visiting the Panama canal
25.07.2013 - 26.07.2013 28 °C
Panama city was not at all like we expected. Driving into it felt like driving around Singapore - enormous new skyscrappers lining the large freeways. There seemed to be no semblance of a downtown, just buildings all around and roads everywhere.
It was a great relief to get to our hotel and have a real shower and relax in a proper room, without a floor made of sand! We then headed into the historical part of town to have dinner with Fabio, Bart, Tessa, Caroline and Partoe. The historical centre could be absolutely amazing, much like Cartagena's old town, but it is still in the slow process of being gentrified. There is a collection of nice buildings amongst all the run down ones.
We only had one day in Panama city, so we went to the Panama Canal. We had to take a taxi there as you have take taxi's everywhere in Panama city. The canal is fairly impressive, being built in early 20th century and still be used 24 hours a day now. There are 3 sets of locks along the length of the canal and we were at the Pacific locks - Miraflores. The lock gates were 2 metres thick, weighed approx 800 tonnes and raised the ships up 16m from sea level. The whole system raises the ships up 36m over the course of 8 - 10 hours. We were able to see a ship leaving one of the locks heading towards the Atlantic. We also walked around the museum and learnt about the enormous expansion project they are currently constructing and then watched a little 'movie' about the canal. It was a classic piece of 3D corporate movie complete with funny glasses.
We spent the afternoon catching up with the internet and home before having dinner with Bart and Tessa at a cheap local restaurant and then we were off again..... we could only handle one night without a beach!!!!