Seams and Sprinkles

A sweet and fashionable life, one post at a time.

Vaycay Recap: Our Thanksgiving in Panama

As another holiday is upon us I thought it might be a good time to share and reflect on all we did during the last one! I can't believe that was almost a month ago. I do have to say, getting away for this Thanksgiving was so refreshing this year. We had some flight credit from last year and decided to try a new place that we had never been before; Panama City, Panama!

It reminded me a lot of California since it is so long and there is a variety of landscapes to see. Panama City was on the Pacific Ocean side, but that did not take away from the beauty of it and November just happened to be a good time before it really heated up for their summer season. Don't get me wrong, there was still major humidity that my hair absolutely hated, but it was bearable. Well we have a lot of things to get through on this itinerary so let me just jump right in and tell you all about it, but please be forewarned, we do a lot of experiencing a new place through the food and this is going to be a lot to read but stick with me so you can plan your vacation there, too! On a final note, I will be doing lots of links so you can read more if you ARE planning your trip at some point. Enjoy the rundown!

Day 1- Sunday, November 19th 

We arrive after a red-eye straight flight from CA with legitimate red eyes from not sleeping, but that does not stop us from hitting the ground running and ready to start the day! We checked into the amazing Hard Rock Hotel there and our room on the 33rd floor had a great view of the ocean and city. One thing I really loved was how there were different music paintings and memorabilia all throughout the hotel. Right away we felt the tropical weather, but it was breezy this day.

We decided to walk along the Amador Causeway to Casco Viejo, which we were told is about a half hour walk from the financial district where we were staying. Let me tell you it is actually over an hour walk there! It was lovely and a lot of locals use it to walk and bike along the coast so I didn't mind it too much. When we arrived it was a photographer's dream. They had the cutest doors and charm all over the place. I just could not get enough of the scenery and photo opportunities (huge shout out to my Instagram hubby on this part of our trip).

By this point in the afternoon, we certainly worked up a big appetite so we headed to the Red Lion and ended up ordering Peruvian food, which is one of my absolute favorites thanks to my half-Peruvian hubby for introducing me to this fusion of Latin American, Asian and Italian-like flavorful food. I had the Lomo Saltado and Joe enjoyed a seafood Chaufa. I also tried the Panama Lager for the first time here and it was soooo good!

After that, we headed back for our long walk to the hotel and took in the city a bit more. After we got back, we unpacked our bags a bit and got situated and relaxed a little bit. That night we decided to stay in and enjoyed some wonderful tapas at Ciao inside the Hard Rock. I chose some fancy Peking duck quesadillas with a beer and Joe had a delicious chicken barbeque pizza and a Caipirinha, which is a Brazilian cocktail.

Day 2- Monday, November 20th

Monday after a good rest we were ready to hit the walking again. This time we headed through the neighborhoods so that we could get to Ancon Hill to do a nice hike and see a great view of the city. If you are ever in Panama City, this is the hill with the large Panamanian flag at the top that you can see from everywhere! The interesting thing is how it goes from city to jungle-like right away once you reach the base to hike up. It was very beautiful and lush. I think both Joe and I were really impressed with the large ants hauling things all up and down the hill! I was also really excited to see some cuy (large guinea pigs... they eat these in Peru!) but they ran too fast for me to get a photo of them.

After hiking around and enjoying the views, we headed back down to Casco Viejo to have lunch and decided to try another Peruvian restaurant (hey... we love our comida Peruana). This time around we ate at Nasca 21 and ordered a big variety of goodies to restore our energy after all that walking and hiking around. We ate ceviche mixto, causa limeƱa Lomo Saltado, and Chaufa de Mariscos. We paired this meal with an Inca Cola, which to me tastes like bubble gum!

You all know I love my ice cream so the next place we went to in Casco Viejo was one of the highlights of my trip! We headed over to the adorable and hip Ay Mi Negra dessert bar. I ordered the Fruity Pebble ice cream roll up that also had sweetened condensed milk drizzled throughout. It was unbelievable. Don't pass this place up if you go there; it is to die for!!

Next up we took our long walk back along the causeway to get back to the hotel to hang at the infinity pool overlooking the city. It was some much-needed relaxation after burning all the trails all over the city the past few days! If only I had remembered to bring my book down to enjoy. After we were back to life, we headed just across the street to Tumba'o for dinner. I ordered the Choripan and Joe had a hamburger with Gouda, bacon and an egg. I stuck with the Panama Lagers and Joe enjoyed the San Blas Mojitos all night long! We had a good time hanging out here and listening to the music.

To keep the night rolling, we headed up to the 62nd floor of the Hard Rock Hotel to party at the outdoor lounge. The view was beyond epic out there. You are so high up it is scary, but it was breathtaking and certainly worth it. There was lots of seating all around so you almost felt like you had your own booth! We enjoyed whiskey sours and maracuya (passion fruit) mojitos.

Day 3- Tuesday, November 21st

On Tuesday I really needed a little Starbucksies, so we headed out for about a 20-minute walk through town to find one. It was a cool little two-story location with lots of space for working and enjoying the city view at the top, almost like a library. So, we sipped our coffee and relaxed for a bit before hitting the town again.

We were getting close to our hotel when we stumbled upon another Peruvian restaurant called Lima 18 for lunch. This time we had a delicious three item sample platter called Ronda Marina, which included mixed ceviche, arroz con mariscos, and chicharron paired with none other than a refreshing Inca Cola! We also ordered fried yuca balls that we had to take to go because we were just too stuffed to finish it, which ended up being a deliciously spicy, and cheesy snack later that day.

Our evening was an awesome dinner show with traditional Panamanian dancers at Tinajas Restaurant. We had been to a show in Peru that was awesome like this so I was really looking forward to what theirs would be like. Here I had a seafood soup with a salad and Joe had their version of Arroz con Pollo. The show was pretty good and showcased many traditional dances. I would say my favorite part was the solo drummer piece, he did a phenomenal job! I also loved the outside of this building... too cute!

This time we finished our evening up at the top of the hotel on the inside bar since the outdoor portion was closed off. I loved all the plushy couches and mirrors they had everywhere in this lounge area. It made us feel very fancy!

Day 4- Wednesday, November 22nd

It wouldn't be a trip to Panama City without seeing the Panama Canal, so the first thing we did was wake up and take a taxi over to Miraflores to see it! We got to see an informative history video first when we arrived and then we headed to view the canal. Unfortunately, we were not able to see any boats pass through while we were there, but it was a very interesting place to learn about and see in person. There was also a cool museum inside to walk through that showed many interesting facts and even had a display so you can see the captain's view while driving a boat through the canal. It really is amazing how these large vessels are able to pass through.

After we hung out there for a while, we headed back towards Casco Viejo to have lunch at the fish market that has a dozen or more little restaurants to chose from. We ended up eating at Restaurante Econo Fish that had a wonderful creole flair to it. We enjoyed portions that were a mega-feast for two people that included mixed fried seafood, stuffed plantains, and steamed garlic clams. I wish we had walked around more to build our appetite for all this food, but we ate as much as we possibly could! Our waiter was also very helpful and even walked us over to a cheaper souvenir market to get some good deals for our friends back home after our lunch!

When we got back to the hotel we took it easy and lounged around for a bit in our room and had a few drinks together and chatted about what our favorite parts of the trip were thus far. Before we headed out to dinner we also took a moment to book our Thanksgiving plans through the hotel to enjoy a full day on a catamaran to the nearby Taboga Island for the day, which I could not wait to do! If we had more time I would have loved to travel to the Carribean side of the country to visit the San Blas Islands that look amazing (I am such a sucker for the Carribean blue water).

For dinner, we walked just a little beyond our hotel to a Greek place (aren't you proud of me for not having a Peruvian meal?) called Sulvas. After our heavy, fried lunch I needed more vegetables in my life so I went with the Greek salad pita and Joe had an Angus Greek pita. They were very good and refreshing, which was much needed after our afternoon of pigging out! We called it a night after this since we needed to be up early to catch our ride for the final day's journey.

Day 5- Thursday, November 23rd (Thanksgiving)

What a week! I have to say this Thanksgiving day was full of tons of fun laughter and unlimited Panama Lager. We headed from our hotel to catch the Red Cat catamaran first thing in the morning to ride out to Taboga Island, which was about an hour away from Panama City. We had the opportunity to partake in unlimited beer and cocktails throughout the trip. They stopped the boat about halfway there for those that wanted to jump out and swim before we continued on to the island. We were fortunate enough to meet a friendly like-minded couple from Pittsburg named Emily and Chris that we hung out with all day long. We chatted, laughed and said our "Happy Thanksgiving" cheers as much as possible! Emily is also a blogger (gahhhh), so be sure to check out her blog, Urban Contradiction.

When we reached the island our friends swam from the boat out to the island and Joe decided to follow suit, but quickly found out that it was a lot further away than it looked! I went with the safe option and took the little boat that dropped you right by the shore so I could take my sunscreen and phone to capture more photos with me! Once on shore, we swam in the warm water and collected amazing seashells for my sister. It is a long-standing tradition I have to collect them everywhere we go for her. We enjoyed lunch on the boat and danced to a variety of music the whole way back. I couldn't have asked for a better last day activity!

Once we returned we showered up and got ready for one final Peruvian course back at Lima 18 (for our "Thanksgiving meal"). We had the ceviche as an appetizer and enjoyed Lomo Saltado and Tacu Tacu for our main dishes. We clinked our glasses to the holiday with Pisco Sours in the true Peruvian fashion. Now that's what I call an awesome Dia de Gracias!

We ended our night with Emily and Chris for one final hoorah before our vacation winded down by having a few drinks at our hotel, seeing the 62nd story view and a few final drinks at Tumba'o. Our day was definitely made by these amazing folks and I now think we need to spend our Thanksgivings in new places because it really does help you appreciate life that much more!

Once we were back, we packed up all our humid-ridden clothes, knickknacks, and mild sunburn to head back home to our little Kirkland (this has been the longest we have been away from him). Since we were traveling all day, there was no black Friday shopping for us this year but no need to worry, I was caught up on all the sales by Cyber Monday!!

If you are thinking about going anywhere in Central or South America, please reach out to Heart of Travel to get your itinerary scheduled. Chelsea was phenomenal in recommending many of the places we went to that you read above and is now a local friend of mine so I would love to keep supporting her passion because she is great at it!

I hope you enjoyed this recap of our trip and start making your way to see the sights of Panama soon! I appreciate you sticking it out with me to the end of the post :). Tell me your favorite place to go or where you are planning to travel next in the comments so I can be sure to add that to my travel wishlist. Cheers to the next adventure Y'all!

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