MY FIRST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE TO PANAMA CITY,PANAMA Wednesday 04 May, 2016

I had to share my first experience to Panama City. Panama the country not Panama City in Florida (people get that mixed up all the time). This was a breathtaking experience for me and it was so exhilarating I hope it inspires you to book a ticket to go there yourself! Check out my review of my first-timer experience to this beautiful country.

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I am sharing this post to let you all know how my trip to Panama City,Panama went. As I stated in the previous blog, I went completely SOLO. I booked my first solo international flight and it was to the city of Panama. I got the million dollar question “Why would you go to Panama alone”. My answer was why not?

I had an amazing flight opportunity to go and I jumped on it. I will let you all know I have been reading several travel blogs, I have a few travel friends who inspire me regularly and I decided I wanted to solo travel for myself. As a freelance writer/blogger traveling is something I have been doing more of within the last year – but this trip was something completely different than I have ever done. I am usually on a resort, near a beach or at a familiar American touristy place. This Panama trip was for my cultural experience, education and exploration for myself. This was a trip I couldn’t wait for friends – sometimes you just have to get up and go and fly. So this was something I was anxious to do and excited. Of course I was scared but it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life thus far.  hotel-riu-panama-plaza

I planned this since December and I stayed at the beautiful Hotel RIU Plaza Panama, which is a 5 star hotel in the heart of Panama City. If you want to read more about the hotel review check it out here.

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So immediately after I checked into my hotel, I settled for literally 20 mins, called an Uber (yes there are Ubers here) and made my way to Habla Ya! Panama. It was only 5 mins away from my hotel within the city. I was excited about taking Spanish with Habla Ya because this is a predominately speaking country and I wanted to learn some basic words and convos. I will mention I did take Spanish in both high school + college…but that was well over 10 years ago so I was extremely rusty. My Spanish was muy malo (very bad)…but nonetheless I was taking this course.

visit-panama-city-my-first-time-kiwi-the-beauty-blog-2 It was only for 4 hours due to my time constraints but it was amazing. When I got to the school I took an reading and writing assessment (which was really quick less than 10 mins) to gauge where I was in my Spanish. Doing the assessment taught me my Spanish was worst than I thought. After completely my assessment, they paired with me with my teacher Nohley, who ONLY spoke Spanish to me the entire 4 hour course of my lesson. That scared me, I was like how will I learn? But Nohley was very kind, patient and actually it was working. I think the school knew I could comprehend Spanish more than I could speak or write it so it worked out. I was able to learn withing the 4 hours my Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Basic Greetings such as Hello My Name Is Kiwi, I am From Atlanta, I Am (my age), and more…very basic! Also learn basic classroom items such as pencil, pen, ceiling, floor, dictionary, laptop/computer, etc…

What I will say about the Habla Ya! school is that it was very effective. Again I only did 4 hours…so I could only learn so much. I was excited I was learning so quickly on a one-on-one level and it was engaging. I am so determined to go back to Panama to learn more Spanish with the school, because honestly I felt like it’s an injustice on how I was taught in America. I didn’t retain barely any of the Spanish from high school/college because it was for testing and passing purposes. Now I would love to be an American learning authentically, and want to be able to speak fluid Spanish. I never got  chance to study abroad – so this is on my listing to return and take a longer course for a few weeks (or even a month). Working on it!

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Remember I was supposed to be on a solo trip? Well here is the power of social media and a small world after all! I posted on my personal Facebook page how I landed in Panama City,Panama safely and announced how I was on my first solo trip. Not  a travel ambassadorship, not a trip with friends – this was MY solo trip. I got a lot of responses, but my friend Maria wrote on my status and said “I am here too”! What??? I had to reconfirm with her if she meant Panama City Beach FL…or really Panama City,Panama where I was. Nope – she was literally in Panama City…and funny enough our hotels were right around the corner from each other. She came the day before me but was here with her boyfriend and their other friend Ricardo. I immediately asked if I could hang with them – and of course she said yes! I haven’t seen Maria in years…several years we went to high school together and had a special bond with my autistic brother so it was so cool to reunite with her in a totally different country.

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Maria’s crew rented a car, something I wasnt going to do and they were going to explore the outskirts of Panama City as well as in the city. Yay I don’t have to Uber everywhere alone! On the agenda for the day was to visit a beach. Now Panama City has traffic just as bad as America. Trust me it’s a city and a super busy one…we all also have American phone carriers so looking and routing to a beach was somewhat difficult. So…we drove around until we could manage to find signs leading us to one. Boom…we ran into Playa Venado Beach. It was cool because many of the beaches nearby were occupied by resorts we didn’t have access too so this was perfect . We literally stumbled upon this gem of Restaurant KarMar.

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Playa Verando

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My new travel crew!

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Restaurant by the Beach

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I love the decor; each table had a flower vase along with engraved leather place mats

So my new travel crew researched a cool empanada spot that is in Panama City. I was so excited because I love empanadas and Caminitos is an authentic Argentina spot to order from. I will tell you this place is a must to visit!

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I had to get a Sangria

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Chicken and Beef Empanadas

So let me make this clear about the spot. It is very authentic – so authentic mostly everyone in the restaurant speaks Spanish only and the menu is in Spanish. Ricardo was our in-house Spanish translator so he did all of the food order for this place (and everywhere we went). I order several empanadas…they were only $1.50 a piece! You cannot beat that! They had a variety of empanadas and of course they make them fresh to order. I am definitely coming back and returning here to order more…this was an amazing spot!

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Habla Ya! actually recommended me to go to the Panama Street Food Fest that was going on. Wow we came at an amazing time. I love Food Truck so to go to a Panamanian fest of food trucks I was in heaven! It was so much fun, it was a two day festival and so happy we were there to expereince it. We went at night after driving around all day for the beach and Caminitos. They had several food vendors and music and it was great just to test out the different foods.

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Drink a mojito and vibingto the music. Yes they were actually playing America music here as well too!

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Yuca Frita

Maria was begging for these Yuca Fritas…which are basically Panamanian fries. They are thicker and i slices instead of it coming from a potato it comes from the yuca plant which is the cousin to the potato.

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Chicken Hojaldres

I will be honest, when I stopped at the GastroShop Food Truck all I wanted was tamales and this was the only truck that had it. By the time I got to the truck – of course they ran out. Now I didn’t know what to order because everything was in Spanish – luckily one of the servers spoke English and recommended me to try a Hojaldres, which are basically food pastry puffs. I got it – hey this is why I was here to try new food and experience unique flavors and this was amazing. This was in chicken form and the topping and everything just blended together nicely.

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The next day the travel crew planned to see the Panama Canal. We drove about an hour away from the city to get to this place! A very historical landmark for the country.

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Travel Crew + I at the Panama Canal

According to wikapedia, The Panamá Canal (SpanishCanal de Panamá) is a 48-mile (77 km) ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean(via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean. It is considered on of the 7th Industrial wonders of the world! 

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Me posing after visiting the Panama Canal

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Next stop, which was another hour out away from the city was this quaint city of Colon. We were here on a mission to eat at a restaurant where it had great reviews on TripAdvisor. Actually in this entire plaza – I was told all of the food spots received high reviews! Travel with friends who research! This place was cute and it sat right next to the harbor and boardwalks.

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Restaurante Arrecife was Marie’s boyfriend’s recommendation. This was another authentic Panamanian spot if you are into seafood…and we all were. Once again I needed Richaro’s translation because English was not spoken here and the menu was entirely Spanish. There were photos and Ricardo was able to describe the dish I ordered which was Large Jumbo fresh shrimp, white rice, cabbage and plantains. We were right by the harbor – probably where they get their seafood selections. Delish!

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City of Panama

What I learned about Panama is that it is an evolving city with much to explore. What I want to dispel the speculation that its a dangerous place to travel to. Every place on this Earth will have it’s not so safe areas – but I brought this up because ALOT of my Facebook friends and people on social media would occasionally comment under my photo “Be safe” “Be careful”. Majority of these people have never been to Panama, never thought to come and explore – just saying that off of some assumptions. Traveling alone can be scary – I was lucky enough to not have to spend my entire vacation alone I suddenly had friends to join.

Panama is a wonderful country, with amazing Malls that can compare to American shopping and lesiure with designers and your favorite brands too. It is not as underdeveloped as you think. The city of Panama is growing and I am sure in the next few years it will be a big hot spot for American tourism in the near future. Right now its a beautiful South American country with their own city, style and culture. Travel isnt all about all inclusive resorts and beaches (although I definitely love those)…it about learning about the culture. Once again I will be coming back to learn more Spanish and start my quest into adapting into picking up my Spanish again. What’s awesome is the Panamian people come in all shades and colors and I think I blended in. No one speculated I was American until I told them I didn’t speak Spanish. It proves than many of us are only separated by language and cultural differences.

Travel blogging for me is bigger than just me posting pictures and going “Look where I am! It’s not America!” – its about learning about cultures. I learned a lot about Panama within the few short days I was here.I am also a lot braver as I am willing to do my solo-trip conquest again! I know it’s scary for a young female as myself to fly across the world by myself, it is not as scary as it seems. I’m making it a mission to come back to Habla Ya! and take longer Spanish courses and do the excursions they offer as well.  LogoPanamac

Definitely Visit Panama. Learn some culture. Travel. See The World With Friends + Solo. Learn more about Panama at visitpanama.com

This trip was not sponsored. All opinions are my own and my spontaneous adventures were inspired by myself and friends.

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About the Blogger - Kiwi the Beauty


I am a not so typical, unstereotypical 20something year old lady who is trying to make my mark on this planet. This blog has many aspect through my visual perspective through photos, words & wittiness. I am highly creative, I love to socialize, and also a social media butterfly. I don’t follow trends, I create them.


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