Monday, May 2, 2016

Visiting the Big Ditch: Panama Canal

We enjoyed a great day of touring around Panama City and area today with Luciano Granie, the owner of

During our day with Luciano, we rode on a small section of the Pan-American Highway, and over the Bridge of the Americas.

Luciano also drove us to the top of Ancon Hill, the highest point in Panama City at 654 feet. It was U.S. territory until being returned to Panama in 1977 and has a fascinating history as well as great views.

We had a long wait to take our turn on the narrow, steep, and twisty one-way ride to the summit, but the views were worth it, even though it started to pour rain.

The rain stopped as quickly as it had started, and we took a ride on Amador Causeway, the man-made connector of four small islands that was originally built as a breakwater for the Panama Canal.

The end of this also functions as a cruise ship tender port, and it brought back good memories to see an Oceania ship anchored offshore.

We asked Luciano to be our guest at lunch and to choose the venue. He chose El Trapiche, well-regarded and reasonably priced, where we tasted some home-style Panamanian dishes.

At the of the day, we spent some time driving and walking around Casco Viejo, or the Old Town.

Did we forget something? Oh yes, another highlight: a visit to the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks, where we observed with fascination from the viewing platform of the visitors' center a huge Swedish freighter leaving departing the locks (lock?) on one side of the pair of locks as a smaller Malta-registered ship entered the other side, enjoyed a short 3-D movie, and toured the interesting museum, stretching a bit awkwardly over a couple of floors inside.

Terrific models and displays in the museum...

Yes, it was a great day, thanks in large part to our great guide, Luciano.

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