Author Topic: Panama TR -July 2022  (Read 722 times)

Offline Aps

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Panama TR -July 2022
« on: August 09, 2022, 09:20:40 PM »
Thanks to everyone who wrote TR's previously and for your help and tips with everything.

Flights-
Originally I booked Delta JFK-PTY for 25K Skypesos.
                                 Copa PTY-JFK $307 Ė I used my CSR points.
I had to switch my first flight and rebooked a copa flight the day before with 43K united points. Itís not that cheap, but the cash price for that flight then was $1500- so it was a great point redemption (3.5 cents a points).
FYI Copa doesnít offer kosher meals.
PTY Airport - There is a new big lounge for Priority pass members called Copa club in Terminal 2 in the airport (which is where you come in when you are leaving).


Hotels-
I stayed 2 nights in The W and 2 nights in LaCompania.
The W- I booked the Fantastic Suite- It was a huge corner room with wall to ceiling windows on 2 of the walls. They gave me an upgrade on the second day to the Marvelous Suite on the 23rd floor- an even bigger room.
The W is not walking distance to shuls and kosher food, but I was not there for Shabbos so it was fine. I just took a 2$ uber to shul, it was 5 minutes away from the shuls.





We stayed in another hotel called La Compania which in the old city- Casco Viejo. It was $300 a night and only 12K Hyatt points. It was only 10 minutes to shuls and food so it wasnít such a big deal. There is a kosher restaurant- Lula- in the old city.
The hotel is 3 months old, it has three different wings with different decor and rooms- in Spanish, American, and French style with a courtyard in the center.




The elevator









For those who only eat CY-
Please ask your LOR what works for you but here is some info I found out and would like to share.
Most of the Dairy restaurants serve Chalav Stam(CS). Many of them have some foods on the menu that are CY (or maybe its CS but they can make it CY for you- I dont know if its in the same pot that they make the CS version or not). I just ordered pareve foods from those stores after discussing with my LOR.
I emailed the hechsher with some questions. https://kosher.com.pa/ and they were helpful answering my questions. you can try to call them too.
(Everything in panama is under the same hechsher which simplifies things greatly and when something is CY it says on the logo JY- Jalav Yisroel).
La Spezia is all CY. Jeffreys has a separate CY counter in the kitchen and they bring the food out with a CY sticker on the plate). I don't know which other stores are CY, there may be more.
I also called Rabbi Laine who is the Rav of Cong. Beit El ( I got his number from Gokosherpanama.com). He was very kind and informative. One of the things he told me is that the regarding CY milk that they sell in the stores (it's shelf stable milk) , the keilim are not kashered in between the CS and CY runs of milk and the keilim are still ben yomo. Again, this is the info, ask your LOR what to do with it.

Shuls-
They are very strict about the security at the four main shuls. You have to get screend before you get let in.
Gokosherpanama has a list of the shuls with minyanoim times. He also provides a form to fill out to get excepted into the shuls. )I filled it out- but I'm not sure if it was strictly necessary or not  in the quiet season). What is necessary is make sure to bring your passport. I forgot to bring mine the first morning and I didnt have a picture of it and I couldnt get in. The first time you go the security guard will get one of the shul members to "interview" you- they shmoozed with me for a few minutes and asked me who I know from the community- I didnt really know anyone personally, but it seems like that is helpful. They are very nice about the whole thing security/interview thing, it is just their protocol. You still need to bring your passport after the first time (on my last day the guard told me he knows me and I dont need my passport anymore:-)

I really wanted to daven in all the shuls to get to see them but I only made it to Shevet Achim and Ahavat Zion. Each one was a massive community center with mutiple batei knesset in each one. There was a lot going on there, especially Shevet Achim.
Ahavat Zion
 

Food-
Groceries: Super Kosher (new big grocery)
Deli K - older grocery. Both groceries have cafes inside.
Kava - really nice place and great food. Like most of the Dairy restuarants in Panama, most of the food is not CY. They offered a few CY dishes.
Jefferys - breakfast and lunch.
La Spezia- completely CY, gorgeous store with amazing food.



Yoss burger -I was expecting a simple sandwich place, but it was a big beautiful store. The burger was amazing.


Aria - top meat restaurant. Great food and great experience. They have an option to smoke hooka there, some of the other restaurants offer it as well.
 
DJ


Sushi rocket, its mainly a sushi delivery store - there is no eat in or store front.

Things to do:
Ancon Hill:  We took a 15 minute cab to Ancon hill. It was a great, nice, easy hike. Itís uphill for about 25 minutes, but itís not too steep. Then you come back down the same way. When we were done we had to wait 15 minutes for a cab. The uber driver was the first one we had that spoke fluent English and we asked him to drive us around a bit- he took us to a fruit market (which was half empty, because of the protests that were going on that were blocking the main roads there was a fruit shortage).
Ancon Hill

Top of the mountain





Pearl Islands
The ferry to Pearl Island leaves at 7:30, suggestion to get there about 7. In reality we probably could have came 7:15 but better to play it safe. Also you may not get a seat if you come too late. Some people got nauseous on the boat ride, but it was pretty smooth and it it took about 1:45 minutes.

First stop-Saboga Islands


Ilene met us at the dock at Contadora on a boat with a driver. First they took us to see whales. Sometimes it takes a while to find the whales, but they are normally there in the summer months. Ilene was nice and easygoing and she is highly recommended.







After that we went snorkeling, then they drove us around in the boat to see some of the other islands and the wildlife that live there.












Illene drops you back off at the Island about 1:00. We rented a gold cart for the next 2 hours and we drove around the island (there wasnít that much to see) and found a empty beach.


The ferry leaves at 3:30 and we got back about 5:30.


Amador Causway: Its a strip of land that connects a few islands off the city, big oturist spot. there are a bunch of places to rent electric scooters, bikes, mopeds, ect.



Casco Viejo - Old city, Interesting to walk around in at night, alot of people and stores open. During the day you can visit the artists markets - the indigenous people come to seel their art on the street. It is also sold in the stores.

















Monkey island/ Indigenous Wounaan village
We had a tour booked with Tereza from New Leaf Panama tours- we got referred to her by Gokosherpanama.com -they also give you coupon code discounts through their site. I choose this company because itís her company and she does the tour herself, she doesnít just send you with a different tour guide. We had booked a group tour but no else joined the tour that day  so we had a private tour- she picked us up at 9 from the hotel. (Some of the group tours start at 7/7:30 for this). Itís about an hour drive to the boat dock. My advice- some tours do just the monkey islands, but the Wounaan village we went to was 5-10 minutes away from the boat dock, so itís a great idea to do both. (Unless you want to do the full day Embrera tour separately, which is further away then these villages, but if not, it makes sense to do the nearby villages together with the monkey islands).



Driving past the boats on their way to entering the panama canal


Hand Woven baskets for sale form the wounaans



2 Sloths in the wild on the side of the road- it seems this is a very rare occurrence to have two together.

After that we asked her to take us to the areal tram ride at the Gamboa rainforest resort which is right nearby. It takes you high through the rainforest and then you climb up really high to an observation deck which gives you stunning views of all around) It's about $45 a person. Because it was a private tour, she was able to accommodate us and take us there for an extra fee) They also have ziplining there through the rainforest- $55 a person), but it was closed then, because of the rain)

The Air Tram


Panama Canal/ Miraflores locks - Closed on Mondays always for maintenance. Tip from the tour guide - when you come first go up to the observation deck to see if a boat is passing, then go back through the museum. Boats pass through about one or two every hour.






Enjoy!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2022, 09:27:57 PM by Aps »

Offline Tzfas

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Re: Panama TR -July 2022
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2022, 06:35:50 PM »
Thanks so much for taking the time to write this up and help others!
Excellent TR.

Offline yuneeq

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Re: Panama TR -July 2022
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2022, 07:26:48 PM »
Great TR!
Now I wanna go back!
"If you fall, I will be there." -Floor

Offline Aps

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Re: Panama TR -July 2022
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2022, 11:13:04 PM »
Great TR!
Now I wanna go back!
Thanks so much for taking the time to write this up and help others!
Excellent TR.
Thanks! Yes it took some time, but I'm happy I did it.

Offline Aps

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Re: Panama TR -July 2022
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2022, 11:18:08 PM »
Someone PM'ed me about covid tests and masks.
I dont know anything about covid tests because we were vaccinated, so I just had to show proof of full vaccination.
Regarding masks- I was told they were strict about it and there were lots of people wearing masks everywhere (not in the shuls) but I never put my mask on once on my whole trip and no one send anything to me BH.

Offline Ralphie

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Re: Panama TR -July 2022
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2022, 11:54:22 PM »
Kava - really nice place and great food. Like most of the Dairy restuarants in Panama, most of the food is not CY. They offered a few CY dishes.
Thanks for the great TR! Super helpful! Were there a decent amount of items that were CY or very few? Enough to go there? Which items?

Offline Aps

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Re: Panama TR -July 2022
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2022, 01:21:43 PM »
Thanks for the great TR! Super helpful! Were there a decent amount of items that were CY or very few? Enough to go there? Which items?
Some pizza's, maybe pasta too- I dont remember.
Theres tons of parve options though- Sushi salads, soups, pasta... Just ask the wither, they are very knowledgeable about what is parve