By Brian Kelly
A writer for the Orange County Register in California traveled to Panama City to cover the recent Panama International Film Festival and ended up falling in love with Casco Viejo, the city’s famed old district.
The writer, Andrea R. Vaucher, had plans to explore Panama. But that never happened.
“In fact,” Vaucher wrote, “I never left Panama City, captivated as I was by Casco Viejo, the old colonial section of town, with its cobblestone streets, renovated/repurposed mansions, and ancient cathedrals, many now romantic ruins.”
There is a steady stream of travel articles and reports praising Panama as a great destination, but few manage to really capture what it is like to experience Panama for the first time. Vaucher does a pretty good job of it.
“For a tiny country, Panama packs a punch,” Vaucher wrote.
Vaucher stayed at the Central Hotel, which she described as “an elegant whitewashed colonial on a picture perfect square, Independence Plaza.” The hotel was built in 1874 and has been completely renovated, including a rooftop pool and rooms with “sweeping views of the Bay of Panama or the in-your-face skyline of new Panama City, all soaring modern skyscrapers.”
Vaucher didn’t get a chance to explore the Panama countryside, but she did travel to Amador Causeway to visit the Frank Gehry-designed biomuseum, “experiencing Panama’s astonishing biodiversity.” The museum, she notes, “is clearly a Gehry, though very different from his polished steel creations in his use of primary colors. It’s the architect’s only project in Latin America and his design services were a gift to the country in honor of his Panamanian wife, Berta.”
Vaucher writes that she is planning to return to Panama—one more traveler who was converted into a fan.
“Panama is foreign, but not too foreign, far away but not too far away,” Vaucher wrote. “It’s an exotic vacation destination devoid of inconveniences like changing money (the dollar is accepted everywhere) and not being understood.”
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