Travel and Photography in Panama – Arriving in Panama City
We started our journey in Munich via Atlanta City and arrived in Panama City about 9:30 pm. The whole journey lasted about 17 hours. When you want to fly from the States, for example Atlanta City, you can anticipate a flight duration about 4 hours.
How much did it cost? Surprisingly we had to pay “just” 500,- EUR (about $600,-). When you fly to Mexico or Cuba from Europe, you usually need to pay at least a double of this amount. But maybe the price was such low because our trip occurred in the off-season.
Arriving in Panama City
In the more northern latitudes the weather starts to become cooler in October so you need to wear pullovers and between-seasons jackets. But when we landed in Panama City and the exit door of the airport opened, we went into a wall of heat. Although about 9:30 pm, there were at least 29 degrees Celsius (about 84 Fahrenheit). These are the moments you know that this is the beginning of new experiences and great memories.
Transfer to the hotel
When you book a hotel with a good service, you can get a transportation directly from the hotel. I f your hotel does not offer such service, you can either go by taxi to the city or book a shuttle service already when you are booking your trip. When we were planning and booking our trip to Panama, we booked a transportations service online at holidaytaxis.com.
Arriving at the hotel
Our first overnight stay was at the Riu hotel in the banc district, but fortunately we booked only two nights there because we did not enjoy our time here. Maybe it was because we were really tired from the flight and when we arrived at the hotel, there was a live band in the lobby. It was so loud that I needed to shout at the employee at the reception desk. Otherwise, he was not able to hear what I was saying.
But the more problematic issue was, that only the employees at the reception desk could speak English. The rest of the staff spoke only Spanish. Fortunately I speak a little bit Spanish but nevertheless it was a bit of challenge for me. On the other hand, this is the best possibility to learn a foreign language. It depends on how you look at it. So my advice for you is: learn at least the basics of Spanish when you want to go to Panama.
When we woke up, we first needed to do some organizational issues, like dropping our luggage at a different place because the next day we were going to fly to the East Coast of the country. In other words, at our first day we didn´t have a lot of time to do some cool photos.
After we arranged everything it was almost 3 pm. So the question was whether we should to take a walk or chill out at the hotel pool. We decided to hang around at the pool, and I actually did not want to make some photos. But then I saw the F&F Tower and I could not help but go into my room and grab my camera.
The next day we got up at 3 am. When you want to go to the east coast, you need to go to the National Airport (Albrook Airport). Our driver came at 4:45 am and brought us to the airport. The ride took about 10 minutes from the hotel thanks to the early hours. Normally you would need about 30 – 40 minutes during the day as Panama City is chronically congested.
Our destination was Playón Chico and a very small islet, called Yandup Lodge. This islet is the part of the San Blas archipelago and it is located here:
So remember, if you want to visit this place, you need to go to the place called Playón Chico. From Playón Chico you will get to the Yandup Lodge.
The most of the tourists go to the San Blas Islands. But they usually visit the part of the archipelago located more in the north or other places like Bocas del Toro. For that reason we have decided to allow ourselves to get something more exclusive.
You might be wondering as I wrote we needed to storage my luggage in Panama City. Here you get the reason about it: The flight to Playón Chico happens in a very small propeller plane. Inside, there are only 10 seats. Check it out:
Because of this you have only 14 kg free luggage per person. For the overweight you need to pay about $2 dollar for each kilogram. But the actual cause was, we didn´t want to haul too much luggage with us. Without 2 huge trunks and equipped only with hand luggage it is much more pleasant to travel, especially in a tiny plane, believe me.
After the airport employee had weighted our hand luggage, he asked us to step onto the scale. He explained us, it is necessary to calculate the amount of fuel for the plane. For us it was a funny situation and obviously for the other few passengers too. As you see, the adventure starts already at the airport.
After these and other typical formalities we were guided to the gate and waited about 10 minutes. Finally, a lady came in and asked loudly for passengers with the destination to Playón Chico. With us there were 8 other people. After we all stood up and she checked your passports for the last time, we were guided to our plane. It was located about 100 meters (110 yards) away from the gate and we walked there by foot.
The flight took us about 45 minutes and the flight altitude was not very high so you could see the impressing landscape out of the window. Much to my regret the windows of the plane were too dirty to take good pictures. So nothing else remained to be done than enjoying the great view as good as it was possible.
In the next article you will find some information about the Yandup Lodge.