Capital Times

By Jenny

After 3 days of jungle adventure at Lost&Found, we went for a comfortable night bus ride from David to Panama City. We sat in the last row, right on the motor, so it was nice and warm, not freezing cold because of the aircon in the rest of the bus. We arrived in Panama city very early in the morning and went to our hostel, Luna’s Castle, right away. The hostel was very nice and had everything, from a balcony with panorama to breakfast and free bikes, it was just a bit expensive. Coincidentally, we were in Panama right at the time of the national holidays. This meant parades for two days from dust till dawn – not exaggerating here.

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The parade ended with fireworks, here our view from the hostel balcony
The parade ended with fireworks, here our view from the hostel balcony

At first, we found it great to watch the colourful groups of dancers and musicians but marching bands become annoying after a while… Still, it was fun to be in the city at that time, even though a lot of roads were blocked and talking was hard because of the noise.
In the city, we went to see the Panama Canal, which was really impressive. We could see a ship pass through and learned about the history at the museum in the docks. Everything from the huge steel doors of the locks to the locomotives stabilizing the ships is still the original from 1914! That is great engineering.
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Furthermore, we bought some stuff at huuuuuge Albrook Mall and strolled around the Casco Viejo area. The panoramas with Panama’s skyscraper collection and all the national colour decoration for the festivities was great. In general, it was quite unbelievable to be in this city with skyscrapers and metro after 2 months of Central America. In the evenings, we had drinks with old and new friends, a German couple we met in Bocas as well as Geraldo and Anna whom we met at Lost&Found and who live in a great apartment in the Casco (they have really great internet as well, thanks guys).

Inside Albrook Mall...
Inside Albrook Mall…

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After three days in town, it was time to continue, for the only time on our journey by plane. We decided against doing the crossing to Colombia by boat and had therefore booked a flight, not wanting to be bothered by the high prices and the potential seasickness. In retrospective, it might have been worth the experience, but the flight was just so convenient and comfortable. We went to the airport with a great shuttle service for only 8 dollars, definitely worth it.

Arriving in Bogotá, Colombia, we were in our second capital city in the same day. In Bogotá, we first noticed the climate difference as the city is in the Andens on 2000 m altitude compared to tropical Panama City. It also rained a lot, first time without luck.. There, we stayed with Sid, an Indian guy doing an internship at a pharmaceutical company there. He is part of AIESEC, an international internship organization, and that is how Chris found him on an AIESEC Facebook Group. Couchsurfing without using the website… And getting shown around the Colombian capital by an Indian guy. Very cool. First thing we did: Buying German bread and Avocado, hmmmm!
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We stayed with Sid in his shared flat with a Canadian girl, a German guy and an Irish guy who all work in the city. Together, we had a great time (Thanks again guys!). We cooked some Lasagna to thank the people and all went out together on Saturday. The place we went to, Teatrón, was the best party location I have ever been to. It is an old theatre converted into a club with 12 different rooms and music styles. On the rooftop, there was even a campfire. Oh by the way, drinks were included in the entry of about 12 Euros and therefore free until 2 am! This was an amazing night.

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After the first two days in the city had been very rainy, we used the second two to explore. Bogotá is simply huge. And it doesn’t have a metro, only a fast lane bus system. On the first day, we used the good weather to take the funicular up to Monserrate which gives you amazing views.

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We felt the lower oxygen amount up there as it is on 3100 m. The city stretched out to everywhere, I think I have never seen so much city at once in my life, not even in Istanbul because that is too hilly to see everything. We also went to the famous Gold Museum in the city which is free on Sundays. It was impressive to see all the details of the gold shapes that were made in pre-Colombian times all over the country by different tribes.

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On our last day in Bogotá, we went on the Graffiti tour (highly recommendable) where we learned all about the city’s thriving street art scene. Artists come from around the world as street art has a very high acceptance and the highest existing penalty for it is comparable to a parking ticket. Police often even guards artists when they paint during the day. The results are amazing and ever changing, as things get painted over or are renewed eventually. I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
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After the tour, we strolled through the Candelaria district some more and decided to eat at one of the recommended restaurants of our guide. It is called Sant Just and a French-Colombian fancy place. Together with two other Germans, we enjoyed the delicious food which was really fancy but still more than enough. I had goat cheese salad and Crème Brulée. Amazing. And the most impressive thing: It cost about 8 Euros per person!!!! This country is so cheap, especially compared to Costa Rican and Panamanian prices.

The restaurants entrance, of course between street art...
The restaurants entrance, of course between street art…

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After the really cool time in Colombia’s capital, we took another night bus to Medellin, former drug capital and nowadays a transformed, innovative city and must-go for travelers, as we have heard. More on that soon.

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