Known best for its canal, Panama has an overwhelming number and variety of birds.
Keel-billed Toucans, Chestnut-mandibled Toucans,Green and shining Honeycreepers, Blue Dacnis, Greenlets, Tanagers, Trogans, Masked Tityras, the list goes on and on.
Welcome to Panama, one of the friendliest places to observe birds in the Neotropics.
For a week of reading glossy magazines on Panama and its diverse cultural life,
primeval forests and convoluted history, I never got the chance to be privy to
one of the most interesting moments in Panama's existence. Fortunately and
magically it happened on the last day when travelling to the Tocumen
international airport, the taxi driver chose the fast and painless toll highway.
At a certain moment he had to stop his monolog on Mel Gibson?s pursuits and
change the topic. The area we were literally flying over was the spot where the
American commandos came to collect their friend Noriega. All of that is just
fine but the poor cream-of-the-cream of the army did not realize that they were
dropped in the sediment of fecal matter coming from the less-than-perfect sewage
system. It must take a master of the plume and letters like Shakespeare to
convey the bewildering joy of the driver depicting the soaked up to their necks
in excrements crying for help.
A real secret, hidden away from the noise it is in a house from the last century. Homemade bread and pasta, crabs flown from San Blas Islands. Really the prettiest restaurant in Panama. Ceiling fans and potted palms. As a a frequent traveler to this city I was thriilled when this place opened. It is a see and be seen place for Panama's elite (on one night I saw two ex-presidents and former Miss Universe). Local paper gave it three stars and and excellent review. Fish Pasta Bread Pizza (from the wood burning oven)
Pavo Real was supposedly the only English Pub in Panama, before I could try it, it had been closed and demolished. A few restaurants in the Bancaria area of Panama City have met this fate, among them, Siciliano´s, which was on the next corner over from Pavo Real, has met the same fate and was demolished as well. They have been sacrificed for progress. Siciliano's is still not resurfaced, but El Pavo Real moved to Via Argentina in El Cangrejo on "Restaurant Row" as I like to call it, as there are many Restaurants on that street in that area. It is an upper-class area, many apartments in that part of town rent for over $1K a month. There is plenty of competition for the Peacock, even moreso than in Bancaria where there is no dearth of restaurants.
The building they moved into is white, with wooded highlights. Very appropriate for this type of restaurant. Inside they tried to make it as pubby as possible. Big bar with many pull handles, but no draft beers...hmmm. Dart boards and pool tables, TVs and local music, unfortunately, kind of detracts from the idea of this being an English Pub when one listens to salsa or camposino music.
But it is a nice atmosphere nonetheless.
They didn't have much in the way of English beer, just Guiness which is brewed in Panama, anyway. They also offered Heinekken, which is brewed in Costa Rica, so none of their so-called "imported" beers come from outside the Americas, even!
This may have changed, to be fair, since they had just reopened. I would like to return and find if things have changed since I went there in August of 2008. I decided to try good ol' Fish n' Chips, which was not a bad choice, the batter was very dark and crunchy, not like traditional Fish n' chips batter, but it was good. Kind of pricey at $8 for the portions but it was good.
I would like to go back and sample something else. If you want to have a sort-of English Pub experience in Panama City, then I would recommend El Pavo Real. It is better than Bennigan's, anyway, and not as big or crowded.
Visit the Miraflores Locks
A trip to Panama wouldn’t be complete unless one visits the Locks on the Panama Canal. Probably the most easily accessible of these are the Miraflores Locks near Panama City. One can take a cab there for a few dollars or a bus or a tour that originates in Panama City. The entry fee for non-Panamanians is $5 at Miraflores Visitors’ Center. If you want to see the exhibits, add $3. They are OK, and informative, but not really necessary to see. There are several levels one can view the locks from. There is a restaurant on the third level that is supposed to be pretty good, albeit expensive, for Panama, I haven’t tried it yet, but hope to fairly soon. The upper level is where one gets a good view of the whole process of a ship using the lock and has great views looking toward Amador and up the Galliard Cut.