Panama City, Panama

2019 HAL World Cruise

Monday, January 28, 2019

 

After transiting the Panama Canal, the MS Amsterdam anchored in the Pacific Ocean at the port city of Fuerte Amador.  Located on Flamenco Island, Fuerte Amador is one of 4 small islands connected to the mainland by a causeway.  It is 20 miles from the Panama City center.

Fort Amador, along with Fort Grant, were former US Army bases built for the protection of the Panama Canal on the Pacific side.  Ft. Amador, located just below the Bridge of the Americas, was the primary on-land site.  Ft. Grant was comprised of a series of off shore islands connected to Amador by a causeway.  Fort Sherman was the corresponding base on the Atlantic side.  All the forts were turned over to the Republic of Panama in 1999.  The area is now a major tourist attraction.

We arrived in Fuerte Amador around 6:00pm Sunday night.  The ship’s tenders were launched.  There were no shuttles running that evening, but the port complex is quite extensive with shopping and restaurants and cafes aplenty.  It is very pleasant to sit outdoors and just admire the beautiful yachts lined up in the marina.

Monday morning, we started our planned excursion to view the 3 phases of Panama City:  Panama Viejo, the ancient city; Casco Viejo, Old Town; and the former American Canal Zone.  Upon arrival at the tender dock, we found a taxi to take us on the outing.  Our driver, Eduard, quoted US$60.00 for the tour.  However, because Pope Francis had been in town, the traffic and crowds were horrific!  The Pope left Panama Sunday evening; but the crowds remained and clogged the highways and sidewalks!  The excursion took nearly twice as long as anticipated.  After spending nearly three hours, mostly on foot because that was faster, we returned to the dock.  Eduard had earned a very good tip!!!

Bridge of the Americas
Bridge of the Americas
At the tender dock in the port city of Fuerte Amador.
At the tender dock in the port city of Fuerte Amador.
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All the happy passengers waiting for the shuttle into Panama City (photo from 2018). The shuttles are provided by shopping malls. This year the favored destination was the Albrook Mall.
The causeway linking Fuerte Amador with the mainland.
The causeway linking Fuerte Amador with the mainland.

 

Panama Viejo is the site of the original Panama City established in 1519.  It was a transport hub for shipping gold and silver to Spain. Pirate activity was fierce in the area and on January 26, 1671 the pirate Henry Morgan attacked and destroyed the city.  He stole everything of value.

Panama Viejo
Panama Viejo
Ruins of the Convent of the Conception in Panama Viejo
Ruins of the Convent of the Conception in Panama Viejo
Ruins in Panama Viejo
Ruins in Panama Viejo

 

In 1673, the “new” Panama City was built.  Today, that area is known as Casco Antiguo by the locals, Casco Viejo by the tourists, and San Felipe.  Parts of the buildings in Panama Viejo were salvaged and re-used in the construction of Casco Viejo.

Church of St. Francis in Casco Viejo (old town).
Church of St. Francis in Casco Viejo (old town).
The cathedral in Casco Viejo.
The cathedral in Casco Viejo.
The altar--Casco Viejo Cathedral.
The altar–Casco Viejo Cathedral.
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Ruins of the Church of San Domingo (St. Dominic’s Church.) Declared a National Monument in 1941.
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Ruins of the Church of San Domingo (St. Dominic’s Church.) C Pieces were salvaged from Panama Viejo and re-used. Only the shell of this building remains because the structure was destroyed by an earthquake and fire.
Colorful old Panama with the extremely picturesque balconies.
Colorful old Panama with the extremely picturesque balconies.
Too cute!
Too cute!
Casco Viejo overlooking the modern city of today.
Casco Viejo overlooking the modern city of today.
Modern Panama city visible over the treetops.
Modern Panama city visible over the treetops.

 

As we returned to the port, we drove through the old American Canal Zone.  Our Diver, Eduard, had grown up in the area has many good memories of that time.  The Canal Zone was turned over to the Republic of Panama in 1999.

The old American Canal Zone.
The old American Canal Zone.
The old commissary from the American period.
The old commissary from the American period.
Another view of the old American Base.
Another view of the old American Base.
The ball field first used during the American custody of the Panama Canal.
The ball field first used during the American custody of the Panama Canal.
The old Panama Canal Headquarters.
The old Panama Canal Headquarters.
Is this Capehart or Wheery Housing?
Is this Capehart or Wherry Housing?
Driving thru the old American Canal Zone on our way back to the port.
Driving thru the old American Canal Zone on our way back to the port.

Today, Panama City has grown to be the largest city in Panama and is the capital.  It is one of the most important cities in Central America and an international banking and commerce center.

Next, we are going to Salaverry (Trujillo), Peru.

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