Panama City and the Panama Canal

After Santa Catalina, it was a long drive to Panama City, but well worth it.  The city itself was massive, extremely well developed and has tons of potential.

We stayed in a part of the city called Casco Viejo which is known as Panama City’s old town.  Apparently it is where Panama was originally established back in the 1500’s.  There are tons of old buildings and the area is currently under some heavy renovation and construction.  They are trying to build up the tourism in the area with lots of posh restaurants, shops, and hotels.  It is right up against an extremely dangerous and impoverished part of town which it is squeezing out little by little.  It was a bit annoying to get around with all the construction, especially while driving, but it was fun to walk around and see the old buildings.

The main attraction for us in Panama City was the Panama Canal and the Miraflores Locks.  We got a cab to the locks and paid $8 a person for a view of the canal as ships were passing through on the observation deck, a pass through the fantastic 4 story museum they had set up there, and a ticket to see a 10 minute mini-documentary on the history of the canal.  What a great deal!  We arrived just in time to see a few large ships passing through the locks and even a small sail boat.

The canal has these small carts that help pull the ship through the locks and hold them in place to prevent damage to the walls.  For smaller ships, they just use a couple of guys and some rope.

You can see the grey carts pulling the huge ship through the canal above, and below the guys helping the sail boat along with some rope.

It was fascinating to watch as the water levels lowered and rose to help the boats traverse the canal.  In total it can take anywhere from 8-10 hours for a boat to get entirely through the canal and it’s 3 locks all the way from one ocean to the other.

They are currently working on expanding the canal and building more locks that can help larger ships traverse through the canal as there is currently a limit on the size of ship that can pass through.  The new locks should be ready by 2014.

Panama City was great.  If you love seeing unique cities while traveling, definitely check out Panama.

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1 Comment

  1. Dad Says:

    Wow those are some great pictures of the ships in the canal. I bet those ships are big. What a wonderful way to end a trip before heading back. Be safe…

    Love you,

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