It’s Friday, It’s Friday!
Gotta get down on Friday? No? I’ll stop.
This was not my first stay at a hostel (or in rooms with bunk beds crammed into a small space), but it was my first stay at one while traveling.
Hostels are not the same everywhere. I’ve seen some that are as nice as 3/4-star hotels and others that are not so nice. Luna’s castle falls somewhere in between. Although a bit rustic looking, the hostel was clean, safe and fit in perfectly with the old town’s aesthetic. There were a few cozy common areas, a bar, free breakfast, and free wifi.
My favorite spot here was one lounge area which had a balcony with a view of the rest of the city. We hung out here to play games, meet other travelers and get some respite from the sweltering heat. If you’re wondering why we didn’t just use air conditioning, it’s because the ones at the hostel didn’t work very well.
Would I stay at Luna’s Castle again? Probably.
Casco Viejo never sleeps. Okay, I’m not sure if I can make this assumption since I only spent two days out of the weekend there, but the old town was almost always buzzing with life. Cars honked at other cars and at pedestrians who seemed unsure of crossing etiquette. Tourists milled about in the streets, stopping to haggle for souvenirs in Spanish or English or an interesting mix of both.
During the day, our group wandered through the city doing much of the same. We took photos, walked in and out of souvenir shops and stalls, baked in the scorching Panamanian sun and cooled down with some gelato.
At night, we danced. We moved our feet and bodies to the rhythm of bachata, salsa, reggaeton and even some American pop and hip-hop. I was told by a local that reggaeton is popular among young people in Panama, so I wasn’t surprised to hear it blaring from speakers at the clubs. Panama was where I first heard one of my favorite latin songs – “Despacito”.
Named one of the seven wonders of the modern world, the Panama canal is one of those places you have to stop at while visiting the country. Otherwise, don’t tell anyone you visited Panama.
I’m kidding but not really?.
This is one of the slowest thrill experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t know if you’ll feel the same way, but watching the canal work was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. Don’t just stop here for the history lesson, you can get that on Wikipedia. Stay to watch the mechanism that allows vessels pass through this man-made canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Note: Entry is around $12 USD per person. If you want a more involved experience, Viator offers boat tours in the canal here.
There are a few ways to deal with the heat. You could stay inside and get air conditioning, walk around with a misting fan, or cool down with ice cream or gelato. Since the other options weren’t available to us, we went with the latter.
The gelato was creamy, delicious and very much needed!
Close to the canal was a residential area with a contemporary looking outdoor food court. Thanks to the sun, I almost ran into this small stall that served popsicles. An extensive flavor menu had me deliberating for a few minutes before I decided on a maracuyá (passion fruit) flavored popsicle. This was the beginning of my obsession with passionfruit.
As part of our little city expedition, a few of us went into the centro (center of the city) to check out the huge mall. While here, we grabbed a quick lunch at Tan Contento which came highly recommended by a friend who had visited before (Thanks, Nupur!).
We ordered and shared chicken tacos, a taco bowl, and some chips and guac! My only issue with the food was that I like my taco shells lightly fried or grilled and these weren’t. However, I would definitely eat there again because the rest of it was delicious!
In total, three of us spent around $30 for the entire meal.
Tip – U.S Debit & Credit cards are accepted in most places, as well as the U.S Dollar.
Before this trip, Panama was not high up on my list of countries to visit. It wasn’t even in the top 20, but sometimes opportunities show up when you least expect them. I’m happy I took this one, and I don’t regret a single moment.
Have any of you been to Panama? What did you get up to? And if you haven’t, is this a country you’d like to visit? Leave a comment to let me know.
Thank you for reading.
All photos shot and edited on iPhone 6S+
Same footprints, different sands