From Panama to Fort Lauderdale
The last part of the Panama Canal Cruise from the Pacific to the Atlantic
Now my clients and I have only a few more days aboard the Celebrity Infinity cruising with us from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. The program beside the cruise was organized by the Danish tour operator Seadane Travel. Zum deutschen Blog.
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We got up early and our German speaking guide Jorge Louis, who just wants to be called Carlos, is already waiting for us with the driver Dany in their minibus. In less than an hour we drive on the highway from Colón on the Atlantic side back to the Pacific, to Panama City. Yesterday, by ship through the Panama Canal, it took 10 hours.
We drive along the man-made Gatun Lake, which is now largely protected with its rainforest and provides a home to many animal and plant species.
Then we arrive at
The skyline reminds me, as it did on my first visit a few years ago, very much of Miami. For sure, some more skyscrapers did appear.
It is still quite early, when we arrive at our first stop, the oldest part of the city, Panama Viejo. The ruins of the first settlement are preserved in a kind of park by the sea. With a small train we drive to the other end, where on the site of the former town hall is now a new, small museum. Since we are the first group of the ship, Carlos has plenty of time to explain everything to us.
Many slaves built the monasteries, churches and houses of stones and corals. After the tour in the well-air-conditioned museum, we now look around the ruins, which today are inhabited mainly by short-necked vultures, iguanas and squirrels.
Then we drive through the new Panama back to the center, to the seemingly Spanish looking Casco Viejo, which lies beautifully and colorful in the blazing sun. Many of the old houses have now been restored, but there are also enough ruins around, where only the facade has been preserved. Well-situated investors can certainly get involved here ….
Between the narrow rows of houses, the sun has little chance to force its way down, so we can stroll through the old quarter reasonably shady. We also visit some churches. In one a chubby baby gets its baptization. Here also a huge nativity scene can be admired in an adjoining room. Because of the huge dimensions, it is no longer disassembled.
Carlos tells us amongst other things about the world’s most expensive coffee grown here in Panama. Its name is Geisha Coffee and costs at the moment over $ 800 per kilogram. One cup costs, in the café we go into, at least $ 10. Well, that´s too much for me and I drink very tasty “normal” coffee, and from the freshly baked carrot cake I could easily eat a second piece, but unfortunately our ship is waiting in Colón.
The almost obligatory rain starts only when we are back in the minibus, so we get back on board dry.
Soon the Celebrity Infinity cruises on to arrive punctually at 9am the next morning in
Since Dirk and I have already been here, we decided to show my clients this old city, or rather the old town itself, by ourselves. But we are lucky, one of the many taxi drivers got a bigger car and even speaks some German. For $ 70, he wants to drive us around for 3 hours and take us through the old town. That’s a good offer, because the Hop on hop off bus costs $ 45 per person.
Before we visit the old town of Cartagena, Duran Duran brings us to the house of the former president Rafael Nunez; very airy and made of wood it is built. He is responsible for the constitution and the national anthem of Colombia.
Then in the old town we marvel at the many beautifully restored colorful houses with their overgrown balconies. Mostly small shops invite you to spend your money. Of course, the street vendors are not missing here and vigorous bargaining is mandatory .
Unfortunately, the gold museum is closed for renovation and in the magnificent church a mass takes place. After all, it’s Sunday.
Just in time for the end of our city tour, there is a blinding flash and a thunderclap. We just manage to get dry into the car, then the rain starts.
Arriving at the port, we save ourselves from the flash floods under a parasol; with a delicious coffee latte we wait for the thunderstorm to end. With us, one of the many peacocks living here awaits the storm under a roof ledge. The tourists do not disturb him, and the rain does not bother the flamingos in an nearby enclosure. I do not know where the parrots and monkeys that live here in this little zoo have gone, but the anteaters are quite unimpressed by the rain.
This was the last day on shore of our cruise through the Panama Canal. Two more days at sea and we´ll arrive at Fort Lauderdale. From Miami we fly back to the autumnally and certainly much cooler Germany.
Let’s see where the next journey takes us.