Bienvenidos Panama

Bienvenidos Panama 

Dag 1 reis Amsterdam naar Panama stad

04.00 uur kwam ik aan in Vijlen om mijn reisgenoot, Ivo, te meeten. Vervolgens in de auto gestapt om richting schiphol te gaan. Bekende van Ivo ging mee en reed de auto terug, dus geen parkeerperikelen. 

Rond 10.30 uur arriveerde we in Madrid. Anderhalf uur later in de vlucht richting Panama. Iberia.... Ik had gehoopt nooit meer met deze maatschappij een lange vlucht te maken maar helaas. Geen eigen scherm, maar gelukkig heb ik een gsm met spelletjes, een shoestring boekje over centraal Amerika en de laatste Feyenoord magazine. Daarmee heb ik me 10,5 uur moeten bezighouden. Gelukkig zitten ivo en ik in een rij van 4 stoelen zonder andere personen, dus lekker veel ruimte! En een usb ingang wat betekent: onbeperkt apps en muziek gebruiken, ideaal! Achteraf gezien misschien wel beter dan met een eigen schermpje?

Na mezelf vermaakt te hebben landen we dan eindelijk in Panama Stad. Snel door de douane heen en taxi naar ons hostel voor twee avonden. Meteen een klap van de benauwde weersomstandigheden hier! Gelukkig is er 5 uur verschil met Nederland dus kwamen we rond 4 uur lokale tijd aan in ons hostel.

Ons hostel ligt in de buurt Marbella, dicht bij de zee. Na het inchecken (mooie dorm voor 12 personen met een douche en een of andere vadsige badkuip / jacuzzi) meteen de boulevard opgegaan.  

Eenmaal buiten ben je omringd door grote gebouwen waar ook nog veel onder constructie zijn. Het lijkt wel een beetje op Dubai in het zuur! 

Ook de boulevard, die trouwens erg mooi ingericht is, is er hard gewerkt. Overal vind je fitness apparatuur in de buitenlucht en zijn er voetbalvelden. De Panamese bevolking is erg sportief, getuigen de vele groepen mensen die in het openbaar op muziek aan zumba achtige taferelen doen. Vreemdste om te zien was toch wel de silent disco workout waar op een plein drie grote groepen mensen een zumba workout deden. Ja, je leest het goed. Er waren zeker 200 mensen met een koptelefoon op hun hoofd die de instructies van drie verschillende podia opvolgde. Erg bizar. Verder zijn er ook veel kleine kraampjes met ijs, churrito's en mango. Ook is er een grote community aan het einde van de boulevard waar zitplaatsen zijn en je burrito's, vis en overige voedselwaren kunt benutten.

Teruglopend gingen we es via her centrum van Marbella, dus van de boulevard af. Wat een omgekeerde wereld. Half afgemaakte stoepen, rioolputten zonder deksel en overal slecht verlicht. Het leek soms wel op een scène uit dual survivor. Mijn eerste indruk was, dit is een smerige stad zodra je de toeristische zones verlaat. Hopelijk dat mijn aanname nog veranderd.

Eenmaal terug nog even een paar lokale biertjes gedronken in het hostel en nog eat dingen uitgestipt voor onze reis. We gingen vroeg na bed, wat wel mag na bijna 17 uur onderweg te zijn geweest. Morgen weer een nieuwe dag, het ontdekken van Panama Stad.

Dag 2

Vroeg wakker om gebruik te maken van het ontbijt van het hostel, pannenkoeken. Enige probleem, deze zelf maken op een gasfornuis... Snel opgegeven en maar wat gaan eten in de stad. Vandaag staan twee dingen op het programma: Panama kanaal en Casco Viejo.

Natuurlijk backpack style met het openbaar vervoer. 35 cent voor een metro naar het busstation en 40 cent om naar het kanaal te gaan. Kost niets!

Aangekomen op Miraflores (het kanaal) was de entree voor een of ander museum hierover en de sluispoorten zien 15 euro. Was het dat wel waard? Nee dachten wij. Toevallig een Franse en Italiaanse tegen die net nagevraagd hadden waar je iets kon zien van het kanaal zonder het museum gedeelte. Met zijn vieren gingen we vervolgens te voet en een stukje met de taxi. Uiteindelijk aangekomen op een plek waar het kanaal zichtbaar was. Paar grote boten en water. Foto's gemaakt en we zijn er geweest, niet te spectaculair dus doorrr.

Op naar Parque Nacional Soberania, een tropisch regenwoud in Panama. Taxi gepakt daar aangekomen zijn we blijkbaar bij een gedeelte van het park wat als dierentuin fungeert. Om er te hiken moet je blijkbaar met de auto zijn ivm de afstanden. We kwamen erachter dat we in een kinderpark waren toen we de kaart hadden van het park en de naam afweek. Wonderbaarlijk genoeg kregen we nadat we meteen teruggingen naar de kassa allemaal onze 5 dollar terug. 

Om verdere teleurstelling en te voorkomen hebben we de bus terug naar de stad gepakt. 

Hop met de metro naar Casco Viejo, de oude binnenstad. Hier zag je nog de oude Spaanse bouwstijl terug, vele leuke straatjes met kleurrijke gebouwen. De ruïnes opgefleurd met graffiti. 

Panama stad, we hadden het er wel gezien in anderhalve dag. Een dag eerder dan gepland dus de nachtbus richting Boca Del Toro. Daar zit ik nu dus 10 uur in om mijn trip in Panama te vervolgen.
Dag 3 Boca Del Toro

Berlin, Alternative garbage

The capital city of Germany since the reunion of the DDR and West Germany. Also the second biggest city of the continent (behind London). World famous for the curry wurst and highly advanced cultural lifestyle. It’s also one of the greenest cities of Europe, 22% of Berlin consists of nature and parcs and 6% out of water (lakes, rivers).

Let’s go by it day by day, starting with the most important part, PARTY TIME! Berlin is known as a party capital, especially for the techno lovers out there. It so happens that I very much dislike this “music” style (in my eyes, it is repetitive tunes with no bass or in other words: pure garbage). We stayed at the One80 Hostel which is located near Alexanderplatz, but we got an inside tip about the area surrounding Friedrichrein. We met a German wizard at the hostel who joined us for a cab ride (how awesome is it to have some guy with you who does card tricks and shit with lights on his thumbs) so we were packed for greatness.

Man… what a boring spot. Yeah there where some bars with great beers (beers have good prices too, big plus) but people over there loved to chat and eat instead of drink and go all the way out *insert song:  LMFAO – Sorry for Party rocking here*. We stayed there until around 2 A.M. until we remembered a tip from two fellow Dutch girls about the club ‘Wilden Renate’ which was nearby. After an hour walking and asking locals where we needed to be (getting at least 5 different answers, even a cab driver who didn’t want to bring us because it was way too close) we thought screw this, and took a cab to our hostel. We saw the club ‘Traffic’ and thought let’s give it a shot, but we didn’t get in. Why? Well we were exhausted from our trip (we both worked the morning and went to Cologne to catch our flight which took us a total of 5 hours) and we started to drink beer right away without a proper evening meal. You can imagine how drunk we must have looked like.

Day 2 got a strange opening, getting woken by the sounds of an English girl getting hammered in our 8 persons dorm. After some cursing on the couple and frightening them we were ready for a day filled with the cultural sightings of the city. It has a rich history which the various museums certainly show. I personally never visit museums but go out and search for the historic buildings and the information they give on outside billboards and such. (Tried the free museums in Washington once, not my cup of tea). Spots like ‘Altes Stadthaus’, ‘Brandburger Tor’, ‘Holocaust monument’, ‘Alexanderplatz’ and ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ are cool to see. You can see these highlights in one day by bus or bike. Or go hard-core like we did from 8 AM till 8 PM on foot. You have to obtain some pictures to post on your Facebook/Instagram to show that you sniffed up some culture right? For the nice buildings and places, I rate Berlin with a solid 3,5 stars out of 5. Why not a 5? Because the alternative lifestyle they use on their empty buildings are just not my taste. I thought the city wasn’t really clean (a lot of filth everywhere). The old raggedy buildings in the background filled with graffiti didn’t make it prettier either.

At night we met with two friends who just happen to be in Berlin the same weekend as us. We met at the Alexanderplatz and went on a search to eat something. We saw the ‘Biergarten’ with live Schlager music on our exploration throughout the city. What an awesome place. 2 guys in the age range of 80-90 years on zombie mode playing old school German jams. “Sadly” there was no place, so we moved to Cancun (Mexican restaurant) and started with a 3L beer tap. After that walked to the square to dance our butts off. We heard some awesome Black Music at Caramber-Bar on the terrace so we stormed in. To our disbelieve people were sitting, talking, eating tapas and left the dance floor untouched.  No way we could let this happen so we took settled ourselves near the dance floor, got a table for another 3L beer tap and started to bust our moves. The waitress did ask us if we wanted to sit and was fully amazed that we declined her offer because we wanted to get funky.

After some dance offs we went to the bar next door, one of us thought this was an original German bar: the Besenkammer-Bar. Little did we know that as soon as we set foot inside the bar, we had all eyes on us. It started with two senior lesbians asking ‘don’t you guys have a home to go to’. We got a beer and started drinking as one of the bar visitors (who looked creepy as hell, a bald with bad teeth little ass Uruk-hai) approached me, shook my hand and asked me in German; ‘ my friends over there told me that you guys got a dancer in the group, with who of y’all may I dance?’. Of course I didn’t comply with his gesture, but gave my mate who wanted to visit the bar an opportunity to really meet the locals from his bar of choice. This little troll put his arms around my mate’s neck and started shuffling, while me and another mate saw the sticker of ‘ProHIVpostive’ on the door and we really confirmed that we were at a Gay bar. I think that we never finished a beer so quickly. We walked outside and saw the rainbow flag underneath the sign and laughed our assess off.

After that we went back to the Carambar-bar, where they had a dancing area upstairs. That was fun! After an hour there we divided, there two mates went back to their apartment. We tried to get to the club Tresor, which is known for being one of the bigger clubs in the city. Sadly their door policy was crap. We were two male visitors without female company, so the person at the door told us that there were too many men already inside (later on we heard from some girls at our hostel that the place wasn’t packed, so Berlin’s door policy is pure bullshit). We thought “screw this” and took a cab back to our hostel. We weren’t tired so we tried to get in to the club Traffic, which was a success. Good music for my taste, but the toilets were garbage (4 toilets, not separated, 1 was filled with a puking girl, two doors didn’t go open for 30 minutes so who knows what was going on in there and one toilet was visited regularly by different people but the piss and shit was all over the floor and the bar was located near the entrance, not near the dancefloor).  After one hour we went to sleep, getting ready for a new day.

Day 3: You can do some great shopping in Berlin. A lot of big shopping centres are located throughout Berlin. Sadly for us our trip was from Friday evening till Monday evening. Saturday we did our cultural tour, but on Sunday shops are always closed throughout whole Germany. With it being Pentecost meaning the following Monday was a holiday where they also close everything, we didn’t really get our shopping spree on. With this in mind I will not rate Berlin’s shopping mania there I didn’t have the opportunity to do so.

Bummer. So what did we do instead? Well the festival called “Festival der Kulturen” was the entire weekend! We decided to check it out and boy it was crowded! Food, hippies and alternative crap music everywhere. But on a positive note; the weather was great (sun and 20+ degrees), you could buy beers every 50 meters and drink them on the streets and you could see a lot of idiots who thought they were hip.

Coming nightfall we went out to have a bite to eat and didn’t feel like trying to get in to a big club (since we both hate techno crap). We walked over the Alexanderplatz but man… The hay balls you normally see in Western movies were the only things missing from it being compared to a deserted square.

We thought to give Carambar-bar another shot, but nothing was going on in there. Upstairs neither.  All people did was sitting on a terrace, eating tappas, drinking cocktails and chat with friends. * Yawn*

We went back to our hostel, talked with some people until these two very cool French girls who arrived in our dorm last night challenged us for a table soccer match.  It was French girl un ft. my mate versus French girl deux and me. We got our asses kicked. After that it was 2 A.M. but the girls wanted to check out a club, we told them about (surprise) traffic and they really wanted to go. Of course they asked us to join so we did. Same review as the night before, cool music but shitty interior design. My mate did the gentleman move and offered the girls a drink. They asked for two vodka Red Bull. 11 euros a piece. After that we had some fun dancing but sadly the phone of one of the French girls got stolen, too bad for us because the night was over for the French girls and we decided to go home as well.

Day 4 we had our flight late, at 6.45 P.M., so we decided to walk for a bit. We walked alongside the Spree river but were so tired from all the drinking and walking, we decided to have some food and later ice cream at Alexanderplatz before we left Berlin.

Rounding it up, we had some good times in the capitol city of Germany. The weather was nice, the beer was good and there was enough to do (even though we as non-alternative folks didn’t really belong there). This versus the shitty door policies, crappy buildings and hippies I would rate Berlin 2,5 out of 5 stars.

Next time I’ll be heading back to an Eastern European city again. More girls, even cheaper beers and cool clubbing than Western European cities.