Recently, Torontoartsandevents was on assignment in South America, covering Panama and Costa Rica.
Panama City is Panama’s largest, the national capital of Panama, as well as the provincial capital of the Panama Province. It is a very Americanized and modern City. It is multicultural with populations from all over the world with Spanish spoken by most but some type of English spoken by many. Torontoartsandevents reports on the following:
The Panama Canal. Torontoartsandevents visited the Miraflores Visitor Center, which is a short ride from Panama City. We saw the interactive museums. In the viewing deck we watched the locks in action as a large cargo and cruise ships was passing through the Miraflores Locks. As it takes about 8 hours to pass through, we only saw a part of the large cargo’s progress.
Casco Viejo (aka Casco Antiguo) contains both restored Spanish Colonial Buildings (and many in the restoration progress) that are now hotels and hostels, apartments, trendy bars and restaurants as well buildings. Local families also live here. You can stroll though the many sites in Casco Viejohave and have coffee or ice cream in the local businesses.
Cinta Costera is a beautiful long stretch of waterfront park where you can watch people walking, running, biking, using free workout equipment, and playing other sports.
Avenida Central: tourists and locals shop in Panama City’s only pedestrian district. It is noisy & vibrant with interesting people and street art.
The view from Panaviera which is located on the 66th floor of what used to be the Trump Casino (now called the Sun Casino in JW Marriott) is a stunning one.
The Panama Metro is a cheap ($.35), clean and safe and fast mode of transportation within Panama City. The trains arrive in a timely manner.
The second destination was Costa Rica officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica
Costa Rica has become a popular ecotourism nature travel destination with its well-established system of national parks and protected areas. It is listed as one of the world’s oldest democracies. It abolished its army in the 1940s and it is peaceful and politically stable country.
San Jose, Costa Rica:
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica, is located on a plateau in the Central Valley at 1200 meters elevation. It is surrounded by lush green mountains and valleys which give it a moderate climate and can be quite cool at night. San Jose contains the primary airport, the scenic University of Costa Rica, embassies and many museums, cultural venues, hotels and markets.
We explored some of what it had to offer:
Avenue Central is a pedestrian only street that runs from Calles 6 to 7 – it is hectic with locals as well as tourists, street vendors and street art. Very exciting! Located along the Avenue Central, is the Plaza de la Cultura with many demonstrations, tours etc. making for a very lively city centre. There was also an exhibition of the great artist’s, Jorge Jimenez Deredia, sculptures throughout the city which created an artistic atmosphere in San Jose as well as great exposure to his work. Avenida 4 between Calles 9 and 14 is also a pedestrian only street.
Gold Museum|: It is located next to the Teatro Nacional. It is about pre-Colombian history as well as gold. Exhibits consist of the history of bank notes with examples from different eras as well as gold and silver coins. The lower levels contain the pre Columbian era. The museum contains hundreds of examples of gold artifacts, ornamental animals, plates, jewelry etc..
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica: This 19th-century building was converted from the old army castle and contains an old prison. It also has well-organized exhibits on Costa Rica’s history and culture. You enter through the beautiful butterfly garden. There are about six exhibits one of which are the old cells which are left as they were. There is also an interesting exhibit about the development of nursing throughout cost Rica, an exhibit of Costa Rican animals and wildlife, an exhibit of pre-columbian art and an exhibit about the development of the country of Costa Rica.
Central Market (Mercado Central)
A great cross-section of Costan Rican food and produce
Parque La Sabana Large park in the middle of San Jose On. There were about 6 baseball diamonds and plenty of other open spaces for football. There was an exciting cycle race ongoing at the time of our visit. The exciting Museum of Costa Rican Art is located in the park – a great view of Costa Rican art with free admission! The park looked a bit dry due to it being the end of the dry season.
Estadio Nacional is located within Parque La Sabana. It is a great soccer stadium which can also be used to enjoy musical concerts or other activities.
Plaza de la Cultura is Downtown’s main plaza which hosts celebrations, demonstrations, performances.
Central Bank (Banco Central) This modern bank building which hosts the Federal Reserve (i.e. sets banking rates ) for Costa Rica is bordered by interesting sculptures.
Jaco Beach: is located about an hour and a half outside of San Jose. It is a lovely, clean beach. The water is clean and warm. Surfing lessons are offered for a fee and the waves are strong – good for surfing. The beach is located next to the main street, and hence there are restaurants near by. There is usually a lot to so such as a craft demonstration and live music in the evenings.
Torontoartsandevents recommends visiting rapidly growing South America especially Americanized Panama as well as eco friendly Costa Rica. Spruce up on your Spanish beforehand!
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