The new Metro

 

January 28, 2015

We started the day with a delicious breakfast at the  hotel included with our room.  The best part was an espresso maker where you could fix your own style of the popular caffeine fix.  The menu also included chicken wings, boiled yucca, and guanabana yogurt.  The yogurts here are actually something I’d like to have at home.  A large container has only 67 calories, according to the label.

Today we explored the new Metro which opened recently in Panama City.  We took a train from the Carmen Church stop to Albrook, the huge shopping mall and domestic bus terminal at the end of the line.

Both of us were very impressed with the cleanliness and quiet of the trains which run on an electrified overhead rail like a trolley.  The system keeps track of where you enter and where you leave.  Right now the cost of a ride is 35 cents, but I am sure that will go up.  At midday the trains were crowded so that it was standing room only, but not so crowded that we felt like sardines.  I can’t imagine going at rush hour.

At Albrook we were surprised to see that you have to go down to ground level to reach the bus terminal from the Metro.  Then you have to go back up to the same level you started at to get a bridge into the mall.  Other than that, it looked like a good system.

In the middle of the day, it was pretty crowded at the mall.  A lot of young people.  Maybe because it’s summer and school’s out.

Albrook Mall, too, has grown–expanded greatly with many upper end stores at the new end.  It was sort of like an upper end mall and a lower end mall put together.  In the new, upper end mall there were few shoppers while in the rest of the mall there were many.

We also looked at a new Westin brand hotel called TRYP which is attached to the mall at its new part.  It seems that would be a good upper end alternative for lodging for a rugged group that wants to be on the canal side of Panama City but also wants to take pubic buses to the interior.  I may plan my next trip that way, although it would sacrifice staying in the jungle itself as we did this trip.

We stopped at Super 99 attached to the mall and got lunch for $5 for the two meals in a take out container.  We then ate lunch in the large food court in the mall.

Then it was back to the hotel to do laundry, have supper and pack to go home tomorrow morning very early.

The weather during our 9 days in Panama has been superb.  Much of the time it has been a little overcast.  That cuts down on the tropical heat.  And, except for a brief shower at Fort San Lorenzo, there has been no rain.  In the evenings, it has actually felt a little chilly a couple of times when the wind kicked up.  Of course it’s all relative.  It’s probably not been below the 70s.

For our last night here we ended up going to a very nice restaurant right down the street from the hotel called 1985 after the year it opened.  It was a combination Swiss and French restaurant with two separate sections.  Prices were not cheap, around $30 an entrée.  According to the wine menu at one point the place won an international wine magazine award for the best wine menu.

 

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