Trip To Panama Flying in Turkish Airlines Business Class
Last month, Mike and I traveled to Panama for the first time where we stayed four nights in the beautiful capital, Panama City. We flew with Turkish Airlines in business class although we had to originate from Budapest instead of Stockholm since the fare was much cheaper starting from the Hungarian capital. Between Stockholm and Budapest, we took the direct flight on Norwegian. Since I have Diamond status with Hilton, we stayed at the Hilton Panama and Waldorf Astoria Panama where we got upgraded to a Master Suite during our stay at the Hilton Panama. We also had a chance to stay at the Radisson Decapolis Hotel which was also a nice hotel, although not as nice as the two Hilton properties we stayed at. When in Panama, you should never miss doing the Panama Canal Tour as it was definitely the highlight of our trip. Take note that they don't have tours everyday so make sure you check the availability beforehand. Our trip to Panama was one of the best trips we've had and having flown in Turkish Airlines business class, it couldn't have been better!
Top Attractions in Panama
Review: Copa Club, Panama Tocumen Airport (PTY)
Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class, Panama to Istanbul
Photoreview: Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul Arrival (IST)
Review: Radisson BLU Conference & Airport Hotel, Istanbul
Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class, Istanbul to Budapest
Selfie with the Bridge of the Americas during the Panama Canal Transit
First visit: September 2016
Honestly, visiting Panama was not on my plan this year until I saw a good business class fare on Turkish Airlines and told myself, why not Panama! Surprisingly (or maybe not) it turned out to be one of the best trips we've had as Panama has a lot to offer to its visitors. From the famous Panama Canal to its historic district of Casco Viejo, it's friendly people and its tasty cuisine, Panama should really be on your travel list. We only stayed here for four nights and sadly, we were not able to visit all we wanted to (I guess there's always another time) like the Panama Viejo and the more distant Portobelo in Colon Province. If you are planning to visit Panama (and you really should), here are some of my traveltips.
Panama Canal Transit: Having read the brochure the day before, we sort of more or less knew what to expect on this tour. But OMG, there is nothing like experiencing it! We waited for about 15 minutes for the "right ship" to follow (the Mazowsze in this case) as we were not allowed to enter the canal by ourselves and slowly navigated through the Canal passing by different locks. It was such an amazing experience. And to think that it only happens here in Panama Canal, this should no doubt be on your bucket list!
Miraflores Visitor Center: As we passed by the Miraflores Locks, we saw lots of tourists on the other side (Visitor Center) as they curiously watch our ship and see how the Panama Canal works. It includes a visit to the museum as well and costs 15 dollars. This is an option if you have very limited time but I would really suggest doing the Panama Canal Transit as the duration is only a few hours more.
Palacio Municipal: One of the prominent buildings surrounding the Plaza de La Independencia.
Plaza Bolivar: A popular tourist attraction, this square is named after the South American leader Simon Bolivar, El Libertador (The Liberator). It is surrounded by the Teatro Nacional and St. Francis of Assisi Church among others.
St. Francis of Assisi Church: Destroyed during the fires of 1737 and 1756, this church was almost entirely renovated in 1918. Among all the churches I've visited here in Casco Viejo, this is the only air-conditioned church.
Presidential Palace (Palacio de las Garzas): Standing along the waterfront overlooking Panama Bay, this is the executive office building and official residence although the President doesn't live here anymore. Visitors are not allowed (unless part of an organized tour) although we managed to have a quick look during our visit.
F&F Tower: This building was selected among the winners for the 2011 Emporis Skyscraper Award. Needless to say, the architectural design is impressive.
Public transportation: As I was traveling with Mike, we had only taken taxis and it is interesting to note that they have "taxi sharing" here. We actually experienced it on our way from the Metropolitan Natural Park to our hotel where the taxi driver picked up another passenger who was on her way somewhere near our destination.
The food: This Paella San Felipe from Casa Blanca Restaurant in Panama Viejo was sooo good. You really have to try Panama cuisine.
Panama coins: It is interesting to note that when you take out money from the ATM, you will get US dollars and not their own money which is the Panamanian Balboa. We paid for our meal in dollars and got the change in Balboa. If you happen to be a collector, make sure you get this one.