First stop in Panama was just a short visit to Panama City. We didn't plan to stay long, it's mainly famous for being the place where the 'rich and glamorous' from Panama hang out so it definitely isn't backpacker orientated!
We stayed in the cheapest part of town and it was still about $30 a night! Although we did have the luxury of a great room the area was a bit on the ropey side! It served a purpose and was close to the metro and all the places we needed to go.
The main reason for the stop was to witness the Panama Canal and it didn't disappoint! The canal was huge, we also luckily got to see 2 big tankers travelling through the locks. The canal was built by the USA over 100 years ago and apart from recent widening it still resembles much of the same as when it was first built.
It's lock doors are huge and each the same weight as over 70 elephants, the canal enables ships to cross directly from the Atlantic to the Pacific, when ships pass through they hand over full control to the Panama Canal trained captains for the passage (no other locks are the same) and for the biggest ships they only leave about 10cm room on each side!!
Although it saves ships millions of dollars in passage time and fuel, for the big ships it can still cost up to $400,000 for just one trip through!
The reminder of the time in Panama City we just pottered around and chilled out, the old town in most cities is the most picturesque part but it's quite run down in Panama City and going through much needed renovation. The 'nice' part of town is in the high rise business district but it was much like many other modern cities around the World so no time spent there.
The next few weeks would be relatively quick skips through Panama and Costa Rica just as they are mainly holiday destinations for Americans so prices are high and the towns are tailored to holiday makers and not backpackers. One more stop in Panama, the picturesque islands and beaches of Bocas del Toro!