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Patrick7
3 July 2008, 13:37
Any one have any tips/warnings for the Comarca region of Panama. We will be in Panama City also, but mostly around Cape San Blas and South.

RGR.Montcalm
7 July 2008, 17:35
If you're in Panama City, check out the Las Cascadas Restaurrant on Via Balboa (if its still there) great food and inexpensive. there's a Hard Rock Cafe' down the road about 2 miles- jump in a cab and tell the driver- they all speak English...

Via Espania has lots of good shopping- if you're a coffee drinker, stop by one of the Supermercadoa (can't rememebr the name but it has a rooster for a logo) and pick up some Duran Coffee. Its grown and sold by Roberto Duran's family (in business for about 100 years)- its some of the best coffee I've ever had.

If you can,get over to the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal, they have a scale model of the locks and a history of it too. Great education for the kids and you'll probably see a couple of ships make transit into/out of the Canal...

Check out Rio Del Mar- a black sand beach south of Panama City- pretty good surf for the area...

Frog
7 July 2008, 19:37
Stay clear of the University area in P.C.

Beware the moors; beware the moon. No wait, that's England.

Just stay aware from the slums and University.

PanaVet
7 July 2008, 19:39
The San Blas area of Panama is very safe... I always preferred the Atlantic side to the Pacific side.

Rgr Montcalm... Las Cascada..... give it up buddy... it's "no mas"...LOL

My list of must see stuff in Panama.
1. The Church of the Golden Alter in Casco Viejo... (Captain Morgon missed when he sacked the city).
2. Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks near old Ft Clayton has an excellent presentation)
3. Contadora Island (you can take a hover craft from the Port Of Balboa)
4. Panama Canal Museum (Casco Viejo)
5. Portobello (about 45 min from Colon on the Atlantic side)
6. Old Ft San Lorenzo (on old Ft Sherman)
7. Get over to old Ft Amador (at the mouth of the Canal on the Pacific side....very nice what has changed there)
8. Stay away from the city beaches but, Corona and Santa Clara are nice beaches. The best is near Pedasi in the interior.
9. Baru Volcan (a volcano you can hike up in the province of Chiriqui)
10. Eat some Cervichi and drink an Atlas for me buddy.

That's my top 10

Patrick7
7 July 2008, 21:09
Appreciate the tips/areas. Should be a great trip.

mike792
7 July 2008, 23:57
Go to the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side across from old Fort Clayton. They have an excellent restaurant that over looks the locks and you can watch the ships be raised and lowered. Waiters can give you good info how the locks work and history.
Go over the Amador Cause Way. They have night clubs, some excellent restaurants etc.
The Free Zone in Colon is a waste of time.

The91Bravo
8 July 2008, 01:13
The San Blas area of Panama is very safe... I always preferred the Atlantic side to the Pacific side.

Rgr Montcalm... Las Cascada..... give it up buddy... it's "no mas"...LOL

My list of must see stuff in Panama.
1. The Church of the Golden Alter in Casco Viejo... (Captain Morgon missed when he sacked the city).
2. Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks near old Ft Clayton has an excellent presentation)
3. Contadora Island (you can take a hover craft from the Port Of Balboa)
4. Panama Canal Museum (Casco Viejo)
5. Portobello (about 45 min from Colon on the Atlantic side)
6. Old Ft San Lorenzo (on old Ft Sherman)
7. Get over to old Ft Amador (at the mouth of the Canal on the Pacific side....very nice what has changed there)
8. Stay away from the city beaches but, Corona and Santa Clara are nice beaches. The best is near Pedasi in the interior.
9. Baru Volcan (a volcano you can hike up in the province of Chiriqui)
10. Eat some Cervichi and drink an Atlas for me buddy.

That's my top 10


I must agree with #6. It is not like touring an old fort in the US, where everything is fenced off, or roped off. You can go anywhere and everywhere on it. If you have small kids, keep your hands on them. There was this big ass (like 10x12 foot) square hole filled with water in the center of the fort. The fort is located at the mouth of the Chagres River, up on the bluff, and it is a cool place to check out.

If you are in Panama City, and just cannot find anywhere to eat, there was a McDonalds a couple blocks off of (If I remember correctly) Cinco De Mayo park.. (The park is also across from a seven story Whore House too) :D

Have a good time, and travel in groups wherever you go. There were still folks there that were pissed that the US invaded in 1989...

HighDragLowSpeed
8 July 2008, 04:59
Many of the the popular US restaurant chains are in Panama now - bennigans, hard rock, Popeyes (which used to only be on base), Champions, etc. so you arent limited to McDonalds like you were at one time (I remember those days too when the McDonalds handed you coca-cola in a can and the french fries didnt taste like McDonalds fries). Even the end of the Causeway at Amador has been expanded and is now a giant strip mall, restaurants, and condos.

Super 99s and El Rey supermarkets carry almost every kind of american food, beer and liquor that you could want. These huge supermarkets are also great places to get all of your accessories like coolers, towels, suntan lotion, etc. for the beach or hotel at near US prices - I even bought a small gas grill for the beach at one of the supermarkets for $14 on my last trip there about a month ago that worked great

Most all of Panama is safe - be particularly careful in the older parts of Panama City, san miguelito, and in Colon. Others on this thread have expanded on other places to be careful.

Fortunately, they've redone most of the traffic patterns now so that the common routes no longer converge on the worst parts of town. If you havent been to Panama in the past 2 years, they've also managed to get most of the ancient cars, taxis, and buses on the verge of falling apart off the road. A taxi ride still costs about $1.50 but there are FAR fewer of them now and its more common to see shared riders in taxis than before. If you take a taxi, dont share even if the locals do. If the driver wants to pick up others, ask that he not do it.

Driving in Panama has always been a headache. Easy credit and the SUV glut in the states has also made buying newer model cars much easier for the average panamanian. The big downside is that now even the autopista (which is a toll road) goes bumper to bumper at times now when hstoric its been empty - the main Panama City thoroughfares of Calle 50 and Via Esana are really bad when everyone starts heading home from work. Good news is that here is now a four lane highway from Panama City out past the city of Santiago about 4 hours away. This changes makes getting to all of the good beaches a breeze in the rental car. Soon, it will extend to the Costa Rica border.

One last note from experience: it used to be that getting hotel rooms and rental cars online in Panama was an expensive joke. You could always previously get better deals just by showing up and asking. Those days are now gone - the new casinos have boosted the occupancy rates of the major hotels to the point that you may not be able to find rooms in decent hotels at times without a reservation. Showing up at the rental car desk without a reservation only gets you the "sucker" rate. I travel extensively and I've found great deals in Panama and most of Latin America using Expedia (although oddly for Colombia I have much better luck with Priceline). Expedia also does not have the requirement of starting or ending your trip in the US to buy tickets that a number of online sites have.

Hope that helps

RGR.Montcalm
8 July 2008, 15:16
The San Blas area of Panama is very safe... I always preferred the Atlantic side to the Pacific side.

Rgr Montcalm... Las Cascada..... give it up buddy... it's "no mas"...LOL

My list of must see stuff in Panama.
1. The Church of the Golden Alter in Casco Viejo... (Captain Morgon missed when he sacked the city).
2. Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks near old Ft Clayton has an excellent presentation)
3. Contadora Island (you can take a hover craft from the Port Of Balboa)
4. Panama Canal Museum (Casco Viejo)
5. Portobello (about 45 min from Colon on the Atlantic side)
6. Old Ft San Lorenzo (on old Ft Sherman)
7. Get over to old Ft Amador (at the mouth of the Canal on the Pacific side....very nice what has changed there)
8. Stay away from the city beaches but, Corona and Santa Clara are nice beaches. The best is near Pedasi in the interior.
9. Baru Volcan (a volcano you can hike up in the province of Chiriqui)
10. Eat some Cervichi and drink an Atlas for me buddy.

That's my top 10

SAy it ain't so!!! Las Cascada was the Shit!!! Great food, goodlooking servers, cheap Atlas beer...

The best Pealla(sp) I ever ate!

The91Bravo
8 July 2008, 16:54
Here's that pic of the interior of Fort San Lorenzo (the big square hole in the middle)

(Found these pics via google)

The91Bravo
8 July 2008, 16:56
And an overall pic

There is some cool history with Captain Morgan and the local area... Something about a Gold Altar that the local citizens painted white to keep out of his hands, and the Cpt getting his ass handed to him by the locals.

wandering_idiot
8 July 2008, 22:12
I'm there right now, drop me a PM...

pharmafrog
8 July 2008, 22:35
I'm there right now, drop me a PM...

My .02 cents,

In Panama City see if there is still a restaurant called Martin Fierro. It is an Argentinian steak house, awesome.

#2 go across the Bridge of the Americas and behind old Howard AFB there is a little town called Veracruz it is near the Deblois Coates DZ if memory serves. In that town there is a restaurant called Rincon de Fillo (sp). They have some of the best Almejas con Ajo (Clams with garlic) and these kickin six foot loaves of bread. Another winner.

BTW if Virgil Tibbs sees this e-mail he can confirm the quality of both of those joints.

OUT

EightyDeuce
8 July 2008, 23:02
I was there in November, went on Ft Sherman hike/tour which was fun yet wet and the boat I was on went through the Gatun lock, amazing thing to see in person.
http://mydropzone.net/images/misc/panama/panama.jpg

http://mydropzone.net/images/misc/panama/gatun.jpg

http://mydropzone.net/images/misc/panama/ftshermantour.jpg

http://mydropzone.net/images/misc/panama/ftshermantour2.jpg

it rained like hell the whole time I was there though, rainy season and all. Sounds like a fun trip!

astcell
13 July 2008, 05:23
Wow those pics brought back memories! I was there 1981-1983, it has changed since I bet!

Massgrunt
13 July 2008, 05:35
Any good books on the building of the canal?

The91Bravo
13 July 2008, 13:18
Those pics of the quarters on Sherman are kinda a let down... Last time I was there, kids playing... swimming at the beach.... Atlas was the only Spanish I knew, and those pics made me a little sad.... We should invade and take it back :D

PanaVet
21 July 2008, 12:51
Any good books on the building of the canal?

Highly recommended....

http://www.amazon.com/Path-Between-Seas-Creation-1870-1914/dp/0671244094

Virgil Tibbs
21 July 2008, 13:16
My .02 cents,

In Panama City see if there is still a restaurant called Martin Fierro. It is an Argentinian steak house, awesome.

#2 go across the Bridge of the Americas and behind old Howard AFB there is a little town called Veracruz it is near the Deblois Coates DZ if memory serves. In that town there is a restaurant called Rincon de Fillo (sp). They have some of the best Almejas con Ajo (Clams with garlic) and these kickin six foot loaves of bread. Another winner.

BTW if Virgil Tibbs sees this e-mail he can confirm the quality of both of those joints.

OUT

I second that. Plus a kick ass dim sum joint we used to hit, but I can't for the life of me remember where the hell that was.

HighDragLowSpeed
21 July 2008, 13:38
Was it the two story place right off Via Simon Bolivar (like around 62 Oeste) a kiddie corner from the Super99 and close to where via brasil started? Cant remember the name either but I always thought that was the best dimsum place in Panama. Still there too....almost went there again after passing by it on my last trip...cant miss the chinese architecture and bright red/yellow paint .

Virgil Tibbs
21 July 2008, 14:34
Was it the two story place right off Via Simon Bolivar (like around 62 Oeste) a kiddie corner from the Super99 and close to where via brasil started? Cant remember the name either but I always thought that was the best dimsum place in Panama. Still there too....almost went there again after passing by it on my last trip...cant miss the chinese architecture and bright red/yellow paint .


That is the same one. Awesome food. Pharmafrog and myself used to go there and kick some dimsum ass. We even took my mom there when she came down at Christmas to cook the platoon dinner. Awesome food.

Virgil Out

B 2/75
21 July 2008, 16:45
My list of must see stuff in Panama.

1. The Church of the Golden Alter in Casco Viejo... (Captain Morgon missed when he sacked the city).
2. Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks near old Ft Clayton has an excellent presentation)
3. Contadora Island (you can take a hover craft from the Port Of Balboa)
4. Panama Canal Museum (Casco Viejo)
5. Portobello (about 45 min from Colon on the Atlantic side)
6. Old Ft San Lorenzo (on old Ft Sherman)
7. Get over to old Ft Amador (at the mouth of the Canal on the Pacific side....very nice what has changed there)
8. Stay away from the city beaches but, Corona and Santa Clara are nice beaches. The best is near Pedasi in the interior.
9. Baru Volcan (a volcano you can hike up in the province of Chiriqui)
10. Eat some Cervichi and drink an Atlas for me buddy.

That's my top 10


Porto Bello is well-named. It is probably one of the most beautiful little coastal spots I've ever seen. In the days of the Conquistadores, the gold coming out of Peru was brought across the isthmus by mule train and was stored in the counting house at fort in Porto Bello. There are actually two forts there, with cannons. Another big plus is that inside the church there in Porto Bello is the Black Madonna. I don't remember the story about how she reportedly changed from white wood to black wood, but the locals damn sure believe in their icon.
http://www.serve.com/CZBrats/Photos/portobel.jpg http://www.coins-of-panama.com/vernon/vn2-121-Pic1.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1140/1283647793_6d9894680f.jpg?v=0
http://lemurianelders.files.wordpress.com/2006/08/black-madonna-75.jpg
Definately a place to visit, given an afternoon with which you can do as you please.

B 2/75
21 July 2008, 16:58
Hell, I almost forgot another good thing that you can get in abundance... The chow was great - Simple and good.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3050/2617407526_ff63566a9a.jpg?v=0http://farm1.static.flickr.com/249/522226225_c24cb1319c.jpg?v=0http://www.panamafocus.com/Images/Travel/Tours/Portobellobig.jpg

PanaVet
21 July 2008, 20:15
Was it the two story place right off Via Simon Bolivar (like around 62 Oeste) a kiddie corner from the Super99 and close to where via brasil started? Cant remember the name either but I always thought that was the best dimsum place in Panama. Still there too....almost went there again after passing by it on my last trip...cant miss the chinese architecture and bright red/yellow paint .

Lung Fung???

HighDragLowSpeed
21 July 2008, 20:21
Lung Fung...thats it...just the name brings back fond memories.

One of the few places that often had people that spoke Mandarin too....sometimes that's all they spoke :D

PanaVet
21 July 2008, 21:57
Lung Fung...thats it...just the name brings back fond memories.

One of the few places that often had people that spoke Mandarin too....sometimes that's all they spoke :D

Sunday brunch is worth a flight down just for it...LOL

BackInTheDay
21 July 2008, 22:10
town called Veracruz it is near the Deblois Coates DZ

Vendado DZ. Backside of Kobbe, on the road to Vera Cruz.

So I am guessing that the Ancon Inn, the Ovalvo and the Blue Goose are not great spots for the tourists?

HighDragLowSpeed
22 July 2008, 08:07
Ancon Inn - gone for almost 2 decades now

Gruta Azul ("The Goose") - The area out towards Rio Abajo has been relatively unaffected by the changes in Panama so its still going strong with the same nasty carpet. Wouldnt be surprised to learn that there are second and/or third generations workers in there.

Dont recall the Ovalvo off hand

Various developers have bought most of the land along the beachline where the DZ was (http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20071211090100385) - I was there recently and there hasnt been large scale construction (yet)

Kobbe Beach Club is a big resort style hotel now - although why anyone would want to swim there is beyond me :D

Virgil Tibbs
22 July 2008, 09:03
Someone had to bring up the Gruta Azul. Funny ass shit. How about Patatus? or El Pavo Real? Classic staples in the drinkers guide to Panama.

PanaVet
22 July 2008, 10:00
Gruta Azul ("The Goose") - The area out towards Rio Abajo has been relatively unaffected by the changes in Panama so its still going strong with the same nasty carpet.


Blue Goose...You could see the carpet? I used to take a flashlight w/ me...LOL

Massgrunt
22 July 2008, 11:05
Highly recommended....

http://www.amazon.com/Path-Between-Seas-Creation-1870-1914/dp/0671244094Thanks bro.

HighDragLowSpeed
22 July 2008, 12:26
I used to take a flashlight w/ me

Trust me that it's sometimes better to be blinded by the liquor - any moment in the Goose qualifies. :D

BackInTheDay
22 July 2008, 12:36
Wasnt Tuesday medical check-up day for the girls at the Goose?

Ovalo was kind of a Moatengator watering hole. Nastier than the Goose.

HighDragLowSpeed
22 July 2008, 12:47
I used to prefer a walled in place right on the edge of Chorillo where a lot of the blackhawk contractors hung out.

Cold beer and no shortage of skankzillas there to pass time with - of course, some were named "itchy" and the rest, "scratchy" :D

PanaVet
22 July 2008, 14:41
I used to prefer a walled in place right on the edge of Chorillo where a lot of the blackhawk contractors hung out.

Cold beer and no shortage of skankzillas there to pass time with - of course, some were named "itchy" and the rest, "scratchy" :D

El Rancho...it's still there

B 2/75
22 July 2008, 17:42
LOL how about the El Moro over in Colon?


Now THAT place corrupted many a young soldier....


Is the Washington Hotel still a half-way decent place to go gamble?

PanaVet
22 July 2008, 17:52
LOL how about the El Moro over in Colon?


Now THAT place corrupted many a young soldier....


Is the Washington Hotel still a half-way decent place to go gamble?

Not sure about those...

wandering_idiot
23 July 2008, 23:40
Someone had to bring up the Gruta Azul. Funny ass shit. How about Patatus? or El Pavo Real? Classic staples in the drinkers guide to Panama.

Pavo Real got torn down and is now next to the park on Via Argentina... across the street from Angel.

Virgil Tibbs
24 July 2008, 11:06
Viva El Pavo!!

Ratman
2 August 2008, 05:32
Ahhh Panama… Five of the best years of my life (from what I remember). If you are going to be in San Blas and you’re a diver you have to dive there, it is some of the best in the World. On the way to Portobello you will drive past Las Canones an old PDF Officer runs the place and he is a great guy. Martin Fierro had the best filetes in the Panama and great Sangria plus it was close to the casino. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Patrick7
2 August 2008, 07:28
Just got back, didnt get to hit too many of the spots you guys listed as we were out longer than expected but it was good. All the islands down around Playon Chico and south were a blast. Did a lot of snorkeling (didnt have any gear) out on the reefs and got some big ass lobsters. The people down there were also great, highly recommend heading that way. The flights were very cheap ($60 round trip) just dont bring over 25 pounds or you may get stuck. Over all a good trip since it was mostly work but I am looking forward to getting back there on my own.