.

Flights

Flights were booked with 25k AC a piece in J on the way there and 24k united saver in J on the way back (did united because we were thinking of changing our flight and wanted the flexibility). Copa J was pretty good considering my low expectations. I don't care about KSML at all (happy to just pay $15 and pick up otw to airport) but since some here do. took red eye to PTY so got a regal box meal and the way back got a meal from rimonim (a panama caterer). Pretty solid overall.  Generally good experience flying copa. seats were new and spacious (although not lie flat ofc), entertainment system was old but I don't care for these things anyway.

Hotel

Stayed at the JW since that seemed to be the most popular and on the water. Was underwhelming to be honest. Bathroom is open concept with glass doors/walls to shower and curtain for bathtub. didn't bother me much but something to be aware of.

Hotel does not seem to be maintained all that well. Our safe died in middle of our stay and the air conditioning never quite kicked in even though they "serviced" it after we complained. We left it on 63 the whole time and still woke up sweating. The room felt muggy at all times but that could just be a panama thing. The view of the water was nice and the pools were empty in middle of the day (although that could be seasonal and may depend on the day). Executive lounge has free non-alcoholic drinks all day which was nice. 

The location is pretty good as it is in within walking distance to chabad and the local shevet achim affiliated shul which had mincha maariv daily (although you need to be approved for entry). There is a coffee bean around the corner which is certified by KosherLA (dk anything about them so AYLOR).

Also, as a platinum elite member, i requested 4 PM checkout since our flight was at night. FIrst they said they were overbooked and cant give us anything. When i showed them that I can literally book a couple of my exact room ( I wasn't upgraded so a base king room) for that night, they changed and said either way they cant give it to me because they need time to clean the room (basically 4 pm checkout just isn't a thing). I asked for lounge access until 4 pm so that we can change and grab a drink and they only let us have it after we pushed for   a bit and explained that we don't eat anything in the lounge anyway.

Either way - I would probably give the WA a shot next time. who knows...

Airport

Our flight came in to terminal 1 for some reason but all copa baggage goes through terminal 2. We did not know that until the passport agent asked us in broken English if we only have our carry ons and then we figured out what he was trying to convey.

New copa club is beautiful but is way too crowded since everyone and their grandmother can get access to it. Also they saw us carrying bags that obviously had food and said we cant bring them in. even though we said we are kosher and cant eat anything in the lounge they still weren't convinced. We went outside ate part of it, put the rest aside for later and went back in. ONce you are in the lounge it is so crowded no one can actually notice or enforce the rule so you should be fine as long as you hide your food while checking in.

Also I've read some reports about the lines being long. We came at what seemed to be  a pretty busy time and there were almost no lines even for economy passengers.

Restaurants

i wont comment much since there is already enough out there. Maybe later ill write something detailed.

Things to do

we were not that interested in doing a the indigenous village tour since we didn't think it would be a good use of our time and money. We wanted to do a private tour of monkey island so I shopped around and My Friend Mario was the cheapest at $90 a person with a minimum of 2 people. This included pick up and drop off in panama city (which is true for almost all tours). It was taking a risk since we didn't find that many reviews but it was absolutely amazing, mostly due to our guide.

Our guide was a guy named milton who had a great english and was super knowledgable and friendly. He was very well read and was able to speak about anything panama related (history, canal engineering, railroad, language, culture, politics in Panama, etc.) In his younger years he was a flight attendant for copa so he's pretty well traveled too. As an added benefit his car was clean and didn't smell, and he drove like a mentsh (which not all of that can be said about the ubers in Panama). It was an elantra which wasn't big but was fine for us. After our tour, he offered to take us the scenic route back to our hotel and drove us all the way up amador causeway (all while showing us different things along the way). He also when not to talk and when we wanted quiet. Was not one of those guides who chews your ear off but sort of just feeds off of you.

We started our monkey island tour late (11 am) which meant that monkeys were less likely to come for food since the other tourists already got to them but we weren't dead set on that and thought it would be nice to sail through gatun lake. In the end a few monkeys came to our boat after a bit of sailing around and trying to whoo them down. If you are really interested in monkeys you should probably start before 7 am.

All in all - monkey island was great mostly because of Milton. I don't regret not going to the village since we wanted a much more relaxing day but i that probably depends on your preference.

Mario Whatsapp: +507 6821-3947. cant vouch for any of this other tours but be sure to request milton. (I have miltons whatsapp number too but I'm gonna ask if he doesn't mind me sharing it)

will try to follow up with other activities we did later on... (miraflores + imax, skipped san blas, did pearl islands, spent some time in Casco Viejo and walked the causeway, hired a professional photographer to do a quick half hour phot shoot of us around Casco - also great, more on that later)

Feel free to dm if you have any specific questions.

Appreciate all the earlier advice from everyone who contributed to the thread.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2023, 03:45:28 PM by gubevo18 »

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1176 on: January 19, 2023, 09:18:59 PM »
Posting a mini TR here. just jotting down as I think. there is enough detail on Pnama so I'll try to only add things that can be helpful.

Flights

Flights were booked with 25k AC a piece in J on the way there and 24k united saver in J on the way back (did united because we were thinking of changing our flight and wanted the flexibility). Copa J was pretty good considering my low expectations. I don't care about KSML at all (happy to just pay $15 and pick up otw to airport) but since some here do. took red eye to PTY so got a regal box meal and the way back got a meal from rimonim (a panama caterer). Pretty solid overall.  Generally good experience flying copa. seats were new and spacious (although not lie flat ofc), entertainment system was old but I don't care for these things anyway.

Hotel

Stayed at the JW since that seemed to be the most popular and on the water. Was underwhelming to be honest. Bathroom is open concept with glass doors/walls to shower and curtain for bathtub. didn't bother me much but something to be aware of.

Hotel does not seem to be maintained all that well. Our safe died in middle of our stay and the air conditioning never quite kicked in even though they "serviced" it after we complained. We left it on 63 the whole time and still woke up sweating. The room felt muggy at all times but that could just be a panama thing. The view of the water was nice and the pools were empty in middle of the day (although that could be seasonal and may depend on the day). Executive lounge has free non-alcoholic drinks all day which was nice. 

The location is pretty good as it is in within walking distance to chabad and the local shevet achim affiliated shul which had mincha maariv daily (although you need to be approved for entry). There is a coffee bean around the corner which is certified by KosherLA (dk anything about them so AYLOR).

Also, as a platinum elite member, i requested 4 PM checkout since our flight was at night. FIrst they said they were overbooked and cant give us anything. When i showed them that I can literally book a couple of my exact room ( I wasn't upgraded so a base king room) for that night, they changed and said either way they cant give it to me because they need time to clean the room (basically 4 pm checkout just isn't a thing). I asked for lounge access until 4 pm so that we can change and grab a drink and they only let us have it after we pushed for   a bit and explained that we don't eat anything in the lounge anyway.

Either way - I would probably give the WA a shot next time. who knows...

Airport

Our flight came in to terminal 1 for some reason but all copa baggage goes through terminal 2. We did not know that until the passport agent asked us in broken English if we only have our carry ons and then we figured out what he was trying to convey.

New copa club is beautiful but is way too crowded since everyone and their grandmother can get access to it. Also they saw us carrying bags that obviously had food and said we cant bring them in. even though we said we are kosher and cant eat anything in the lounge they still weren't convinced. We went outside ate part of it, put the rest aside for later and went back in. ONce you are in the lounge it is so crowded no one can actually notice or enforce the rule so you should be fine as long as you hide your food while checking in.

Also I've read some reports about the lines being long. We came at what seemed to be  a pretty busy time and there were almost no lines even for economy passengers.

Restaurants

i wont comment much since there is already enough out there. Maybe later ill write something detailed.

Things to do

we were not that interested in doing a the indigenous village tour since we didn't think it would be a good use of our time and money. We wanted to do a private tour of monkey island so I shopped around and My Friend Mario was the cheapest at $90 a person with a minimum of 2 people. This included pick up and drop off in panama city (which is true for almost all tours). It was taking a risk since we didn't find that many reviews but it was absolutely amazing, mostly due to our guide.

Our guide was a guy named milton who had a great english and was super knowledgable and friendly. He was very well read and was able to speak about anything panama related (history, canal engineering, railroad, language, culture, politics in Panama, etc.) In his younger years he was a flight attendant for copa so he's pretty well traveled too. As an added benefit his car was clean and didn't smell, and he drove like a mentsh (which not all of that can be said about the ubers in Panama). It was an elantra which wasn't big but was fine for us. After our tour, he offered to take us the scenic route back to our hotel and drove us all the way up amador causeway (all while showing us different things along the way). He also when not to talk and when we wanted quiet. Was not one of those guides who chews your ear off but sort of just feeds off of you.

We started our monkey island tour late (11 am) which meant that monkeys were less likely to come for food since the other tourists already got to them but we weren't dead set on that and thought it would be nice to sail through gatun lake. In the end a few monkeys came to our boat after a bit of sailing around and trying to whoo them down. If you are really interested in monkeys you should probably start before 7 am.

All in all - monkey island was great mostly because of Milton. I don't regret not going to the village since we wanted a much more relaxing day but i that probably depends on your preference.

Mario Whatsapp: +507 6821-3947. cant vouch for any of this other tours but be sure to request milton. (I have miltons whatsapp number too but I'm gonna ask if he doesn't mind me sharing it)

will try to follow up with other activities we did later on... (miraflores + imax, skipped san blas, did pearl islands, spent some time in Casco Viejo and walked the causeway, hired a professional photographer to do a quick half hour phot shoot of us around Casco - also great, more on that later)

Feel free to dm if you have any specific questions.

Appreciate all the earlier advice from everyone who contributed to the thread.
Sorry return flights were booked with 34k a piece. Writing very quickly.

More on things to do

Originally we wanted to do san blas but after hearing about all the people vomiting on the side of the road we figured better not. Also, I did not want to shlep my tallis/tefillin with me so that meant I would need a private tour to leave at 615/630 (the others all leave at 530 or so) so that I can daven before I leave. I did the research on private tours and the cheapest I found was Leo with Panma wild adventures who was going to do 2 people at $600 all in including the Guna entrance fee of $22 per person.

Instead of San blas, we decided to do pearl islands which seemed less of a trek. We used Ilene and took the morning boat which she got us for the discounted rate of $78. Ilene was great - took us around snorkeling, bird watching and showed us around the island. Ultimately though if I had to do it again I would just stay on contadora for the day and rent a golf cart to drive around. Again, it really depends on what you want to do. If you want to tour the islands Ilene is A++ (she is really great at what she does), but we just wanted to find a nice quiet secluded beach, so there really was no need for us to spend the extra money. (She isn't cheap for a couple - $280 per tour. For a family it ends up not being that much cuz she gets you the discounted rate on the ferry but for a couple its quite steep). The snorkeling was nice and she took a go pro along to send us videos afterward. She also set up our golf kart rental. Again, she is very very good - but you gotta figure out what your goals are before spending that much on a tour.

The beaches in contadora are plentiful and beautiful and I would imagine the same is true of saboga. Some upthread said you can just hire a local to take you by boat to some local islands. I cant comment on that because we didn't try.


miraflores
took an uber to miraflores and got there about 9:20. The day we went only one ship was passing thru the canal so had we come 20-30 minutes later there would have been nothing to see. We got to see most of it which was fine with us. Dont what it was like previously but now they charge just to go to the lock viewing area but they include the imax whether you like it or not. I though they were just shaking us down but it turns out they actually scanned the tickets.. We would not have done the imax but hey we're jewish so once we paid for it, why not. It was pretty good for an imax and again - if you have the time and paying for it anyway you might as well. Interestingly, there was a mezuza on the door to the imax theater building...

Casco Viejo

Beautiful old city to walk around. Lula @ casco is there and is an awesome place. Very interesting decor and excellent middle eastern style food (with some latin influence). It is especially nice around sunset time and into the evening.

We hired Celine (https://www.fotoceline.com/), a professional photographer to do a quick half hour photo shoot and she suggested we do it at Casco. She walked around with us and took pictures at various spots in the area. She was recommended by gokosherpanama (and someone else upthread) and we really had a nice time -She is a local member of the Jewish community, knows the area, and was a pleasure to work with. Also sent us the photos afterward for us to print which is nice since most of them tack on fees for printing etc.. All in all, we couldn't recommend her more.

Will continue adding to this as I have time. Sorry for the very shorthand writing - figured its the only way ill actually do it and better to have the info out there like this than not at all.

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1177 on: January 20, 2023, 08:31:32 AM »
Is the food at Beth El or Chabad better?  Debating where to book or maybe we should do one meal in each place.

Offline cgr

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1178 on: January 20, 2023, 08:33:17 AM »
Is the food at Beth El or Chabad better?  Debating where to book or maybe we should do one meal in each place.
Beth El has better food. Chabad has better company.

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Re: Panama Master Thread
« Reply #1179 on: January 20, 2023, 03:16:22 PM »
Just came back from a trip 1/11-1/17 trip with me, wife and almost 4 year old daughter, had an amazing time. Will also try and provide recap with some helpful info.

Flights:
Copa (coach) nice spacious seats, bad/no food service. Felt like I had to beg to get a half cup of lukewarm water and food was fruit.
Delta on the return was fine, but I had a stopover in ATL and I'm IYH never doing that again. Spent the whole damn day traveling.
I paid for the first one with United miles and second one with CSR 1.5, I'm a little behind the game in general but going to spend the yr accumulating points and miles so I can have more/better options when we go back next year lol.

Hotel:
1. Originally booked Riu plaza - because our primary considerations (besides for cleanliness which all the premium hotels seem to check) were pool seating and room layout. Riu has massive pool with tons of seating and gives you a suite at a good value but there were 2 negatives. First we didn't notice the pool has no steps or shallow end - just 4 feet all around with letters to climb in/out. Our daughter can't swim by herself but can be trusted on her own in a shallow section. But this meant one of us would have to be in the pool the entire time. Secondly, and this was a show-stopper, there was a strong mildewy smell on our floor and in our room. Heat + carpets + no dehumidifiers is a bad recipe. We checked other rooms/floors but they were similar. So we sat up at night on the ipad looking at other hotels - only looking at hardwood floors to be safe - which meant Residence Inn, jw marriot or W. The first 2 didn't have availability, so
2. We went with the W for the last 5 nights, which we know very well from Miami days (back when I had some SPG points and that was a thing). Generally it's a great hotel chain for singles/no kids - that's their brand. Layout didn't look as good as other 2 and pool smaller, but didn't have a choice. It ended up working out amazingly. Pool wasn't heavily used (the hotel in general didn't seem that booked) and had a shallow end with steps, and the double queen room was more than big enough. They even wheeled in a bed which the Riu wouldn't do (our daughter, who isn't picky about sleeping, had to sleep on a crib mattress thrown on the floor with blankets at Riu, but in the W she had her own huge bed and there was still plenty of space for us).

Food:
Kava (dine in for dinner) - 4/5, recommend
We love the ambiance - it's very dark, good music.
White sangria was huge and had a nice sour aftertaste (we don't like it when it's too sweet).
Whiskey sour was solid, kinda small. Had 2
Calzone - was amazing. It was large but lightly stuffed, everything spiced and drizzled in olive oil - absolutely delcious.
Rosa pasta not our taste, we felt it was too sweet. Good consistency and presentation. Others might love it.
Mac and cheese - was INSANE, best we ever had. Got this for our daugher but we all had to split lmao.

Aroma Gourmet (dine in for lunch) - 3/5 - decent
Free bread - absolutely heavenly, hot, toasty, soft inside, love the tomato dip and spicy Mayo dip (we assume?) it comes with. I love a good bread and this one gives Noi Due a run for its money.
Mozerella sticks were solid - crispy, flavorful, breading a tad thick and reminiscent of a fish stick
Margaritta pizza - solid/average. Was great as cold pizza much later lol
Italian salad no peppers - unique, sweeter than expected, not our taste
Greek salad - it was good but very briny, over-dressed, got through it with some effort. If i had it again would order dressing on the side and add it myself
Watermelon ďjuiceĒ (itís a smoothie) (they didnít have strawberry) literally was like drinking iced watermelons, was odd at first but kept at it and kinda grew on me

Aria (delivery for dinner) - 4/5, recommend
Expectations were low especially since it took over an hour for burgers to come, we lost our appetite before the food even arrived. But it was so good it totally revived us.
Burgers - They forgot our toppings but we decided that was a good thing bc they wouldíve been soggier. We ordered them well done and they still had a bit of pink in them, which is fine, just not our preference. That said, they were excellent - loved the consistency and flavor and in particular the cilantro dip it came with (we ordered all dips) was insane and totally elevated everything.
Mcdonalds-style Shoe string fries were very good- probably amazing fresh and with a pinch of salt
Empinadas - absolutely incredible, exploding with flavor, dip these in cilantro dip or garlic aoli. Only critique is they are tiny.
Need to go back to dine-in person in a future trip to have the proper experience.

Jeffreys (dine-in for lunch) - 1/5 - overrated and skippable
Toquenos - solid
Ice coffee - excellent
Cesar salad, salmon on side - I liked the crispy salmon. But cesar dressing was way too sweet - luckily it was on side, we asked for lemon and olive oil instead, and it was just ok
Bagel CC - basic, not that good
Capreze sub - really not good- youíd think the bread would be sublime at a bakery but nah. didn't finish it.
Capreze wrap to go - fridged and when finally opened on shabbas, was soggy, old, nasty. That might be our fault
Challah to go - eggy and thick - not our favorite (prefer water / airy) but needed something
Ice cream - good, not great
Chocolate croissant - supposed to be thin buttery layers, this was thick. Not good
Service was great until it got too insane as Friday wore on

Yoss - had twice - pick up on Friday and eat on Friday night, then dine-in lunch our last day - 5/5, highly recommend
We love this place.
First of all they are very responsive and helpful on WhatsApp vs other places.
When ordering for pick up the packing was excellent
Friday night take out:
Shnitzel - very good, and came with a couple sauces (we didnít even remember to ask for them - and we are huge sauce people) - in particular I loved the Buffalo sauce
Israeli salad - delicious, very on point when you add the pesto sauce
Lunch:
They really came through for us, we were short on time due to poor planning, we actually texted our order ahead and they made our food ready to eat in store at a specific time, on way to airport. Our hotel cab van guy waited for us and we didnít miss a beat. We had burgers and nuggets. The meat was large and cooked perfectly and we got the variety of dipping sauces + guacamole all upon request elevated everything as well. The nuggets were crispy, fresh, white meat nuggets.

La Spezia delivery (sat night) - 4/5, recommend
Pizza excellent - better than aroma. Thin crust. Oily
Garlic bread - basically a fresh mozerella tomato pesto situation - delicious

Coffee Bean
Their sandwiches aren't good (had a tuna and also a fresh mozerella version - both times bread way too thick, and not good cold). They have something called a "crunchy salad" with 2 eggs in it which was really good.

Lula Casco (dine-in for dinner) - 3/5
Cool vibe in old town especially at night
Make a reservation - we didnít, but got extremely lucky. Very few tables there! Lots of people after us were getting declined.
Super nice wait staff.
Hit or miss meal, next time would make better choices to improve experience.
Chicken strips - got them for our toddler it was the best thing on the menu - not sure how they made them but they were amazing.
Chicken kormah - this isnít the same chicken kormah we were expecting, as big Indian fans. Misleading naming on their part. Wife ordered it and didnít like it, I ended up eating it because I preferred it to my own food and found it good. Spicy and flavorful dish with a lot going on between chicken, peppers, mushrooms, other vegetables and rice
Arais pita - I was expecting beef steak in a pita but it was ground meat. Maybe I didnít read the menu right. I had a hankering for schwarma and this wasn't it. My mistake. It wasnít my thing
Chummus and pita was very good. 3 balls in bowl of chummus with salad and hot pita sliced into quarters
Grilled chicken pita was ok - very standard
Everything came with shoe string fries that were good

Blame Kiki (dine-in for Dinner) 5/5 - HIGHLY recommend
Wow. Just wow. This was the best dining experience we ever had. We absolutely love this place and it was the highlight of our trip.
Everything about the ambiance and decor is different, unique, beautiful, funky, fun. The food presentation is really cool - lots of things that happen at the table - for example when we ask for extra parm they bring out a giant shredder and shred this hunk of cheese right over our dish, or they serve drinks with a bubble on top that you burst into a mist, or desserts with syrup drizzled over it in front of you etc.
And absolutelty everything we ordered was delicious.
they didnít have colipops which we wanted
We got mozza fritte - their take on mozerella sticks - delicious
Tri pasta - all amazing. Marinara, pepper and pesto. Pinch of salt and extra parm opened them all up
Drinks were all top notch incredible
Margarita (Passion fruit), signature blame Kiki (served with the bubble), and amaretto sour which was the best of the best
For dessert we got Volcano souffle - hot chocolate cake with cold vanilla ice cream and baked butter crumbs - excellent
Caramel macchiato - shot of espresso with foam so itís tiny - the real deal, not the starbucks kind
Creamy tequila - half ice cream, half alcoholic drink - extremely intense, super delcious
And to top it all off the service was excellent. Our water was refilled without asking, new silverware replaced between courses without asking, dirty napkins replaced with clean ones without asking, all our little requests accommodated, etc

Activities
Parque Ricardo Galindo - solid playground if you need to kill sometime with some kids. Right across from a coffee bean.
Sloth sanctuary (Gamboa Reserve): Booked by calling resort (couldn't figure out how to do it online?) Hit the UberXL lotto with Donald, spoke great English and super friendly. I asked him to come pick us up after our tour and he immediately agreed. He basically gave a free tour of the Panama Canal with history on the way. At the end I gave him $20 extra. I thought weíd text him to come back but he chose to just stay and waited for us. I can share his cell if anyone wants - highly recommend this guy to drive you around. The resort itself is beautiful with absolutely breathtaking views - would love to spend the last night here on a future stay. Bumpy ride to exhibits from resort. Butterflies, turtles, sloth. Orchids not in bloom and they showed them to us anyway lol. Overall, a little boring but weather and scenery and need to move our legs made it very enjoyable. Activity was just short enough for our 4 yr old not to lose her mind - she had a great time.
Key doh at town center mall - learned about it from a woman we met at the park on shab. $12 for all day play, in door playground. Slides, ball pit, computer screens for drawing, things like that. It was very busy (went on a Sunday) but still great way to spend a couple hours. Also was perfect because apparently it started and finished raining while we were in there. The Mall has kosher frozen yogurt under onekosher hechsher, but didn't try it (or look into that hechsher).
Casco Viejo - for us this was just a quick old town walk and Souvenir shop before ubering home after eating at Lula, not sure what other people do here - but it's a pretty cool place, a very nice night activity to walk the narrow streets with quaint little shops.
Metropolitan Natural Park
I would recommend this for a family
Itís $4 adult, $2 child and you can do different kind of trails - ask how long they are and how paved they are and they can help you pick the right one. We pushed a stroller through - a little difficult but doable and worth it. We saw a pond of turtles and fed them a challah from jeffreys which was a huge highlight of our trip for our daugher. Saw a howler monkey and tons of butterfies. We loved to see animals in their natural habitat and not captivity like in US. Thereís also a playground we used on the way out which was dirty except for the swings.
The rest of our activities was lazing at the pool, which is what we love!

Random:
-Lots of bug spray for rainforests (gamboa reserve, metropolitan natural park, etc)
Friday traffic coming back from Gamboa isnít fun (lots of cars go west over canal for weekend and there are only 3 bridges so they clog up)
-Panama Canal - we didn't end up going anyway but fyi the distance from panama city is actually very close. Don't put "panama canal" into google maps, you need to search for a specific visitor center lol
-Ordering food - most kosher restaurants use whatsapp to answer questions, share English menus, sometimes even let you order
-Google translate is your friend
-Getting around - yeah the driving is crazy but I'm glad we ubered more so because of spanish street signs and confusing parking. Also, the sidewalks are extremely choppy and a little annoying (but doable) to walk around Panama City if you have a stroller, just fyi
-Superkosher has everything you need, tea lights, lighters, tiny grape juices, tape for your hotels, etc etc - you really don't need to bring anything. They had some spicy dried salami circles that were delicious for snacking on shabbos, along with sub sandwhiches we made from buying baguette/deli (we were supposed to go to chabad but decided the walk was too far/hard).

One last thing: Was on fence between renting car and ubering. Honestly the crazy driving was the least of my worries, the parking seems difficult/annoying/confusing especially with all spanish road signs (obviously). After reading @skyguy918 analysis originally and seeing how cheap Budget was ($6/day, $35 or 2.3k chase points total) I decided to rent the car and pay the $12/day at Riu (where I originally thought I was staying). BUT.. I forgot my license lol, and even though they would've given me the car with a picture of it, I didn't want to risk issues if I got pulled over. Decided to just uber around and glad we did. Spent $100-200 despite a ton of ubers (all XLs or Blacks). So it's only a little more than it would've been to rent +park. But didn't have to worry about parking in various places, our car seat wasn't an issue (no one said anything about our child sitting next to us), and we didn't have any issue coordinating the Gamboa return. In summary, I think you can go either way with this decision, do whatever you're comfortable with, both options are cheap/close, especially if you are at a hotel with free parking.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2023, 03:43:06 PM by Redbull3 »