Last Day in Panama City, Panama

The morning of my last day in Panama City, I decided to take a walk from my hotel to the promenade along the water.  It only took me about 20 minutes to get there.  With the sun still low in the sky, the City seemed fresh and full of possibility…


I walked for another hour along the promenade, taking photos of the boats and City…

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Day trip to the Panama Canal

I have to admit, I wasn’t that excited to see the Panama Canal.  I guess because I’d seen photos and have gone through the locks/dam on the Ohio River a number of times, so I had a good idea of how it worked.  Having said all that, I was glad I went.  The driver at our Hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton, offered to take my group and I anywhere we wanted to go for a flat rate of $25 an hour, so we decided to have him drive us to the Amador Causeway and Miraflores.

This is a section of the viewing platform at the Panama Canal…


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Exciting Day Trip from Panama City, Panama to the Jungle

If you’re planning a trip to Panama City, Panama, it wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Jungle!  I found an excursion through a company called JungleLand Panama that picks you up at your hotel, drives you to a small boat for a transfer on the Panama Canal through Lake Gatun to a privately owned lake house, where a delicious lunch and cold beverages await!    After lunch, there were a variety of fun activities to choose from.  Jumping into an ice cold river, which by the way felt wonderful, on a hot day!


Here are the others I brought on the trip…



Laying around in hammocks relaxing…


Here’s a view of the lake house from a kayak…


On the boat ride to the lake house we stopped at various places to see alligators and monkeys.  Captain Carl (seen feeding a monkey here) gave everyone an un-shelled peanut and some banana to feed to the monkeys…


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Panama City, Panama…Not what I expected

I find it interesting what our preconceived thoughts/images of a country or city are, or sometimes we have no idea of what to expect.  I knew Panama City, Panama would have high-rise buildings and palm trees and hot weather…



and beautiful flowers…


friendly people…


I led my group on a subway ride from our hotel a few stops to visit the Casco Viejo or old town section of Panama City.  We had to make our way another 10-15 minutes by foot through a very poor section.  These vultures tearing through a smelly garbage dump were both fascinating and repulsive.


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Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo, located 15-30 minutes drive from Granada, Nicaragua (depending upon where you visit the lake) is as you can see, absolutely gorgeous!  For my second and final day in Granada, I decided to visit this magical lake.   After speaking with a local tour guide, she offered to take myself and one of the other ladies in my group to a couple of spots on the lake and also to the town of Catarina, where they make pottery.  The charge was $20 per person for a 4-5 hour day trip.


After savoring the stunning beauty from the viewpoint, we made our way to the Laguna Beach Club for some relaxation and fun activities!  The entrance fee was covered by our tour guide and we were provided with a locker and key to store our things.  They have a restaurant and bar on the premises, along with swimming decks, kayaks, and lounge chairs.


It was quite windy, but Jing and I took a kayak out for a while…


In the town of Catarina, we stopped at a pottery studio and watched a man make his beautiful pieces of art.


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Walking Tour of Granada, Nicaragua – Part III

Leaving off from yesterday’s post of our 2.2 mile walking tour in Granada, we finished off with a visit to the Xalteva Park and Church.  Along the way we passed this shoe shine man and his customer deep in conversation…


This is the same shoe shine man, different customer, on the way back…


Iglesia de Xalteva was also quite lovely…


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Walking tour of Granada, Nicaragua – Part II

In yesterday’s post of our 2.2 mile walking tour of the highlights of Granada, we visited Parque Central, Cathedral de Granada, and the Guadalupe Church.  Today, we’ll visit the San Francisco Convent, the ChocoMuseo, and the Iglesia de La Merced.

The brightly painted carriages and architecture contrast against the crumbling concrete…


Our next stop was the San Francisco Convent.  The brilliant blue sky was the perfect backdrop for the creamy color of the Convent…



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Walking tour of Granada, Nicaragua

My group and I were picked up by private shuttle in San Juan del sur early on the morning of Saturday, February 27, for the 1 1/2 hour transfer to Granada.  We dropped off our luggage at the beautiful “La Gran Francia Hotel”, located right in the heart of Granada, and I led my group on a walking tour.  The first thing we saw were these colorful horse and buggies lined up around the Parque Central (Central Park).


The Parque Central is a lovely place to sit on one of the benches under a shade tree and people watch!  This statue translates to, “Mother of all, devotion and love”.


There were also outdoor dining areas…


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Hiking to the Jesus Statute in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

When you arrive in the town of San Juan del sur, Nicaragua, if you look to the right you’ll notice a large white statue of Jesus (aka Christ of the Mercy) perched high in the hills.   It’s one of the 10 largest in the world and well worth hiking to!

Here’s a view looking down at the bay from the statue…


We began our hike from the center of town, making our way down the beach side road.


Past a beautifully detailed piece of street art…


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Horseback riding Nicaraguan Style

Although I’ve had a variety of unpleasant experiences horseback riding, including: having a horse lay down with me on top of him (I had to jump off), a horse bolt unexpectedly with me hanging on for dear life, falling off of a horse in Spain when he tried to eat grass on the side of a rather large hill, have a horse try to buck me off and rub me against trees; well you get the picture–I continue to enjoy riding!  So, I planned a ride for myself and two of my tour attendees through Rancho Chilamate.  They picked us up in San Juan del Sur and drove us to their beautiful ranch about 20-30 minutes away.  They have boots and hats to make sure you look and feel like an authentic Cowgirl!


They have cute young women as their tour leaders!  Here’s Claudia from Spain leading us through the lovely countryside…

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Surfs up at Maderas Beach in Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur is famous for its surfing and I had a great time taking photographs of the surfers at Maderas Beach, a short 30 minute shuttle drive from San Juan del Sur!


After standing there for almost an hour snapping away, a surfer approached me and asked if he could have any photos of himself that I had taken.  I gave him my card and explained I would put them on Facebook and tag him, so I acquired a new Facebook friend!  My first from Israel.




Jing had brought her umbrella for sun protection and I took a quick photo…


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Fabulous Airbnb in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

I chose a gorgeous Airbnb for our three night stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.  We were picked up at 4:00am for our 1 hour transfer from Antigua, Guatemala to the airport, where we boarded our 90 minute flight to the Managua Airport in Nicaragua.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by our transport company for a 2 1/2 hour drive to San Juan del Sur.

This view was well worth the travel…


The Airbnb was one of three separate huts with a porch overlooking the bay of San Juan del sur.  It was very windy while we were visiting and they have been going through a drought, so there were very few mosquitoes, which was nice since we didn’t have air conditioning and left the door open during the night.  It was so windy on the second day that when we returned everything was covered with bits of the thatch roof.


There was a common area with the infinity pool and hammocks.  Here’s Jing, one of my tour participants relaxing…


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Hiking to the Cerro de la Cruz and Hotel Museo Casa Santo Domingo

Hiking to Cerro de la Cruz (the Cross) in Antigua, Guatemala has been dangerous in years past due to robberies, but I had read that the local Police have been much more vigilant in recent years and crime has dropped in the area.  The hike only takes about an hour round-trip and the view is worth it!


Zoom in with your camera to the town below and you can almost look into someone’s living room!


We started bright and early trudging up the steps…


Once back down, our next stop was the beautiful Hotel Museo Casa Santa Domingo!  This place was amazing!  The gardens were filled with colorful Macaws or Parrots (not sure which)…


A gorgeous dining area…


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Window shopping in Antigua, Guatemala

I’m not much of a shopper for a variety of reasons: 1) would rather spend my money on travel; 2) don’t really make enough money to spend on more of the things I already have, i.e. purses, jewelry, clothing; and 3) I begin to feel tired and ill in shopping centers – probably from the chemicals.  My style of window shopping is to walk around a new City/Village (new to me), peek in establishments or at beautiful architecture and take photos.  The quaint City of Antigua has lots of opportunity for window shopping…


Well…there are windows in this photo!


This is Tanque La Union where the Mayan women gather to do their laundry and socialize.


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Hiking Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala

Located 90 minutes drive time from Antigua, Guatemala, Pacaya Volcano is a great day trip for those seeking adventure!  Our driver picked us up at 6:00am so we’d get an early start for the three hour hike.  I had watched a video of someone hiking it and roasting a marshmallow over the flowing red lava, so my anticipation level was high!  When we arrived, our guide explained that after Pacaya erupted in 2010, there hasn’t been a river of red lava (darn!), but it turned out to be a great hike with beautiful weather and scenery!

You can see the steam behind me in this photo…


The two hour mostly uphill hike began on a short paved path…


We took a few minutes break on this overlook…


The view of another volcano was breathtaking!


As we approached the top, the landscape appeared almost alien…


Another group taking a rest…



Reaching the site where the other group was proved to be a cross between slip n slide and surfing…

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