Author Topic: A Late Panama TR  (Read 3335 times)

Offline Yonah

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A Late Panama TR
« on: December 09, 2022, 12:49:00 PM »
Why Panama?

In March of this year, my wife wanted to go somewhere with the kids in the week between school and camp. We also hadn’t traveled in a few years because of COVID, and she wanted to go somewhere different. A handful of our friends from different circles spent Yeshiva week in Panama, and really liked it, and after reviewing some other Trip Reports and notes on Dan’s Deals Forums, I thought we’d give it a shot.

Stuff I wished I had known in advance:

- Ubers are cheap and great, but can be hard to find coming back from places outside of Panama City
- Cabs and some places do require cash
- While many people speak English, you will need some Spanish to get by.

Quick Itinierary:

Sunday: Arrive from NY, Check in to the hotel, Lunch at SuperKosher Cafe, Dinner at Yoss Burger

Monday: Amador Causeway Bike Ride, Lunch at Jeffrey’s Bakery, Pool time, Watched the MYHSAL Baseball champs, Dinner was sandwiches made from food bought at SuperKosher

Tuesday: Isla Taboga Ferry, dinner at Kava

Wednesday: Panama Canal Trip, Lunch at Lula, Casco Viejo Walking Tour, Dinner from Dr. Sandwich

Thursday: Gamboa Tree Trek, Dinner at Blame Kiki

Friday: Hike to the top of Ancon Hill,Lunch - sushi from Deli K, Davening at Chabad, dinner from food bought at SuperKosher, Deli K, and Jeffrey’s

Shabbos: Davening at Chabad, Lunch with food bought at SuperKosher, Deli K, and Jeffrey’s, Motzei Shabbat Dinner from Aroma

Sunday: Lunch - Sandwiches from Jeffrey’s, flight back to NY

POI / Hotel Information Links:

Restaurant/Food Links (Note, most restaurants are contactable via WhatsApp, and can answer in English):
Regrets (i.e. wish we would have done these):
  • Isla Contadora
  • San Blas
  • Aria (Kava’s meat Place)

Sunday - Flight from NY:

Let my start by saying I am a points n00b. I did get a Delta Skymiles Amex, and got a nice bonus, and used miles for this trip. It was 10k delta miles per person, the cash fare was about $330. (You tell me if I got a good deal). I originally booked us in Delta’s “Comfort” class, and I was pleasantly surprised when they moved us up Comfort+ (on account of my card). My 3 boys sat together, but the seat next to me and DW was empty. For the most part the flight was fine and uneventful, except that my one of my sons was mad that the Flight attendant skipped giving him a snack, because he was busy playing a video game.

We landed in Panama City on time, and customs was pretty quick and easy - save one mistake, I originally thought I had to fill out one form for the whole family, but as we were leaving the airport, they asked my two over 18 kids to fill out their own forms. We took an UberXL from the Airport to the city (about $20) to our hotel - the Residence Inn.

I picked the Residence Inn because of its’ proximity to the Jewish Community in Punta Pacifica / Punta Patilla. It is located in the brand new Pacific Center, next door to the panama clinic (in fact a lot of the clinic’s patients spend time living in the hotel as they recover). I also picked it because I was able to get a one-room suite that accommodated my family of 5 and it had a kitchen.  We arrived at the hotel about 1:30, check in time was at 3:00. They informed us our room was not ready yet, but that they would let us know when it was ready. They locked up our luggage and we went to get lunch. The Residence Inn is above a mall called the Pacific Center, and one of the stores in the mall is SuperKosher - a large kosher supermarket (The mall isn’t huge, but it took up an entire floor of the mall). In addition to kosher food, it also has two restaurants - a dairy Pizaa/Bakery Sushi Place, and a Meat Restaurant (on different floors). We had Sushi for lunch and were a little underwhelmed, both by the portion size and the cost, although the food was decent.  After having lunch, our room was ready, we checked in and got settled.

We had a one bedroom pacific view suite. The bedroom had two double beds, and the living room had a couch with a pull out bed, and a kitchenette, with a small full-size fridge/freezer, range top, microwave and coffee maker. The room was nice, the only one thing I didn’t like was that it was a handicapped accessible room, which mean the shower was a roll-in shower. Not the best combination with teenage boys.

The view from our room, looking out at the Pacific Ocean:

The entrance to Super Kosher






Our next plan was to get pre-paid SIM cards for our phones. We walked a half mile to the Multi-Center, and found a kiosk selling SIM cards. We paid about $9-10 each for a SIM card and unlimited data for the week. The service was decent, and surprisingly worked in some of the remote places I wasn’t expecting it to. On the way to the Multi-center, we passed several kosher restaurants, and scouted them out for later in the week. (ironically, I somehow didn’t realize that Deli K was on the lower level of the Multi-Center until a couple of days later).

Now that my teens were reconnected with the world, we walked back to the hotel and took a swim in their rooftop pool. Although the pool was small and shallow, it had decent views of the pacific and parts of the city. We swam for a little while, and then decided to go to Yoss Burger ([https://yossburger.com/](https://yossburger.com/)) for dinner. Yoss burger was a quick 30 second walk from the hotel. This would turn out to be everyone’s favorite meat meal for our entire week. My wife and kids had various burgers, and hers turned out to be the best - Bomba de hongos - a burger with a truffle aioli and mushrooms cooked in read wine, it was delicious. I opted for the Greek Pargiot along with Patacones (fried plantain pancakes) as a side. We all thoroughly enjoyed, I think that the bill was about $150-175 for the five of us, including a nacho appetizer, mains, beer/soda, and desert. If I ask my kids, this was the #1 meat meal we had in our week in Panama, I would definitely add Yoss to your restaurant list. Some pictures from our meal at Yoss Burger Below:











Monday:

Our hotel had included breakfast, which had some kosher options. The staff actually had a sense of what was kosher and what was not, and seemed to understand that we wanted to see symbols on boxes to verify. By and large the staff at the hotel were awesome, most spoke excellent english, and they were pleasant and helpful. Being that we had a kitchenette, we had also bought some eggs at SuperKosher to make omelettes for breakfast as well. One of the weird things about leaving the US, is that the eggs aren’t treated and don’t need to be refrigerated. All in all, between stuff we bought at the supermarket, and stuff we got from the hotel, breakfasts were pretty good.

My original plan for Monday was to go to the Canal, and then tour Casco Viejo, except what I didn’t realize is that the canal visitors center is closed on Mondays. So I changed up the plan a little bit. We took an Uber to the Amador Causeway. The Amador causeway is a road built on landfill to connect several small islands near the Panama City coastline. It’s only a couple of miles long. It (as well as the Cinta Costera) have a dedicated walk/bike/skate path so that you can get a little exercise and take in the view. We went to Burke Bikes ([https://burkebikespanama.com/](https://burkebikespanama.com/)) - initially because they were one of the only ones open on Monday, but also because they had the most options. Me and the child who likes to bike the most rented mountain bikes ($5/hour) and my wife and the other two rented a three-seater, four-wheeled bike car ($10/hour). I had texted them via whatsapp before arriving, and they told me if I follow them on instagram, I get 1 hour for free. All told, we paid $20 for two hours - which is more than enough to do the Causeway (even with picture and water stops, and a few foibles along the way, we managed to finish in about 1:20-1:30). If you are more ambitious, you could have easily biked a little more to get to Casco Viejo or to the Cintra Costera (another scenic road that circles downtown out on the ocean, and also has a bike path), but we were good with just the causeway. Also on the Causeway is the BioMuseo - a science and ecology museum that was closed on Mondays - [https://biomuseo.org/en/](https://biomuseo.org/en/) - I’m told it’s nice, and takes a couple of hours, you can do a bike tour + the biomuseo on the same half-day.











 After biking, we tried to get an UberXL to pick us up, with no luck (we gave up after 20 minutes). We negotiated with a cabbie to take us back for $15 (the Uber XL fare wanted $10, and the Cabbie Initially wanted $25). He spent the time railing on Uber drivers. Uber was a great way to get around, relatively cheap (most rides in an UberXl were <$10), but the big caveat is that while it is easy to get an Uber from your hotel to go anywhere, it’s much harder to get an Uber to pick you up from a touristy location, and UberXL’s are even more scarce. A lot of times we simply used two regular Ubers instead of an XL. Since Ubers cost a lot less than cabs, you can imagine the animosity between the two. Biggest problem with cabs - they don’t accept credit cards, so you need to pay them in cash - another main reason we stuck to Uber.

When we got back to our hotel, we were ready for lunch. We went to Jeffrey’s bakery - about a 5 minute walk from our hotel. The food was good - we had some pizza, sandwiches or salads, the deserts (both Parve and Dairy) were excellent. I think our bill cam to less than $70 for lunch, drinks, and dessert for all 5 of us.  Their pesto pizza was pretty good, and their cheesecake and ‘prailine bomb’ (my term, not theirs) were awesome as well.



On Monday night, we had plans to stay in. My recent HS graduate’s team was playing in the Yeshiva League Baseball championships, and we were very bummed that they scheduled it in middle of our trip. So we all agreed we’d make sandwiches and watch the livestream together. We bought pre-made minute steaks and grilled chicken at SuperKosher, as well as some veggies and baguettes, and we had ourselves some sandwiches while watching the game. We were all excited when his team won! Immediately after the game, he FaceTimed a teammate and was hanging with them in the huddle. Even though he couldn’t be there, he still got a chance to celebrate the win.


Tuesday:

For Tuesday, we decided we want to go to the beach. Despite miles of pacific coastline, Panama city itself has no beaches, so if you want to go to the beach, you have essentially 3 choices:

- Drive 1-1.5 hours down to the beach resort area on the southern Panama Coast
- Drive 2.5-3 hours in a jeep on bumpy back roads to get to the carribean cost at San Blas
- Take a 45-1.5 hours ferry to an Island in the pacific ocean off of the coast of Panama.

We opted for #3, but to be fair, I think I planned poorly and chose the wrong Island. One of the islands on my original itinerary was Taboga. It’s about a 35-40 minute Ferry ride from Amador Causeway. I read online that it has a beach as well as a path to the top of its hill where there are great views of Panama City. We took the 9:30am Ferry ($24/adult for a roundtrip) and got to Taboga a little after 10:00am. We decided to first try to climb to the top of the Island. Sadly, we didn’t hire a guide, and as we headed through the town, dodging loose dogs, hens, and roosters, we asked people in broken spanish how to get to the trail that led up to the top of the mountain. When we got there thought, the trail was poorly marked and slightly overgrown, and we abandoned the climb. We walked back down through the village and headed back down to the boat dock, from there we walked to Restinga beach. It’s obvious that Taboga is a very small and poor island, and I totally felt nickeled an dimed - chair rentals were $5, and the bathrooms had a $2 fee for the day. And sadly, they don’t take credit cards - cash only. Restinga beach extends into Morro Island - a small uninhabited Island, on the inner bay side there are some remnants of a shipwreck, which are good for Instagram pics and the water was okay, with the occasional fish (and garbage) swimming buy - we even saw a school of fish jumping out of the water. All told, we had an okay time, but in retrospect, we would have been much better served by spending the time and Money to go to Contadora (an Island about 1.5 hours away by ferry - at $100/person), or to San Blas (2.5 hours of jeep riding) instead. The boat ride home was kind of fun, in part because of one of the passengers with a boom box acting as a DJ and trying to start an impromptu dance party, and in part because we were traversing the canal shipping lanes between giant cargo and tanker ships.









Just like the previous day, we had a hard time getting an UberXL for the return trip. Thankfully, after quite a few minutes, we managed to get two UberX’s instead and headed back to our hotel. We decided to have dinner at Kava that night. A couple of our friends really enjoyed it, and we decided to give it a shot. We took a short Uber ride to OBarrio, and entered the restaurant. When the waiter seated us, he mentioned that there was going to be a party at 8:00pm, and there would be a mariachi band performing. We asked for menus, but instead of a menu, we were handed QR codes, and told to scan them with our phones - we were able to get their menus in English to make it easier to order. Kava is actually two dairy restaurants that are co-located and share a kitchen. Kava is a fish/fusion cuisine place, and Brusca is an italian restaurant. Although we made our reservation at Kava, we were allowed to order off of either menu. Two of my sons and I ordered off of the Kava Menu - I had the Kava Grilled Sea Bass with Huanacaina sauce - which was delicious, my oldest enjoyed his Coconut Thai Curry Sea Bass. We also enjoyed the Sushi, and the Huanacaina Pizza was out of this world.  We also ordered drinks to accompany our meal. My two oldest were happy that the drinking age was only 18. #2 and I ordered beers, but my oldest opted for a fancy cocktail that came inside of a smoking glass cube. It included passionfruit and tequila, and he said it was pretty good. We were all enjoying a good meal, when as promised, the Mariachi band arrived. Turns out they were there for a birthday party - of a 10 year old! My wife and I were kind of surprised (the party was just starting at around 8pm), especially because it was a school night (Panama’s school year is March-December). Shortly thereafter we ordered desert - we ordered the Kava special desert. It was spectacular. It was a chocolate souffle, but when it was delivered they poured hot carmel sauce on top of it, melting the chocolate to reveal the cake underneath. It was amazing. Needless to say, it was by far our overall best meal in Panama. Sadly, the pattern of not being able to find an UberXL for the ride home continued. Unlike at the tourist sites, it was very easy to get two UberXs, and surprisingly the cost for two UberX’s (about $3/each) wasn’t much more than the cost of one UberXL (about $5).

Some pics from our Meal at Kava:












Wednesday:

On Wednesday, or plan was to go to see the Panama Canal in action. We took an uber (about $10 for an UberXL) to the Canal visitors center at the Miraflores locks. During the ride, I discussed the difficulty in getting an Uber back from tourist locations with our driver. He mentioned that it’s because most of the Uber action is in the downtown area, and most drivers would have to spend too much time getting there to pick you up. As part of our discussion, I told him we were going ziplining the next day. He offered to drop us off and pick us back up for a pre-arranged price - which was awesome! (more on that later). We arrived at the Canal and paid for our tickets to their museum ($10/pp). When we went, they were still limiting the number of visitors because of COVID, so make sure you reserve online in advance. The museum was small, it took about 30 minutes to go through the 3 floors. It’s worth going through and understanding both the history and effort in building the Canal, as well as the economic benefits of transiting the canal vs going around the tip of South America. After finishing the museum around 12:15pm or so, we realized our timing mistake - boats transit the canal in two bands - in the morning, they head north from the pacific to the Atlantic, and in the afternoon, they head south from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We showed up at exactly the wrong time - the period in between where there were no boats going through - so we needed to wait an hour until the boats started coming through again. The good news for us, is that while we were waiting, they were doing maintenance on one of the massive (700+ ton) lock doors. We got to watch them detach the door, and move it with a giant floating crane so that it could be repaired. Shortly thereafter, we saw the boats coming down the canal and were able to watch how they move from lock to lock. As an engineer it was awesome. I definitely think that kids of all ages would be fascinated by this - my only advice - time it better. I would allow for 2 hours for the museum and watching the canal in action (assuming you time it right)





When we were finished, we took two Ubers (no XL’s available) to Casco Viejo, the “old town” of Panama City. Our first stop was a late lunch at a restaurant called Lula. The owner previously had two other restaurants closer to the Jewish Community in Panama City, but both closed during the pandemic. This one is street food - Falafel, Shawarma, Hummus. The food was amazing. We had a mix of Shawarma, Arayes (which was awesome), Hummus and Falafel. They also had their own ketchup made in store - it was pretty awesome too. It was one of our favorite meals. The store, consistent with the artsy ol’ school feel of the neighborhood, was decorated with hundreds of Hebrew Books lining the walls - very reminiscent of Tmol Shilshom in Jerusalem. The owner Ayelet was super nice, and the service was great.  Some pics from Lula:





Ayelet gave us some walking tips on how to navigate Casco Viejo. We started by walking to Plaza Francia, which honored the aforementioned De Lesseps and the other Frenchmen who first attempted to build the canal. Walking up the stairs, there is a beautiful plaza that overlooks the pacific ocean, and in the distance you can see the Cintra Costera (which I mentioned above, it has it’s own promenade/bike/walking path) and the Amador Causeway and Amador Islands in the distance. Casco Viejo is beautiful, and it’s streets are lined with bars and tourist shops that sell souvenirs and clothing. There are also many boutique hotels. If you want a cheap panama hat, buy it on the promenade, if you want a quality one, you’re better off getting one in one of the boutiques in Casco Viejo. Of course we passed a cosmetics shop on one of the streets, complete with an Israeli trying to sell dead sea products, I guess some things are universal. There are also two museums in Casco Viejo, one is the Canal Museum - which I’ve been told is not worth going to if you’ve already seen the Canal’s museum itself - it’s mostly the same information and similar exhibits. The other museum - the Mola museum, was sadly closed - it’s a museum that has exhibits about the Mola fabrics and tapestries made by indigenous Panamanian tribes.










After walking around for a little bit, we decided to head back to our hotel. Having spent about $100 on lunch for the five of us, we decided that we should probably have a slightly less expensive dinner. In the vicinity of our hotel there were plenty of options, we decided to go with Dr. Sandwich - right across the street from our hotel, and we were not disappointed. The food was good, portions were good size and the price was right. We also had a nice talk with the owner and she let us try something she was experimenting with - Fried Wontons.  Dr. Sandwich is what we in NY would call a ‘Shawarma Place’ - and our dinner included a mix of Shawarma, Falafel and Schnitzel. Here is my Shwarma Platter:



Thursday:

On Thursday we went to Gamboa to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. In addition to being a hotel with beautiful grounds overlooking the Chagres River and Lake Gatun, it also has many activities that are open to the public as well as to hotel guests. We chose to do the Gamboa Tree Trek Ziplines. As I mentioned previously, we had arranged with one of our regular Uber drivers to pick us up and drop us off at the Resort. Uber without tips would have been in the vicinity of $65, and we arranged to pay him $70 in cash - all told a pretty good arrangement, as it would have likely been challenging to get an uber ride back to Panama city from Gamboa. Our Uber dropped us off at the main entrance to the hotel, where we waited to be driven to the entrance of the ZipLine course. We had booked an 11:30am tour, and we were told it would last about 1.5 hours total. This ZipLine was lower tech and less self-service than some of the lines in the US. We were paired with another group of 3 people, and three guides for the 8 of us. After about 10-15 minute orientation, and equipment fitting. The orientation told us how to clip on to ziplines, how to brake, and how to pull ourselves to the end if our momentum doesn’t carry us all of the way through to the next platform. They then drove us up the hill to the start. There were about 11-12 ziplines all told, and we had a great time (even my wife who wasn’t into it seemed to enjoy). The ZipLine was $55/person, but well worth it. The guides were super helpful, knowledgable, and a lot of fun.  After the tour was over, we went back to the hotel and ate the sandwiches we had prepared for lunch in the hotel’s lobby restaurant. Our Uber came to pick us up at 2pm, and we made it back to the hotel before 3pm (it’s about a 40 minute or so drive from Panama City). I would highly reccomend this tour, even at $55/person. I would also suggest if you are going, to make it a full day, and couple the ZipLine with another tour at the Rainforest Preserve - like the sloth sanctuary, or the jungle trek or observation tower. You could also potentially combine it with a Chagres River cruise and a visit to one of the indigenous villages nearby.



After coming back from the rainforest, we chilled at the hotel pool for a little bit, and decided to go to a dairy restaurant named “Blame Kiki” for dinner. We chose Blame Kiki simply because from instagram pics it seemed cool and funky - and it didn’t disappoint - well at least the decor. It’s probably the funkiest kosher restaurants that I’ve been to. The decor was over the top - one entire wall was covered in fake rose petals, and the dinner rolls were heart-shapped. One of my boys commented that it was a pretty girly restaurant and asked why a guy would come here - and my response was that the guys would come because the girls were there. We had dinner early - like 6:30pm, and were put in an out-of-the-way table in the corner. As their usual dinner crowd arrived, I understood why - everyone coming in was dressed to the nines - in what I would describe as club clothes - we were in touristy attire - shorts and t-shirts. Just before 8pm, the DJ showed up, and started playing an awesome mix of music from 80s until now. I’m guessing that this place is more of a trendy singles/young couples restaurant. Had we known that we might have dressed differently. We probably would have been served better too, as the service that started out pretty good quickly waned as their regular crowd shuffled in, almost as if they had forgotten us. The food was pretty good. My kids liked their pasta and speciality pizzas - even the names were kitchy - ‘Honey, I’m Home’ - a Fresh Mozarella Pizza with Onion sauce, and ‘Kiki Mushrooms’ - a mushroom sauce white pizza, were two of the ones we sampled. My Chmichurri salmon was pretty good too. The desserts were pretty amazing too. The Red Velvet Hot Cookie was a heart-shaped red velvet ice cream cookie sandwich. We also had the Milhojas, which was pretty good too. All told it was just under $200 for all five of us with drinks and desert. While we could have walked back to our hotel, we splurged on the $6 Uber. We left around 8:00pm, and the place was just starting to heat up. While the food was good, and the ambiance was kitchsy, I wouldn’t recommend this to families with younger kids looking for a regular dinner, but for singles and couples looking to have a fun night out - go after 8pm.
Some of the food and decor of "Blame Kiki":



















Friday:

We decided to make Friday a Lazy, Sleep-in day. While the kids slept, my wife and I walked a few minutes from our hotel to the Deli-K (another kosher supermarket + restaurant located in a shopping mall) to buy food for Shabbos and Friday’s Lunch. We bought a handful of items including wine, dips and salads, but also opted to buy our pre-made meats at Super Kosher instead - because the ones we had earlier in the week looked better that what was being sold at Deli-K. We also managed to buy Sushi - about $5/roll - from Deli-K for Friday’s Lunch. The sushi was pretty good, but had a little latin flavor - many of the rolls were wrapped with Plantain on the outside. While I wasn’t a big fan of the plantain, the sushi itself was pretty good, and devoured by the family.

Cooked Salmon Avocado Sushi with a Fried Plantain Wrapper - from Deli K:



We also decided to take a hike to the top of Ancon Hill. Ancon Hill is a Hill that overlooks all of panama city on one side, and the canal on the other. When the US ran the canal zone, it was the US Army’s headquarters - which makes sense, since you can see the entire city from the top. While there is a road, it’s closed to most traffic. So our Uber took us to the farthest point he was allowed, and we began the trek up. While the walk was short (about 1.25-1.5 miles) it was about 400 feet of elevation. While the kids claimed about the humidity it was all well worth it when we saw the view. The cost of this hike was $0, and well worth it - just wear sneakers and bring water and snacks. Although the hill is now a nature preserve, we only got to see some gargantuan spiders and some weird Panamanian rodent - sadly the sloths weren’t out.

Some views from the top of Ancon Hill: (Panama City Skyline , Cintra Costera and the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal):







Upon returning to the hotel, we bought a few more shabbos items at Super Kosher, and my son and I went to buy desert at Jeffrey’s. Their cakes were amazing. As I’ve been cutting out dairy from my diet, their Parve cheesecake was really good too. We prepped for shabbos, and I went to shul with my kids. Having grown up on the 6th floor of an apartment building, I didn’t think it would be a big deal to get back to the 5th floor of the hotel. The staff understood our shabbos needs, and helped us navigate going in and out through non electric doors. They do not have a mechanical key option, but were willing to have staff open their doors for us on Shabbos. Of course, I took the elevator down on my way to shul, I had a stark realization on my way home. The first 3 “Floors” in the hotel, are the floors of the mall, and the they are the equivalent of about 3 regular floors each. So walking to the fifth floor, was more like walking to the 10th or 11th floor - big difference. Thankfully, I only needed to do it twice. We decided to daven at Chabad for two reasons 1) It was about a 5 minute walk, and 2) They don’t require you to provide ID/passports/etc to come. We decided to have shabbat dinners together in our hotel and forwent the Shabbos meals at chabad. If it was just two of us, we probably would have signed up to make it easier. R’ Mendy Carmiel was nice and welcoming (as was his congregation) he even invited me to lead Kabbalat Shabbat Friday night. I think that the shul enjoyed the ruach that I brought.

After climbing back up the stairs, we ate dinner and read / played cards until bed time. We really enjoyed the store bought food, and a shabbos that kind of mirrored our own shabbos meals, just away from home.

Shabbos:

Shabbos morning, we went to shul again (all 5 of us) and of course, they enjoyed my Kabbalat Shabbat so much, that they invited me to daven Shacharit as well. After shul we went back to the hotel and had lunch, and lounged by the pool on Shabbat afternoon (after climbing ten regular floors to get there). After shabbat ended, we decided to maybe go out to eat. I know that there were a whole bunch more restaurants in the Punta Pacifica neighborhood, so we strolled passed a few, but none were open. Ultimately we discovered that ‘Aroma’ - which is Yoss’ burgers dairy restaurant was. My kids and wife got Pizza, while I got a salmon shwarma - the food was great and reasonably priced, but I can’t judge the ambience, because we just did take out at the end.







Sunday:

Our flight back to NY was at 1pm Sunday afternoon. We decided to enjoy our last breakfast and finish up as much of the food we had remaining from shabbat and in our fridge (we also left some of it to the hotel). We also decided to get sandwiches from Jeffrey’s to have as lunch on the flight. I walked to Jeffrey’s to order and pickup lunch. I also mentioned to the wait staff that I wanted it wrapped well, as we would be taking it on the plane. One of the waitresses, realizing that I was leaving, took a moment to thank me. She noticed that in each of the 3-4 times I’d been to Jeffrey’s over the course of the week that my Spanish improved, and that I was making an effort to learn. She told me that way too many American tourists don’t even bother, and get angry at their staff for not understanding. I thanked her and told her - “I am in your country, why shouldn’t I try to learn your language”. When the food was ready, I returned to the hotel. We were packed up and ready to go.

The flight back was uneventful, save for one weird thing. As we passed through security after check in, we were told that there was another security check at the gate. We thought that was odd, and when we arrived at the gate, much to our surprise, there was no check. We thought that they had made a mistake. We divided an conquered, some members of our family went to duty free, while others stayed behind with the bags. About 40 minutes before take off. Security came over and asked as to leave the gate area. I frantically called the duty-free family members back, as the security team roped off the gate, and started screening us again. I had never seen this before, but was told that the TSA doesn’t trust Panamanian security, and requires a second screening before boarding. You also can’t bring drinks through the screening. While this complicated things, we hurriedly did our Duty-Free shopping, got our last pre-flight Coffees/Drinks and got screened again.

Regrets:

As with any trip, there is stuff that I would re-do. The main regret I have is that we went to Taboga instead of either Contadora or San Blas. Even if we only went for one day, everyone who’d been there told me that the beach experience at either was worth it.

There were a ton of kosher restaurants, but not enough time. We liked almost everywhere we went, but the one restaurant regret is that we didn’t get to try Aria (Kava’s meat Place)




Offline elazarmn

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Re: A Late Panama TR
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2022, 01:20:50 PM »
wow great detailed write up. thnx!

Offline Mareh Makom

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Re: A Late Panama TR
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2022, 04:08:49 PM »
Thanks for the detailed report ! Very helpful!

Offline PBaruch

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Re: A Late Panama TR
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2022, 09:34:42 PM »
It's nice to hear about the kosher supermarket and restaurants by the Residence Inn.  Makes the place even more convenient than before. 
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline yochai

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Re: A Late Panama TR
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2022, 10:52:21 PM »
Thanks for the TR. Hoping to make it there the last week of December.

Offline Yonah

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Re: A Late Panama TR
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2022, 01:28:29 PM »
It's nice to hear about the kosher supermarket and restaurants by the Residence Inn.  Makes the place even more convenient than before.

100% - I knew it was close to kosher/shuls/etc. But didn't realize how close. The only downside is shabbos - because the lowest floor with rooms is 5, but floors -1-3 are mall floors, and 3x the height - so walking to the 4th floor in the marriott is like walking up 8-10 flights of stairs.

Offline Samy1716

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Re: A Late Panama TR
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2024, 01:59:45 PM »
Hi, amazing TR.
You mentioned that you regret not going to Contadora Island, how would you have gone? if you had no car and only took ubers?