Updated: Oct 15, 2020
The bus to Panama City was very comfortable, I was impressed. It had air conditioning and a lot of legroom. This was my first bus experience and at first confused me because there weren’t that many people on at first and then many locals started to board as we arrived closer to the city. Thankfully I sat next to this smaller woman and basically listened to music the entire first half of the ride and the second half listened to Spanish lessons. We had stopped in this little town on the way for 30 minutes, got some snacks and arrived in Panama City at this big shopping mall around 9pm. I had heard from other backpackers to use Uber because taxis overcharge so I tried connecting to Wifi, finally got Wifi through the free mall connection and requested one, but had put my location wrong and it was an ordeal..I tried speaking in Spanish to tell the driver where I was but we didn’t understand each other. I walked to where the location I had put in the app hoping he would still be there and I finally found him after some struggle. Arriving to a city at night for the first time in a long time was a lot to take in at first and I was overwhelmed by how big the city was as we drove to my hostel in the middle of downtown. I guess I wasn't really ready for the city as I had been near beaches and mountains the pat 5 months. As the Uber dropped me off, I had to ring the door bell several times before someone came to the door and the hostel in general had a weird vibe as I walked in. I checked into my room on the second floor with air conditioning, thankfully. I knew I should get bottled water so I went straight to the market around the block to get some water and food. It took me forever in the market to decide if I wanted to eat because I had been snacking all day on the bus. I finally got back to shower and then thought I saw a bed bug on my bed, which it wasn't but I didn't go to bed until like 1am because I was so uncomfortable. I got up around 8am to the sound of really loud construction and thankfully had booked another hostel to go to the following day.
My task that day was also to find a place where I could get my Typhoid vaccination, but I wanted to drop off my bags at the new hostel first (since I wasn't able to get vaccinated in Costa Rica, I tried to in Panama City). Thank goodness for the Uber driver that I ended up getting because he helped me half the day try to get this stupid Typhoid vaccination. He drove me to my hostel, waited for me, and then drove me to this other place, similar somewhat to a medical clinic to try to get the vaccination (which we found out there was zero of in the entire country of Panama) and then to get a phone screen cover at this mall, and then he took me back to my hostel around 12:30pm. I paid him $16 cash for all of it as it was almost $7 to the medical clinic and back and he was nice enough to call around the hospitals before all this, and took me to this mall to get a phone screen cover, which he really didn’t have to do any of. Anyways, I got back and walked around the new town I was in (Old Town), a really cute area and then realized it was time to watch the USA vs. France Women's World Cup soccer game. I asked the front desk at the hostel where to go to watch the game and walked about 5 minutes to this sports bar where unfortunately, the Argentina vs. Venezuela Fifa game was on so they wouldn't change the channel for me, but then I realized there was an upstairs with TVs so watched the game upstairs. I basically had the whole upstairs to myself and had a burger and two pints of beer for $13. I then walked around to Selinas and this other rooftop bar. It was getting dark so I just went back to shower and went to dinner at the restaurant above the hostel. It was great having live music but the proportion was small and very expensive and it was interesting eating alone like that for the first time. I went back to my room and it was extremely loud. Apparently, the kitchen to the restaurant next door was literally right next to my room so I could hear every move from door slamming, washing and putting away dishes, yelling, and cleaning. I asked the receptionist if I could move rooms but figured to wait until they close (expected to be 12:30am) and he gave me a key to another room just in-case I wanted to switch rooms.
I didn't end up moving rooms and woke up feeling okay. Since I had the whole day to explore, I took an Uber to the Panama Canal which was actually really neat. I arrived around 11:30am and didn't realize the ships didn't come until 1:30pm so I toured the museum while waiting for the ships so I could see the whole process. It got extremely crowded but it was truly an incredible experience seeing a massive ship being carried with water and then emptied with water and down to move along the canal. There was also a sail boat which was going to go after the ship but I didn't want to wait around, it took like an hour just seeing the ship pass. It was an historical and an awesome experience seeing with my own eyes, I’m glad I went. Then I went to this museum, Biomuseo which was pretty neat, the architecture in the museum was different and colorful and I got to learn about Panama and the history behind the culture. I ended up going to this restaurant further out of the city on an island and got some seafood and watched soccer. Got an Uber back and unexpectedly ran into tons of traffic because there was a pride parade taking place RIGHT outside my hostel haha. I had no idea there was supposed to be this festival going on with tons of people so it was very shocking. I dropped off my stuff and walked around the park area to find tons of pride decorations and a stage with performers and loud music everywhere. It ended up being a really cool experience to see everyone supporting pride in another country. I then got an Uber to go to Rock and Roll Hotel to see the sunset and magical view of the city since it was right in the middle of the city and had heard it was the best view. When I got there, the building seemed empty and the sangria was expensive so I didn't stay long and went back to Old Town. The area was still packed with pride decorations and I went to get dinner at this restaurant/bar around the corner of my hostel. While I was eating, some random guy came and asked if he could sit with me. It was very strange how it all happened, he politely came up and asked if he could sit with me and I was going to say no but then felt bad since he started to say right off the bat that he was trying to "be more social" as a person so I basically had to let him finish what he was saying. He asked for my number so I came up with a false number and said I wanted to finish my dinner alone, thankfully he left and I quickly ate so I could get the hell out of there. It was an early night since I had to be up at 5am for my flight to Colombia! So I packed and went to bed.