By Travel Writer Bradley Fink
In my travels I have always been fond of cities. London, New York, Hong Kong, and Sydney are at the topof my list. In Europe there is nowhere more beautiful than the medieval center of Prague, and Kiev is definitely my favorite metropolisin the former Soviet Bloc.
In Latin America, I often thought that Buenos Aires was the most beautiful city to live, but I recently changed my mind after seeing the capital of Panama. The ocean, the Old Town, and the excellentweather make Panama City unique. And today, withtons of investment pouring in, Panama’s capital is quickly becoming one of the best cities in the world.
The Old Town in Panama City is otherwise known as Casco Viejo. This quarter is still transitioning from its days as a forgotten slum, but you can easily see the neighborhood’s revitalization taking place. While restaurants, shops, and boutique hotels are popping up everywhere, theauthenticity ofPanama’s historystill remains intact.To get there, catch a taxi to The Plaza De Independencia (also known as La Plaza Mayor, or La Plaza Catedral)and wander through the cobblestone streets, and by the waterfront promenade.
One of the two best views of Panama City is from the top of Ancon Hill. This 650 foot hill overlooks the skyline of the new city. From there you can see the high-rises that line the Gulf of Panama. To get there you’ll have to rent a car, or you can hire a taxi from your hotel to take you to the top.
The other great view is a few miles along the Calzada de Amador (Amador Causeway). On La Isla Perico, or Perico Island, you’ll find a marina and a strip-mall with some restaurants and shops. Here you can eat marina-side while looking back toward Panama City, at that extraordinary skylinein the sun across the gulf.
The main attraction of Panama City is obviously the Panama Canal. The best place to view the canal is the visitor’s center at Miraflores. Here you can watch the cargo ships as they pass through the canal, while a commentator explains the canal’s history, economy and logistics. Exhibitions at the visitor’s center include The History Hall, The Hall of Water, The Canal in Action, and The Canal in The World, which will give you an understanding of the canal’s significance. Admission for non-residents is $8 USD.
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