Our last day in Panama with Air France and Enjoy Panama UK! Despite packing so much in that it felt like the trip had been five times longer than it was, the last day still came around too fast. We packed up one final time and said goodbye to the lovely Marriott and the Pacific Ocean.
Today’s itinerary was a leisurely sightseeing and shopping day in Panama City’s old town (Casco Viejo), but first we stopped to stock up on coffee. Kotowa is a gourmet local coffee brand and they grow their beans in the town of Boquete in the west of the country. (Boquete sounds worth a visit in itself, at least according to our tour guide whose father is the major!) I bought a bag of rare Geisha coffee, so named for Gesha in Ethiopia where it was developed, but also coincidentally this coffee is popular in Japan because it has a mild flavour more like tea. Kotowa run tours of their plantation which sounds like a fun activity for another trip.
Heading into the city, a quick stop to admire the views. The marked difference between Panama’s old and new towns is quite remarkable – skyscrapers that way, charming colonial decay this way.
We took a wander of the streets, admiring the pretty squares, spotting some cool looking restaurants and ducking into shops for souvenirs.
You can spot shaved-ice sellers in the squares; they have a super cool little cart with a large block of ice on top, with a little machine that quickly shaves and cups the ice all one. It’s then topped with flavoured syrups and condensed milk, for 75 cents or so.
It’s a very pretty area to wander around, and I could have easily spent a few more days discovering all it has to offer.
Along the bay is a pretty covered street lined with market stalls selling local handcrafts and souvenirs. I love the traditional embroidered textiles called Mola that the Guna Indians make and sell; I brought a couple home.
Finally, we had a quick peek into the American Trade Hotel, a brand new hotel from the Ace group housed in an old department store building. It’s absolutely beautiful and I’d certainly try to stay there for a few nights if I was visiting Panama again.
After one final beer pit stop, we packed into our bus for the last time and headed to the airport. We were lucky enough to be upgraded by Air France again, and I slept for nearly the whole flight back. Once again thanks loads to Air France and Enjoy Panama UK for sending me on this trip. What do you think, would you consider Panama as a holiday destination? I can’t wait to go back.