Republic of Panama, April 2015: finally, a new trip for my blog

Instead of my usual routine of fixing up old travel pics, I finally got to go on a new trip and take some new photos on a new camera! I traveled to Panama on April16-25, 2015. I spent a day in Panama City then took a bus tour of the eastern side of the country.

I got a new Panasonic Lumix camera for this trip (!) and my pics needed far fewer fixes, so I am going to change formats and describe my fun 10 day trip to Panama as a travelogue with accompanying photos. I didn’t need many Picasa enhancements beyond cropping, adjusting colors and contrast, plus framing some of the more scenic photos.

Day 1: Travel day

I left for my trip to Panama with great excitement. The point of the trip was to see if Panama would work for me as a future retirement destination. The trip was offered through

What a great time we had! Jackie Lange was our extremely competent tour guide. Jackie moved to Panama from Texas about five years ago. She offers this tour once a month and is very knowledgeable about everything a potential retiree would want to know. Throughout the week we learned so much about Panama and met both expats and Panama citizens. Jackie had planned some great group meals and we appreciated the special hotel rates she negotiated for us before and after the tour.

A little bit about Panama: since Panama has taken control of the Panama Canal, the government has used the revenue to improve highways, water systems and other infrastructure. The canal is the main revenue stream, but other major industries include banking, tourism and agriculture. Although Panama issues its own coins, it uses US dollar bills as its currency.

Why choose Panama? Panama offers many economic incentives for retirees from other countries to move there and has a lower cost of living than the US. It is also a stable democracy. I wanted to check it out for myself.

I take a lot more auto trips than plane trips, so I had fun just taking pictures out the window as the flight took off from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The first picture is of Falls Lake, just north of Raleigh.

Airplane window Falls Lake

I had to change planes in the Miami International Airport. Below is a photo of Miami as we were taking off:

Airplane window Miami

There were thick clouds most of the way from Miami to Panama City. The clouds were really beautiful over Cuba:

Airplane window fluffy clouds

Further into the flight there was a long area of gorgeous swirling patterns:

Airplane window clouds 1

Coming out of Tocumen International Airport in Panama City was like hitting a wall of heat and humidity. Fortunately the shuttle driver was waiting for me with ice water and I got to the hotel quickly.

After a long trip, I finally arrived at my hotel room in the brand new Hampton Inn:

Panama City Hampton hotel room

My view from the hotel room in the morning:

Panama City Hampton room view

Below is more of the view from the Hampton Inn pool area on the hotel roof. You can see the city in the background:

Hampton Inn roof

The view from the other side of the roof shows more of the city:

Hampton Inn roof w table

I could hardly wait to go explore.