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Panama - Casco Viejo

On the sixth day of our stay we took a break from the beach (sigh) and joined a bus excursion to the Casco Viejo, or the colonial city, section of Panama City. Casco Viejo has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is in the midst of a massive make-over with ancient renovated buildings cheek-by-jowel with run-down edifices yet to be transformed. An eclectic mix of old and new to be sure. Lots of pics today, so let's get to it.
We took the Pan Americana Highway from the resort to Panama City. Our tour guide told us if we turned the other direction the Pan American would lead us to about two weeks!
Each village along the route has bus stops like these...

As we neared Panama we travelled over the canal via the Las Americas Bridge

The narrow streets of Casco Viejo were something of an obstacle course for our busses to navigate.

We disembarked and commenced our walking tour. We came across slum-like buildings, buidlings being renovated, edifices with outer walls only, and brightly renovated condos and business...a fascinating juxtaposition of stages of reconstruction...

A couple of Panama's finest, above. Below, what looks like a hotel is actually Panama's Institute of Culture which, we were told, was used as a location for a scene in the latest James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, depicting a luxury Bolivian hotel! An impressive view of downtown Panama can be had from behind the Institute.

These two tykes were on to us the moment we stepped off the bus trying to hawk their wares. They kept trying to offload their stuff on us for over an hour. When they stopped to take a rest, I snapped their picture, to which they responded "One dollar for picture, please."

This is the presidential palace, also located in the colonial city. An armed presence isn't hard to miss in this area.

A variety of types of architecture are on display in this section of the city, including this art deco building, followed by a partially restored church.

The colonial city is west of downtown. East of the centre of town is Panama La Vieja, the original city, destroyed in 1671 by the infamous pirate Sir Henry Morgan. The remaining ruins are also designated a World Heritage Site.

After a full day it was back on the bus for the trip back to the resort. There are lots of billboards lining the Pan Americana, including adverts for candidates in the coming elections in May. The ones that really caught my eye, though, were of the following variety.

Next: the Panama Canal


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